Unless you’ve booked an extended vacation this year, chances are that you’ll be surrounded by family, friends and co-workers either as a host or as a guest. Cheese platters are the easiest ways to elevate your festivity contributions to Martha Stewart approved levels. But you can’t just plunk a roll of cheese on a board with a knife smack dab in the centre. Heavens no! Who better to guide us on this mecca to fromage greatness than Artisa nal cheese makers, Sirimon Cheese?
About Sirimon Cheese
Three gentlemen: Khilan Shah, Nirav Nathwani and Shamas Velani, conceptualised the idea of creating affordable, quality cheese back in 2012. “We started this business because we realised that there was a gap in the Kenyan market for a quality product that wasn’t sold at an exorbitant rate,” explains Shah. Kenyans had the option of expensive imports or local products. “The best local cheese at the time would charge around KShs500 for 250g cheese; which is still pretty expensive.” Adds Shah.
In June 2013, working together with cheese experts from the Netherlands, they broke ground and Sirimon Cheese was officially up and running by September 2014.
Setting up their headquarters in Nanyuki, two kilometres from the permanent Sirimon River, was deliberate. For starters, the group believes in buying and supporting Kenyan products. “We have the resources, we have the skillset, why not grow our own GDP?” articulates Shah. Additionally, they are fully involved in the cheese-making process; keeping the automotive-manual labour skill balance required to create quality cheese.
From thorough quality tests, tasting our cheese at regular intervals during production. We work with NGOs to train the small-scale farmers we work with on how to improve the quality of milk and the health of their livestock.”
The brand’s mantra is consistency. “We want to ensure that whatever cheese you buy will taste the same whether you buy it again a week or a month later,” explains Shah. “The market has definitely had a problem on this front, but many aren’t doing this on purpose. Cheese-making is definitely an art that requires a lot of dedication and effort that isn’t easy to achieve.” An art that goes beyond edible attributes, judging from the growing cheese platter culture. “They’re centrepieces and conversation starters, you really can’t not interact with other people with a cheese board platter around” adds Shah. Sirimon cheese started by offering the following cheeses: Cheddar, Mozzarella, Gouda, Halloumi, Feta. They occasionally offer Port Wine Cheddar and Mature Cheddar cheese.
Tips for Your Cheese Platter Adventure:
- To ensure that your cheeses will be at their best, purchase them two to three days before your event.
- When thinking about the cheese you’re putting on your board, pick a cheese that is sliceable, creamy and moist, as well as presentable. Think about your guests – what do they like? As a rule of thumb have a variety of cheeses – for example three to four types – to cater to a wide audience.
- Arrange your cheeses in a clockwise direction from mildest to strongest, labelling each cheese. That way guests can know which cheeses they’re enjoying.
- An hour before the event, take the cheeses out of the fridge to let them breathe. Bringing them to room temperature enhances the flavour of the cheeses.
- Cut the cheese on a different chopping board before placing it on the final platter/board. Sticking the knife in the cheese wedge is a no-no! Use a wire to cut the gooier types of cheeses like blue cheese.
- Opt for boards made from organic materials such as slate or wood. It makes the cheese experience warmer as opposed to porcelain which can be so cold.
- Having accompaniments are a must! Trying out different flavours is half of the fun of having a cheese platter! Condiments such as honey, exotic jams, sauces, chutneys, beetroot crisps and fresh or dried fruits enhance the cheesy experience.
- Think about cheese platter tips as guidelines. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations such as honey and Gouda! It may sound odd, but it actually is a perfect combination to the palette.