May 20, 2013

P1160779 (Copier)Noumea will be putting cheese in the spotlight when one of New Caledonia’s finest hotels, Le Méridien Noumea, celebrates the 10th anniversary of the French Cheese Festival.

The Festival runs from Tuesday 28 May to Saturday 8 June 2013, excluding Sunday 2 and Monday 3 June.

Back by popular demand, the 2013 edition of the French Cheese Festival will see the return of Mr Gerard Poulard, “Maître Fromagier”, Cheese Master.

Le Méridien Noumea’s French Cheese Festival is an annual rendez-vous where New Caledonia’s gourmet community and visitors can discover and enjoy a collection of no less than 130 varieties of cheese.  Selected by Maitre Poulard, the cheeses would not normally be available anywhere but in France.

For over twenty years, Gerard Poulard has travelled throughout the French countryside to encounter its varied history and culture.   His knowledge of the origin of numerous cheeses is extensive.

Behind the cheese buffet and face to face with guests, Gerard Poulard knows that he only has few moments to seduce and convince.  Mr Poulard’s histories and anecdotes about France and its cheese makers are so vast, that he sometimes knows the name of the goat or cow from which the precious milk has been drawn, to make his exclusive annual selection of cheeses for Le Méridien’s cheese festival.

In addition to the cheese selection, which is explained and served by the Cheese Master, that takes place over dinner at the Hotel’s Le Sextant Restaurant from 7 pm to 10 pm, guests will also be able to enjoy a hot and cold “Parisian bistrot” buffet.

P1160777 (Copier)A sommelier will also be on hand to suggest the best French wines to accompany the cheese selection.

The 10th anniversary French Cheese Festival at Le Méridien Noumea provides a unique opportunity, for both the novice and the refined palate, to taste an unparalleled selection of cheeses.

The hotel has four dining choices, each with their own cuisine.

Surrounded by landscaped tropical gardens and overlooking Anse Vata Bay, not far from the town’s vibrant centre, Le Méridien Nouméa offers guests an extensive range of leisure and recreational activities, such as a wellness centre with beauty and massage treatments plus a steam room and sauna, as well as a large swimming pool, the hotel has direct access to the beach, where guests can enjoy windsurfing and snorkeling.

Noumea is only 2.5 hours flying time from Sydney, with daily services on Aircalin.

Sandra Tiltman 

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November 4, 2012

Known around the world for its sheep, dairy industry and magnificent scenery, or not necessarily in that order, New Zealand is fast becoming a world leader as a producer of fine quality food and wine.

I recently attended a demonstration of an innovative New Zealand product with a hard to forget name, Mad Millie Cheese Kit.  Held at Neilson Park, the demonstration was presented by Danielle Dixon, who appeared as a contestant in season three of Masterchef Australia.  Danielle held us all spellbound as she made cheese making, look so easy and so much fun.  Just to prove how easy it was, Danielle asked several members of the audience to come up and assist her.  I am not known for my culinary skills so I did not rush to volunteer, but after watching the demonstration, I can’t wait to try making some cheese myself.  Mozzarella appeared to be one of the easier varieties to make, so I think I will start with that.

With their head office in Auckland, Mad Millie creates DIY food kits that enable the adventurous, and not so adventurous, home cooks to create many varieties of cheese in their own kitchen.  These easy to use kits provide everything needed to get started, except the milk.  Even the most inexperienced home cooks can create their own mozzarella, ricotta, mascarpone and feta to name but a few.  Once they become more confident they can move onto other varieties such as camembert and blue vein.

Cheese is made from souring milk by adding an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar or by using a bacterial culture.  This causes the milk to separate into the curd, the solid part from which most cheese is made, and also the whey, which is the liquid.

One of the most important reasons for making your own cheese is that you know exactly what has gone into it and that there are no artificial ingredients.  Imagine how impressed your friends will be when you present your own hand made cheeses that taste so good.  Sandra Tiltman