HEAVEN ON CHEESE
Reinhard Matheis has been making cheese since 2008 in Nakon Sawan sourcing raw cow’s milk from a small local farm. Before coming to Thailand he worked as a Chief Baker of 5-star cruise ships. He started making cheese initially as a hobby when he came to Thailand and couldn’t find the soft style of French cheese he loved at his local supermarket. Whenever he managed to find cheese it was invariably poor quality. He couldn’t find what was missing from his diet; he had a local source of fresh cow’s milk so he became an artisanal cheese maker.
Not only did he have to learn how to make cheese but how to modify European techniques to work in a tropical environment. Having sourced clean fresh raw milk he then had to create the correct environment for the cheese production and ageing with refrigerated storage to keep the cheese stable. The cheese making process starts once the milk has been tested within 24 hours of having been milked. He believes it’s important to keep the milk as natural as possible, neither adding milk powder nor removing butter fats for the taste quality.
The reason why he uses raw milk to make the cheese is that the bacteria found in raw milk is essential to the flavor which is what is pivotal to a true cheese lover, but it has to be stored to the highest hygiene standard. The easy cheese maker option would be to use the safer pasteurized milk which is effectively “dead milk” that can’t offer anything to the taste of the cheese. To build flavor in cheese made from it, cheese makers must reintroduce bacteria through the form of starter cultures – pre-selected strains of bacteria made in a laboratory and available in powder form. He does use limited quantities of different strains of French starter cultures to create custom mother cultures to jump start the cheese making process. These selection of cheese are not suitable for vegetarians as they are made using a non-GMO calf rennet.
He makes five cheese styles. His Camembert is similar to its namesake made in Normandy, France. Its characteristics are distinctively bloomy with an edible rind and a creamy texture inside. In France the minimum legal aging for their cheese is three weeks, these are given five. The double-cream Brie has extra cream added before the curd is formed, calorie counters don’t panic this cheese has no more than 37% total fat. The latest addition is the Ashed Brie with Truffle. The Munster made in French style is a strong tasting soft cheese formed in flat cylinders, the skins are washed in brine during maturing process. Reblochon on the other hand is a semi-soft, washed rind and smear ripened cheese. Its character is a fine velvety rind, varying from yellow to orange in color. The close textured pâté is very smooth, supple and ivory in color.
Hotels and restaurants in Bangkok who currently use these cheese are Quince Eatery & Bar, Luka Café, Siwilai Café (Siwilai City Club), Le Du Restaurant, Sloane’s, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park.
Heaven on Cheese are forecasting that an annual production won’t exceed 4,000 Kilograms this year.
Written by: Rachel Smith