Last time we had been oh so far with cheese and wines from North America, this time we stayed oh so close to home. Think global, act local – in HeinzelCheeseTalk this translates in knowing your cheeses worldwide while never neglecting what’s made in front of your doorstep. We therefore explored the cheeses from two cheese makers who call the beautiful Schaalsee halfway between Berlin and Hamburg their home.
Ute Rohrbeck has been running the Kunst und Käse dairy in Rögnitz since over 13 years, guiding her neighbor’s goat milk into a wide range of lovely little cheeses. Her colleague Rüdiger Petersen, on his Kranichhof in Bantin, is more into larger formats and works with his own, very beautiful cows’ milk. His modestly named Bauernkäse, farmer’s cheese, is one of my Yes-please-anytime-cheeses (and available at Knippenbergs).
I visited both of them the day before we convened and returned loaded with cheesy substances to explore with you, for a mental tasting tour to the Mecklenburg landscape of lakes, cranes and pastures. In the glass we had a serendipitous selection from the HeinzelCheese cellars and Weinhandlung Suff, from global to local.
And so we cheesed along… You were once again a fantastic group, the vibes around the table positively invigorating. We started with Riesling bubbles and Ute Rohrbeck’s snow-white, refreshingly fresh, crumbly Dicke Liese. Check. Then I just had to share with you (besides Töplitz Grauburgunder from Werder close to Berlin) the fabulous Quark and Schmand from Rüdiger Petersen – the most concentrated and intense of their kind I’ve tasted for a long time.
There could have been no better introduction to his unpretentious cheeses, whose quality relies on the fabulous milk. The opposite of the picturesque Kunst & Käse, Kranichhof is certainly no material for glossy urban wannabe farmers’ magazines. But those animals are truly happy, and they are truly beautiful (just look at those horns!), and Rüdiger Petersen knows exactly about the really important things.
He strongly believes in fresh, open air and locally grown feed – and that you can taste (and you did!) in his Schaalseer Bauernkäse, the softer, smaller Bantiner and the six months old, (intensely) aromatic Tilsiter. At the same time you discovered how acidity-driven reductive white wines as well as soft Mediterranean rosé change in taste when paired with cheese characters such as these.
Then we moved on to Ute Rohrbeck’s selection (which is available at her shop in Kreuzberg’s Solmsstraße): creamy Camembert, the much drier Thymianflöte, and the very similar, but yet so different and quite demanding little round Babette. Red wines from Lake Constance and Württemberg helped us along, and we finished on a real high: Blauer Künstler, blue outside and in, with a soft, voluptuous Austrian red for some and the brilliant Scheurebe from Christian Stahl for others (or both…). Danke (in particular also to Carla for the pictures) – and see you soon!
HeinzelCheeseTalks take place regularly, usually on a Friday at 6pm at Markthalle Neun in Berlin-Kreuzberg. I bring some interesting cheese, open a few bottles of wine, and we sit around the large table opposite the Suff wine stall, tasting, drinking, talking, discussing (mostly in German – but we usually manage to cater to English speakers too). Invites are sent out about ten days before we meet, to a mailing list you can join here. Reservations need to be confirmed and are strictly by first come first serve – so be quick! And please do let me know if you can’t make it – there is always a waiting list. A donation of ten euros per person (or one or two euros more if you really had a lot of fun…) is much appreciated. Cheesio!