The South African Cheese Festival celebrates its 18th anniversary this year with a feast of 18-experiences-in-one from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 April 2019.
This “Festival of the Year” as awarded in 2018 promises a taste experience of popular local and international cheese, alternative and gourmet products, as well as select wines, craft beer and gin. New this year is a piazza with everything Italian and “Raak ‘n bietjie rustig” Friday for those who want to experience the festival at a slower pace.
“The SA Cheese Festival has grown into South Africa’s most popular outdoor food experience,” says Johan Ehlers, Chief Executive Officer of Agri-Expo, who has hosted the festival since 2002. “It offers an unparalleled value for money platform for visitors to taste, buy and enjoy cheese and complementary products from about 150 exhibitors, and especially to test entrepreneurs’ innovative creations – from insect ice cream to abalone pie!”
Tonnes of cheese – from Naples to Kareedouw
In the Cheese Emporium, festival goers can taste and buy the widest variety of cheese – old favourites and new ones – under one roof. Here, a brand-new Italian Piazza with Mozzarella, olives, Provolone, Prosciutto di Parma, pasta, pesto and Italian hospitality awaits.
“Unique to the SA Cheese Festival are exhibitions by artisanal cheesemakers from far and wide,” says Ehlers. “We annually offer an opportunity to a number of small cheese makers to introduce their unique handmade products to up to 30 000 visitors as part of our #Support #SmallCheeseMakers project in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) and Absa.”
Room for learning from experts
Food lovers who like adventurous pairing experiences will enjoy a feast of six daily demonstrations in the Tasting Room, at no extra cost. Well-known foodies such as The Food Alchemist Pete Goffe-Wood, The Kate Tin Katelyn Allegra, The Food Fox Ilse van der Merwe and the Italian La Terra dei Cuochi winner Lapo Magni will share their pairing secrets – combining cheese with wine, beer and other complementary products. Come discover the story behind Afrikoa chocolate from Tanzania and what makes Prosecco different to Champagne.
According to Ehlers, visitors can also look forward to “Are you a ‘BOK’ for cheese?” with the Bok Radio Breakfast duo Wimpie and Le-Lue featuring SA’s 2019 Dairy Product of the Year – the 50/50 goat’s and cow’s milk cheese St Francis of Ashisi of Belnori Boutique Cheesery. Also on the programme are SA’s Top Ten Chenin Blanc in collaboration with Standard Bank; and cheese-and-wine tastings by Fairview’s chief winemaker Anthony de Jager (Friday and Sunday) and owner Charles Back (Saturday).
“Last year, the Tasting Room sessions were extremely popular and festival goers should arrive early to ensure a seat,” Ehlers recommends.
Discover alternative products
In the ‘Cape Made: Taste the Alternatives’ Mall, there is a selection of niche and alternative products such as pomegranates, chillies and periwinkle to choose from plus bargains directly from entrepreneurs thanks to a partnership with the WCDoA. In the ‘Cape Made Kitchen’, visitors can experience a taste of magic, at no extra cost, during three daily demonstrations where chefs of the Private Hotel School demonstrate specially developed recipes pairing cheese with bread and alternative products. Visitors also receive an exclusive recipe book as gift.
Cheese carving and live music
Big and small can win fantastic prizes (and of course delicious cheese!) in the Ladismith Cheese Carving Competition for which visitors can enter daily before 13:00 at Blossom’s Gazebo. Entries are free, but space is limited. And at the Music Gazebo, festival goers can enjoy performances by artists such as ShenFM, Absolutely Fabulous, Sincere Swing, The Grey, Under Cover and SHIM SHAM Band.
Boutique is king
According to Ehlers, the SA Cheese Festival offers the ideal platform to support boutique manufacturers. “Stalls with a select collection of wines are situated just outside the Cheese Emporium – a move from inside that was received overwhelmingly positive by festival goers last year,” says Ehlers. “Our focus is on discovering new tastes – from wine and craft beer to gin with honey, almond, buchu, strawberry or chai. We promote responsible use of alcohol and recommend that festival goers make use of shuttle services and taxis.”
“Raak ‘n bietjie rustig” Friday
Friday 26 April is the first day of the festival and therefore the ideal day to experience the festival at a slower pace before the weekend gets busy. Watch out for “Raak ‘n bietjie rustig” packages on Friday 26 April – perfect for groups such as book/garden/crochet/coffee/bowls/lift clubs. Buy three adult or three senior citizen tickets and a fourth friend can attend the festival free of charge.
Get tickets before they sell out
The SA Cheese Festival will take place from Friday 26 April to Sunday 28 April 2019 at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch. No tickets will be available at the gates. Tickets are available at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers at R180 per person per day. Senior citizens pay R120 and children aged 2 to 13 pay R20. An exclusive Connoisseurs’ Experience is available (at R950 per person, over 18 years only) for only 100 guests per day, with reserved seating, VIP parking, early access, a Président Cheese curated cheese board, a bottle of Linton Park wine and more.
Visit www.cheesefestival.co.za, contact Agri-Expo at 021-975 4440 or email email@example.com for more information. For programme highlights, follow the SA Cheese Festival on Facebook (Cheese Festival), Twitter (@SACheeseFest) and Instagram (sacheesefest).