This year, despite all the obstacles and difficulties, the international community will get to know the variety of cheeses from Ukrainian producers as part of the World Cheese Awards international competition, which will be held on 2 November in Great Britain. The editors of PostEat spoke with the official representatives of our country at the WCA — ARDIS group and the community of cheese connoisseurs ProCheese — and talked about the importance of being at the competition and the participants who will represent Ukraine at the international cheese event.

How the great cheese story began

The Ardis Group company was one of the first to introduce Ukrainians to new categories of cheeses from different countries and to import world brands. The company has more than 20 years of fruitful work, expanded import geography, and reliable relations with partners. Ardis Group’s successes have greatly influenced the diversity of the country’s cheese market. It also inspired the creation of the ProCheese community and the annual ProCheese Awards festival cheese and art competition. Now the company is actively working on various projects and services contributing to the Ukrainian cheese market development and has become an official partner of the large-scale World Cheese Awards cheese festival. This year, it is taking Ukrainian cheeses to Britain for the first time. “Thanks to the Ardis Group’s philosophy “Discover world through cheese” and a long partnership of the company with WCA organizers, we managed to start a project of Ukrainian cheeses’ free participation in the international competition allowing our cheesemakers to introduce their cheeses to the world. We also received support from Switzerland as part of the Quality FOOD Trade Program, which provides an opportunity to implement this project,” shares Oksana Chernova, cheese expert in the ProCheese community, co-founder of the ProCheese Awards festival, judge of the World Cheese Awards international competition from Ukraine.

Cheese map of Ukraine: participating cheeses and cheese factories from all over the country

This year, for free, 39 cheeses from 21 Ukrainian cheese makers will go to the World Cheese Awards 2022. The geography of the competition participants covers almost all corners of our Ukraine: Kyiv region, Sumy region, Zhytomyr region, Vinnytsia region, Kirovohrad region, Frankivsk region, Lviv region, Ternopil region, Volyn region, Odesa region, Cherkasy region.

“Ukrainian cheeses will be presented for the first time at the WCA this year. For us, this is a great responsibility and a very exciting event. But we are sure that the international cheese community will be pleasantly surprised by Ukrainian cheese’s quality and authentic taste. After all, Freedom tastes great,” says expert Oksana Chernova.

Freedom tastes great — with this motto, Ukrainian cheeses will encounter World Cheese Awards 2022 in Great Britain. Ukrainian cheese makers will become the personification of a courageous Ukrainian business for the world community — despite unprecedented difficulties, they continue their favorite business, ready to loudly announce to the world about their country’s successes in various fields.

We will introduce some cheeses and cheesemakers participating in the world’s largest cheese competition, the World Cheese Awards.

These cheesemakers from the Kyiv region will attend the prestigious festival:

“Dooobra Ferma” | “Bikoz” Cheese

It is a unique cheese factory located in an ecologically clean place in the village of Ivka, Boguslav district. All processes on the farm — from plowing the land for sowing grain to delivering cheese — are done by them. They have a wide range of dairy products, and their mission is to make the best Ukrainian cheese, which will be known worldwide.

One of the five cheeses that will travel from the manufacturer to Britain is the hard goat’s milk cheese “Bikoz”. The secret of its popularity lies in the taste achieved by ripening: brewed according to the recipe of Dutch Gouda cheese, Bikoz is aged in the cellar and is known for its spicy-sweet taste with slightly sour notes and creamy aroma. Aging the cheese for 12-15 months allows you to enjoy a rich and dense taste, as well as tyrosine crystals (crunchy crystals, which are often felt in aged cheeses; concentrates of the amino acids tyrosine and leucine, which are formed as a result of the breakdown of milk casein during cheese ripening – ed.).

“Syroman” | “Vihola” Cheese

The small cheese factory “Syroman” is located on the outskirts of Kyiv. Here, cheeses are made from goat’s and cow’s milk according to French technology but with a unique Ukrainian soul. The manufacturer strives to create a Ukrainian product with a story they will be proud of.

In addition to the “Chorna Bashta” (Black Tower) and “Bilyi Triufel” (White Truffle) cheeses, the fascinating “Vihola” cheese, the recipe of which arose unexpectedly, will enter the competition. Since the goats graze freely all year round and eat only grass, in the winter, their diet includes pine needles from under the snow, which gives the milk a coniferous taste. The cheese factory decided to enhance this flavor by adding needles to the cheese itself. This is how “Vihola” appeared — cream cheese made from pasteurized goat’s milk with white mold, decorated with a sprig of spruce and young cones on top. The cheese is characterized by a sweet-creamy taste with bright notes of needles and mushroom aftertaste.

“RORY” | “Bessarabia” Cheese

Ukrainets Agro, a farm and cheese factory from the Kyiv region, produces craft cheeses from the milk of pedigree goats. In 2021, two of their cheeses were among the finalists of the national ProCheese Awards competition. Hard cheeses “Bessarabia”, “Chervonyi Mars” (Red Mars), “Provans” (Provence), “Bohuslavskyi”, as well as fresh “Labne” with cilantro and pepper in olive oil, will go to the competition.

By the way, the name of the “Bessarabia” cheese appeared for a reason; its crust is covered with Bessarabian spices, which makes this cheese unique and adds a bit of South Ukrainian spirit to it. The interesting shape and size of this cheese play an essential role — “Bessarabia” is formed into small balls with a diameter of 4 cm and weight of 50 grams; therefore, after 21 days of aging, it already has time to become hard. The cheese dough has a moderately intense taste of goat’s milk, so even those who are wary of such milk will like the cheese.

The following producers from the Kirovohrad region had the opportunity to present their products in the international arena:

“Lel'” | “Ricotta Classic”

Cheese from the producer “Milk Workshop” is “Ricotta Classic”. This cheese is a Ukrainian analog of the popular Italian ricotta. The main feature of “Ricotta Classic” is the process of grazing animals that give milk for this cheese. The production is located in the Kirovohrad region, where there are excellent climatic conditions for grazing and many sunny days a year. Because of this, cows can graze and consume fresh and tasty grass for longer — these factors improve the taste of milk and cheese. The product’s flavor is gentle, creamy, milky, and slightly sweet. In the texture, you can feel the correct small grains, as is typical for cheese of this category.

“Lisova Koza” | “Fore Noir” Cheese

“Lisova Koza” production is one of the largest farms in Ukraine, located in the Kirovohrad region. Specializes in breeding and sales of young breeding goats of the Alpine breed and has its own cheese-making farm. “Lisova Koza” has prepared semi-hard goat cheese “Black Forest SanGlier” and hard goat cheese “Fore Noir” for the competition.

“Fore Noir” is ready to surprise gourmets with its sweet-sour taste containing spiciness, which it owes to its 12-month aging. The aroma is dominated by nutty and creamy notes, as well as notes of goat’s milk. The texture of the cheese dough is crumbly; it has small eyes and a pleasant ivory color. Not far from the farm is a forest called “Black”. Hence the name of the cheese born here — Forêt Noir, meaning “Black Forest” in French.

Also, such representatives of Lviv Oblast’ cheese factories, which became finalists of the ProCheese Awards last year, will go to Great Britain:

“Cheese Mandry” | “Tsurkan” Cheese

During its ten-year history, the Lviv producer “Cheese Mandry” managed to collect in its assortment more than 50 types of cheeses of various categories, to unite producers and farmers around itself, and to join the culture of consumption of artisan farm cheeses in Ukraine.

Farm cheese from fresh ecological milk “Tsurkan” is made according to an Italian recipe but with a Ukrainian soul. The creation of Hard “Tsurkan” follows the technology of Pecorino Sardo cheese from Lacaune sheep’s milk. However, it has a peculiarity — the natural crust is covered with cocoa powder. The taste, as is characteristic of sheep’s cheese, is salty, but in the aftertaste caramel, herbal, and roasted hazelnut notes are already noticeable. Aged for 10-11 months, the cheese has a crumbly cheese dough sprinkled with small eyes and tyrosine.

“Jersey” | “Massimo” Cheese

Lviv cheese factory “Jersey” is all about farm cheeses from natural cow’s and sheep’s milk. They are made at the family cheese factory according to unique recipes. “Jersey” prepares the aged “Zolote Runo” (The Golden Fleece) cheese made from sheep’s milk, as well as the soft, washed-rind “Massimo” made from cow’s milk to bring to the WCA.

The crust of “Massimo” cheese is washed not just with a salt solution but with pear distillate, giving it a particular taste with fruity notes. Behind the wrinkled crust hides a creamy center with a liquid layer around it. Cheese dough will delight you with its citrus flavor; closer to the crust, you will already feel creamy and nutty notes. Natural packaging made of birch adds to the cheese’s uniqueness and brings its own aromatic note.

“We in the ProCheese community always talk about the importance of product quality. It is important to create cheese and be responsible for its safety simultaneously. Only those cheeses that have passed selection on all production parameters and have quality certificates participate in the competition,” says expert Oksana Chernova.

This year, the trip to the WCA takes place with the support of Switzerland as part of the Swiss-Ukrainian program “Development of trade with higher added value in the organic and dairy sectors of Ukraine”, which is implemented by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL, Switzerland) in partnership with SAFOSO AG (Switzerland).

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