Friday, April 20, 2012
Greenfields: Surprisingly Good Mozzarella from Indonesia!
This has got to be one of the most eyebrow-raising products at Food Hotel Asia 2012 - mozzarella, not from Italy, but Indonesia! The most curious question is - how good is it?
Well, pretty darn impressive, actually. It's got a pleasant bite, with a smooth and mild taste. An Italian passerby who tasted it insisted it must be from Italy, and was incredulous that it was from Asia.
Here's the cheese served with diced tomatoes, shredded basil, cracked black pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
So I was really curious about Greenfields, and got to sit down with their Head of Marketing and Sales, Jan Gert Vistisen.
Greenfields is produced by AustAsia which owns an integrated dairy on the highlands of Malang in East Java. It was set up in 1997 by a group of Australian and Indonesian agribusiness entrepreneurs, and they have been supplying the region with fresh milk for almost 15 years. With over 6,000 Holstein cows, they are South-east Asia's largest dairy farm. The cows are imported from Australia from specially selected healthy stock.
The secret to their milk success? Happy cows! Over at the highlands, temperature is just right, there's lots of fresh air and water. The cows feed on a mixture of grains (from Australia) and grass from neighbouring farms.
At the integrated dairy, there is no transport between milking, processing and packaging - it's all at the same site. That means less bacteria in the milk, because handling, transferring and travel time is all highly reduced.
They chose to start with mozzarella first, because of the freshness factor.
"Being in Indonesia lets us be the 'dairy next door' for major Asian capitals - we can get the mozzarella into kitchens faster and fresher," Said Vistisen.
Here's Chef Fahmi Widarte, Greenfields' corporate chef, who has been busy creating dishes using their milk and mozzarella. Some of you may know him as one of the judges for Junior Chef in 2008.
Otto Weibel, former Director of Kitchens at Swissotel The Stamford and Fairmont Singapore and Director of OSIA Restaurant, Sentosa, had said, "The mozzarella is very fresh when it arrives, and the taste is perfect when paired with our wood-fired pizzas."
Well, Greenfields did fly in an Italian cheesemaker to impart his knowledge on making mozzarella. Language was almost an issue as they could not find an Italian translator, but they got a French one, and luckily the cheesemaker spoke French too. And that's how this Indonesian mozzarella came into being.
When the cheese is melted, like on pizza, it blends well and is nicely stretchable. There are five qualities to look out for in a good mozzarella, says Vistisen. "Stretchability, meltability, a light springy texture, mild taste and the right amount of oil - you don't want too much oil or it will run, but there must be enough of a nice sheen."
That's Jan sitting in the background - ah, I'm always forgetting to take photos of people, because I'm so focused on the food!
Anyway, Greenfields also has other products - namely milk, which they have been producing and supplying to Singapore and the region for years. There's also whipping cream.
The chocolate malt is delicious! A smooth, roundly creamy mouthfeel and just the right sweetness (not toothachingly so). I got to take home a couple of packs, and the kids absolutely love it!
Well, I am definitely going to look out for Greenfields milk in the supermarkets, as an alternative to my (increasingly expensive) Meiji. And I'm glad now we can get fresh mozzarella that didn't have to travel so far.
Oh by the way, the cheese goes MARVELOUSLY with a 2009 Gancia Pinot Grigio. Hope you get to try it. FHA is still on today - last day! If you are going, do visit the Greenfields booth at Hall 6 (right at the entrance).
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