Bestselling potato crisps at Warteg Warmo. — Jakarta Post pic
JAKARTA, April 22 — Family-owned warung serving affordable but tasty food and drinks are a dime a dozen in Indonesia. In the capital Jakarta you can find them on almost every street, serving everything from gado-gado — the famous Indonesian salad drenched in sweet peanut sauce — to, yes, in this age of globalised palate, pasta.
The Jakarta Globe went to five modern warungs in Jakarta and show you the evolution of these original fast-food joints. A plate of fresh gado-gado at Gado-Gado Bon Bin costs Rp 36,000. — Jakarta Post pic
1. Gado-Gado ‘Bon Bin’ (1960)
“Bon-Bin” is actually an acronym for “Kebon Binatang” (Zoo) since the warung is located very close to the old Jakarta Zoo in Cikini, Central Jakarta, before it was relocated to Ragunan.
Owner Hadi’s parents opened the original food stand, called Warung Lontong, in 1942.
Lontong is rice cake wrapped in banana leaf, and can be served with all sorts of dishes and condiments.
In 1960, they started specialising in the one dish they are now famous for: Gado-gado.
The gado-gado salad is typically made up of blanched or steamed vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, tempe, tofu and covered with generous dollops of homemade peanut sauce dressing.
Hadi’s version also has crunchy bean sprouts, fresh green beans, spinach, soft tofu, thick but tender lontong, potatoes, his own homemade special peanut sauce and topped off with emping (crackers made from crushed melinjo seeds) and krupuk (deep fried crackers made from flour and seasoning). Hadi continues his parents’ legacy at Gado-Gado Bon Bin. — Jakarta Post pic
Bon Bin’s peanut sauce is thicker than most and quite sweet. Hadi tells The Jakarta Globe unlike in most other places, he does not fry the peanuts before they’re crushed into sauce and simmer it for longer to release more flavours.
As the peanut dressing is the main part of the dish, when it runs out the shop has to close so they can make the next big batches.
George Kuak from Singapore has been coming every week to Gado-Gado Bon Bin since finding the place two years ago.
“Gado-gado is very healthy, and with all these ingredients, it’s a full meal on its own. My office is a bit far, in Sudirman, but I come here a lot,” he said.
Address: Jalan Cikini 4 No.5, Cikini, Central Jakarta
Opening hours: 10am-5pm (Monday-Sunday) All the dishes at Warmo are cooked fresh on site every day. It takes six hours in total. — Jakarta Post pic
2. Warteg Warmo (1970)
Warteg stands for Warung Tegal (literally “warung from Tegal,” a town in Central Java), but the name is now synonymous with any small restaurant that serves various pre-cooked dishes that stand proudly in glass-windowed cupboards.
The menu, just like here at famous Warteg Warmo, is usually so extensive you’ll have difficulty choosing unless you already know what you want.
It can seem like every single Javanese dish is available at Warmo, from all sorts of sayur (vegetables, Rp 5,000/RM1.40 per portion) to chicken, beef or seafood (Rp 13,000), fish (Rp 8,000), spicy chicken soup (Rp 20,000) or beef ribs soup (Rp 25,000).
There isn’t a price board available because all the dishes are priced depending on the ingredients used.
Warmo, located on a busy corner of Tebet in South Jakarta, is traditional in every sense. Though not air-conditioned, the place is cool as the grated windows allow a nice breeze to come in. Rita, Warmo’s manager and the daughter of its original owner. — Jakarta Post pic
Since it’s open 24 hours, Warmo is popular with young people who flock to it for midnight snacks or even a full meal after going clubbing.
A communal wooden bench is set inside for strangers to eat side by side — be warned that when this place gets crowded, there will be no room for personal space.
Rita, the third out of five children of the late Pak Dasir, the original owner, manages the restaurant. Her younger sister is in charge of the cooking, which is done every day from 5am to 11am.
The warung has always opened 24 hours because Pak Dasir used to be a becak driver before he opened Warmo. He knew that becak drivers are often hungry at night and often could not find a warung open late enough to fill their belly.
This is also the reason why Warmo has kept the prices of each dish relatively cheap even though it’s popular with the city’s rich and trendy set.
Address: Jalan Tebet Timur Raya No. 1D, Tebet, South Jakarta
Opening hours: 24 hours a day, seven days a week ‘Snowy Chip,’ one of Warung Pasta’s bestsellers. — Jakarta Post pic
3. Warung Pasta (2006)
Warung Pasta’s owner and chef Ragil Imam Wibowo always wanted to be different. He wanted to be a pioneer.
So when everybody else was opening noodle joints back in 2006, he and his wife decided to open Warung Pasta, an “Asian Pasta” place that serves the Italian dish tailored to the Indonesian palate.
Since then, Warung Pasta has constantly adapted to the times, changing their menu regularly to keep up with trends.
Their steady bestsellers include Meaty Lovers (a spaghetti bolognaise with a sweet meat and tomato sauce) and Snowy Chip (a creamy carbonara pasta with smoked beef).
They also recently introduced a cold pasta salad — only available currently at their Kemang and Bandung shops.
Warung Pasta’s Kemang store is located on the second floor of a shophouse, with a balcony patio looking over busy Jalan Kemang Raya.
Chef Ragil said every pasta and pizza dish at his restaurant has been modified to suit local taste. If you’re new to Italian pasta, then this is the place for you.
Address: Jalan Kemang Raya No. 88, Kemang, South Jakarta
Opening hours: 7am-1am (Monday-Thursday, Sunday); 7am-3am (Friday, Saturday) Soganli Tavuk: Chicken with seasoned onion and butter rice at Warung Turki. — Jakarta Post pic
4. Warung Turki by Turkuaz (2015)
To Warung Turki’s owner and chef Sezai Zorlu, the word “warung” means simplicity, and compared to his first restaurant, the more upmarket Turkuaz, Warung Turki gives customers a better glimpse into his hometown.
“This is not an Indonesian warung, this is a Turkish warung,” Zorlu said.
Zorlu hails from the southeast of Turkey, growing up in a city called Iskenderun.
His grandparents were farmers, so he understands the value of growing food, eating and sharing whatever you have.
Zorlu’s mother was a strict disciplinarian and prioritised family time over the dinner table.
“Seven o’clock at night you have to be at home, ready, sitting in the chair waiting for your food. She will lock the door when it’s seven and you’re not in. You wait outside, until the dinner is finished. Snow, rain, summer, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
Zorlu won’t lock you out of his restaurant, but he does want his customers to respect the food they are served. A Mezze platter at Warung Turki. — Jakarta Post pic
A Mezze platter at Warung Turki is perfect if you want to try out different Turkish appetisers. You get smooth and buttery Zeytinyagli Humus (chickpeas and tahini with organic extra virgin olive oil), sweet and sour Babaganuc (wood charcoal grilled aubergine, tomato, chili pepper, and garlic with organic extra virgin olive oil), and fresh wake-me-up mini salad Gavurdagi Salatasi (cucumber, tomatoes and walnuts with pomegranate sauce and organic extra virgin olive oil).
Tear a piece of fresh wood oven-baked Pide Ekmegi (bread with sesame) and dip it into these tasting plates. The Babaganuc is especially tasty, with just the right amount of piquancy.
If you want Turkish comfort food, then go for the Soganli Tavuk, a Turkish chicken butter rice dish.
Chopped onion slices are caramelised with bay leaf, cumin powder and chilli paste, then stuffed into a chicken and boiled.
The rice is first sauteed with butter, then cooked with the chicken stock to produce a soft and savoury companion to the dish. Meftune Kuzu Incik: Simmered lamb shank with whole shallots, garlic and tomato paste at Warung Turki. — Jakarta Post pic
This is Chef Zorlu’s favourite childhood dish. He tells The Jakarta Globe he makes his own spices and dries his own herbs. This gives his dishes an authentic homemade taste.
Though the place is called a warung, not all dishes at Warung Turki are simple to make. The lamb shank, or Meftune Kuzu Incik, is marinated with whole shallots, garlic and tomato paste for four hours and then simmered for eight to ten hours. It’s served with butter rice.
Zorlu said this dish was served to Turkish Sultans back in the 15th century, and that’s why each ingredient had to be carefully chosen and then slow-cooked to perfection.
Warung Turki is dedicated to the chef’s mother, so he and his staff pride themselves on traditional homemade food.
“Home-cooking is always more delicious than fine dining. Especially for people like me who have lived their whole life eating home-cooked meals,” Zorlu said.
Address: Jl. Kemang Raya No.18A, Kemang, South Jakarta
Opening hours: 11:30am-midnight (Monday-Sunday) Nasi Ayam Penyet Pedesnya Ga Nyante (Rice With Chicken and Too Hot to Handle Chili Topping), toasts with matcha and taro spread and iced coffee with palm sugar at Warunk Upnormal. — Jakarta Post pic
5. Warunk Upnormal (2016)
Warunk Upnormal has gone from an upstart into a staple in less than two years, with almost 100 locations in major cities in Indonesia to date.
Restaurant manager Dwi Kurniawan said the restaurant’s simple concept — combining common ingredients like instant noodles with outlandish toppings (salted egg anyone?) — has been so well received that it has been easy for them to expand.
Warunk Upnormal’s concept is not new. The ubiquitous “Warung Indomie,” a tent stall serving instant noodles (usually Indomie brand) and toasts with corned beef, cheese, or egg (or the lot) as topping or filling, is basically the Indonesian equivalent of the corner pub. A bowl of Indomie with cheesy sauce at Warunk Upnormal. — Jakarta Post pic
All Warunk Upnormal does is combine the Warung Indomie menu with a modern cafe setting (yes, they do serve manual brew) and voila, you have a runaway success.
One of Warunk Upnormal’s bestsellers is Indomie Saos Keju (instant noodles in cheese sauce). We expected a thicker, more decadent cheese sauce. What we got instead was a steaming hot, slightly cheesy broth.
Chopped chillies give the dish an extra zing but it’s quickly masked by the cheesy and milky broth. The single slice of rubbery smoked beef ham fails to improve things. Warunk Upnormal in Tebet, South Jakarta. — Jakarta Post pic
But what Warunk Upnormal is a place of convenience. The restaurant is almost half a co-working space, but with food. It has fast and free Wi-Fi, cool air-conditioning and power sockets littered all over the place to charge your devices.
As mentioned before, Warunk Upnormal has tons of locations, so make sure to look for the address closest to you.
Address: Tebet branch: Jl. K.H. Abdulah Syafei No. 45, Tebet, South Jakarta
Opening hours: 7am-2am (Monday-Sunday) — The Jakarta Globe
Rosemary-scented marian plums elevate an otherwise plain cheese tart. — Pictures by CK Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — Seasonal fruits make for delicious treats, their taste as fleeting as their availability. April is the season for buah kundang, also known as the marian plum.
Native to South-east Asia and grown in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, the marian plum (Bouea macrophylla) isn’t actually a plum. In fact, it is more closely related to the mango. A pale green when young, the fruit turns a sexy apricot hue when ripe, inviting you to take a bite…
Could its name refer to Maid Marian of the Robin Hood legend? Perhaps the independent-minded 16th-century noblewoman had a particular fondness for this dusky fruit, so succulent and fragrant? Perhaps she admired its shape, so round and plump yet dainty and discreet? A most voluptuous delicacy for the fair lady.
However, given that the marian plum is a tropical fruit and Maid Marian belonged to the more temperate climes of Merrie Olde England, this theory seems highly improbable. (Without refrigeration, Maid Marian’s plums would be rotten mush long before any trading ship sailing from Malaya reached the shores of Avalon, much less Sherwood Forest.)
In reality, the name marian plum is likely a derivative of mapraang, which is what the fruit is called in Thai. Other aliases include ramania in Indonesian and thanh trà in Vietnamese. It has also been marketed, somewhat less romantically, as a plum mango.
Like the mango, or at least its unripe variant, the marian plum can be used to make rojak buah when it’s still green. In Indonesia, it is also pickled and added to spicy sambal.
Its taste is hard to describe — truly a mix of plum-like texture and mango-like flavour, with a mild scent of pine. Sweet and slightly sour, it’s a good thing the marian plum is small in size for you can never stop at just one! Apricot-hued marian plums (also known as buah kundang in Malay and mapraang in Thai) (left). Peeled to reveal its luscious flesh (right).
RECIPE 1: ICED MARIAN PLUMS IN LIGHT SYRUP
Short of eating ripe marian plums as they are, the simplest way to enjoy these luscious fruits is to serve them chilled in a light syrup. This will allow the natural sweetness and slight tanginess of the marian plums shine through.
150g granulated sugar
6 ripe marian plums, peeled and seeds removed
To prepare a very light syrup, combine the sugar and water in a pot. Heat the mixture until the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (This should make about 600ml of syrup, enough to use in other recipes. Keep the extra syrup in an airtight container.)
Once cool, add sliced marian plums to the syrup and chill further in the fridge for at least three hours. Serve in small bowls with desired amount of ice. Cool down with some iced marian plums in light syrup (left). Rosemary add a subtle fragrance to the marian plums (right).
RECIPE 2: NO-BAKE CHEESE TART WITH ROSEMARY-SCENTED MARIAN PLUMS
For something more complex in flavour and texture, yet not too labour-intensive, why not try a simple no-bake cheese tart? (The fridge doesn’t get enough praise as a helpful kitchen tool.) The use of Greek yoghurt here ensures the cheese filling is creamy-soft rather than too firm (as is the case with some no-bake tart fillings that utilises gelatin).
And while it’s creamy, this tart is not too rich, making it a wonderful showcase for the juicy marian plums. Many tart toppings that involve fruits either use them raw or macerated in sugar. Here, infusing them with some rosemary-scented syrup (making use of the light syrup made in the first recipe) adds another dimension — not overpowering but subtly present.
Ingredients for the tart base
300g shortbread biscuits
80g butter, melted
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
Ingredients for the filling
250g cream cheese
175g Greek yoghurt
120ml raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of half a lemon
Ingredients for the topping
200ml light syrup (see first recipe)
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
10-12 ripe marian plums, peeled and seeds removed
First, preheat the oven to 200°C. Prepare the crust for the tart by crumbling the biscuits by hand into a mixing bowl. Add melted butter, cinnamon and salt to the biscuit crumbs and mix until well combined.
Transfer this mixture to a 24-centimetre non-stick tart pan, pressing it down to form a thin base. Press the excess mixture up the sides of the pan to create the crust to hold the cheese filling. Bake the tart base in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until it has set. Remove and let it cool completely before adding the filling. Crumble some shortbread biscuits for the tart base (left). No baking is required for this buttery tart (right).
To make the filling, bring the cream cheese to room temperature before adding it to a food processor. Combine with Greek yoghurt, honey, vanilla extract and lemon juice until smooth. Pour this cheese-yoghurt mixture over tart base and keep chilled in the refrigerator for about six hours until set.
For the topping, simmer sprigs of rosemary in the light syrup for at least 10 minutes before removing from the heat. Allow to cool, then add the marian plums. Keep chilled in the refrigerator with the tart until the tart is ready.
Once set, top the tart with rosemary-infused marian plums (sans the syrup liquid). Slice and serve with an optional sprig of rosemary on each slice for decoration.
For more Weekend Kitchen stories and recipes, visit http://devilstales.com
Travelling by car between London and home in France requires navigating through the jumbled ring roads surrounding Paris. As I like gadgets, I have a couple of GPS route planners (one in the car and one on my phone) and to date, not once have the devices agreed on the same route. To be fair, both are intelligent devices, aware of roadworks, traffic jams, accidents, etc – but it is still curious they cannot advise on the same route using the same data, due to different biases in the software.
And this is also how it feels when reading about nutrition. One day, fat is bad, next day, fat is good. Carbohydrates are great for health, but a week later carbs are slow killers. Dairy keeps your bones strong, but statistics indicate that high-dairy consumption results in more osteoporosis. And so on.
I can probably suggest some sensible dietary choices – but even so, people should take my views under advisement. I am (slightly) overweight, drink too much and am too fond of fine dining. But it could be worse – at least my System 2 thinking works most of the time to curb my excesses.
How we think we think
Some of you may be aware that humans have two fundamentally different ways of thinking – they are called simply System 1 (S1) and System 2 (S2) and they complement each other quite well MOST of the time. S1 comes into play when you like someone’s face or reply to questions like “What is 2+2?” – it is an automatic, unconscious and fast way to make decisions. S1 is derived from human evolution. In pre-historic times, people had to quickly make life-or-death choices based on very simple or imperfect information to escape dangers, acquire food, choose alliances, etc – and even now human brains are still wired this way.
S1 is also what makes you expect the taste of meat with burgers and sausages, even though you know animals do not come in round shapes or tubes – therefore automatic associations are also part of S1 thinking. In general, S1 thinking involves very little effort before arriving at a decision. And that is why S1 is very prone to all kinds of errors, because it relies almost solely on prejudices/biases. Regret-tably, there are now many professionals who specialise in exploiting these errors in human S1 thinking processes.
By contrast, S2 thinking is slower, cumbersome and arduous, though the effort usually results in more reliable decisions than S1. Experimentation and/or careful recall of memories may be involved. Examples are “What is 16 + 17 x 13?” or figuring out why jumpers bobble up in the washing machine. One reason S2 requires more effort is the need to decompose problems down to multiple individual solvable steps before arriving at a solution.
So you will arrive at 237 as the answer for the equation (multiply 17 x 13 first then adding 16 to the result), and eventually I realised the open metal zips on jeans were ripping the surfaces of jumpers – therefore now zip up and turn jeans inside out before using the washing machine.
Both modes of thinking can end up killing you – or more usually, save your life. Thinking about a complex problem (an S2 activity) while crossing a road can be dangerous, especially for me when I was younger, having narrowly avoided getting run over several times. Liking (or despising) the wrong person “instinctively” (an S1 decision) has caused people pain (or worse) since history began and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Although S2 thinking can result in better decisions, it is often hijacked by S1 – an instinctive purchase is rationalised/justified afterwards by mental excuses so that an irrational decision becomes a rational choice, even though it may cause problems, for example, costing more than what is affordable. But you will feel better about it. A more serious example is the Malaysian man who surrounded himself with buns, sweetcorn and rice in a large wok and steamed himself to death in an effort to “cleanse” his soul. Alternatively, rational S2 ideas such as deliberately leaving the smartphone at home to enjoy a peaceful dinner out can invoke deep S1 angst – so much so that many people probably cannot actually leave the phone alone.
The point is that even though S1 results in many quick choices or “gut feelings”, they are nevertheless firm decisions and as such, can result in long-lasting consequences. Buying an expensive house or car on a whim can mean years of onerous payments and other sacrifices. Decisions are decisions, whether they are processed irrationally (and quickly) by S1 or more rationally (and slowly) by S2.
Flawed thinking and food
How all this relates to food is because many eating choices are defined by flawed thinking – this means that people are often conditioned/coerced into consuming items which are not necessarily suitable or even beneficial. Mostly S1 is involved (due to its overwhelming reliance on prejudices), but even the more rational S2 can be used/hijacked to reinforce S1 choices. An example is friendly staff at restaurants tempting diners into choosing more expensive dishes or calorific desserts. After choosing, most diners would rationalise a dish selection with “It sounded interesting”, “It’s only once a while”, or some such weak excuse.
It is not just friendly faces that work – there are many, many ploys. By now, most people would associate fast food with red (or red/white) boxes due to the ubiquitous use of such packaging by food chains. Supermarket food shelves also use visually attractive packaging for premium items – only economy foods would have plain, simpler packaging with (usually) boring blue print.
People are often conditioned/coerced into consuming items which are not necessarily suitable or even beneficial.
Another tactic is reference points. An analogy is a couple where Jack and Jill have a combined wealth of $10mil; however Jack has $1mil, while Jill has $9mil. If an option was offered to share $10mil between them equally, it would be highly attractive to Jack but wholly unappealing to Jill, even though $5mil each would easily be comfortable for the rest of their lives. Jack’s reference point is $1mil and the option is happily worth an additional $4mil to him – while Jill would hate to lose $4mil of what she already has because her reference point is $9mil.
Reference points make one feel good or bad about a choice – this is how special offers and shop sales deals work, but in reverse – people are convinced they have the option to buy things BELOW prices they expected to pay. Sellers estimate reference prices for goods they want to sell and discount sale items to just below these prices. The underlying cost of goods has little bearing on the sale prices – and reference prices would have been established by previous sales of the same or analogous products.
And this is how fixed menus at restaurants also work. A fixed menu often contains dishes from the a la carte menu but the fixed menu would usually work out cheaper and so most people would chose the fixed menu – and eat the dessert course even if they did not want it originally.
Slowing the choice
Colour-coded packaging and reference points are basically only two out of extremely numerous (and sophisticated) ways to invoke S1; once the S1 choice is made, S2 is often used to rationalise the decision – rarely does S2 override a S1 verdict.
This highlights how much prejudices influence our life choices. Therefore if a change is needed (eg. better dietary choices), the best way is usually to introduce a new set of prejudices/biases towards the changes needed – and do not expect help if you are going against trends set by your peers or large corporations.
Changing innate biases is not easy, though it can be helped by providing time for S2 to participate in decisions normally controlled by S1. Try reading aloud the ingredients label carefully, or wait and count to 10 before making a food choice. Slowing things down introduces a deliberate S2 step into the decision-making process.
Another strategy is changing associations. If red-and-white buckets invoke thoughts of tasty fried chicken, think instead of “cheapest-quality meat denatured in a chemical hot-bath of free radicals”. It should make one pause, especially as it is not improbable. For more on this, read “A fat lot of good – Part 4”.
It is curious that human minds which can conceive of profoundly S2, complex theories like General Relativity can remain susceptible to S1 whims. Sensory inputs and emotions are also significant factors in S1 decisions – this is why we impulsively walk into lovely-smelling or prettily-decorated shops or feel attracted when someone nice smiles at you.
Senses can therefore also be used to manage biases. An example (which works for me) is to have a full meal before shopping for food – invariably, I end up making better choices and buying less food at the supermarket because hunger would not be affecting my decisions. One can (and should) think of personally effective ways to manage S1 prejudices if one is considering dietary or other lifestyle changes.
Murray Bros Caddyshack — Picture courtesy of Instagram/murraybroscaddyshack
CHICAGO, April 21 — Bill Murray has opened the doors to a new Caddyshack-themed restaurant with his five brothers in his hometown of Chicago.
Murray was in Chicago this week to open The Murray Bros Caddyshack Restaurant in the Village of Rosemont at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
The opening marks the family’s second restaurant. The first Caddyshack restaurant opened in 2001 at the World Golf Village in St Augustine, Florida, under the supervision of chef brother Andy Murray.
The 1980 film Caddyshack was inspired by the Murray family’s childhood, when the brothers spent their summers working as caddies at the local private country club. Bill starred in the golf comedy, which was also co-written by brother Brian Doyle Murray.
The family pitches the eatery as an “extension of our living room,” a relaxed, inviting restaurant that serves standard American fare like burgers, sandwiches, chicken fingers, Chicago hot dogs, pasta and donut holes. — AFP-Relaxnews
Most passers-by in the small Alpine town of Niederndorf in Austria probably thought the piles of earth and heavy machinery were something to do with the construction of a new traffic tunnel through a mountain.
In reality, the machinery on the German-Austrian border was being used to build a gigantic cave for something that often gives off fumes, but definitely doesn’t have wheels: cheese.
The cave, which can hold some 550 tonnes of cheese, was being built by the organic dairy factory Plangger to meet the growing demand for so-called cave cheese, or cave-aged cheese.
A specialist company had to be called in to build the cave, says Plangger cheese master Reinhard Brunner, using 18 tonnes of dynamite to blast and remove 55,000 tonnes of rock – all in the name of helping some cheese to develop a unique flavour.
These days, thousands of cheese rounds occupy the gigantic vault, stacked neatly on shelves. Tourists flock to the cave in all seasons to marvel at the cheese, admiring it through glass windows installed for hygienic purposes.
“There is enough space here for 550 tonnes of cheese in nine different varieties,” says Brunner – roughly 50,000 rounds at full capacity.
The cave can hold 550 tonnes of cheese, roughly 50,000 rounds at full capacity.
The temperature inside the cave remains a constant 11°C, and humidity levels stay at around 97%. “That simply cannot be artificially recreated,” explains Wilfried Karrer, who’s in charge of cave cheese for Austrian firm Almenland Stollenkaese.
With customers’ current appetite for organic products, as well as unusual types of cheese, cave cheese has seen a boost in popularity.
The best-known example of a cave cheese is the French Roquefort. True Roquefort must ripen in the famed limestone caves of the Combalou mountain range in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon to be sold under the name.
Another cave cheese is Spanish Cabrales, a semi-hard blue cheese that develops its flavour by being placed underground for a long period.
More recently developed cave cheeses are, however, also getting in on the trend, such as Atta-Kaese in south-western Germany, which is ripened in one of the country’s largest dripstone caves.
In other spots across Europe, old bunkers or entire fortresses are being converted to store cheese – such as in the French town of Jura, where up to 150,000 golden yellow Comte wheels are at any given time ripening in the Fort des Rousses along the French-Swiss border.
The use of a cave has obvious marketing potential, says Frank Schneider, cheese buyer for a fine goods firm in Munich. But “if the raw material is poor, the cave won’t help much”, he adds. The quality of the milk and the skill of the cheese master play a decisive role.
Schneider still sees cave cheese’s popularity as a positive thing, pointing to a newfound appreciation for old cheese-making traditions, a sharpened awareness of sustainability and support for more diversity in cheese varieties. – dpa/Georg Etscheit