News

Quirky twist makes Anthill cheese pop

By Madeleine Brennan

DAIRY FOODS of Australian provenance are marketed globally as clean and green. A product soon to hit American shelves is giving this a fresh twist, selling a luxury goats cheese topped with native Australian Green Ants. Yes — ants.

Made in the Adelaide Hills region of South Australia, Anthill is made by Woodside Cheese Wrights and was awarded a Super Gold at the World Cheese Awards in 2016.

Previously only available in Australia, the company has introduced new technology to extend the product’s shelf and it hopes to send the product to New York in coming weeks.

Sourced from the Top End, green ants have been eaten by indigenous Australians for thousands of years.

Head cheese maker and CEO Kris Lloyd described the taste of the ants, also called weaver ants, as a combination of kaffir lime and lemongrass “that give a little citrus pop almost like having a sherbet”.

“I want to be creative by taking ingredients from our own backyard and use them in our cheese making — it’s what we should be doing in Australia instead of copying everything that the French, the Greeks and the Italians are doing,” he says. “I’m new world, nobody is telling me I can’t put ants on my cheese.”

There use of bush tucker in dairy products is not new.

Adelaide company Bush Tucker Icecream sells quandong icecream, which is described as having three distinct phases: “an initial hint of rhubarb on the tip of your tongue, followed by the major flavour which is similar to apricot and finally the luscious waft of peaches at the back of the palate”.

Other flavours in their range include Desert Lime, Mountain Pepperberry, Saltbush and Caramel and Wattleseed.

You can even experiment with some unique Aussie flavours yourself, with Maggie Beer’s parmesan custard tart with quandong relish (www.maggiebeer.com.au/recipes/parmesan-custard-tart-with-quandong).

Around the world there have also been some specialised cheese pairings including Stilton gold — which adds pure gold flakes — or the festive French cheese Tomme Au Marc De Raisin which is made from cow’s milk soaked in brandy then covered with dried grapes. I’ve once sampled a a soft blue cheese with a brandy snap — which was a delicious savoury twist on the original (although I personally will always prefer the cream version!)

Closer to home, the Dairy Industry Association of Australia recently awarded Chris’ Heritage Crème Brûlée the Most Innovative Product in Show (Judges Choice). Famous also for their dips, the Crème Brûlée is rich and luxurious and comes ready-made in cute terracotta pots which can be re-used in the kitchen, garden or as serving bowls. You’ll still need a blow torch if you want the traditional brulee hard toffee crust, but the vanilla bean custard is gloriously decadent and can be enjoyed as is.

I’m looking forward to seeing the evolution of Australian dairy products as they continue to find new ways to stand out in the global market. Perhaps we will we see ant-topped brulee on supermarket shelves soon.