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For the love of cheese

It’s National Cheese Lovers Day on Tuesday, and it’s time to celebrate, as our island now boasts two cheesemaking companies and a catering chef who dabbles in making cheeses.

Many of us have enjoyed the creamy selections from Surfing Goat Dairy in Kula by German owners Thomas and Eva Kafsack over the years. And now the newest kid on the manufacturing block is Maui Cheese Co. in Wailuku with an Italian cheesemaker at the wheel.

“All of the milk comes from the Big Island,” says Maui cheesemaker Mauro Gramuglia, who has partnered with Karen Cielo and Ed Mikesh in the business. A native of Italy, Gramuglia is a well-known chef on the island, having worked everywhere from the former Carrelli’s and Va Bene to Casanova and Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa.

“Now I’m a private chef and do catering,” he says with his trademark thick Italian accent. “All of the products used in my cheeses comes from Maui, such as salt and Meyer lemons, and even the lees from Ulupalakua Red wine is used for the brine. My cheeses are all natural, with no chemicals and no accelerators.”

You may find Maui Cheese Co. selections at Foodland Kehalani, Mana Foods, Lahaina Farms, Hawaiian Moon and Wailea Wine. It is also used as a room amenity at the Grand Wailea, where Gramuglia was once a chef.

His cheeses will be featured at the resort’s Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. The tour will flow outdoors and under the stars on the lawns surrounding the Reflections Pool with James Beard Award-winning chefs and drinks by Master Mixologist Manny Hinojosa.

Also giving cheesemaking a try is CJ Jorgensen of CJ’s Deli & Diner and Comfort Foods Maui Catering, who made a macadamia-nut cheese with other flavors evocative of his native Denmark for an event at the blessing of the new Maui Windows and Doors in Wailuku last week. Enjoy National Cheese Lovers Day, everyone.

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Serve plates like the pros

If you just want to enjoy cheeses at home, celebrate National Cheese Lovers Day in style, preparing a cheese board like a pro. SideChef, the leading step-by-step cooking app, offers insight – a good cheese board should consist of three to five different cheeses and a variety of accompaniments to provide numerous flavors and textures, so no bite is the same. It’s broken down into two easy categories:

1. The cheese: It is crucial to choose cheeses with different textures, with flavors varying from mild to strong and at least one cheese from each animal. The five textures of cheese are hard, semi-hard, soft, semi-soft and blue. Tastes vary from mellow, which includes citrusy, fruity and herbal; and intense, which includes bitter, smoky and sharp cheeses. The three types of milk used are from goats, sheep and cows.

2: Sidekicks: Bread, fruit, nuts and veggies. Cheese needs sidekicks that make it shine, and that’s where accompaniments come into play. Breads and crackers provide a base, but stick to simple or complimentary flavors that don’t overpower. Add fresh and dried fruits or fruit spreads. Brined vegetables such as olives or peppers provide a salty contrast. Nuts offer a crunchy, nutty flavor.