Adding to our heritage in Malta’s cheese culture
Adding to our heritage in Malta’s cheese culture
After the successful launch of the Gobon Tan-Nar®range of Maltese cheeses last October, FarmFresh Ltd., a company owned by the distinguished Magro Brothers Group in Gozo, is extending its range to include a new cheese, “Gobon Malti tal-Milord”!
The Gobon Tan-Nar® range celebrates Malta’s lost heritage in cheese-making culture, which, after years of intense research into melitensia documents, up-to-date technology and best practice standards in dairy production, has been re-introduced into the Maltese market.
For hundreds of years, up to the turn of the twentieth century, Malta boasted its very own cheese culture. Most towns and villages had their own “imhazen tan-nar”, warehouses specialising in cheese produced in large vats over open flames. When herdsmen had excess milk, they took the fresh milk to these warehouses to turn it into cheese, which could be kept for longer periods of time. This cheese, commonly referred to as “tan-nar”,  was made from a combination of two or three sources of milk, depending on the composition of the herd of the farmer concerned. The technique to make the cheese was a delicate process, with each master craftsman having his own secret recipe and craft technique.  This created a very competitive market among the craftsmen and herdsmen – all contesting for the best tasting cheese on the island!
In those days the heat process used was in no way an easy task to perform, considering  that households did not have electricity or gas supply and cooking was still carried out over stone stoves fired with wood, or coal in the case of wealthier families. Either way, fueling a large open flame was a laborious task!
This wide-scale cheese production process came to a sudden halt in the early thirties of the last century  when Malta was still under British rule. In a bid to curb the spread of undulant fever “deni rqiq, all trade dealing with fresh milk suddenly became illegal and this brought about the immediate closure of all cheese warehouses, wiping out most of the cheese making culture that had developed so profusely over the previous centuries .
With the introduction of the “Gobon Tan-Nar®” brand, Farm Fresh reignited the passion for local cheese making and picked up where our ancestors left off. The original range introduced on the market consists of 4 traditionally-inspired flavours; plain, peppered, cumin and fennel and are crafted using primarily cow`s pasteurised milk mixed with goat`s milk.
The latest addition to the range is the “Gobon Malti tal-Milord”, a semi-hard artisan cheese made primarily from sheep`s milk, to give a distinctive rich creamy taste, mixed with goat`s milk, to add a rustic aftertaste. “Tal-Milord” a corrupted Maltese word meaning “My Lord” was a title conferred upon noble English gentlemen by their willing staff, and has since become a common Maltese word and family nickname.This cheese is aged for a minimum of 16 weeks. During the 19th century, this delicacy  was highly sought after by the English gentry of the time, hence the name.
All the cheese crafted under the “Tan-Nar®” range follow the same traditional recipes and methods whilst using modern technology to guarantee food safety to the end consumer. The new “Gobon Malti tal-Milord”  will be available on supermarket shelves in the coming weeks.
The new “Gobon Malti tal-Milord” was launched on the 30th May 2019 at Ta’ Frenc restaurant in Gozo, where distinguished guests, food lovers and historians were treated to a cheese tasting and wine pairing event.
During the launch, Mr. John Magro, Chairman of Magro Brothers Group of Companies, addressed the event, proudly presenting his years of research in Malta’s lost cheese heritage. He recounted how he managed to revive this forgotten culture through the “Gobon tan-Nar” range of cheeses. Chef Mario Schembri, of Ta’ Frenc Restaurant with over 35’ years experience in the field, also acclaimed the new cheeses both in taste and versatility!
A selected number of restaurateurs were invited to come forward and together work towards further promoting Malta’s cheese heritage - “In Malta we have enough cheese varieties to create our very own Maltese cheese platters, and we are more than willing to invite restaurateurs and chefs to work together to promote this as much as possible!” claimed Mr Magro.
Guests were exposed to various ways of using the “Gobon tan-Nar” cheese, through live cooking demonstrations and recipes created by Chef Mario. A selection of dishes were prepared by the chef, using the tan-Nar Cheese as one of the main ingredients. Later on, all guests present had the opportunity to savour these creations themselves.
Sole distributors for “Gobon tan-Nar” range of cheeses are M&Z (Marketing) Limited, and the new “Gobon Malti tal-Milord” will be available on supermarket shelves in the coming weeks.