“Tan-Nar” is a new local cheese brand which has just been introduced to the market by Farm Fresh Ltd, a Magro Brothers company. The launching activity took place at ‘Tal-Massar’ Winery, a craft wine maker on the outskirts of the village of Gharb in Gozo.
Chairman of Magro Brothers’ Group, Mr John Magro gave a presentation outlining the four flavours of ‘Tan-Nar Cheese’ which will be available in local shops in the coming weeks. Also, present for the activity was distinguished chef Shaun Smith Roberts, who is currently head chef at Ta’ Frenc Restaurant. He hosted a tasting session where he paired some of the wines from the local estate with the four different kinds of Tan-Nar cheese whilst describing the characteristics of each individual cheese and how they complement the full-bodied textures of the wines that were present. Attending the activity were representatives from M&Z Marketing – the distributors for the product.
Tan-Nar cheese, is a semi-hard artisan Maltese cheese boasting centuries of cheese-making heritage and skill. It matures at a slower rate than the Maltese Gbejna or Gibniet and its characteristic taste peaks after aging for sixteen weeks and remains relatively stable for considerable time.
Using time-tested methodologies acquired from the recipe books of our forefathers combined with the latest technology and best-practice standards in dairy production, Farm Fresh Ltd aims to re-introduce this once greatly-loved cheese back into the Maltese market.
Tan-Nar is a cheese that is based on a production process that existed commonly throughout the Maltese islands for hundreds of years up till the turn of the twentieth century. Many towns used to have their very own “Mahzen tan-nar”, which would specialize in crafted cheese production through heat processes. In those days, households did not have electricity or gas supply and cooking was carried out over stone stoves filled with wood, or coal in the case of wealthier families. Either way, fueling a largescale open flame was a laborious task!
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. Tan-Nar cheese was made from a combination of two or three sources of milk, depending on the composition of the flock. The technique to make the cheese was a delicate process with each Mahzen’s master craftsman having their 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!
Under British rule, all trade dealing with fresh milk became illegal in a bid to curb the spread of undulant fever “deni rqiq”. This brought about the immediate closure of all cheese warehouses and quickly wiped out most of the cheese making culture that had developed so profusely over the years.
With the introduction of Tan-Nar brand, Farm Fresh intends to reignite the passion for local cheese making and pick up where our ancestors left off. They still follow the same traditional recipes and craft methods whilst using modern technology to guarantee food safety to the end consumer. The current lineup consists of 4 traditionally-inspired flavours; plain, peppered, cumin and fennel. The product will be hitting supermarket shelves in the coming weeks.
For more info please follow Tan-Nar Brand on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GobonTanNar.