The allure of cheese
Made-in-Okinawa 100 percent natural cheese brought to you by The Cheese Guy
According to John Davis, The Cheese Guy, cheese-making is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, Okinawa's high humidity is quite suitable for this ancient process. The hard part is doing it well. John, who has been at it for years now, runs The Cheese Shop in JA Atoll, Nanjo City, daily going the extra mile to make truly special cheeses from 100 percent Okinawan ingredients.
Born in England, John first came to Japan in 1976 after quitting his teaching job. “I wanted to go somewhere I'd never been,” he said. He moved to Okinawa in 2006, seeking warmer climes. Although he's loved all of the years spent in Japan, he had noticed the difficulty in finding natural cheese. Cheese, according to John, is an indispensable part of life for most Westerners but was often hard to find in Japan. He remembered the cheeses that his mother used to make back home in England and decided to take matters into his own hands.
After much time spent on research and gathering the tools of his new trade – and no small amount of trial and error – John eventually overcame his initial challenges and got a handle on the process. Among these challenges was finding a source of the high quality milk he would need to produce the outstanding product he was striving for. The solution presented itself the day he met Kiyoshi Oyadomari, who owned a dairy farm in Nanjo City. In Oyadomari John found someone with a passion for his product to match his own. They hit it off immediately, and Kiyoshi invited John to produce his cheese on his farm where he would have easy access to the freshest, most delicious milk.
John's cheese-making expertise burgeoned and blossomed soon after. Now, his selection includes 50 varieties, from plain cheddar to more exotic types using various Okinawan herbs. John's efforts to keep his products local have extended even to his choice of kuro koji – a black yeast used in the manufacture of awamori – as a fermenting agent. John has also recently begun to recreate another one of his mother's recipes to share with his customers in the form of thick, creamy yogurt – which is unlike anything available in supermarkets.
More than half of John's clients are hotels including The Ritz Carlton Okinawa as well as several restaurants in Okinawa. Individual customers may purchase Cheese Guy products at his Nanjo City retail store or even online. “One of the difficulties in making cheese,” John says, “is that it takes time – months or sometimes years – for the cheese to mature. That, and the creation of new recipes, makes it interesting.”
Cheese can be purchased for ¥4 and ¥8 per one gram, with 100 gram packs also available.
John's cheese was named as a 2005 Nanjo City Selection, which designates a special product of Nanjo. Now customers come from far and wide to sample the famous cheese at his shop.
Made using fresh whole milk from Oyadomari Dairy, John's cheeses are hand-created in a small Nanjo City factory. Selections include sakuna, classic cheddar with local herbs; fuchiba (mugwort); Wakinaguni blue, a mild blue cheese; and more. New on the menu is yogurt – rich, real yogurt to which supermarket yogurts pale in comparison.
The Cheese Shop
Address: 1155 Aza-Nakama, Ozato, Nanjo City
QR: HYPERLINK "http://thecheeseguyinokinawa.com/"