The wheel has rolled all the way from the Italian farm of Montecoppe, near Parma. Photo Emma Haas

The ceremonial cracking of cheese is not an event to go unnoticed. Especially when the cheese is a three-year-old, 40kg heavy wheel of Italian Parmesan called Parmigiano Reggiano.

Owners of the Island Grocer Nicky and Simon Cairns brought over Calum Hodgson from Sabato for the special occasion. The self-proclaimed “curd nerd” was excited as the cracking commenced and joyfully shared his expansive knowledge on cheese with the locals who had shown up to witness a proper Parmigiano Wheel “opening”.

“This particular cheese has dairy number 3276, which means it comes from the small Italian farm Montecoppe. The cows have a huge land to graze over, and that means happier cows.

“Happier cows, better milk. And better milk, better cheese,” he explained as he wedged open the wheel.

He first cracked it down the middle, before he split a half into quarters.

Nicky and Simon Cairns didn’t plan for the big cheese to be part of their selection. But since they took over the Island Grocer at the top of Oneroa’s main street, they have pushed the shop in a more ‘deli-like’ direction including sausages and other meats, as well as lots of cheeses.

When they went to fill up the cheese counter they also wanted a few wheels. And that is when the mistake happened.

“I just sent Simon to pick up the cheeses we had selected from the supplier, not knowing that we had bought this huge cheese,” Nicky grins.

Though the cheese came to the island unintentionally, it is now sliced into approachable pieces and is lying among other local and international cheeses at the Island Grocer for purchase.
• Emma Haas

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