IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says the world’s most expensive cheese doesn’t come from cows or goats, and you won’t find it in the plushest restaurants or finest delis in London, New York or Paris.
Instead this cheese comes from the milk of donkeys, just 100 jennies amongst a pack of 130 of them that live in a Special Nature Preserve outside the Serbian capital Belgrade.
And if you want to find out why it can command such a bizarre price, you’ll have to go to Belgrade to try it for yourself, because it’s not sold retail anywhere else in the world – and you’ll pay the equivalent of around AU$3000 a kilo for your little indulgence.
Called “Pule” it’s made in what’s said to be the world’s only donkey cheese factory, with 25 litres of donkey milk (6.6 gallons) required for each kilogram of cheese, and annual production a mere 200 kilograms. Those who’ve tried it in local restaurants, say it’s white and crumbly, intensely flavoured, has a natural saltiness to it, and is smoked in the final stages of production.
Highly nutritious donkey milk that’s beneficial to babies’ immune systems and is used in many European beauty and skin-care products, is also available at an equally pricey 40 Euros a litre (around AU$59) – because donkeys are simply not big daily milk producers.
And which reminds us that ancient Egypt’s Queen Cleopatra bathed nightly in donkey’s milk to preserve the beauty and youth of her skin… and to indulge her whim, needed 700 of the animals on stand-by no matter where she travelled.