This week we are introducing you to the products of well-known local Burringbar personality Debra Allard who has become a local cheese maker of some considerable renown. And yes as the photos above show – Deb has a wicked sense of humour.
Deb has been expanding and refining her cheese-making knowledge for more than fifteen years – in fact her early forays into cheese-making were enjoyed by market patrons from the day the market first opened.
Deb dropped off the market radar for a little while as she immersed herself in learning more and more about the traditions of cheese making. She travelled overseas meeting and learning from artisan cheese makers and on returning she shared her knowledge with locals, teaching home cheese making for about 3 years. Many locals enjoyed the opportunity to learn from Deb.
Deb ventured back onto the market scene and demand for her cheeses grew to the point where serendipity kicked in and she and husband Jim, reconnected with Jim’s family’s tradition, dairying. They started up the old family dairy that had ceased operating more than 40 years ago – restocking the farm with a new herd of Jersey cows for their high fat and protein milk – the perfect milk for cheese-making. They installed a custom-made 10-a-side dairy complete with a cheese factory that included a cheese ageing room for Deb’s business, Cheeses Loves You.
“Jim milks the cows in the morning so the milk I need for my cheese-making flows straight into my pasteurizer. It’s never been chilled” said Deb when talking about their very intense seven-day a-week business.
Deb said “my goal was to make a cheese that someone will like; everyone likes something different so I eventually stopped at 25 different products. I have a range of white mould soft cheeses, about 6 hard cheeses, a blue, fresh cheese like ricotta, plus stracchino, mozzarella and fermented milk such as natural yoghurt and kefir”. Little Aud is one of her favourites “called Little Aud because my 2nd daughter Audrey is petit just like the cheese”. She loves the French version of Little Aud which is Chaource. It’s what they call a lactic acid cheese where pasteurized milk is set at room temperature for 24 hours with a mesophilic (mild temperature) culture, white mould powder and a tiny amount of non-animal rennet. This is how Deb caters for the many vegetarian cheese lovers in our area. Naturally this cheese has may more stages to its processing before we get to see it at the market.
Deb has a quiet chuckle at those of us who think that we need to rush our cheese home to put in the fridge and I guess when you really understand the process and the science behind cheeses then you know which ones need to be kept constantly refrigerated and those that can linger out of the fridge for a while with no harm. May be even a little enrichment!
I will include more about Deb’s cheeses during the coming weeks.
The face of Cheeses Loves You at our market from this week is Shannon so pop in and meet her and check out their range.
Cheeses Loves You adds a diversity to what is already available at our Nimbin Valley Dairy stall. Deb – who is great friends with Paul – the artisan cheese maker and co-owner of Nimbin Valley Dairy – assured me that their cheeses are quite different. So having them both at our market means that we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to the variety of cheeses available for us to enjoy.