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The Cheese Maker

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by Claire Ritchie (subscribe)
Occupational therapist, sexologist, reader, writer, glutton. @ClaireRitchieWA
Published July 13th 2015
Say cheese
I have an unhealthy love of cheese - quite literally. My doctor suggested I stop putting it in everything I ate if I wanted my arteries to remain open, but when I was offered the chance to make my own heavenly haloumi while eating canapés and drinking champagne, I couldn't resist. And the added challenge of a Mystery Box at the end? Bring it on.

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Goats and cows and sheep, oh my!


The Cheese Maker run their fun, hands-on classes at The Cheese Barrel, an offshoot of Olive Farm Wines, just 30 minutes from Perth CBD in the Swan Valley. You can also keep an eye out for them at food and wine shows, Perth Upmarket and special events such as the Kimberley's Ord Valley Muster. We tore ourselves away from the temptations of the epic cheese cabinet and were ushered out to the balcony to drink coffee and enjoy the bushland views while waiting for our classmates to arrive. A clever ploy, because now I have seen their specials board I have no choice but to return for the baked brie with figs.

brie figs cheese specials gourmet food foodie swan valley olive farm wine
I should have arrived earlier


Our dairy diva for the day was the lovely Karina, who has spent eight years practicing the magical art of turning liquid into solid and working cheese puns into every sentence. Not content with just teaching us today, we will also have a recipe book to take away, access to the Cheese Maker's secret website and their Cheese Rescue Helpline (yes it's a real phone line) in case we lose our "whey". We started with the basics. Hygiene is essential to avoid adding any extra bacteria - we're not making blue cheese today. Hilo milk with cream from any supermarket forms the basis of our cheese making, and you can expect an even creamier haloumi with gourmet 'cream on top' milks. Temperature control is vital and the scary sounding ingredients like rennet and calcium chloride can be easily purchased from The Cheese Maker and delivered straight to your doorstep. This was all sounding easier by the minute.

cheese cooking classes swan valley cheese maker cheese barrel olive farm wines
The workstation


In pairs, we worked our way through the easy-to-follow checklist under the watchful eye of Karina. After taking our milk up to 42 degrees, the rennet went in and we spent a leisurely fifteen minutes eating brie and waiting for science to do its thing. And then… magic! Milk had become curds.

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Our dairy diva - Karina


After cutting, turning and stirring the curds they were spooned into cheese hoops and stacked to create a leaning tower of haloumi.

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The leaning tower of haloumi


While sampling yoghurt, labna, haloumi and watermelon, we learned that the squeakiness of haloumi is all down to the cooking time. Aiming for maximum squeak, the bricks from our tower went back into the whey for another twenty minutes, ample time to munch on haloumi, prosciutto and tomato canapés before draining and salting our finished product.

haloumi cheese foodie gourmet diy presevative free lactose free swan valley
The finished product


While we toast our success with a glass or three of Olive Farm champagne on the balcony, Karina is assembling an assortment of secret ingredients. Back in the kitchen, we're given fifteen minutes, fresh herbs from Karina's garden and some basics to create something amazing with our shiny, squeaky, salty creations. Our "Haloumi Tricolore" of chilli, garlic, citrus and herb oil with crispy rosemary unfortunately wasn't named winner on the day but it still satisfied, especially when washed down with more champagne while watching the sun fade over the trees.

haloumi tricolore diy cooking gourmet cheese swan valley classes
Mystery Box Challenge - Haloumi Tricolore


The half-day haloumi course is just a starter. The Cheese Maker also runs fun, full-day workshops on Classic Delights (fetta, ricotta, yoghurt, yoghurt cheese and sour cream), Gourmet Delights (camembert, cream cheese, quark, and mascarpone) and Farmhouse Cheese (semi-hard cheeses). They also stock all the equipment and cultures to get you "on your whey" to making your own preservative-free cheese at home.

courses learn teach classes cheese gourmet brie camembert haloumi diy swan valley the cheese maker
The Cheese Maker - upcoming courses


For a great day out and a handy life skill that will impress your friends, get a group together, get to the Swan Valley and get some culture. It's gouda fun.

champagne swan valley toast view olive farm wines cheese maker haloumi classes diy relax
Celebrating success
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*Claire Ritchie was invited as a guest
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Why? Make your own cheese and impress your friends
When: Every Weekend
Phone: 0412260876
Where: Swan Valley
Cost: Varies depending on the course
Your Comment
What a fantastic, cheesey-good experience! Everything listed on the chalk board sounds delicious and hurts my pregnant mind full of cravings for things I can't have! Oh yum.
by Katy Holliday (score: 3|1125) 712 days ago
Congratulations getting 3rd place.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|11279) 703 days ago
Great write up, your Haloumi Tricoloure looks fantastic!!
by Sandy L (score: 2|103) 711 days ago
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