About a week ago I had to opportunity to participate in a workshop cheese making. I got to spend a Sunday in a lovely old orangerie learning the ins and outs of making mozzarella and halloumi. A process which, as it turns out, has a lot of built-in breaks that allow for optimal enjoyment of a gorgeous spring Sunday.
The location is the Belgian herbalists’ forum’s garden, named after famous botanist Rembert Dodoens, in Schilde. I hadn’t been there before and what’s most striking about this place is the peace and quiet that oozes out from the garden, the orangerie and its surroundings. There were no people to be seen, apart from us cheese makers, and nothing to be heard except for the birds singing and the bees buzzing as they start to awake from hibernation.
It turned out that this peace and quiet was exactly what I needed. A day away from the hectic city life and work, a moment to slow down and follow the rhythm of the cheese. I’ve been pretty stressed out lately, mostly by work, and didn’t realize just quite how bad things had gotten until this afternoon which means that, unfortunately, I didn’t pay quite as much attention to the cheese making process as I should have. In addition, the teacher put a lot of work into his recipes and asked us not to put the entire recipes online, so I will respect that. What i can say is that both cheeses start out the same way and, because the process for these soft cheeses is fairly simple and straight-forward, you could easily make them in your own kitchen.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I love learning new things, especially where food is concerned, and cheese making is an interesting and almost magical process. You start off with raw cow’s milk and after a day of stirring and heating up and coolingdown, you end up with some of the best cheese I’ve ever tasted, even if it didn’t look quite as good as the store-bought stuff. I ended up not doing much to the finished product, for the mozzarella I made a simple caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper and salt. The halloumi I just fried off in a pan for a couple minutes in olive oil. Absolutely delicious and definitely something I recommend doing if you ever get the chance!
For more information, check out the herbalists’ forum’s facebook page.