It’s a popular dairy product, but have you ever wondered about what it takes to make your favourite cheese?
We can tell you it’s not as straight forward as one might think. For the team behind Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese, who use milk straight from the cow, something as simple as weather can change the flavour of cheese ever so slightly.
“Since we last made that batch of that cheese the sun has moved a little closer to or little further from the tropic of Capricorn, we have had a little more rain or little less rain, the weather has been little hotter or little cooler, the pastures have a little more or little less lush grass. You get the idea, all the changes are little.”
We caught up with Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese’s Nardia Baxter to talk about where her cheesy adventure all started…
When did your love of cheese begin?
I cannot remember a time that I did not like cheese. But my love affair with cheese began the day that I walked into Paxton & Whitfield cheese shop in Stratford-upon-Avon, England in 1999. In that shop I discovered a world of cheese variety that I did not know existed.
At what moment did you decide making cheese was something you wanted to pursue?
I had been a scientist for 10 years and during that time had this feeling that I was not doing what I should be. I wanted to do something that involved my skill and interested in microbiology and food. With that in mind I went along to a one-day cheese making course run by the Melbourne College of Advanced Education in Melbourne. I can home and said to Andrew (my husband) this is it! This is what I want to do.
I was so enchanted with the whole process. How you start with a liquid then transform it into a solid and nurture it until it tastes wonderful.
Would you say the Ballarat region influences the taste of your cheese?
Yes. The milk is sourced in the region and the cheese is made and then matured here.
Over the years have you noticed any trends in people wanting to support local producers?
We have been making cheese for 15 years. In that time there has been a notable increase in people being interested in where their food comes from and how it is made.
What’s your most popular cheese?
That is a tough one to answer. It would be a line ball between Mt Buninyong Mist (a triple cream Jersey brie) and Warrenheip Ashed (a single cream ash coated brie). Second place would be our Welshman’s Reef which is a blue vein made to a tradition Stilton recipe.
Where can people get your products in Ballarat?
We attend most of the farmers markets in the district as well as being stocked by Wilsons Fruit and Veg, Ballarat Mushroom Farm, Elaine Farmgate, Buninyong Food Works and Creswick IGA.
What’s the secret to great tasting cheese?
Great milk. If you do not have great milk you cannot make great cheese. Simple.
What do you love most about the Ballarat region?
The climate. Yes, I love Ballarat’s weather.
What’s Ballarat’s best kept secret?
The houses and gardens of Ballarat. Ballarat has so many beautiful gardens and preserved architecture. Just walking around the residential streets of Ballarat looking at houses and gardens.
What are the top three recommendations of things to do in Ballarat?
1. Riding a bike along the track from the town centre to White Swan Reservoir
2. Coffee and shopping at The Foundry, 411 Mair Street
3. Swimming at the Brown Hill pool.