The Great British Chefs website claims that there are over 750 varieties of cheese produced in Britain nowadays. That’s an terrific lot of cheese. Imagine if you were put in a room with one of every single British cheese – the smell would be awful. But other than the smell, it’d be quite spectacular – that’s more cheese than France produces!
Cheese, as a blanket food group (yes I’m classifying it as an entire food group) is one of my favourite foods, and mozzarella is actually my favourite food – as a food blogger this statement carries enormous weight.
- I have trekked to Campania to sample Buffalo mozzarella from its very birthplace.
- By using MyWaitrose card, where you get to choose 10 items to always get a discount on, I chose mozzarella – I therefore get 20% off Garofalo Buffalo Mozzarella, every single time I buy it.
- The only food I can stomach when ill (as in throwing up) or hungover is plain mozzarella balls, sliced.
- My mother very kindly and knowledgeably booked me a mozzarella cheese making course for a Christmas present. And this, is what this blog post is about!
‘To be honest if I was told that one of my friends were going on a mozzarella making course, I would immediately only guess you Maddy, so I can’t say I’m surprised’
‘Nothing has sounded more you’
‘Oh, of course YOU are’
→ Just a few examples of the responses I received when informing people that I was undergoing this course
The afternoon took place in a small cheese making company’s micro dairy in Tottenham, called ‘Wildes Cheese’, and is run by the two founders of the company – Philip and Keith Wilton. I thought they were not only very generous, devoting their time to these courses, on top of crafting so much cheese, but also thought they were the most lovely and hilarious hosts! The small group of us were in tears laughing at several times. This meant a huge amount to me as I was one of few (if only) person by themselves, and so was a rather nervous beforehand! If you’re going to book the course, don’t be scared to go by yourself! However, if you do come with someone else you will go home with double the cheese, so there’s no harm in that either.
The course started off with some information about the company and their cheeses. They use vegetarian rennet in their cheese, great for cheese loving animal lovers! They also get their milk from a single herd of cows, and make sure to pay the farmer a fair price. Whilst it comes at a higher price, everything done here is done with love and consideration for the community.
We learnt about the difference between unpasteurised and pasteurised milk (heated to 71C for 17 seconds to destroy harmful bacteria or, as Philip informed us, any sexually transmitted diseases the cows may have) and homogenised and unhomogenised milk. Most interestingly was his scathing review of the poor standard of the typical cheese you find in supermarkets. And its true – have you ever had Cheddar straight from a dairy or market? Sealed in wax, or simply cut off the block? The flavour is intense. You can’t eat much of it before your tastebuds become overwhelmed, and you are content. Now compare it to cheddar thats been vacuum packed and sold cheaper by the dozen – you could eat the whole block without being particularly impressed by any flavour. Never mind the rubbery texture.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with liking that cheese. Although I hardly consider it to be a great culinary experience, I absolutely love cheese strings. And for many, weeding out the quality cheeses from the imposters is an extra hassle and expense, in an already busy and pricey world. Despite the values of higher quality food, a large portion of the world struggle to fill their plates in the first place. But this does relate to my last post – if you CAN – spending a little more on your dinner means you eat less (cheap goods are designed to be overeaten), think more about what you are fueling your body with, don’t spend money on unnecessary snacks, and for me at least, feel calmer throughout my whole day.
Anyway. After this thought provoking insight into the dairy industry, we then manoeuvred ourselves to a room full of cheese samples. Remember that room full of 750 cheese I asked you to imagine at the beginning of this? Felt like that – and it didn’t even smell that bad. Whilst I did just state that this sort of quality cheese stops you eating after not too long, I will make an exception for this spread – a lot of cheese was consumed by yours truly, I will champion anyone who was there who claims they ate more. My favourites were the Londonshire, and the Baby Blue. The Rebellion was also fantastic. An amazing aspect of this company is that they choose to make their own creations of cheeses, rather than copy others – meaning every cheese I had felt extra special, as it was unique to this dairy!
Now came the part of the course we were all waiting for – how to make our very own Mozzarella!
Keith walked us through this – it involved melting the curds (remember those curds and whey little Miss Muffet ate? Turns out whey is terrifically good for you, and your skin!), stretching it out, and forming little balls or plaits. I wasn’t much good at making the balls, but as a woman with very long hair and very little time to spend on it, I was plaiting the cheese like crazy! Creating the mozzarella wasn’t easy, but the loud cheesy (pun intended) disco music blasting out the speakers definitely helped. When the session has ended, I was left with copious amounts of mozzarella. At least a pound. At least. Is this what heaven will be like for me?
Once home, I emptied my bag of mozzarella into salted water to add flavour. Satisfied and full, I decided to take a short rest. And then of course, immediately start cooking. And what better use of overwhelming amounts of cheese than to top pizza?? I made the dough and the pasta sauce myself, (and the mozzarella of course), and therefore had the most ridiculously fresh pizza on the planet. Was it worth it? Hell yes!
The course was incredible, worth every penny (and the trek to North London), and honestly I’ve nothing but sparkling things to say about it. Thank you so much Philip and Keith for being amazing and not letting me feel nervous about being by myself for one second, and for totally accepting the amount of cheese I ate as if it were normal. It’s definitely opened my eyes and I’ll take a lot more time in choosing where my cheese and dairy products come from in the future – but for now, I’ve got a tonne of my own to get through!