Cheese is one of my favourite foods, so it follows that I’m going to love a cheesemaker. And in this case, Deb Allard is very easy to love. I’ve known her for over 15 years, from when she first started on the cheese journey; I’ve done one of her brilliant cheesemaking classes even if it made me realise I’d rather leave the craft to experts like her.
An expert Deb truly is. She’s travelled to Europe to study, observing how ‘the Italians and French embrace all cheese – smelly, fresh, big cracks through it – they loved it all.’ Her first lesson was in Melbourne with a French cheesemaker, part of a small group who had all made cheeses before but who ‘were like sponges’, Deb tells me. ’We really started the journey into understanding the cheese.’ Mozzarella-making in Venice, the Bra Cheese Festival also in Italy, Limosine in France for a week in a village: all of this fed Deb’s passion and knowledge.
Today she makes around 22 different cheeses, selling them at farmers markets and to restaurants. A perfectionist, she spent a year ‘to get the brie how I wanted it and another year to make it more consistent’, she says. Her mozzarella, ‘one of the most technical cheeses to make’, requires her to start at 6am on Tuesday morning so ‘it is ready to stretch and throw into the iced water at 11am.’
Despite lots of requests for everyone’s current darling-of-the-cheese-world, the buffalo burrata (‘I tell them my husband isn’t buying milking buffalo any time soon!’), her customers are content with all the varieties she sells. I’m making her easy recipe for Stuffed Hungarian Peppers, her ricotta and haloumi bound with egg and oregano, the peppers baked slowly tlll oozey. Divine. Recipe on the website.
Cheeses Loves You are at New Brighton on Tuesdays from 8 – 11am and Mullumbimby on Fridays from 7 – 11am