KL’s cheese artisan
Annisa Iwan makes wonderful artisanal cheeses at home, using Malaysian milk.
THE small fridge-turned-cheesecave is full of wheels of creamy, off-white Tilsit, stripey-crusted Tomme and Morbier, veined with black. The larger storage fridge next to it brims with more wheels, wedges and chunks. And that’s how Annisa Iwan, 41, started selling her home-made cheeses locally.
“My husband said we just have too much cheese in the house!” she said. “So late last year, we set up a stall at an international school bazaar – and we sold out in half an hour.”
So the catchily-named Milky Whey cheeses was born. Annisa’s cheese-making facility is in the stop storey of her house, and her production remains small and artisanal. She sells mainly at markets and to clients, who have heard of the unassuming lady making a large array of cheeses at home. “I regularly have Lancashire, Leicester, Dunlop, Caerphilly, Raclette, Morbier, Tomme, Tilsit, Gouda and Asiago,” she said. She also makes other cheeses, but less frequently.
They range in price from RM13 to RM17 per 100g.
“Many of my clients come over to collect the cheeses and make a bit of a party of it – they have me put together a cheeseboard for them, and then have a little teatime gathering at my place with friends,” she said. Annisa is taking a break from cheese-making during Ramadan, but she will still be selling from her stock.
Many of them are locals or Asians – and sometimes, they’re happy to apply their love of cheese in fairly non-traditional ways. “One of my customers loves to eat her ramen topped with my cheese!” said Annisa.
Annisa’s foray into the world of cheese-making began in 2012, in her original home of Jakarta, Indonesia. “I travelled quite a lot with my family, and in France and Italy especially, you could find such delicious cheeses,” she said.
“The Italian Mozzarella especially, it just blew my mind. You could have just pizza dough topped with that Mozzarella, and it was amazing! But the Mozzarella I found at home (at the time), it was always rubbery.”
“Now, the cheese culture in Jakarta is much more advanced, there are a few artisanal cheese-makers there.”
Spurred on by a hankering for good Mozzarella, she decided to make her own. Annisa scoured the Internet and bought books on the subject, but it was when she found an online cheese-makers’ forum that her knowledge really grew in leaps and bounds.
“There are cheese-makers from around the world there, and all are very happy to share their knowledge, very helpful,” she said. She spent a year just making the Mozzarella that started it all. “I thought at first that it would be the easiest cheese to make, but it
The black-veined Morbier is a creamy, semi-soft cheese with a slightly bitter finish.
Annisa’s cheeses cost between RM13 and RM17 per 100g.
A traditional English cheese from Lancashire county.