KL’s cheese ar­ti­san

An­nisa Iwan makes won­der­ful ar­ti­sanal cheeses at home, us­ing Malaysian milk.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - By SUZANNE LAZAROO star2@thes­tar.com.my

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.

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