Gold from Milk
STORY AND IMAGES BY RICHARD CORNISH
The cheese in front of me is a thing of beauty. A network of tiny veins of blue-green mould interlacing a solid block of yellow gold cheese. Cheesemaker Nardia Baxter-Keene from Goldfields Cheese has a gentle hand and a way with her curds that sees the little nuggets of freshly made cheese form natural fissures as they nestle into each other as the cheese is made. This allows the mould to infiltrate almost to the rind as the cheese slowly matures. The Welshman’s Reef is a blue cheese with a sweet aroma of mould and curd, the deep and darker notes of ageing and the cheese cellar itself. It is firm to the tooth but becomes creamy on the mouth delivering lovely sharp notes of the blue mould without overwhelming the palate.
Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese is nestled in a former abattoir on the outskirts of Ballarat. The milk for the cheese comes from just three herds. One Friesian herd, one goat herd and the other a Jersey herd - a breed known for their rich, creamy milk. Nardia picks up the milk straight after morning milking and brings it to their busy cheesery. There, the milk is pasteurised and then transformed into fresh cheese, soft white mould cheese, hard cheese and their very popular range of blue cheese. She is a trained microbiologist and her husband Andrew, a food scientist, is still working in the industry.
“Decades ago I was working at Warwick University in Coventry and would take the bus to Stratford on Avon where there was the Paxton and Whitfield cheese shop,” she remembers. “That was a 200-year-old institution being revitalised by the cheese renaissance in Britain. I was so inspired by the quality of the cheeses that something clicked.”
On return to Australia the couple attended Carole Willman’s cheese making courses and learned to make commercial cheeses, starting the business in 2006.
Goldfields Farmhouse cheeses are noted for their consistency and approachability. They are the perfect cheeses for the everyday person to begin their journey discovering the complexities and idiosyncrasies of artisan cheeses. The Goldfields Chevre is the classic French style fresh goat’s cheese. Hand-ladled and cloth-drained, it has a creamy texture and a lovely citrus tang. One of Goldfield’s most popular white mould cheeses is Pyrenees View, a traditional Normandy-style brie covered in soft, velvety white mould encasing a luscious creamy pate with earthy, mushroom-like aromas. A fortuitous accident saw the development Lasseter’s Reef. “We were making a blue and forgot to add the blue cultures that produce the veining,’ says Nardia. “Instead we ended up with Lasseter’s Reef,” she says named after the illusory outback gold reef that was proved devoid of ‘veins’ of gold. It is a lovely golden coloured cheese with gouda-like sweet flavour. Their other favourite blue is the Buangor Blue. This is a Shropshire style blue vein made with milk from Jersey cows and wrapped in cloth then matured for 2 months. A firm texture with a creamy mouth feel, good blue flavour and lovely smooth and sweet hit of blue.
Goldfields Cheeses are available throughout our region. You can buy at these farmers markets: Daylesford; Kyneton; Woodend; Bendigo; Ballan; Lancefield; Castlemaine and Talbot. In Melbourne look out for it at Gasworks and Slow Food farmers markets. Locally, it is sold at Piper St. Food Co., Kyneton; Dos Deli, Daylesford; Hepburn General Store and Ruby Goose, Trentham.