Down the road from Brown Brothers winery, owned by David and Annie Brown, you will find the Milawa Cheese Factory, located in what used to be a buttery. Don’t be fooled by the surname however, Brown is merely a coincidence!
The couple left Melbourne in the late ‘80’s along with their two kids in search of country life similar to their childhoods and making cheese was their idea of how to make a living. The cheese making business took shape as they experimented with making cheeses they had tried on holidays through Europe.
Their goal was clear from the start – to give Australia a range of cheeses that were not currently being produced locally at the time. They set about producing a soft, creamy blue (Milawa Blue) and a washed rind that was characteristically smelly, bursting with flavour “quite unlike the English inheritance of firm Cheddar style cheese which at the time was mostly made in big factories” (King River Gold and Milawa Gold).
Today the Milawa Cheese Company is a well established Victorian icon. Their store front and cafe does a great job showcasing their impressive selection of cheeses through friendly daily tasting sessions.
This is further complimented by their cafe that overlooks the paddock – a marvellous view, with a menu that implements the various cheeses on wood fire pizzas and cheese plates best accompanied by regional King Valley Wines.
Apart from pizzas and a range of mains there is also a notable in-house bakery making fresh, artisanal bread available to go with your favourite cheese should you want to grab some for a picnic while in the area.
The pizzas while far from the thin crust I expected, were delightfully hand tossed and reasonably light, the delicate toppings and cheesy goodness completing it perfectly. And for the price you pay (most pizzas are between $12 to $18), one really cannot complain.
The Milawa Cheese Company has a portfolio of cheeses that have earned much acclaim and notable awards state and countrywide.
Personally what I think makes Milawa’s soft cow milk and goat milk cheeses, both white and blue moulds stand out from other Australian cheeses is that their final product is rich, creamy and velvety with a layer of “cottoning”. Cottoning is my word for the bloom of cloudy mould that continues to develop on the surface and rind of the cheese after packaged and stored in your fridge at home. It indicates the cheese is alive, still maturing, growing and developing stronger character and flavour, obviously dependent on how long you keep it.
FYI: The Milawa Cheese Company has an outlet in Melbourne located at 665 Nicholson Street, Carlton North.