Paul Wilson is telling me about their new chilli garlic halloumi and how it’s ‘fantastic over summer served with a green paw-paw salad,’ and my imagination is fired. It’s a rare thing for this hinterland business – around for some 17 years now, Paul and Kerry at the helm – to introduce a new cheese as ‘we try to stay focused on traditionally hand-made cheeses.’ And their stable of 12 – best sellers the Nashua washed rind and Tintenbar triple cream – include both cow and goat milk cheeses.
It’s a glorious environment out there, ‘a real working farm’ as Paul describes it, the animals roaming freely, the goats feeding on weeds – prickly fig, lantana – which informs the gorgeous flavours of their cheese (plus, Paul told me once, they make great lawn-mowers). This is regenerative farming at its best, using the farm as an ecosystem, relying on the region’s high rainfall and fertile volcanic soils for growing the grass. What’s more, there’s a cafe where ‘families can see, enjoy and understand… how food is produced so they aren’t tempted to go down internet bullshit rabbit-holes of misinformation…’
And indeed, appreciate the vast difference between heavily industrialised, mass-produced cheeses and these precious, artisanal, hand-made cheeses like Paul and Kerry’s. In the Studd sibling’s recently published book
‘The Best Things in Life are Cheese’, they talk about how ‘the introduction of sophisticated and dependable cheesemaking technologies, fast and reliable transport, refrigeration and globalisation marked the beginning of the end for most small producers.’
But not all. And we must support the survivors. ‘When people buy something from us’, Paul says, ‘we hope they understand they are supporting a better way to produce food over industrial food production systems, which are destroying the planet’s life support systems and our health.’
Nimbin Valley Cheese are at Mullum Farmers Market every Friday from 7am to 11 am.