Working with cheese is an unusual practice in Indonesia. The archipelago doesn’t have an indigenous cheesemaking tradition, so what’s available is imported at inflated prices and consumed in processed forms.
But that’s all set to change, thanks to a new generation of local artisans. Born and raised in Jakarta, Ayu Linggih recently returned to her ancestral home of Bali to grow her business. Ayu started Rosalie Cheese back in 2012, when she was studying food science in Australia. “My dad loves cheese, and he noticed there weren’t many people in Indonesia making artisanal ones,” she recalls.
Five years on, Ayu’s range of European-style cheeses – which include mozzarella and chèvre, as well as a cow’s cheese matured in coconut ash – are available in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bali.
Rosalie Cheese isn’t the only such enterprise on the island. Growing up in the Philippines, Maria Fe Jabay would often help her grandmother prepare kesong buti, a soft white cheese made from water buffalo milk. Today, she makes cheese for a living in Bali, working with the Wanaprasta farming cooperative to produce cheese from goat’s milk.
While her repertoire includes European-style cheeses, more unusual are the durian-infused creations like Kerung Dur, a hard goat’s cheese that’s been aged in durian rind for a full year. Boasting a full, tangy flavour interspersed with flashes of sweetness, it’s great for elevating salads.
“It’s been a slow process,” says Maria, who has been honing her craft since 2013. But she has found success with her creations, which showcase a distinctive flavour profile unique to the region. Her grandmother would be proud.
Three to try
Malagos Farmhouse, Davao
Filipino cheesemaker Olive Puentespina whips up over a dozen cheeses, made with milk from her own goats.
Himalayan French Cheese, Kathmandu
Frenchman François Driard uses pasteurised whole cow’s milk, flavoured with wild local herbs, to produce a different cheese every day of the week.
Pizza 4PS, Danang
Besides pizzas, this restaurant also serves up artisanal cheeses that are handmade in its Dalat factory.
This article was originally published in the May 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine.