It was, to coin a phrase, la jam de la jam.
In fact, I could get all biblical about it and accuse Nidal Rayess of having saved the best jam ’til last, but the truth is I am just thankful for what I can honestly say was a higher jam experience.
We visited Nidal’s dairy in Jdita a couple of weeks ago, as part of the Taste Lebanon tour, where, among other things, they make labneh (or strained yoghurt) and halloumi cheese from their own cow’s and goat’s milk, as well as making a range of preserves.
Nidal Rayess: one man and his cheese
Milk curds, the stuff of cheese
“You need to be a bit mad to make cheese.”
So says Hans Wieland of The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim.
I do believe that he counts himself in this. When he and his wife Gaby started making cheese from the milk of their own goats over 20 years ago, they built a kitchen for their cheese making before they built a house for themselves.
I learned this and a lot more besides when I headed to Leitrim last weekend to attend a hugely instructive cheese making course run by Hans and Gaby, during which we were taken through the processes of making both hard and soft cheeses and given an insight into the practicalities of small-scale commercial cheese production.