Texasliving magazine writer Jamie Javor interviewed Dallas’s Mozzarella Company Owner Paula Lambert in the January 2018 issue. While working on the article, Javor had the opportunity to take one of Lambert’s cheesemaking classes, right in Deep Ellum. Enjoy Javor’s first-hand account here and make sure to check out the company’s story and Lambert’s interview in the print version of Texasliving!
I was born in Wisconsin. I am also Italian. Cheese is part of my culture. Hard cheese, soft cheese, mild cheese, or robust cheese. I don’t think I’ve met a cheese I did not like. So one can only imagine my delight when I discovered the Mozzarella Company offered cheesemaking classes. Located in Dallas, where I now live, this little gem was hiding in my backyard the whole time. So naturally, I had to sign up and learn how to make my favorite food.
All the students, including myself, piled in to the factory. We were given Mozzarella Company aprons (that we took home) and hair nets. Marissa, a former culinary intern and now dedicated employee, showed us around the factory. The building was notably small considering all the magic that takes place inside. At the far back corner is an aging room. The smell in this room took my breath away. It was so complex with a surprisingly sweet yet tangy scent that I have never experienced before. I closed my eyes to make sure I locked that moment away. It may sound silly, but as a cheese lover, that smell made my heart sing and is something I will never forget. The aging room is kept at a chilly 38 degrees and houses several different types of cheeses. They must be flipped weekly so gravity does not compromise the shape. Who knew that cheeses were tended to so often and purposefully?
We were given an in-depth history about the company and Owner Paula Lambert. The story begins in 1982 and continues on through today with many of the original employees. The company now makes over 200,000 pounds of cheese per year, all still lovingly made by hand.
To begin the cheesemaking, milk was brought to 160 degrees. We then cut and juiced a copious amount of lemons. The lemon juice is added to the hot milk which then forms curds and whey. Everyone scooped out the curds into a strainer. This is ricotta. Mauricio, another Mozzarella Company employee, showed the class how to turn that product into mozzarella, oaxaca, and a green olive mozzarella roll.
We all partnered up to try our hand at making mozzarella cheese. I went by myself, so this turned out to be a great opportunity to get to know new people. Another cheesemaking student, Kay, volunteered to be my partner. Together Kay and I took turns cutting up the blocks of drained curd. Once the cheese was cut up into small pieces we would yell “HOT WATER!” and an employee would come over and kindly pour hot water into our bowl of cheese. We stirred until it melted together and then dumped the remaining hot water onto the floor. We folded and stretched the cheese to relieve any air bubbles and squeezed it into a ball. The ball is dropped into a bucket of cold water and ice.
Oaxaca is made very much the same way, but the cheese is stretched out very long. We squeezed lime juice and salt on top, and then rolled it up like a ball of yarn. Our group nick-named this cheese “Margarita Cheese.”
Lastly, we made a green olive mozzarella roll. The cheese is made the same way, but instead of making a ball it is flattened. Green olives are then spread out on top of the cheese, and rolled into a loaf. This is a magnificent combination! After all the cheese was made, Marissa and Mauricio treated us to a tasting. We tasted roughly a dozen different types and toasted to our hard work. Each participant took home their cheeses along with enjoyable memories.
Javor’s tips when attending a class:
- This class is great for anyone over the age of 16. My group had between 20 and 25 students, all from different walks of life. A family of seven was taking advantage of their Christmas present, one woman was with her sister from Germany, and even the goat farmers that supply the factory’s goat milk were in attendance.
- Wear close toed, nonslip shoes, and socks. There is a lot of standing, and students pour leftover hot water onto the floor. Socks are also very important. I was wearing flat, black dress shoes and my feet got soaked/stained.
- There is an almost 100 percent chance that you will become a huge fan of Mozzarella Company cheese. I have already searched out grocery stores closer to me and made additional trips to the factory to stock up.
- Classes are offered twice a month for $75. They run approximately 2 hours and include a factory tour, short history lesson, hands-on cheese making, take home product, and a wine and cheese tasting. If you cannot make the pilgrimage to Dallas, check out their at-home cheesemaking kit.
Check out the January 2018 issue to read the full story on Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Company in Dallas, Texas!