Indian food is delicious, but when I’m in the mood for cheese, paneer just doesn’t do it for me. That explains the goosebumps of joy when we visited Die Schaukäserei, a cheese factory operated by the adjoining Benedictine monastery in Ettal, Germany, last Wednesday. Thirty-seven local farmers participate in the cooperative, supplying milk from cows that graze in Alpine meadows to produce cheese and other dairy products.
I blame the Bavarian dialect – and the distraction caused by bowls of cubed cheese obviously awaiting consumption – for my “udder” lack of comprehension during the 45-minute German explanation of the cheese-making process. Following the talk, we sampled beer cheese, fire cheese and herb cheese, soft and hard cheese, mild and sharp cheese, and looked through the windows to see cheese makers at work downstairs. Then I took a break from cheese with a hot chocolate and vanilla yogurt.
In addition to purchasing a few blocks of cheese, I bought a bottle of the Ettal herbal liquor made by the monks.
Earlier in the week, we visited the 14th-century Ettal Monastery, where about 50 Benedictine monks still work. The abbey operates the dairy, a distillery, brewery, bookstore, hotel, publishing house, and other small companies to support its boarding school.