Monday, 21 April 2008

Mungalli Creek Dairy

Tucked in along a narrow winding bitumen track among the hills and overlooking Mount Bartle Frere is this "Out of the Whey" Cheesery and Tea House. Mungalli Creek Dairy serves a variety of snacks, light meals and drinks all based on their organic and biodynamic diary produce.

This is a working farm and visitors can take a sneak preview of the cheesery in operation through the viewing windows at the back of the Tea House. There is no guarantee of a particular product being made. Whatever is 'on the floor' at the time is what you watch. An interesting bonus with your dairy decadence...

I have been here plenty of times in the past. In fact I remember a visit some years ago with my mum when I recognised a gentleman enjoying coffee and cake on the verandah and kept thinking 'I know you'. I was so glad I didn't make a fool of myself going and saying hello - it was Neil Perry, the celebrity chef. Of course I didn't really know him - just his face from TV!... mum actually said 'who's Neil Perry?'

Anyway, this stop was no less enjoyable than those earlier visits. I find it a good place to recharge when touring the Tablelands. This time I was on my way to Undara's Outback Country Rock and Blues for the weekend and made this my cafeine hit to fuel the second half of my journey out.

I was looking forward to trying the little cheese tasting platter (FOC) with my coffee and was pleasantly surprised to be offered their new cheddar with the usual havarti and two types of quark (both herb & paprika and kafir lime & black pepper). I believe Mungalli couldn't start making cheddar and other more mature cheeses till they expanded the dairy and particularly the storage (maturing) areas. So seeing the cheddar told me they were growing, and tasting it told me they were growing with quality - smooth and just sharp. I'm not a big havarti fan but their marinated havarti (not on the tasting today) holds the flavours well. I've always liked their quark. Not a common cheese in Australia - a very young almost cottage texture and makes an excellent dip or cheesecake base. Quark is a traditional cheese in Germany and my German Australian friends went crazy with praise when they discovered Mungalli's - taking kilos home to start making their beloved, but cobwebbed, Strudel recipe again!

I also noticed Mungalli is now offering a yogurt tasting platter as an option to the cheese. An excellent idea. With the huge product range available it is hard to decide what dedadence to take home without having a nibble first.

The day up on the mountain was unseasonably cold, yes cold, and I had to get my jacket out of the car as the sneaky breeze caught me and the clouds sailed in to fill the view with thick grey fog. Mungalli Dairy is just out of Millaa Millaa on the Palmerston Highway to Innisfail. You turn left 11km from town just as you start the steep decent. Keep an eye out for the turning - the sign isn't very big or loud.

I chose a flat white coffee ($3.50). Made on Mungalli's own full cream milk, it was hot (thank goodness), not very strong but exceedingly creamy. Must remember to ask for a double shot next time to balance the creamy taste. Knowing I wanted to write about my experience I also bought a piece of cherry cheesacake to try. Being made on quark it was not sweet like many cheescakes, but very rich being made and served with double cream. It was a very generous slice and the ladies happily packed half into a doggy bag for me (I finished it off the next day for morning tea with my plunger coffee in the Undara campground - quite a treat I thought...). This slice could have been shared easily between 2, or even 3 - I'd say a good 250g of cheese went into the mixture, so good value for money at $5.50 a slice.

Mungali offers a range of 'sweet treats' in the $4-$5.50 range and 'light meals' from $12.50-$15. Looking in the cabinet the Pot de Fromage (Mungalli quark, havarti & fetta cheese & egg pie in a yogurt & ricotta pastry) and Spanokopita (Greek style spinach, fetta & ricotta cheese in filo pie) both looked very appetising with fresh salad for $13.50. I seem to remember trying the first about a year ago and thoroughly enjoying the OD on cheese. Definately not a place for anyone lactose intollerant...


the kitchen slut said...

My niece did an exchange year in Germany a few years back. When she returned she was lamenting that she then couldn't find quark in Sydney for her German cuisine.

So I was able to gloat effusively about the Mungalli quark commonly available here in the Far North. The kaffir lime quark really does go superbly with smoked salmon!

P.S. Also,a quick google throws up a reference that the quark production process is similar to that of yogurt, as are the health benefits ........

Megan from Imaginif said...

We are true blue Mungalli Dairy product converts. We got married at Mungalli Falls last years and had 6 Mungali Dairy cheese cakes as our wedding cakes and Mungalli Cheese platters with champers.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their mango the interest of a balanced diet though, I often have their Davidson Plum yogurt.

Mungalli, please bring back your marinated Feta - now that was DIVINE.

The Out of the Whey tea house is the best darn boutique working dairy/tea house I have been to.

The Essence of Good Taste said...

So Megan, you like dairy foods?... :)

Megan from Imaginif said...

Hey Essence
I just love food - dairy, seafood, fruit, veg, etc.
I love cheeses but I hate the higher fat content in the ones I really love - bit like the Tim Tams really!!!

Chuckie said...

Lovers of Quark should look out for one of Mungalli Dairy's lesser known products 'European cream cheese'. It is the perfect ingredient for any continental recipe requiring creamed cheese without the salt content of other 'western' style cheeses (eg. Philly cheese). Great toppping for savoury pancakes, we also love it mixed with finely chopped shallots as a side dish with breakfast/lunch. Try it.

the kitchen slut said...

While on a dairy theme in his current life cameo as a global nomad, trying to lose and unlose myself in the streets of London, kitchenslut wandered aimlessly into an awesome cheese shop in Soho.

Neal's Yard Dairy has nothing in common with the notorious Monty Python cheese shop. The distinctive fromage aroma on entering the shop is something I hadn't before experienced. No pastic packaging or glass display cabinets here with an array of obscure cheeses stacked in the open on shelves and counters.

There are no brand names either. All these cheeses are from the farmers and each cheese is labelled by the type, the region, and the name of the farmer.

A wonderful experience and although travel constraints restricted carrying capacity I absconded with half of a very tasty Tymsboro cheese .... a slightly soft, lovely flavour with just enough bite to excite the tastebuds.

As an additional comment I would have to say that British milk is also more flavoursome than our own product .... not quite up there with Mungalli but definitely a better product than the bland stuff dished up in our own supermarkets.

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