Cheese and Moms

I believe that there are several factors that determine the effect the trip has on you: 1) the journey, 2) the companion, 3) the destination. The journey includes all the things that happen along the way, good or bad, planned or unplanned. The companion determines the attitude throughout the trip because their positive and negative energy will take a toll on us as well. The destination determines the journey.

Two days ago, I had the pleasure to go on a trip with some unbelievable companions: mothers aged 40 and over (and several younger women, but still – a vast majority of mothers). Our destination was Bukit Baros, site of a cheese factory. Our plan was to leave our neighborhood at 6 AM and leave Bukit Baros at 2 PM. We ended up leaving at 6.30 AM with a bus.

I honestly thought the journey wouldn’t be too far, the traffic not too heavy, and it would be just another regular bus ride. How very wrong I was.

Due to the fact that these moms are a part of a prayer community as well, we did what prayer communities naturally do: we pray. We prayed through horrible roads and some traffic. We prayed early in the morning. We prayed. And then due to the fact that these moms belong in a choir, everyone started cranking up old tunes on the bus and some singing ensued.

The traffic made what was supposed to be a 2-hour journey turn into a 5-hour one. My fellow high school mates and I would pass through this traffic with a lot of gossiping, stuffing headphones to our ears, and an abundant amount of sleep. But apparently, that’s not the case with moms. We stopped twice for bathroom breaks at gas stations and thanks to them, we hijacked the men’s room. They shared health tips along the way and through those five hours, I believe I’d had about three kinds of cake and a whole meal. Yes, when you travel with moms, you are guaranteed not to get hungry.

Upon arrival at the destination we were welcomed by some of the staff and walked a few feet through some coffee and tea plantations to a dining hall.

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(Favorite shot from the entire day)

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(These are coffee beans in their natural, original state)

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We had some yogurt, milk, and highly sweetened orange juice there and not too long afterwards, the presentation on how the factory made their cheese began.

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So how on Earth do you make cheese? First of all, you should know that 100 kg of milk produces only 8.5 kg of cheese. Imagine how much milk it takes to fulfill the entire world’s cravings for cheese. Boom.

  1. Milk is checked to make sure it fits the factory’s standards
  2. It is then heated to 65 degrees Celcius and then simmered for half an hour to kill the dangerous bacteria.
  3. The milk is then submerged into icy water to lower its temperature to 32 degrees Celcius.
  4. The enzyme and beneficial bacteria are inserted into the milk and it is then stirred with a machine with double-sided blades to cut and solidify. Thus, liquid and butter-y substance will separate
  5. The liquid is extracted then the “butter” will be washed, pressed, and molded.
  6. The “butter” is submerged in salty water for two days and two nights to add that hint of salt in the cheese.
  7. That’s cheese now. It is then fermented in blast chiller for months.

I applaud you if you read that.

Cheese itself is actually divided into three kinds: old (for cake and cookies mixture), middle (for pasta mix), and young (to be eaten directly).

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(The cheese actually tasted nice, no kidding)

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(Products made with cheese)

So anyway, after the presentation, we had some free time to shop at the booths in the dining hall and to have lunch.

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(This little girl was so adorable. She was selling coffee and tea with her mom and she had more manners than me.)

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(This used to be a hit during my childhood – except I played with cheap marbles and plastic, not this fancy set)

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We were then guided to the factory’s cafe for a demonstration on how to cook finger mozzarella.

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Basically, it’s mozzarella cut in the shape of cubes, coated with flour and bread crumbs and then deep-fried.

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Voila! Finger mozzarella (or what’s left of it)!

They were quite tasty and being an avid fan of mozzarella, I approve this dish. However, due to the double layer of breadcrumbs and flour, it took awhile for the cheese to kick in and realize that oh, we’re eating cheese. If you happen to decide recreating this dish, I recommend skipping the second layer of coating.

We were then taken to the factory where unfortunately photography was not allowed to ensure the company’s secrets. We were only permitted to watch the entire cheese-making process through glass windows to protect the hygiene level of the cheese. There wasn’t much to view anyway, so yeah.

We then walked back to the dining hall to watch a cooking demo on how to make pizza. I honestly thought it was going to be from scratch, but nope. The dough was pre-made and all they needed to show us was how to put the topping – which a kindergarten student could have done.

Naturally, the mothers protested against this and thus, they explained the process of making the dough and the ingredients to the exact ratio and amount.

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We played some games afterwards which caused a lot of hysteria among the moms – I mean, it was literally fun. The moms were incredibly funny and of high spirits in playing each game even though the reward was only cookies. A lot of shouting and laughing ensued during this time of the day.

The trip ended with going to the barn to feed and milk some cows.

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(This is Feli. Say hi to her!)

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(I’ve grown to love nature a lot – except when I encounter creepy crawlies.)

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(This little girl just came forward and milked the cow like a pro. I was awestruck.)

The four hours to spend at Bukit Baros were finally up and it was time to go home. It was a little past 3 PM.

And who would have known that it took six hours – SIX HOURS, I TELL YOU – to arrive home. Five of those hours were spent in the long, narrow, and winding roads of West Java. Seriously, we only took an hour in the highway. Mind blown.

In these six hours, the moms passed around five kinds of cakes and an orange. I believe each passing hour on the road was sort of marked by food being passed from one seat to another. The journey home was rather quiet as a lot of my companions were asleep. We had two bathroom stops along the way and a lot of motorcycles making dangerous moves or cars moving through the wrong lane and causing more traffic which caused quite a mayhem in the bus as the moms continuously asked the driver when we were going to arrive at home, talking about dishes getting cold and all.

We arrived home at 9.30 PM. I’ve honestly never been happier to see my fence.

Overall, it was an interesting trip. Travelling with moms was rather… complicated as moms want things done fast and right and most of the time, in their way. But if there’s one thing I admire about travelling with them is their tenacity and their high spirits. Through the traffic and some sleepy parts of the trip, there would at least be one mom shouting some crazy remark out loud and everyone would laugh out loud. They were loud and crazy, a bit like teenagers but in a different way. It makes you appreciate moms more, you know. They see the good in things, something us teenagers often forget to do.

As for Bukit Baros itself, it wasn’t exactly one of those trips I would highly recommend or whatever. I’ve been to better factory visits. However, I’ve never felt more welcome at a factory. The staffs and everyone there were incredibly kind no matter how much complaints were thrown their way. Nothing was handled in that brisk, “we’re-sorry-about-this-would-you-like-a-sample?” attitude. The area was quite natural for a factory too and that was awesome.

But if you ask me to go on a trip with moms to another factory… I will need time to think first before giving you an answer. I quite like travelling with moms, but I honestly don’t think it’s my cup of tea, thank you very much.

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(Thank you, moms!)

Ps : we took the One-Day Trip package from Bukit Baros. The minimum amount of participants was 25 and it costs Rp100.000 for each person. That price includes lunch, although it excludes any amount of shopping you do there. For more info, give them a call at +62218583985 or email them at bukit_baros@yahoo.com

Pps :  I’m leaving for (a much-needed) vacation next Tuesday so expect a hiatus here. But I guarantee you that quite a number of blog posts shall make their appearance here afterwards. Toodles!

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