Sidney's Osmanli Dergah reveals the divine mysteries of cheese

Cheesemaking Help, a blog dedicated to (surprise, surprise) the fine art of cheese and the making thereof, published a wonderful interview yesterday with a member of the Osmanli Dergah, the Sidney Sufi community that was in the news so much last year after the town sought to have their cemetery removed. (We're delighted to see them being featured for their cheesemaking prowess, for a change.)

Here's the Dergah's Mustafah Hakkani, talking to cheeseblogger Jeri about the sheep and cow milk cheese he makes for the community:

The leader of our spiritual community, Sheykh Abdul Kerim Kibrisi, likes hellumi cheese so when he was away I made some.  It was ok.  When he came back, he was surprised that I was able to make the cheese especially when my technique was all wrong! So he taught me the real way to make it.

I have a small aging room where I put all my cheese.  There is a humidity fire in the room.  I try to keep the temperature at 55F and the relative humidity at 70-80% as much as I can.

I really like the process of making cheese and especially seeing people enjoy it.

Hakkani also took some marvelous pictures of the Dergah, its animals, and the cheesemaking process for the blog.

Next week, Cheesemaking Help will publish his recipe for hellim, which Wikipedia says is a traditional Cypriot cheese, usually unaged, whose high melting point makes it good for frying or grilling.

Photo by Mustafa Hakkani.