Tuesday, March 6, 2018

An Extraordi-dairy Day at Brown's Cheese Factory and Farm

Okay, that pun in the title was so bad, even I cringed a little coming up with it. I couldn't resist using it anyway, though, because our day at Brown's Cheese Factory and Farm was truly extraordinary.

Less than an hour away from Nairobi, Brown's Cheese produces a lot of the local cheese here in Kenya in massive varieties. Cheese is not a big part of most Kenyan cuisine, but they seem to be doing quite well enough off of the demand of expats, the Indian Kenyan community, and the many restaurants (e.g., pizza, Italian, French) relying on their products.

We could tell when we visited them with an Embassy group that they have accommodated visitors a million times - the whole trip ran like clockwork. They began with complimentary appetizers (often called "bitings" in Kenya) of smashed plantain chips and garlic dip, blue cheese samosas (the first picture of this post and something I never would've imagined combining but worked very well), and a choice of raspberry herbal iced tea, basil lemonade, and beer. They were indescribably delicious, and we were all more than satisfied.

Then, we enjoyed a close up cheese-making demonstration that explained a bit of the science and the process on a smaller scale than what we would see in the factory. We proceeded to don white lab coats, hair nets, and foot covers and enjoy a full tour of the factory. I happily snapped many photos only to learn at the end that we weren't supposed to take any photos in the factory at all! Out of respect for their policy, I deleted the pictures I took so I wouldn't be tempted (or forget) and post them here or on social media. Suffice it to say, the scale of their cheese-making processes and their storage rooms for aging the cheese were very, very cool! I'll admit I had literally no idea how cheese was made before this trip or how an artisan might produce cheddar versus gouda or mozzarella. It was a lot of information, but it was fascinating for anyone who really loves cheese.

Then, we enjoyed a scrumptious three-course lunch on the lawn behind the house on the farm. They led with a sampler plate of their own fresh cheeses, pictured above, and accompaniments. The cheeses, in clockwise order from the bottom left, were: cream cheese rolled in toasted sesame seeds, chèvre, brie (the strongest I may have ever tasted), pallet (we had never heard of this before, but if I remember correctly it was a non-blue cheese matured in a blue cheese room), Limuru reserve cheddar (their signature aged cheddar), chili chive cheddar, gouda, parmesan, and stilton. My favorite was the parmesan, and M's was the chili chive cheddar. That was followed by a South American-flavored spread featuring fresh, local produce and meat. It was just as amazing as it sounds.

After that, we took a quick stroll through the garden where all kinds of delightful things were growing and marked with signposts stylized like something one might find on Etsy or in the backyard of a hipster millennial in northern Virginia.

We even saw some chickens and pigs, including the majestic creature pictured below.

One of the owners, Delia, came out at one point to make sure we were having a great time. The ice cream produced by Brown's, branded Delia's, is named after her. On top of all the other joys of the experience, the service throughout was top notch. We had such an amazing day, and all of this - the food, the tour, everything - was included for the very reasonable price of about $30 per person. We would definitely recommend a day trip to Brown's Cheese to Nairobi residents and visitors alike (and this might not be our last visit, either)!

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