If food had a high school, cheese would be the popular kid. Whether it’s bubbling on a hot pizza, drizzled with balsamic or nestled with tomato on grilled rye, it gets along with everyone and tends to draw a crowd.
Native Dutchman Fons Smits gets that. In the three years since he launched Indianapolis’ Tulip Tree Creamery with co-founder Laura Davenport, he’s developed a line of fresh, soft and aged cow’s milk cheeses and cultured butters that customers request by name in gourmet shops and restaurants around the Midwest.
To the delight of the growing Tulip Tree fandom, Fons and his expert team also offer cheese-making classes at their production facility on the city’s northwest side. The cozy classroom isn’t fancy, but team Tulip Tree doesn’t scrimp on what matters: Guests barely have their jackets off before they’re presented with a delightful spread of nearly a dozen cheeses for sampling, along with crackers, baguette, Peppadew peppers and dates.
Recommended for first-timers, the Fresh Cheese-Making Class starts with a short cheese-making presentation, and then everyone dons aprons and hairnets and gets down to work. Their mission: making batches of creamy, soft queso blanco and fresh mozzarella.
— Tulip Tree Creamery (@TulipTreeCheese) June 15, 2017
Working in small groups, everyone has a chance to help heat the milk, add liquid rennet and citric acid, and monitor the pH level as they stir—easy cheesy, so to speak.
A little like a mad science experiment, the experience is ripe for older kids, date nights or girls’ nights out ($50 per person). Come hungry; you’ll nibble your way through all three hours and leave with the cheese you’ve made, along with any additional Tulip Tree products you want to buy at a 10 percent discount (tuliptreecreamery.com).