Aug. 17 2011 06:50 AM

More dairy tales from Tasmania from Washington State University student, Anna Gibson.

"Washington State University has been making award-winning cheese and ice cream since the 1930s!" I said in my best Glenn Johnson, "Voice of the cougars," voice I could do.

"Right to mate! Is that from your checking or savings account?" said the women working the front desk at Ashgrove Farm Cheese. Clearly she was not as interested in Cougar Gold (WSU's cheese) as I am, but we both have an interest in cheese and dairy products.

This past week on my way to Hobart, Tasmania's capital city, I visited Ashgrove. What enticed me there were the "art cows", fun-colored cow statutes that lined the property, but what made me stay was the cheese. Ashgrove is Australia's producer of award-winning cheese. In its shop Grand Champion Cheddar Cheese, and Silver DIAA awards filled the walls. They focus on their Cheddar, but do offer hard or semi-hard cheeses, too.

When I first pulled up, I saw many colorful cows – cows as dragons, as the famous Tasmanian Tiger, and my personal favorite - a cow with the word "Moo" written all over her. These famous cows were painted by local school children in 2008. I thought to myself, "what a great way to advertise for the dairy industry and spread information about the great nutritional value of milk!"

What made this factory great was the tour. As I munched on some amazing ice cream, I walked through the building and saw people mixing, churning, cheddaring, and pasteurizing. I saw the beneficial bacteria being added to the milk, and the curds and whey being separated. This process came as no surprise to me, thanks to Ferdinand's, the creamery at my university, but it was a treat to see so many young faces pressed up against the window in pure delight. "Mummy, that cheese!" I overheard a very young boy say to his mother. After I watched the cheese being made, the tour group walked to the maturing room where the cheese waits until it is aged to perfection!

The best part came once the tour was over - the taste testing! I tried many different cheese flavors, such as "wild wasabi and lavender." Ashgrove focuses on creating cheeses with a local Tasmanian connection and so are always requesting new flavor ideas. The cheeses were beautiful: their color, texture, and taste!

I walked away a very happy customer, and more educated about the cheese industry in Tasmania. Cougar Gold will always hold a special place in my heart, but Ashgrove just snuggled right next to Cougar Gold!

Until next time my friends!