Making cheese in Old San Juan is one of the most unique experiences I have ever had while traveling! Who would have thought that I could learn how to make cheese while traveling in one of the oldest cities in the Americas? Rosa from Casa Lila taught me how to make Queso Blanco in her beautiful 300 year old historic home in the heart of Old San Juan across from Fuerte San Cristobal, the largest Spanish fortification built in the Americas. The experience was one of a kind and a memory I will have with me forever. When I thought it couldn’t get any better, the cheese making workshop took place over looking the beautiful turquoise Atlantic Ocean.
Rose is a Puerto Rican chemical engineer and one of the founders of Puerto Rico’s first and only aged cheese “Queso Vaca Negra”. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to the world of cheese making and for the savory raw cow’s milk “Black Cow” cheese. Her experience with cheese making is extraordinary. She knows everything there is to know about the types of cheese, how to make cheese, and what foods and wines to pair with each type. The energetic and passionate Rosa provided me a fun and authentic learning experience. She was excited to take me through the process of the “Art of Making Cheese”.
Rosa, nicknamed Lila, has a passion for teaching travelers how to make cheese so that they can leave Puerto Rico knowing how to make artisanal cheese, while taking a bit of Puerto Rico back home. Since Rosa grew up on a farm in Morovis she always had a desire to make cheese and mastered making white cheese as a child. Later, she learned the art of creating aged cheeses. Now she can do what she loves for a living in her own home dated from the 18th century. I was transported to another era making cheese in Puerto Rico at Casa Lila! Painted in lilac, Casa Lila amplifies everything Spanish, Puerto Rican, “sanjuanero”, and to Rosa herself who is called Lila.
Rosa’s individual tailed workshop was designed specifically for me. Her workshops can take place one-on-one or in small groups. I enjoyed working with her in the comfort of a traditional Puerto Rican home. The process of mixing spices and exotic Caribbean fruits native to Puerto Rico to the fresh cheese was my favorite part! The aromas of cinnamon, guava, passion fruit, and papaya were carried through the air with the breeze from the salty sea. The process of making cheese is actually quite simple! Rosa showed me how easy it really is. I can’t wait to get home to make some of her personal recipes that she shared with me. Tasting my cheese at the end of the workshop was so exciting! I actually made cheese! I got to take back to the hostel cheese that I prepared earlier in the day. I can’t say enough about Rosa. She is more than a cheese maker, but also my friend.
Rosa is one of the most confident and business-minded Puerto Ricans I know. She does it all! She also hosts workshops for children, corporate meetings, cheese tastings, catered dinner parties, special events, and parties at her colonial residence in Old San Juan. Participating in her “Cheese Making” or “Cheese Pairing” Workshop is the perfect experience for the traveler looking for something different, authentic, and outside-of-the-box.
Media coverage for Casa Lilia.