The Weekend Series: up your platter game with some of Australia’s best boutique cheeses
Look, we like to talk a big game when it comes to cheese and charcuterie but don’t get it twisted – we know how to get our platter on. Sure, you can pick a nice Brie from the cheese section at the grocery store, but you aren’t going to impress us with just any old triple-cream variety. Next time you plan on entertaining, do yourself a favour and select one of Australia’s award-winning artisan cheeses. We’ve done the legwork and selected a few to help you get started – just don’t forget to buy the crackers.
Frolicking Goat (QLD)
To kick things off on our list of Australia’s best boutique cheeses we are starting close to home with Brisbane’s very own Frolicking Goat. After being inspired by a visit to France in 2012 Peter Schwenke and Lyndall Josey began making a range of matured French goat cheeses, and in 2016 Frolicking Goat launched – quickly amassing a wave of enthusiasm from locals and national recognition at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards. Frolicking Goat’s signature range is made in the style of similar cheeses from the Poitou-Charentes region of France, using a strain of geotrichum fungi to produce a fruitier flavour. The Bûche is a tangy and creamy French-style goat cheese, while the Bûche Noir is an ash-coated variety that develops more flavours as it ages and dries. Both varieties won gold medals at the Dairy Industry Association of Australia Awards in 2016 and also took home the Lendlease Champion Queensland Cheese or Dairy Product of Show at the 2017 Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show.
Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese (VIC)
When it comes to artisan cheese, Berrys Creek is right at the top of the heap. Highly prized and extremely delicious, this South Gippsland operation maintains a high standard of craftsmanship across its entire range, which is earning awards across the country. Cheese maker Barry Charlton boasts more than 40 years in the cheese making industry, honing his skills through experimentation across bovine and non-bovine products to continuously push the boundaries of flavour. The Berrys Creek range is extensive and includes varieties such as the gorgonzola-style Oak Blue, the flagship Tarwin Blue and the soft and creamy Riverine Blue, which took top honours at 2017 Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show as the Lendlease Grand Champion Dairy Product of Show.
Section28 Artisan Cheeses (SA)
This small producer was recently a finalist in the Australian Grand Dairy Awards for its semi-hard Monforte cheese. Specialising in semi-hard and semi-soft Alpine cheese, Section28 uses raw materials and traditional methods to draw out the essence of the terroir of the Adelaide Hills and infuse it into its range of delicious cheeses without overpowering the flavour of the milk. Of its core range, three of its cheeses are award-winning, with the ever-excellent Monforte, the Mont Priscilla semi-soft cheese and the raclette-style Il Lupo, which is bathed in LOBO cider and aged for 40 days, being undeniable standouts.
Bruny Island Cheese (TAS)
When it comes to accumulating a worldly knowledge of cheese and translating it to the Australian market, the team at Bruny Island is nearly unparalleled in quality. Founder Nick Haddow and cheese maker Halsey Swetzoff are experienced in all facets of cheese cultivation and it is reflected in Bruny Island’s range of cow’s milk cheeses. The dairy farm – situated in Great Bay in Tasmania – farms animals in an environmentally sustainable way to produce the best tasting milk (and subsequent cheese) as possible. With a range of soft, hard, washed rind and herb-infused cheeses, there is something for every taste – as long as you are a fan of quality.
Pecora Dairy (NSW)
Since 2011, Pecora Dairy has been earning acclaim as one of the best artisan cheese brands in the country. Situated on a farm in Robertson in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Pecora crafts its sheep’s milk cheese out of milk from East Fresian ewes, which roam over lush pastures where high rainfall and fertile soil make for a blissful combination. Pecora Dairy won a gold award at the Sydney Royal show, and has been a staple of many cheese platters ever since. We recommend that you source some of Pecora Dairy’s rich and smooth Bloomy White cheese and some of the Jamberoo Mountain Blue, which is marbled in blue-green veins and boasts a multi-faceted flavour profile.
Honourable mentions: It’s a great time to be a lover of cheese in Australia. Other notable cheese makers that you should investigate thoroughly include Maleny Dairies, Prom Country Cheese, Holy Goat Cheese and Unicorn Cheese.
Image one: Apple and Tree Photography
Image two: Sarah Oliphant
Image three: Annabelle Hickson
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