Guy’s guide to local cheese
For details of our local cheese makers, see the relevant part of the Local Food Directory.
There is a world of difference between hard cheeses and soft cheeses. Stinky cheeses are a very different proposition than non-stinky cheeses. Goat cheeses taste very different than cow cheeses. And vegan cheeses are now a real thing. Luckily for us, our local cheese makers cover all of these bases, as summarised in the table below.
|Where do they sell?|
|Own shop?||Other shops?||Online?||Markets?|
|AVS Organic Foods||Watsonia North||vegan||.||yes||yes||.|
|PowerHouse Cheese||Blackburn||soft and stinky||.||yes||yes||yes|
|That’s Amore Cheese||Thomastown||mainly soft, Italian||yes||yes||yes||.|
|The Cheese Rebels||Epping||.||.||.||.||.|
|Wholemilk Continental Cheese Company||Heidelberg West||mainly hard, Italian||yes||yes||.||.|
|Yarra Valley Dairy||Yering||mainly soft, goat||yes||yes||.||.|
My favourite local, hard cheese is pecorino pepato (pecorino with peppercorns) from Heidelberg West-based Wholemilk Continental Cheese Company. Both tasty and very reasonably priced. If you go to their shop/factory (32 Kylta Road, Heidelberg West, 3081), like I do, you get presented with a range of Italian cheeses in wheels, bags or logs and they cut off the requisite amount for you.
That’s Amore Cheese, based in Thomastown, is another local maker of Italian-style cheeses. Its range is extensive and, even where this range overlaps with that of the Wholemilk Continental Cheese Company, the cheeses can be very different. For example, their Pecorino is a semi-soft cheese rather than hard. The main source for That’s Amore Cheese cheeses is their own shop in Thomastown (66 Latitude Boulevard, Thomastown, 3074), which is also a cafe and a deli. You can also buy online
Yering-based Yarra Valley Dairy is a local producer of many soft cheeses, including goat cheese. My current favourites are their ashed goat cheeses. If their own shop (70-80 McMeikans Road, Yering, 3770) is too far away for you, they have a variety of other local outlets, including: Croydon Brewery; Jefferies, Croydon Hills; Kellybrook Winery, Wonga Park; Leo’s Fine Food & Wine, Heidelberg; Lettuce Inn, Hurstbridge; Mitcham IGA X-press; Paul’s SUPA IGA, Ringwood East; Ritchies SUPA IGA Yarra Glen; and Wandin Valley Produce.
Blackburn-based PowerHouse Cheese is another local producers of soft cheeses, where the owner uses her experience of her previous career as a microbiologist to experiment with, and cultivate, unique flavour profiles. The end results are yum! If you want the full tast experience, choosing a cheese that is ripe or, if it is not yet ripe, leave it at room temperature until it is ripe. You can buy their cheeses at various farmers’ market, including Carlton, Eltham and Whitehorse. Or you can buy online.
Finally, if you want vegan cheese, AVS Organic Foods sell a wide variety of vegan cheeses, including online.
That covers the local cheese makers. In addition, there are lots of places to buy non-local, but still Australian-made, cheddar/tasty. But if you want to taste the full range of cheeses, you have to sometimes go European. Here are the three places which I frequent the most often for European cheeses (bearing in mind that I live in Eltham), and what I tend to buy:
- Eltham Deli: includes manchego, wensleydale, caprakaas and gruyere (optionally sliced to order).
- Bolton Street Deli, Eltham: includes caprakaas, strong or mild (rather strangely, they sell this cheese unmarked) and gruyere.
- Jones The Grocer, Westfield, Doncaster: a wonderful, refrigerated, walk-in cheese room (but not the cheapest).
Or, if you want to really pamper yourself with cheese delivered to your doorstep, you can order a range of unusual European cheeses online from Brunswick-based Cornelius Cheese.
And, of course, you can buy just about any cheese imaginable at Queen Vic Market.
The flavour of a piece of cheese varies throughout – the flavour is often more intense near the rind, and the texture there will be different from that at the centre. In order to get a taste of everything in each piece, different cheese shapes require different cutting techniques. Read how to cut each shape of cheese.
Finally, for my friend Mary who recently refused my offer of some ripe, triple cream cheese on the grounds that it would be too fattening: see the article entitled “Can a diet of cheese help you shed those excess pounds?”. Their answer is an emphatic ‘yes’! And, as we all know, if it is in a newspaper then it must be true!