Anyone who works behind a cheese counter will commonly be asked the following 2 questions: ‘What is your favourite cheese?’ and, ‘Are there any cheeses you don’t like?’
Of course I have many favourites – both local and international, and up until recently I would have said I like almost all cheeses (except some over-processed supermarket ones). Of late however, I am developing mixed feelings towards one of my flock – I can’t quite bring myself to say ‘I don’t like it’, but I am definitely feeling less favourably towards it.
The cheese in questions is the incredibly popular Fromager d’Affinois – a super-industrial, double-cream cheese with a mild (some may say bland), creamy flavour and soft, flowing interior. I say ‘super-industrial’ because it is churned out of factories at a rapid rate and is made using ‘ultra-filtration’ – a process whereby milk is passed through a series of membranes which act to concentrate the solids.
This means the finished cheese is always of very consistent quality (good for retailers), and it seems almost impossibly rich and creamy (good for customers).
But it has no charm, no story, and as far as I am concerned no soul – and in this age of ‘locavore eating’, Slow Food and Farmer’s Markets isn’t that what we are all looking for?
At the other end of the spectrum, we have Aussie cheesemaker Justin Telfer – who makes an award-winning range of handmade cheeses using milk from his own dairy cows up near Byron Bay. www.bangalowcheese.com.au
Justin makes one of my favourite cheeses – ‘Nashua’, a pungent, creamy little washed rind number (all 3 of us pictured below).
At this year’s Sydney Royal Cheese Show, a Gold Medal in washed rind class, Champion Fancy Cheese AND Champion Bovine cheese. Nashua wins over who-ever has the fortune to try it and ‘he’ is now a regular fixture on my ‘favourite cheese’ list.
In order to keep up with demand, Justin has recently had to buy a bigger pasteuriser! Hopefully this is a sign of things to come – growing popularity for well-made, Australian artisan cheeses.
Come on cheese lovers, let’s support our local cheeses!