Cheese, cheese, wonderful cheese
Tom Merkli – mountain climber, high seas sailor, Swiss native and a passionate artisan cheese lover. He turned his love for cheese into a life and launched Australia’s only artisan Swiss cheese import business, The Red Cow. They import delicious raw milk cheeses. Who better to ask for advice on the best places to buy artisan cheese. Here’s Tom’s selection.
Queen Victoria Market | 513 Elizabeth Street Melbourne | qvm.com.au
Melbourne’s flagship market has been around for 130 years and you’d expect them to know one or two things about artisan produce. And they do. For artisan cheese go to the Delicatessen hall where there is no shortage of cheese supply. To find the real treasure, ask the cheese mongers for their personal favourites from their artisan collection. They’ll happily talk to you. My favourite is Bill’s Farm with a large selection of artisan European cheeses.
Richmond Hill Café & Larder | 48-50 Bridge Road, Richmond | rhcl.com.au
This place has been around since the early days of Will Studd’s movement to legally import and sell raw milk cheese. Today it’s probably my favourite walk-in cheese room. Simply standing in there and breathing in the humidity and the various cheese smells is heaven for me. Ask them for the lesser-known varieties and you can find some fine artisan cheese.
Jones the Grocer, Chadstone | Shop F032 Chadstone Shopping Centre
Chadstone | jonesthegrocer.com
It was surprising to me that within the compounds of the mass-market glut of the shopping centre a tiny oasis of great, artisan products exists. Jones the Grocer at Chaddy is a great spot to sit down, rest your feet and taste some of their beautiful cheeses. Plus since they are importing many of their produce themselves, you will find some artisan specialities others don’t carry.
Delicatess, Prahran Market | 177 Commercial Road, South Yarra | prahranmarket.com.au
In my view, the key to finding real artisan cheese is the cheesemonger itself. These guys know best which importer or distributor has the real and differentiating artisan cheese. Peter from Delicatess is an excellent cheesemonger who knows his produce. He stocks a great range of imported and local artisan cheeses.
Leo’s Food & Wine | 26 Princess Street, Kew
Like Peter, Leo’s cheesemonger Bernard knows his cheese and is more than happy to help you build a fantastic cheese board of artisan cheese. The key at Leo’s is to look beyond the flashing display. If you’re open and willing to try something new, this is a great place to experience some new artisan varieties.
Virginia Plain will host a special evening to explore six artisan Swiss cheeses, matched to wine and beer, bread and a mix of condiments made by head chef Andy Harmer.
Date: Thursday 20 November, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Where: Virginia Plain, 31 Flinders Lane Melbourne
Bookings essential: theredcow.eventbrite.com.au