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‘My Ideal Cheeseboard’

Laura Venuto asks cheese connoisseur Claudia Bowman - a lady who has taste-tested more cheeses than most - for her favourite fromages that would make the cut onto her ideal cheeseboard.

‘My Ideal Cheeseboard’

There are times when I have quite seriously thought that I could live on nothing but cheese.

Of course, my arteries don’t share that same opinion, but if it weren’t for the potential health issues associated with a diet consisting purely of cheese (and the risk of one day too closely resembling a human mozzarella ball) I could quite happily consume vast quantities of cheesy goodness for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Yet, when confronted with a vast glass cabinet of choices at the local deli I often get a little dumbfounded as to what to select.

So, on this blog, every now and again, I’ll be asking a cheese expert what would make it onto their ideal cheeseboard.

I hope these posts provide a little inspiration to branch out from your brie and camembert comfort-zones and encourages you to try a little something different next time you’re at the deli contemplating your cheese choices.  

This week, I meet veritable cheese queen, Claudia Bowman of McIntosh & Bowman Cheesemongers in Sydney. They hold cheese appreciation courses, cheesemaking workshops and even international cheese tours.

This lady knows her cheese, having worked at some of the most prestigious cheesemongers in the world. She also backpacked her way around the world specifically to visit cheesemakers and famous cheese shops and recently profiled 750 cheeses from around the world to help produce a new iPhone/iPad app called Ask the Cheesemonger, which has hits the app store this month [October].

To find out more about McIntosh & Bowman, visit mcintoshandbowman.com

MY IDEAL CHEESEBOARD

Claudia Bowman

“As Australia’s largest cheese education and appreciation company, we are passionate about supporting local cheese producers and their growth and development in producing new and exciting cheese with great flavour and production integrity. My ideal cheese plate would therefore feature Australian cheeses and would include the following five cheeses that all feature on our cheese app.”

SKYLA

Maker: Holy Goat Sutton Grange Organic Farm

Location: Castlemaine, Victoria

Type: Organic Goat

Style: Bloomy

Skyla is produced by cheesemakers Carla Meurs and Ann-Marie Monda of the Holy Goat Cheese Company on their 200-acre Sutton Grange Organic Farm. Their bio-dynamic farming principals, ethical animal husbandry style, cheesemaking skills and respect for the natural environment are all reflected in their unique and successful cheeses. Widely considered to be Australia’s greatest, most unique goat milk cheeses, and possibly the most awarded, Holy Goat’s cheeses are the closest thing Australia is producing to the traditional style of goat milk cheese from a significant French region such as the Loire Valley. The production techniques for their cheeses are based on the traditional French slow lactic acid fermentation of the curd.

Tasting notes: Skyla has a luxuriously creamy, full-bodied velvety texture, delicate, earthy aroma, a citrusy tangy mouthfeel and rustic, nutty, savoury, well balanced flavour.

PYENGANA CLOTH MATURED CHEDDAR

Maker: Pyengana Dairy Company

Location: Pyengana, Tasmania

Type: Cow

Style: Hard-Pressed

Pyengana Cheddar is considered one of Australia’s oldest specialist cheeses, produced by fourth-generation cheesemaker, John Healey. Healey values the traditional English style of cheddar making, using cloth binding and maturation techniques that were established by his great grandfather at the turn of the century. The name ‘Pyengana’ comes from the Aboriginal language meaning ‘meeting place of rivers’. Pyengana Cheddar is at its best when cellared for 12 months or more.

Tasting notes: Pyengana Cheddar has rich, earthy, cellar floor, musky flavours and aroma with more butter scotchy and caramelised flavours when aged. Pyengana becomes more crumbly in texture with grainy, crystalline, crunchy flecks when matured.

FIGARO

Maker: Woodside CheeseWrights

Location: Woodside, South Australia

Type: Goat

Style: Smear Ripened, Semi-Hard, Vine Wrapped

Figaro was developed by head cheesemaker, Kris Lloyd, as a more robust flavour to her portfolio of cheeses and to cater for the growing Australian demand for more complex and challenging flavours. Figaro is a ‘smear’ ripened goat cheese. The yoghurt starter culture that is used to make the milk more acidic in the early stages of the cheese production is thought to be responsible for the unique character and complexity of this cheese.

Tasting notes: Figaro has complex, robust, savoury, meaty flavours with a floral, pungent aroma.

1792

Maker: Bruny Island Cheese Co.

Location: Great Bay, Bruny Island, Tasmania

Type: Organic Cow

Style: Washed

1792 was the year the French first set foot on Tasmanian soil. This ‘French’ style, pungent, washed-rind cheese is matured on aromatic Huon Pine boards. Through the humour and imagination of artisan cheesemaker Nick Haddow, 1792 celebrates what could have been! Nick’s culinary experience, world travels, respect for traditional cheesemaking skills and constant pursuit of integrity and flavour in cheese, make him one of Australia’s most experimental and exciting cheesemakers.

Tasting notes: 1792 has a fudgey, soft texture, pungent aroma and a meaty, savoury flavour with slight floral complexities.

BRINAWA

Maker: Marrook Farm

Location: Hastings Valley, near Taree, NSW

Type: Cow

Style: Washed

Brinawa is made by cheesemakers David Marks and his Swiss-born wife Heidi Fallding on their 400-acre, bio-dynamic dairy farm. Marrook Farm is hidden away in Elands, in the idyllic, hinterland on the mid-northern coast of New South Wales. David and Heidi use milk from their own herd of 60 red and white Ayrshire cattle to produce this three kilo round of Raclette or Tilsit-style, semi-hard, washed rind cheese. Unfortunately due to market demand they are better known for their award-winning, bottle fermented, probiotic natural yoghurt then they are their world-class cheese.

Tasting notes: Brinawa has buttery, complex, robust, rich flavour with herbaceous, pasteur-driven, grassy

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