A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Published May 2nd 2015
Fabulous fromage from here and afar
We ventured up Observatory Hill in Sydney to the historic building of the National Trust Centre recently for an evening of cheese tasting, history and tales, brought to us by the Festival of Life and The Cheesesmith.
Seven imported gourmet cheeses from France to Spain and the United Kingdom and one Australian cheese, along with accompaniments, provided our palates with a variety of experiences you don't get from Sydney's supermarket shelves. The cheeses consisted of soft cheeses and hard cheeses made from cow's milk, sheep's milk and goat's milk.
We learnt about and tasted the double cream (50% fat) Le Coutances, the triple cream (75% fat) Boursault cheese and how the French stay thin due to eating small portions. Best with soft bread and quince paste, the more fat in the cheese means more taste. These are soft cheeses made from cow's milk, think Camembert, and like most cheeses are named after a town, a breed of cow or an inventor. The Boursault Triple Cream cheese, named after Frenchman Henry Boursault, has an interesting arrival.
At the age of 14, Henry sold cheese at the fresh market in Paris and went on to produce his own cheese. After World War 2 he became ill and was reflecting back on cheeses during the war and the fact that no fat was included in the manufacturing process. He decided that offering fatty cheeses to the consistency of butter would prove popular but no one else was interested in the idea. What came next was a makeshift cheese lab in a bathtub and a painstaking process of handcrafting his idea. The product was born, successful and is now distributed domestically and internationally. Where there's a will, there's a way.
Moving on to a goat's cheese, we tasted Black Savourine, an interesting pyramid-shaped cheese with various layers and textures providing different tastes in the one cheese. This semi-matured cheese has a centre that is soft and chalky whilst the rind, rubbed in ash, gives an earthy aftertaste. An interesting cheese from our very own Yarra Valley in Victoria, it is good with fresh cut pear or apple.
Next were some cheeses I wouldn't normally eat, Cheddar with mushroom truffle and Bleu De Basque (a blue vein cheese). I'm not a fan of mushrooms and, the latter, has always turned me off simply because of the look of it. Well, these turned out to be our favourite cheeses of the night. I was amazed at how tasty they were, like vintage cheddar. My husband and I have been converted.
Other cheeses that satisfied our palates included -
Viega Manchego - made from the milk of mountain sheep in the La Mancha region of Spain, grass moulds are used that leave a zigzag rind resembling the tyre tread of a car, and
Thones Beaufort - a French cheese created from the milk of the ancient breed of Beaufort cow in the remote Rhone-Alps, it is one of the finest cheeses out of France and comes in at a hefty $160 per kilogram.
About The Festival of Life
Founded by event enthusiast, Margot Smith, the Festival of Life's philosophy is "collect memories" and goes about making them happen by providing events where you learn, make or do something. A range of events are available to book at various times from foodie workshops to art and fashion workshops as well as more active, sporting events. Some events coming up include a Manly Sinister Nights Walking Tour on 12th May, a Chutney Workshop on 24th May, a Vivid Harbour Cruise on 31st May and an Interior Design Workshop on 11th June.
There's a great variety to choose from and if you want to do this fabulous Cheese Tasting Workshop that I've just done then don't despair there is another one on the evening of 21st July. All events are very reasonably priced. Check out the website for full details.
About the Cheesesmith
The Cheesesmith, Mike Smith, imports gourmet cheeses from around the globe and brings them to us via special events, such as this workshop. He has provided gourmet plates at Sydney Festival in Hyde Park and can provide hampers for special occasions, packages for wedding celebrations, and more.