What goes great with wine – CHEESE please!
This week we sat down with Alana from Yallingup Cheese (a wine maker who now makes cheese) .
Warning : This article could insight a cheese fetish and hunger pains – read on cautiously. Yummmmm!
ALANA IS SHARING THE CHEESY LOVE - VISIT YALLINGUP CHEESE CO AND USE THE DISCOUNT CODE HUMIDITYCHEESE FOR 20% OFF YOUR PURCHASE.
We all love cheese and there are some many different varieties, could you describe the best cheese that you have ever eaten ?
Gosh, that’s like asking me which of my children is my favourite - which of course depends on the day and my mood.
I think the cheese that has had the most influence on me would have to be St Marcellin. I remember the first time I tried it was when I arrived in Beaune to work the 2006 vintage. I arrived by train from Paris to a town I had never been to and which spoke a language I had never learnt. I remember being super hungry and thinking I'd just grab a baguette and some Brie before heading to the winery. The look on the face of the shop lady when I asked for this was that of utter disgust, it may have been my very broken French, but I suspect that I offended her by asking for Camembert when clearly I should have known that the local cheese was St Marcellin! She shook her head and basically threw the baguette and a small cheese that kind of resembled Camembert at me. When I sat down to eat my lunch and ponder what the hell I had just encountered, I remember being utterly amazed at the deliciousness of the cheese. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted…Fudgy, soft, delicate, lingering, creamy, earthy, floral and nutty all rolled into one!
I smashed the whole round in one sitting. I came to eat it almost daily during my vintage in Burgundy and it was so life changing for me that it has become the flagship of the Yallingup Cheese Company brand.
When did you decide you loved cheese so much and where did you get your inspiration from to become a cheese maker?
I didn’t grow up loving cheese. The extent of cheese consumption in my family growing up was Kraft singles in toasties. It wasn’t until I was working in the wine industry that I began expanding my cheese eating repertoire. Working vintages in New Zealand, USA and France exposed me to an array of cheeses and I had no fear, trying everything I could and seeing how the cheese paired with the local wines. It caused a bit of an obsession in my travels.
I guess for me it was really the Burgundy vintage of 2006 where my journey into cheese making began. I worked in the cellar with the son of a local cheesemaker and I'm pretty sure he was bemused by the sheer volume of cheese I could put away each shift for someone of my build. At the end of the vintage he asked if I would like to visit his family cheesery to get some experience in the cheese caves to which I accepted without hesitation. I spent weeks helping hoop, turn, brush and roll cheeses in the caves…….the smell and taste of the fresh curds will remain with me for ever as will the sheer muscle fatigue from rolling 30kg wheels of Comte day in day out. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was there and then that I decided I wanted to incorporate cheesemaking into my career. I had only one limitation - I needed to actually learn how to make the stuff.
Upon returning to Australia, I continued winemaking and in my spare time (because pre kids, I had some!) I completed my Certificate 3 in Cheese manufacturing at Regency TAFE in South Australia
We know you love to entertain! Gosh, am I that transparent...
When you are putting together a beautiful cheese platter what would be your go-to selection?
Ok, bear with me as this is where I have a tendency to rant!! This is a subject very close to my heart being a passionate foodie/wine lover. So, repeat after me: LESS IS MORE!
I think grazing tables have a lot to answer for in making people believe that you have to have the entire contents of your fridge on your cheese board! So lets go back to basics; you should be able to see the cheese on your platter and you should offer a few different flavours and textures to ensure you cater for a range of palates. Plus, it's visually stimulating to have different colours and shapes.
I never have more than three cheeses on a board as I think it just gets too damn complicated. I prefer two big chunks of amazing cheese rather than multiple wedges of different styles.
I always have a white mould cheese on a platter for two reasons: Its a universal favourite and its easy to source.
Brie and Camembert are most common, but try stepping out of your comfort zone into wash rind territory or a sneaky St Marcellin.
Then to balance the soft texture of the white mould - I have either a hard cheese or a blue. These styles explore punchier flavours and different textures.
For Christmas this year, I incorporated a beautiful ripe wedge of Hall Family Suzette wash rind and a thumping great hunk of our Tomme de Vache paired with a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon. Accompaniments should be super simple to let the cheese and wine do all the talking. I toast thick sliced Woodfired bread with olive oil and salt to serve with the cheese. I also like fresh fruit for colour and texture (grapes or fresh nashi pear), walnuts, dried fig and some fruit paste. Under no circumstance is kiwi fruit allowed on a cheese platter, its slimy, doesn’t pair with any cheese and just looks like you forgot to get fruit and it was all that was left in your fruit bowl! Just make a pav and be done with it.
Some good pairings of cheese we have in store include
- St Marcellin, Tomme de Vache and Chardonnay
- Suzette, Satori Raspberry cheddar and Rose
- St Marcellin, Belmondo Buffalo Blue and Pinot Noir
- Suzette, Triple cream Brie and 4 year old cloth cheddar with Champagne
Using cheese not only on a platter is wonderful and indulgent!
Alana, do you have a delicious cheese recipe that you would like to share and if you were enjoying this, what yummy wine would you pair it back with?
Everyone loves warm, gooey cheese no mater the time of year! There is something so indulgent and festive about baking your Brie or Camembert.
Cranberries make a delicious addition to your baked cheese. Simply place your cheese in a ramekin that is slightly larger than the cheese and score the cheese surface with a crisscross pattern roughly 1/2cm deep. Then scatter chopped maple covered macadamias, cranberries and pine nuts over the surface and drizzle with honey. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees until the cheese is bubbling and the topping lightly browned. Serve with good crusty bread and a glass of chilled Margaret River chardy. Pure heaven!
It’s sometimes hard to choose the best cheese, When choosing cheese what's the best things to look out for and does cheese really go off?
I think it's really important to note that a cheese board is only as good as the cheese you put on it!! For special occasions, make the effort to source your cheese from a specialist cheese shop or a supermarket that has an extensive range of cheese. Your board will be infinitely better than if you just grab generic supermarket cheese.
Cheese is a living, breathing product that utilizes bacteria and moulds to ripen it - so yes it can go off! It's important to respect the microbial growth going on in the cheese and so a few basic house keeping tips will ensure you have spot on ripe cheese every time.
- Buy what’s in season. Cheese just like fruit and veg has seasons! Ask your cheese monger what cheeses have recently arrived in the shop and if they have any suggestions as to what is tasting on point. They are a wealth of knowledge, so allow yourself to be led a bit!
- If you have to shop at Coles or Woolies, look for cheese that is nearing its use by date as this will have the most flavour development (yes I am telling you that it's ok to buy cheese when it's at or past its use by date!!)
- Spoilage microbes are not visible! So that growth of blue mould on the outside on your leftover cheese wedge does not indicate that the cheese is past its prime! And smell is also not a real indicator of spoiled cheese. Really, it comes down to how strong you like your cheese as the older it gets, the more ammonia development occurs making it more intense.
- Wrap uneaten cheese back in its wrapper or a piece of greaseproof paper and store in the main compartment of the fridge (not in the door). This will ensure the temperature remains constant to help preserve the cheese. Once opened, the cheese shelf life reduces significantly so try and eat it all within a week of opening.
Keep an eye out on our Instagram for our giveaway with Yallingup Cheese where you can win a private Cheese Making Workshop with Alana!
OMGOODNESS! I am positively drooling!
Thanks for the tips on the use by or not so use by dates! Good to know!
Keep up the good work!