I am a self professed cheese fiend. Several times in my life I have suspected that perhaps I may have a slight intolerance to dairy, but I refuse to stop eating cheese. Soft cheese, hard cheese, crumbly cheese, spreadable cheese, aged cheese. I don’t discriminate. I just love cheese.
And I am not alone. Australians also love cheese. In fact, 83% of Australians would call themselves a cheese lover, and a third of Australians consume cheese on a daily basis. Hilariously, a recent study found that Australians would give up a toe, sex, their dishwasher, driving, friends and social media before they would give up cheese. I am glad I am not alone in my love of all things cheesy.
So I was pretty excited when I was asked if I was interested in tasting some of the cheeses that had won the Australian Grand Dairy Awards before the winners had even been officially announced. Some friends and I had a sneak peek at three of the winning cheeses when I hosted our very own little cheese tasting last week, accompanied by some lovely champagne and beautiful condiments. Whilst we all claim to love cheese, we admitted we didn’t really know what to look for when tasting cheese, so we surprised ourselves when using the tasting notes supplied to taste the cheese properly and found that we were actually able to describe the cheeses quite similarly to how they were described on the notes. Look at us, little cheese judges. Although I am sure the judges discussed it much more professionally than us, and didn’t exclaim in our very Australian way “This cheese is sooooo freakin’ good!”
I think some of my friends surprised themselves when we all declared that the Blue Island Black Label Triple Cream Brie was our favourite, the winner of the Blue Cheese category. I love blue cheese, but most of my girlfriends turn their nose up at ‘mouldy’ cheese (which is how I know they aren’t true cheese fiends like myself). However, they all agreed to try it for this event, and were all so surprised how much they liked it. Granted, this blue cheese was an exception- delightfully creamy and buttery, with only a slight ‘blue’ taste, this cheese was so balanced and subtle.
The sweet and nutty Heidi Farm Gruyere, winner of the Semi Hard and Eye category, was also a ‘world class cheese’. Easy to eat with a sweet and nutty flavour, this was hard to stop eating.
We were excited to have the Bay of Fires Cheddar, winner of the Cheddar category, as one of my good girlfriends is a Tassie local and we have spent much time over there drinking their amazing wine and eating their wonderful cheeses. This one was true to form, with sweet, earthy flavours and a delightful crumbly texture.
We all commented that there was such a huge difference in quality between your typical ‘supermarket’ cheeses that we usually put on our cheese platters and these absolutely incredible cheeses. Granted, our budgets wouldn’t always allow us to purchases cheeses of this quality, but for special occasions I can see the merit in spending that little bit extra to buy these boutique cheeses and count myself lucky to be living in a country that produces such gorgeous cheese products.
For any of you that would like to have the opportunity to try some of these cheeses, be sure to register for the ‘Cheese Please’ twilight festival on the 19th of Feb at Southbank. Click here for more details; entry is free but tickets are strictly limited.
Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks for being so legendairy!
Have a delicious (cheesy) day,