To celebrate the launch of Maker and Monger’s new chef toastie series the first 50 Broadsheet Access members to redeem their voucher online, can sink their teeth into a free Friends of Fromage toastie from Maker and Monger on Saturday August 5.
Vouchers will be available on Tuesday August 1.
Anthony Femia is one of the biggest names in Melbourne’s fromage entourage. (We actually can’t take credit for that label – that was him.) He’s the man behind Prahran Market’s Maker and Monger, a market staple that started life as a food cart and opened as a permanent stall in 2019, and has now become one of the city’s most influential and exciting cheesemongers.
Femia’s shop – or, as he calls it, “the Chapel of Cheese” – is known for an array of epic cheese toasties (think Swiss raclette and mozzarella with roast potatoes and dehydrated mushrooms, and pimento grilled cheese), the best in local fromage, and cheese and other dairy he airfreights in from France and Italy.
This year, gift them a dinner to remember with a Broadsheet Gift Card.BUY NOW
It’s getting cold outside, so we asked the turophile to answer some of our cheesiest questions. A gouda (and extremely informative) chat ensued.
You’re about to host an epic toastie series with guest chef collaborators. Can you tell us how these collaborations came about and what people can expect?
This is going to be a lot of fun! We are lucky to have some of Melbourne’s incredibly talented chefs as friends who love our cheese and toasties, and I wanted their help to give our guests something special. Each weekend through August and into September we will have a different toastie. To give you a little sneak peek, Diana Chan is rolling out a delicious little number inspired by her famous Singapore chilli mud crab recipe.
Since I love collecting knick-knacks as much as the next person, I thought why not create a selection of trading cards of each chef for everyone to collect. Think Upper Deck Basketball card style with epic portraits from Kristoffer Paulsen, faded to look like the retro cards of yesteryear with something quirky on the back about each person you may not know. Sports stars get cards, why not these chefs?
If you could do a toastie collaboration with anyone, who would it be and what would the toastie be?
Stanley Tucci! We’d reimagine the Timpano from my favourite food movie ever, Big Night, with Stanley on the Negroni station. But stirring them. No shake.
Hypothetical question: You’re having a dinner party – when is the cheese platter coming out and which three cheeses are definitely on it?
I’m going to go conventional and serve the cheese platter after dinner to not upset your French readers.
I would serve our Comté Reservation cut into thin wafers; a chunk of Giorgio Cravero Parmigiano-Reggiano and a wedge of Colston Bassett stilton. All served with a large slab of Backyard Honey’s fresh banksia flower honeycomb, which we sell at Maker and Monger. That’s it.
Are there different fruits, jams or breads that pair better with different types of cheeses?
When pairing food, it is always about the weight of flavour on your tongue. Where exactly each product’s flavour and texture hit your tongue and whether it’s sweet, salt, sour or bitter.
The only cheese I like to contrast is blue moulds, which need something sweet such as a black cherry or plum jam or fresh seasonal stone fruits. The other important one is if you are serving cheese before a meal, I like to serve a green apple or pear or fresh grapes alongside, thereby the acid of these fresh fruits clears your palate and helps you digest so you don’t feel too full before the meal is served.
What about the bread?
In autumn and winter, we tend to eat richer cheeses such as Epoisses de Bourgogne and washed rinds of this nature love a brown bread or biscuit with caraway seeds. For triple cream brie, your favourite baguette will always suffice and nothing beats a fruit loaf for blue cheeses.
What’s your favourite thing to add to a cheese plate?
Fresh honeycomb. The floral and sweet flavours lift the cheese so elegantly on the palate. But it needs to be fresh season honeycomb and not last year’s as there is nothing worse than chewing old honeycomb. It doesn’t dissipate on the tongue and becomes like chewing gum.
Do you have any favourite beverages to pair with cheese?
For non-alcoholic drinks: Non 2 Pear & Kombu with our Comté Reservation or any of our Swiss alpine cheeses is an absolute must. And Non 7 stewed cherry and coffee works so well as a contrast to the richness of triple cream brie and our range of blue mould cheeses.
For alcoholic beverages: my favourite wines are slightly oaked chardonnays with real Normandy camembert to start a dinner as it really gets the palate going. The buttery-ness and acidity of the chardonnay complements the cauliflower notes and unctuous texture of the camembert so well. For pairing with blue mould cheeses after dinner, something sweet such as a botrytis style of wine like a Sauternes or a fortified like Inkwell’s Sweet Jane or Black and Blue is an absolute must with Colston Bassett stilton, Carles Roquefort or Riverine blue from Gippsland. It is exactly what Forrest Gump was talking about when he said, “Me and Jenny was like peas and carrots."
What is the best way to store cheese at home?
Never use cling film to wrap and store your cheeses in the fridge – it suffocates your cheese and makes it sweat!
Cheese is a living and breathing organism. The best way to store cheese is in the specialist cheese paper you get from a dedicated cheese shop. If you can’t access this paper, simply wrap your cheese in baking paper and foil, then keep it in a brown paper bag in your vegetable crisper. Cheese needs humidity and most cheeses don’t go off when they’re cut, but they do dry out.
What’s your prediction for the next big cheese trend?
My prediction this winter is, hopefully, aligot has its chance to warm our hearts and fill our bellies. It is a classic French dish from central-southern France and incorporates mashed potatoes folded with crème fraîche and tome fraîche, which you haven’t been able to find in Australia until now, as we are airfreighting it direct from Aubrac, France.
It is traditionally served with a side of sausages and light salad, and we will be serving this on Bastille Day, July 14, at Maker and Monger.