You can get a lot of stuff online these days. Beer, burgers, fresh flowers, avocados, even condoms – almost anything your heart desires, really. Just last week, though, procuring a good stinky cheese meant leaving the house. Thanks to Matt Steele and his new delivery service, Cornelius Cheesemongers, however, that reality is no more.
It almost didn’t happen. After selling his venue Cornelius Cheese, Wine & Coffee in Canterbury two years ago (it’s now called Between Us), Steele moved on to managing a pub. He didn't last long. “I missed cheese,” he says. “If I'm not around it, I get sad.”
Initially, he looked in Brunswick for a retail space, but the cost of rent frightened him off. “Our hand was forced,” he says, referring to the decision to move into a warehouse and sell online.
For freshness’ sake, his back-street operation stocks just six to 20 cheeses, as compared to the 140 he sold at Cornelius in Canterbury. “Cheese ages really well when it’s whole,” he explains. “But it’s really rare to buy an entire wheel of cheese. The time between cutting it off the wheel and eating it needs to be as short as possible.”
For the most part, small European producers are the stars. “We’re starting with classics; cheeses I really love,” Steele says. That includes Hervé Mons Roquefort, a famous blue, Comté, a 24-month-old raw cow’s milk cheese and the wrinkly Rochetta – an Italian masterpiece made with goat, sheep and cow’s milk. The stock will change regularly, depending on what’s available.
Delivery can be anywhere in Australia, prices range from free up to $35, depending on how much and where you want it, and it can take a couple of days. Otherwise, you can pre-order and collect from the warehouse yourself. Either way, the cheese comes neatly wrapped, or if you like, presented on a handsome dark-stone chopping board sparkling with embedded pyrite (“fool’s gold”) courtesy of Steele’s other business, Brunswick Slate.
For true diehards, Cornelius offers wedding and birthday “cakes”. Ranging from $35 to $500, they consist of cheese wheels stacked atop one another, and decorated with flowers and olives.