Jessica Arnott, MasterChef finalist and cheese fanatic, has a zeal for curd that makes her the ideal cheesemonger at Fromage Artisans. Owners Danica Quinlan and Michael Taylor, are the couple behind 2016’s wildly popular Festival Fromage.
Inspired by a visit to St Kilda’s Milk the Cow in Melbourne, this combined retailer-bar-event space is dedicated to celebrating – to paraphrase American author Clifton Fadiman – milk’s leap towards immortality. At the heart of Fromage Artisans is the fromagerie, a purpose-built, temperature-controlled showroom-slash-store where Arnott slowly matures cheeses to ensure they are served (and enjoyed) at peak deliciousness.
The fromagerie is kept at 10 degrees: optimal conditions for holding hard cheeses such as cheddar, manchego and edam. Softer cheeses are stored in a separate fridge set to three degrees. Here be the brie, camembert and – Arnott’s cheese crush – the impossibly creamy La Tur, a mixed cow-, goat- and sheep-milk cheese from Piedmont whose molten tendencies means it has to be packed in a cupcake wrapper to stop it from running everywhere.
In addition to takeaway sales of cheese and cheeseboard paraphernalia, guests can also make camp at the bar and order cheese boards and annotated flights that play matchmaker between cheese and alcohol. It’s a deeply attractive prospect for curd nerds, not least because Arnott is keeping a close eye on things in the fromagerie.
A clipped bar menu features savoury options including pork rillettes, a baked camembert and a toastie made with 10 cheeses. Beers and cocktails are also available, as is a thoughtful non-alcoholic “Bun In The Oven” flight that stars hard cheeses and soft drinks.