Say cheese, Perth. The inaugural Festival Fromage will see Perth Town Hall taken over by cheese vendors and fans, all in the name of good eating.
The event works like this: upstairs will be something of a cheesy hall of fame populated by some of the best cheesemongers and makers who’ll help you put together the ultimate cheeseboard.
From there, head downstairs and complete your board with crackers, preserves, knives and other cheese-related trimmings. Pair with beverages from local wineries, brewers and distillers and you’re looking at the makings of a pretty grand spread.
To help you plan your day, Broadsheet has put together this list of five must-try cheeses – from local heroes to the rare and exotic.
St Julian by Yallingup Cheese Co, Western Australia
This really is the holy grail of local cheeses. Made in the style of the angelic St Marcellin, this creamy, snow-white cheese was named after the husband of cheesemaker Alana. She completed her cheese-making apprenticeship in France and it’s easy to see that influence in her products. You’d be forgiven for mistaking St Julian’s bloomy, white mould for an imported French wheel. The organic Jersey milk that goes into Yallingup Cheese arrives the day it was milked from a local dairy just 25 kilometres away. Featuring a texture that is almost mousse-light, with aromas of black truffle and citrus, this cheese is without equal in Australia.
Available at the Yallingup Cheese Co stall.
Cinco Lanza by Garcia Baquero, Spain
Manchego is the wonderfully hard and crumbly sheep’s milk cheese from La Mancha in Spain. Its growing popularity has seen some wonderful examples being imported into Australia in recent years, but this wheel is something special. By Spanish law, Cinco Lanza can’t be called Manchego, due to the addition of cow’s and goat’s milk, but that’s exactly what makes it so complex and delicious. In 2013, this cheese won the 'Supergold’ medal at the World Cheese Awards (yes, they are a thing, and yes, we want to go to there), establishing it as one of the world's great cheeses. Aged for more than 16 months, Cinco Lanza boasts delicate flavours of thyme and rosemary with aromas of roasted nuts, caramel sweetness, and a surprising finish of toasted cinnamon.
Available at the Fromage Artisans stall.
Tosi Gorgonzola Dolce, Piedmont, Italy
This creamy, delicate blue is produced in a tiny, historic cheese factory using traditional methods. The curds are cut into larger pieces and aged in colder temperatures than other cheese factories, which means it needs to be aged twice as long. Although the extra aging makes this variety more expensive, it yields a luxurious, unique example of that most famous of Italian cheeses, Gorgonzola. Dolce means sweet in Italian: fitting as this really is the ice-cream of blue cheeses. It has lactic, buttery flavours with just a gentle funk of blue mould rippling through the gooey paste. Good enough to eat with a spoon.
Available at the Blue Cow Cheese Co. stall.
Cambray Farmhouse Gold, Nannup, Western Australia
The award-winning Farmhouse Gold is a handcrafted sheep’s cheese matured for 18 months and made exclusively with spring-flush milk. Sheep milk can create rich, buttery cheeses, but the yield is much lower than with cows, meaning the cheesemakers at Cambray have a tough time keeping up with demand. One of WA’s best, this rare cheese is strong and nutty, made in the style of the aged Dutch cheeses. Something of a unicorn among local cheeses, it’s usually snapped up by high-end restaurants before it reaches the retail market. Expect this to be one of the first cheeses to go.
Available at the Cambray Cheese Co. stall.
Rolf Beeler Hagebuttenkäse, Toggenburg, Switzerland
The Little Cheese Shop in Bayswater has a knack for sourcing interesting cheese and they’ve brought the big guns to their festival lineup. Rolf Beeler specialises in Gruyere, Emmental and Raclette and is responsible for some of Switzerland’s best cheeses. This is something special: a smooth, hard, raw cow’s milk cheese, flavoured with rosehip, which is rubbed dry on the rind and also scattered throughout the paste like tiny, tasty rose petals. This was a special edition cheese that is now out of production and two of the last wheels left anywhere in the world will be at the festival. Another cheese that is expected to run out early.
Available at the Little Cheese Shop stall.
Festival Fromage is at Perth Town Hall from November 11 to 13. Tickets are available online