The Larder Epicerie Fine
The biggest difference between French and Australian cheese is the rennet, a starter added to milk to encourage bacterial cultures to grow. The complexity of the starter makes a huge difference in the resulting cheese. On rennet and all things cheese, Dominique and Janette Durand, owners of The Larder Epicerie Fine, are connoisseurs.
Dominique is from Burgundy, France. He laments the fact that, even though unpasteurised cheese is permitted in Australia, it’s hard to find. The Larder has a few types. There’s Roquefort, a sharp blue-vein cheese that’s pungent and extremely creamy. There’s also the meltingly soft, stinky Epoisses, a washed-rind cheese that was a favourite of Napoleon. Finally, there’s an extensive offering of Swiss cooked milk, hard cheeses: Emmental, Comté, Gruyère.
The wine list has a balance of French and Australian wines, and represents small wineries in local regions such as Canberra and Geelong. You won’t find big names in Bordeaux wines here. Dominique thinks they’re too expensive and hard to sell. Instead he’s opted for the equally beautiful Beaujolais, Côte du Rhone and Gigondas.
The wine bar opens daily for lunch and on Friday and Saturday nights, serving cheese, charcuterie, and homemade terrines and rillettes. Fresh bread is from Brasserie, the Bread and Butter Project and Brickfields. On Sunday afternoons in summer, The Larder hosts live jazz.
In the deli area, there’s olive oil on tap (bring your own bottle), free-range eggs from Portland, local honey and other pantry items.