On Monday, I cashed in my Christmas present from my husband and attended Whey Up High with Will Studd at Eureka 89 with my friend Tina from Tina Giorgio Photography. The evening was a celebration of Olivia Sutton's cheese shop Harper & Blohm's second anniversary. It was a great cheese masterclass hosted by the cheese master himself Will Studd where we tried cheeses from the Selected by Will Studd range paired with amazing wines from CellarHand.
The evening started with two small cheese tastings for apéritif followed by two courses of soft and hard cheeses all matched with spirits and wine.
For apéritif, we tasted a salty semi hard cube of the Odysseys Barrel Aged Feta which is an authentic handmade barrel-ripened feta from Northern Greece made from 70% sheep / 30% goat's milk and a grilled lemony piece of the Aphrodite Halloumi which is an authentic handmade haloumi from Cyprus made from 70% sheep / 30% goat's milk. Both were paired nicely with a glass of Contratto Bianco on ice. Sorry no photos, we ate them too quickly to snap!
The first cheese course consisted of four soft cheeses - a Brillat Savarin (not featured on the above photo), a Le Conquérant Demi Pont-l'Évêque, a Le Dauphin Délice de Chablis and a Le Conquérant Camembert.
- The Brillat Savarin is a creamy slightly chalky triple-cream from Bourgogne made from cow's milk and is known as a crowd pleaser. It was such a crowd pleaser that most people in the room (me included) devoured their portion which surprised Will and Olivia! I have had Savarin before and its chalkiness reminds me of a goat's cheese which is nice but can be heavy for some. This cheese was paired with a glass of Chalmers Felicitas 2014 sparkling from Heathcote Victoria.
- The Le Conquérant Demi Pont-l'Évêque (top left) is a pungent washed rind cheese from Normandie made from cow's milk. Demi refers to the small size of this Pont-l'Évêque which affects how it ripens. Because this cheese is smaller than its larger cousins it ripens faster. I didn't find the smell of this cheese very strong compared to a traditional Pont-l'Évêque and enjoyed the rind and its creamy centre. This cheese was paired with a glass of Eric Bordelet Poire Authentique Cidre from Normandie which is a beautiful sweet pear cider.
- The Le Conquérant Camembert (bottom left) is a close cousin of the Camembert de Normandie. It has strong aromatic hints of wet straw, brassica and apples made from cow's milk from Normandie. My favourite cheese of the night by far! I love its soft and fudgy like texture and its strong smell brings me back to my childhood when my father used to leave cheeses out days before a party to ensure they were ripe and perfect to eat with baguette and a small side of lettuce leaves with a light and salty vinaigrette and a glass of wine. This cheese was also paired with a glass of Eric Bordelet Poire Authentique Cidre from Normandie which was my favourite pairing of the night.
- The Le Dauphin Délice de Chablis (top right) is a young orange washed rind cheese from Bourgogne made from cow's milk. Will Studd was right when he said this cheese would divide the crowd as some people on the night were not taken by this cheese especially its rind. I however did enjoy it but prefer to remove the rind when it comes to washed rind cheeses as I find that the rind leaves a strange texture in my mouth which can spoil the taste of the rest of the cheese. This cheese was paired with a glass of Louis Michel Chablis AC from Chablis which I think is a natural pairing seeing as the cheese's washed rind is regularly washed with Chablis wine throughout its maturity.
The second cheese course consisted of two hard cheeses and one blue - a La Couronne Fort Aged Comté, a Dehesa De Los Llanos Manchego and a Le Roi Roquefort.
The La Couronne Fort Aged Comté (bottom left) is a hard cheese with nutty and caramel sweetness flavours from Franche-Comté made from unpasteurised milk and aged for various periods of time. This was my favourite hard cheese of the night because of its beautiful aroma, texture and sweet nutty flavour. This cheese is a favourite at our house and often features on our cheeseboards. This cheese was paired with two glasses of wine - a glass of the KR Kallstadter Saumagen Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2012 from Pfalz in Germany or a glass of the Pittnauer Heideboden Blaufrankisch 2014 from Burgenland in Austria. They were interesting pairings and most people in the room (to Will Studd's surprise) enjoyed the Pittnauer Heideboden which is a distant relative of Pinot Noir. I prefer my Comté by itself to be honest but if I have to drink wine with it I much prefer the Kallstadter Riesling.
- The Dehesa De Los Llanos Manchego (bottom right) is a hard cheese from Spain made from ewe's milk and aged for at least 12 months. It has a rich crumbly texture with a sweet and nutty flavour. I found this cheese similar in texture to a pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano and while I enjoy those types of cheese when using them in salads or pasta, they are not my go-to cheeses for cheese platters. This cheese was paired with a glass of the KR Kallstadter Saumagen Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2012 from Pfalz in Germany.
- The Le Roi Roquefort (top right) is the oldest traditional French blue cheese matured in the ancient underground caves of the Cambalou plateau made from ewe's milk. I loved the richness of this blue and enjoyed how strong it was too. This cheese was paired with a glass of Georg Breuer Auslese Riesling 2014 from Rheingau in Germany.
We also tried Le Conquerant Beurre de Barrate which is a rich and creamy cultured butter which has been gently churned the old-fashioned way in a baratte in Normandie. I loved this butter as it was so soft and creamy, you can tell by the first taste that it is a good quality cultured butter just how butter is supposed to be! I cannot wait to try the demi-sel hopefully it has nice salty crystals like the salty butters in France.
We received a true masterclass from the cheese master himself on the night. Will Studd eats, sleeps and breaths cheese! I loved listening about the history of the cheeses we tried and the way they were and are now made. His passion really came out when he spoke about raw milk cheese and his legal case against Australian Food Regulations back in 2002 where he challenged the authorities by importing 80 kgs of Roquefort. Thanks to Will's devotion and legal battle, we now have Roquefort in Australia!
The highlight of the night for me was meeting Will Studd and eating his cheeses of course! I liked how he came by each table during the tastings to chat and ask us what we thought. Things got a little more interesting when Will was talking about Camembert de Normandie and asked someone in the room to pronounce the name of the cheese and my dear friend Tina alerted him of my Frenchness!
Loved the evening even if I had a massive cheese hangover the next day - ha! No need to fear though, I have started eating cheese again and I am enjoying my take home goodie bag of Will Studd Petit Camembert, Haloumi and Beurre de Barrate!