Say Cheese!

Posted on July 18, 2011

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Every few months, there comes a time when my house smells like a foot and my stomach bulges at the seams. This marks the arrival of my Bruny Island cheese box. As a cheese club member you are entitled to eight offers of the best cheese of that period, plus an additional cheese made specially for the cheese club. The offer also contains products exclusive to Bruny Island such as double malt whisky, cider, chocolate, smoked bacon and cookbooks.

Bruny Island Cheese is an artisan cheese company in Southern Tasmania, created and run by cheesemaker Nick Haddow. After spending ten years perfecting his trade in Europe and Australia, Haddow set up Bruny Island cheese, with the goal of creating artisan cheese which was unique to the island. They use top quality Tasmanian milk and local products to make the cheese. Their C2 cheese is the first raw milk cheese made in Australia for sale. The cheeses are exciting and bold in flavour, an artisan approach to cheese making in Australia.

This months cheese offer contained four cheeses, plus a cheese accompaniment. Some additional offers included cider, Matthew Evans new signed cookbook ‘Winter on the farm’, dulce de leche, and bacon. I chose the cookbook, as I am a fan of Matthew Evans’ previous book ‘Real Food Companion’. The box comes air freighted on a specified date, with ice packs to maintain the temperature of the cheese. The only problem is remembering to be home on the day of delivery. It is pretty stinky, so I wouldn’t suggest having it delivered at work, to avoid death glares from colleagues.

The semi hard cheese called ‘Mark’, was specially made for this offer. Made only once a year, after Bruny Island Wines finish the years harvest, the young ‘Tom’ cheese is pressed with the Pinot noir grape skins to ferment and age. The cheese has an incredible aroma of wine. The taste is subtle, the texture pliable and smooth. I expected a stronger taste of wine, somewhat like an Italian cheese pressed in wine called ‘Occelli Testun Barollo’. Here it is mild and easy to consume larger quantities.

The ‘Big Old Tommy’, is a mountain style hard cheese. It has a natural rind, which gives a depth of flavour. As it is aged in a 8kg hoop, it takes a long time to mature, adding complexity to the flavour. I love this cheese on a cheese board or on a sandwich. It has quite a delicate floral and honey flavour.

This is the first time I have tried the ‘Odo’, a fresh cows milk cheese marinated in oil, herbs and chilli. This cheese packs a punch with bold flavours. It is great served on crusty bread, sprinkled on pizza, through a salad and mixed through pasta. I was surprised at how heavy-handed they were with the chilli. If your impartial to spice, I would stay clear.

The 1792 is the most pungent and stinky of the bunch. It is a soft washed rind cheese, aged on Huon pine. This cheese has a beautiful orange colour, as a result of being hand washed. Washing the rind encourages bacteria growth and creates a sticky, smelly exterior. Australian washed rinds are at their best during the start of winter. This is one of my favourite cheeses. I work with cheese, and can say that it lasts much longer than the best before date. The flavour develops, the rind breaks down and the smell intensifies. To me, this is when it is best to eat. As unorthodox as it is, I enjoy melting this cheese in risotto, pasta, omelette and toasties.

To accompany the cheese is an apple, pear and almond paste. It is light and refreshing, perfectly matched with the cheese on offer. The cookbook ‘Winter on the farm’ contains warming recipes for the cold months, such as a pot roast chicken, semolina porridge and meaty ragu. I cant wait to cook from this book and will keep you posted.

I hope this post encourages you to visit Bruny Island, join the cheese club, or pester your local cheesemonger to order some cheese for you. I would encourage people to sign up online. Each box roughly costs around $70.00, there is no pressure to purchase, and the offers come around every few months. The quality speaks for itself. Handmade, no two cheeses are the same. This is cheese making at it’s best. Here is a video that goes into greater depth from Stuart Harris on Vimeo , Now lets get stinky…

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