The time is ripe for Australian cheese
If you’re looking for a French brie, a Greek feta or a Dutch gouda, you won’t find it at Ripe Cheese. The cheese shop at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is the only one in Australia committed to selling exclusively Aussie cheese. Not that customers are complaining.
“What I find is that for Aussies to buy Australian cheese, a lot of the time there must be an intent for them to buy Australian,” says Ripe cheesemonger, Hakim Halim. “A lot of them come to the market, already having thoughts about buying French or European cheeses. That’s what they know and that’s what they’re comfortable with.
“But once they stop and have a chat with me or one of my colleagues about Australian cheese, most of the time they come back and they become regular customers. They do still buy European cheese, but they’re also giving Australian cheese more of a chance.”
Halim also wanted to provide customers with something extra special for Christmas this year, so he created some mouth-watering offerings to bring the “wow factor” to your Chrissie do. The most spectacular choice from Ripe Cheese’s Christmas range is a four-tier cheese tower “cake”, which showcases some of the best Victorian cheeses on offer.
The bottom tier is a 1.1kg Maffra cloth-aged cheddar, the second tier is a 650g L’Artisan Extravagant triple cream, the third tier is 200g of BoatShed Cheese’s Tempest buffalo cheese and the fourth tier is a 120g Holy Goat La Luna Barrel, which Halim says is “the best goat’s cheese in the country”. Sadly, the tower is only available to Melbourne customers.
“It becomes a centrepiece for your party,” Halim says. “It becomes something that people hang around while they feast on the cheese. It’s all about bringing people together in an interesting and delicious manner.”
Ripe is also offering a special Christmas-themed cheese wreath, which features a selection of three Australian cheeses, premium quince paste, strawberries and muscatels placed strategically on top of a homemade rosemary and sea salt cracker. Halim will also be running special “Cheese Talks” online cheese masterclasses, offered as an alternative to the traditional office or social Christmas gathering.
“This year, Christmas parties will be very different,” Halim says. “Many companies, many families and friends may not be able to connect and meet up in person. With Cheese Talks, we deliver the cheese to you along with a bottle of wine, and then we set at a time on Zoom where I facilitate the cheese tasting. I’ll share stories about the different cheesemakers, I’ll share advice on how to eat cheese, how it should taste and what wines to pair it with.”
As well as encouraging people to get together by Zoom, Halim wants to use Cheese Talks as an opportunity to show people the many amazing Australian cheeses that are available.
“I would never tell someone to not buy European cheese,” he says. “I would not judge someone for liking European cheese. All we’re saying is a give Australian cheese a fair go. Once you’ve tasted how good it is, you’ll realise you don’t need to buy imported.”
To find out more about Ripe Cheese or to order a Christmas cheese tower, platter or Zoom get-together, head to ripecheese.com.au