Cheese platters have come a long way since the ones of This Girl’s childhood where picked onions, cubes of cheddar cheese and rounds of cabana were all the rage!
This Girl sat down with Johanna Bostock from The Aussie Affineur to talk about cheese and her business supplying cheese boards and grazing tables, a new on-trend way to cater for your parties and events!
Johanna was preparing for a wedding the next day and pulled together a cheese platter for us to enjoy while we chatted.
Johanna’s cheese platter was made up of three cheeses This Girl had never tried before, Fromager D’affinois; a French “double cream, white mould” cheese. This cheese looked familiar to me, like a brie, but I found it to have an even creamier texture and subtle mellow flavour.
Secondly, Delice de Bourgogne (which Johanna said wasn’t quite as ripe as she’d like but I thought it was beautiful!) Not the type of cheese I’d normally go for, it had a weird looking texture to the outside of the cheese but inside it was beautifully soft with an almost mousse-like texture. Johanna said this cheese is to die for, spread thickly on soft bread!
Then came the blue cheese… This Girl is not a blue cheese fan, in fact I steer well clear of it and wasn’t looking forward to trying this one, however I now know that not all blue cheese is created equal! Gorgonzola dolce (this one was from a maker called “Arrigoni” in Italy) doesn’t have that strong smell or intense flavour that I’ve experienced with blue cheese in the past. This cheese was creamy with a slight tangy flavour, no over the top smell and went perfectly with the baby pickled figs that Johanna had on the board. I can now say that, for the right type of blue cheese, I’m a fan!
This Girl originally met Johanna through the music world, and that creative part of her personality certainly shows itself in her creation of cheese boards and grazing tables! Johanna has been working with cheese for over a decade now, learning first-hand through working as a cheesemonger in a local deli, just how cheese needs to be ripened and aged for the customer’s eating pleasure. In France, those that specialise in the “ageing” and selling process of cheese are actually called ‘Affineurs’ (from the French word “Affinage”, meaning “to age”), where “cheesemongering” generally only involves selling the cheese from supplier to customer. Johanna lamented to This Girl the fact that in Australia, most people don’t know what really needs to happen behind the scenes to deliver that perfect wheel of cheese into your local deli!
So what can you expect from The Aussie Affineur? You can expect hand picked cheeses and specially selected meats, condiments & antipasto. Boards can be delivered ready for your table or Johanna can set up a sumptuous grazing table at your event. You’ll get a variety of cheeses and beautiful accompaniments displayed amazingly. Johanna really takes the time to get to know you and understand the event you’re catering for, and you’ll see this in the end result she’s able to create.
Johanna had some tips on how to store your cheese at home for best life. Wrap it in greaseproof paper or beeswax wraps (rather than plastic wrap) and seal in a plastic or glass container. Plastic wrap encourages sweating and that’s not good for cheese as it needs to ‘breathe’!
Cheese should be served at room temperature, to bring out the best flavours in the cheese. Johanna says you can definitely eat cheese straight from the fridge (and she often does), but that you won’t really get all the true flavours from the cheese when it is still cold, which means you might think the cheese is a little bland, or plain, when really, it just needs to warm up a little. To get your cheese to room temperature, simply leave it out of the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving. Ideally, you’d unwrap the cheese from any plastic and either leave it wrapped in greaseproof or cheese paper, or simply ready to go on your cheese board with a slightly damp cloth over the top (otherwise the cheese will get dry & crusty). If your cheese isn’t quite ripe, leaving it out of the fridge for a few hours will help the ripening process as well.
How do you know if your cheese is ripe and ready to eat? Well that’s where an experienced Affineur comes into play – and if you really want the best from your cheese, Johanna recommends talking to one (an Affineur that is, not the cheese). You’ll find Wursthaus and Hill Street Grocer West Hobart have the staff with the experience to steer you in the right direction, and Johanna is always happy to answer your cheesy questions via her Facebook or Instagram page (both are @theaussieaffineur) – just shoot her a quick message! You literally have an affineur at your fingertips.
All images in this blog are thanks to Tom Womersley Media