Yesterday was the long-awaited (for me anyway) Cheese festival in Brisbane. I had been counting down the days to what promised to be ‘Queensland’s biggest cheese festival.’ Advertisements also promised a free block of feta for the first 150 couples through the door. Of course I got there right on opening time but unfortunately a lot of people had the same idea as me and I joined the end of the line. Some how it took 30 minutes to get into the festival (I have no idea why it took so long for them to take $10 from people and slap a band around their wrists) but the cheese was worth the wait.
The first cheese we tried was Raclette cheese. Mouthwateringly-melting, the cheese sits upon a little platform that rotates to sit under the grill for a little melting and is then spun out to sample.
The sample of Tasmanian cheese came on a little slice of sourdough bread and was topped with Hank’s Jam – a balsamic onion jam from Sydney. Strongly flavoured, the cheese was well complimented by the sweet jam and if I didn’t have another several cheeses to sample I would have happily gone back for seconds.
Next stop was the Stone & Wood Brewing Company from Byron Bay. These three friends started selling their homemade brew back in 2008 and their brand has become popular throughout Queensland and New South Wales.
I’m not a beer drinker but Will sampled their lager. He said it was really good – easy to drink especially at 11 o’clock in the morning! He has already found out where he can buy it so I think it was a winner.
Pastilla Nash was the next stall we visited. The Sydney-based business sells homemade prune and walnut logs and sugar plumb and hazelnut logs. I don’t really like this sort of thing but I tried them both and preferred the prune and walnut log. They would be lovely with a sharp cheese.
Triple cream brie was my cheese of choice at the Richmond Cheese stall. It was light-tasting, soft and creamy. I would advise serving it on a light cracker that doesn’t detract from the cheese. They were giving samples on Oaty Joe’s Biscuits, which are delicious but a little too much for this subtle cheese.
Olives are one thing I could eat by the jarful and Olivfresh olives are no different. This small company uses olives from their own grove in South-East Queensland to make a small range of scrumptious olive products. They make a very unusual avocado and olive tapenade which was lighter in flavour than most olive tapenades but yummy and their olive and fig tapenade had a slightly sweet flavour from the touch of fig.
Their olives were delicious and we bought a medium sized tub of the green olives and the marinated olives to enjoy at home. I also liked the little olive pickeruperer that the man used. It looked like a small torture implement combined with one of those claw-like things you give head massages with – very useful though.
We didn’t get to sample all the cheeses that were on offer. Unfortunately there were just too many people and the lines were way too long. I think it could have been a little better organised and set out to remedy this but we still enjoyed ourselves. The last sampling we undertook was at Udder Delights & Divine Dairy. Their blue cheese, a cheese I’m not usually fond of, was tangy and delightful as was their triple cream brie which had a bit more flavour that the one I mentioned above, something I like in a cheese.
The goats cheese camenbert was good but not oh-my-god good but the cheese that won my heart was the Chevre. It was so tasty and tangy and soft and just scrumptious. I had to have some of it at home so I purchased a packet and my friend and I bought a wheel of the triple cream brie to split back at home. Oh it’s sitting in the fridge ready for me to eat right now. I don’t think cracking into it is a good idea or I might eat the half a wheel on my own which wouldn’t be too good for my thighs.
Our last stop was the star of the festival in my eyes – Olympus Cheese halloumi. Oh how I love grilled halloumi.
The three of us shared the very generous serve of grilled halloumi drizzled in lemon juice and I was in heaven. I love how it squeaks in delight when you bite into it. Yum!
On our way out we spotted cheese expert Will Studd being interviewed. He was hosting an education session at midday but our cheese-filled bellies needed to get home for some water and a rest. That was the one negative of the festival – there were no drinks other than wine and beer. I think some water or soft drink would have been nice to wash down all that cheese. Luckily we don’t live too far from there so we could walk off a bit of it on the way home.
I’m off to try some Chevre on toast, I think it will be my new favourite. What about you, what’s your favourite cheese?