In the same way that wine needs ageing to develop the kind of complexity that makes it such a journey of discovery for connoisseurs, cheese that is served when it is mature makes all the difference.
But it’s not easy to find that in Singapore. Frustrated by the lack of quality and choice of European cheese here, Geri Kor and her friend La Perera started The Cheese Artisans in 2012, supplying mainly to certain hotels and restaurants. But “customers who have tried our cheeses kept asking us to open a shop,” says Kor.
They have since obliged with a new fromagerie-cafe located in Greenwood Avenue which is not just a hit with residents in the neighbourhood – there are customers who come all the way from the East, says Charles Goh, its director.
The Cheese Artisans retails over 100 types of European cheeses. It prides itself not only on the selection but the fact that they age the cheeses themselves.
So if you’re there to get your favourite Brie, but chief fromager Oliver Sutton suggests an alternative that is at its peak, take his advice. After all, the Briton has over 15 years of cheese experience, and is a frequent judge at the World and British Cheese Awards.
The Cheese Artisans has its own maturing room, believed to be the first of its kind in Singapore. Two individual custom-designed, dual temperature-controlled rooms mature different cheese types to their optimal taste profiles. The maturing rooms are built according to standards of those maintained by top affineurs in Europe.
“Walk-in cheese rooms commonly found in Singapore tend to be non-functioning and are mainly for display, which disrupts the maturing set-up due to the constant change in atmosphere when customers enter and exit the room,” says Sutton.
In The Cheese Artisans’ maturing rooms, the cheeses are stored in ideal conditions to ensure that they are ripe and ready to be eaten. “We intend to cultivate a signature flora, and flavour profiles that will be unique to cheeses aged in our maturing rooms,” Sutton adds. Besides perennial favourites such as Gouda, Comte and Camembert, other popular cheeses include Alex, an alpine cheese from Bavaria, made using unpasteurized heumilch milk; and Chiriboga Blue, with its rich and rustic flavor, for those who like their blue cheese.
The Cheese Artisans also offers “Drunken Cheeses” – these are Italian cheeses, Ubriaco Al Vino Bianco and Formajo Ciok, that form when the cheeses are soaked in leftover pomace from wine-making, giving them a delicate aroma from the wine.
Depending on the type, the cheeses start from $4 per 100g, making them affordable to a larger audience. “My job is to sell to the customer a cheese that he didn’t know he liked before,” says Sutton.
If you’d rather try before you buy, then stay on for a meal. Order the Farmhouse Boards, which comprises Sutton’s weekly best picks paired alongside charcuterie and served with bread, condiments and pickles. Or customise your own cheese boards.
Also popular is the selection of baked cheese, such as the Truffle Brie or the Baked Truffled St Felicien.
Apart from cheese, there are salads, and mains such as corn-fed chicken and ribeye. The idea is for customers to enjoy their cheese, before or after a meal there. Goh says that their customers are a good mix of those who choose to dine there, as well as those to only come to buy home cheese.
Sutton has this advice for those who come to buy the cheese. “Buy a little each time, so you can enjoy them when they are just ripe.”
Adapted from The Business Times.