I love cheese in all its milky goodness: soft and hard, goat and cow (sheep and buffalo too), mild and pungent, mouldy and crumbly, blue and white. I love it in salads, souffles, fondue, scraped off a wheel of raclette onto boiled potatoes, or just a perfectly ripe chunk on a piece of excellent bread. I wrote a book about 500 different cheeses and I couldn’t possibly name just one that’s my favourite … but I can tell you five of the best cheese dishes I’ve eaten and where I found them!
Burrata, Rye, Hazelnut, Tomato, Rosemary Maybe Sammy
What’s even better than fresh mozzarella? Burrata – chopped mozzarella mixed with cream tied up in a thin stretched curd skin! At this groovy, late-night bar it’s served whole alongside a pile of rosemary-spiked rye and hazelnut crumbs to add crunch and punch to the oozy cheese.
Twice Baked Gruyere Souffle St Claude’s
Double-baked gruyere souffle was put on the menu of this Woollahra institution (previously Claude’s) in the 1970s by its original owner, Claude Corne. I love a touch of tradition and am so glad it’s still there today, four owners later. It’s dense but light, creamy, savoury and addictive!
Pressed Curd & Leeks Yellow
Yellow’s menu may be meat free, but Brent Savage always has some house-made cheese on the menu. One of my favourites was fresh cow’s milk curd pressed for 24-hours to give a lovely springy texture. Lightly grilled it provided the perfect foil for sweet charred braised leeks.
Goat Cheese & Churros Nomad
With a dedicated glass-fronted cheese room, Nomad’s Jacqui Challinor always has something happening with her house-made halloumi, ricotta or chevre. Good produce doesn’t need much adornment – and I loved dipping crisp puffy churros into a bowl of tangy, honey-drizzled goat curd!
Saganaki Cheese, Honey, Oregano The Apollo
I do love fried cheese, especially this Greek classic! Jonathan Barthelmess takes it to the next level with a sprinkle of dried Greek rigani and generous drizzle of honey to balance the salty sheep and cows milk cheese served bubbling away in a cast-iron pan.
And if you fancy some quick and easy cheese dishes at home, how about Cheese Fondue ~ Welsh Rarebit ~ Croque Monsieur ~ Asparagus & Goats Cheese Risotto ~ Macaroni Cheese (with or without truffles!) ~ Cucumber, Fetta & Tomato Salad ~ Spanakopita (Greek Spinach & Cheese Pie).