Taste Of Europe At Good Food and Wine Show 2023


Written by:

Courtesy of Bon Fromage, we had the pleasure of indulging in a French cheese and chocolate pairing at Good Food 2023 in Melbourne.

Cheese monger, Valerie Henbest and Chocolatier, Vicki Papazaharias led an entertaining and insightful tasting experience pairing four French cheeses imported by Smelly Cheese Co, with artisanal chocolate from Adixions.

Thank you again to Good Food and Wine, Bon Fromage, Smelly Cheese Co. and Adixions.

Notes on the experience are provided below.

Valerie opened the tasting by emphasising the importance of playing with your food – when it comes to cheese at least – and carefully stepped through each of the senses with the products in front of us.

The first cheese of the event was a Brillat-Savarin. This Triple Cream Brie was instructed to be plucked and rubbed onto the back of our hands. She explained that this can be used as a rough test of fat content within the cheese. In this case, it quickly faded into oblivion, meaning a comparatively high water content – indicated as a desirable quality of this cheese.

Valerie educated the room by explaining that regular Brie is usually made with skim milk, Double Cream Brie with full cream and that Triple Cream Brie, also adds cream.

This cheese was paired with a chocolate-coated honeycomb and amplified the notes of honey within the Brie.

A quick aside from Valerie recommended a Smoothie combining Triple Cream Brie, full cream milk and berries – one that I’m yet to try.

The second cheese was a Comté from Jura – deliciously nutty and fragrant.

Valerie shared the history of a Napoleonic fort that was built to keep the Russians out of France and said that in this same space today, a cheese monger tends to countless wheels of Comté.

She noted that one can identify the time of year that cheese is made by examining the intensity of its colour. If produced in Summer, it will be brighter, with a deeper yellow and have grassy, rich and floral flavours. If it’s produced in the Winter, the colour will be more pallid and feel thicker and more buttery, often with higher fat content.

While paring with a Passionfruit Chocolate Ganache, a broad comparison was made between the cheese preferences of French and Italian consumers to typically select table cheeses and cooking cheeses, respectively. This pairing was my favourite – the ‘Passion Fruit Bliss Bonbon’ oozed a soft and beautiful tartness.

The third cheese was an Affidélice – a Chablis-washed soft cheese from Fromagerie Berthaut in Burgundy, France.

Valerie explained that monks who lived in the region long ago, developed this cheese noticing that as it was washed, the rind would redden – and that the more it was washed, the deeper the copper colour would become. It’s a particularly distinctive cheese due to its scent, however, slightly more subtle than it’s potent sibling, the Époisses.

The Affidélice was paired with a dark chocolate coated cherry and complimented the flavour nicely by reining-in and balancing the cheese’s savoury notes with some sweetness from the cherry and mild bitterness from the dark chocolate coating.

The fourth and final cheese was a Bleu D’Auvergne. A delicious blend of salt and spice, this Blue Cheese was the highlight product of the event for me.

Valerie shared an amusing allegory of a shepherd who discovered blue cheese after being distracted near some caves in Auvergne – if not factual, it was at least entertaining.

Before wrapping up with an informal survey on our favourites from the event, Valerie defined muscatels as the perfect bridge between cheese and wine.