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FOOD & DRINK

The Best Places to Buy Next-Level Cheese in Melbourne

These shops see your cheese dreams and sell all the smelly slices — along with toasties, coffee and wine — to make them come true.
By Lauren Vadnjal
June 26, 2019
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The Best Places to Buy Next-Level Cheese in Melbourne

These shops see your cheese dreams and sell all the smelly slices — along with toasties, coffee and wine — to make them come true.
By Lauren Vadnjal
June 26, 2019
  shares

THE BEST PLACES TO BUY NEXT-LEVEL CHEESE IN MELBOURNE

These shops see your cheese dreams and sell all the smelly slices — along with toasties, coffee and wine — to make them come true.

These days, there are plenty of places to find cheesy dishes and elaborate cheese boards — but there's nothing quite like purchasing a few quality wedges of hand-picked fromage, freshly sliced charcuterie and a matching bottle of wine to take away and dig into with friends. Home to some of the largest cheese selections in the country, Melbourne's cheese shops are defined by honest, passionate owners, an appreciation for Australian-made products and exceptional cheese options.

From long-running operations at the Queen Vic Market to small artisan cheese shops in Brunswick, we've put together a list of the best shops to pick up a slice or two — whether you're just after your go-to favourite or something fancy and new.

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    That's Amore Cheese

    With a cafe, food store and classroom — all with a firm focus on formaggio — That’s Amore is a veritable haven for cheese lovers. Founded by a Sicilian cheesemaker and now main cheese supplier for top eateries all across Melbourne, this award-winning producer sure knows its stuff. The retail space at the Thomastown headquarters is a one-stop shop for dairy delights, boasting a broad-ranging deli selection that heroes That’s Amore’s own famed mozzarella and ricotta varieties, alongside both Italian and local grocery staples. An expert selection of cured meats, antipasti items and fresh bread is the stuff of seriously enviable cheese boards. The newly minted That’s Amore Gelato range is also on show, featuring dreamy artisan gelato and gelato-based desserts.

    As for the cafe, it’s a cheery spot for settling in over a coffee and some cheese-infused fare. The new weekend brunch menu (available from 8am–3pm) makes a star of the house cheese creations, with the likes of bagels loaded with crumbed caciotta cheese, rocket and fried egg, the fresh burrata teamed with smashed avo and a homemade potato rosti, and ricotta scrambled eggs starring pork and fennel sausage. The stuffed porchetta rolls and oozy cannoli prove ever-popular, or you can go the whole hog with one of the cheese platters.

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  • 6

    If you’ve ever wandered out of a movie at 10pm, left a restaurant after dinner or got out of work around midnight and thought, damn, I could really do with some artisan blue cave-aged cheese right now — you’re not alone. In fact, Daniel Verheyen is right there with you. After finishing up many a night with a standard cheese board at The Smith, Verheyen decided to roll his love for cheese, wine and hospitality into a late-night licensed fromagerie: Milk the Cow.

    This place has a lot of cheese. But you don’t go to Milk the Cow for fresh mozzarella and just-made ricotta — you go for the selection of over 180 cheeses you’ll seldom get anywhere else. There is cheese that’s been imported from France, Ireland and Norway as well as the Yarra Valley; cheese that’s been washed in chai, paprika and cognac; aged in caves and sat ripening out the back until just the right time to eat. There’s all sorts of soft, hard and in-between cheese — all curated on a rotating basis by head cheesemonger Laura Lown. Whether you buy some cheese to take home or order a glass of wine and eat it there, Milk the Cow is the number one stop for cheese lovers.

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  • 5
    Spring Street Grocer

    Spring Street Grocer is perhaps best known for its gelateria at the front of the shop, but it’s really a one-stop shop for Italian inspired indulgences — including cheese. Hidden beneath the shop is a cheese cellar — Australia’s first underground cheese maturation cellar, mind you — filled with pieces of cheese from Australia and abroad. We suggest snagging yourself a perfectly aged brie, purchasing some crackers, and eating it on the spot in the shop (there are a few tables), then following it up with a watermelon and fresh mint treat up front. The underground cheese space can also be booked for cheese dinners and parties.

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  • 4

    Already the stuff of sweet, cheesy dreams, Prahran’s go-to dairy destination Maker & Monger has taken things to the next level. From humble beginnings as a Euro-style artisan food cart, launched by renowned cheesemonger Anthony Femia in 2015, this operation has just moved into a new, bigger, permanent store at the Prahran Market with roomier digs with an expanded specialty offering and a seven-metre-long cheese cabinet.

    Here, a custom-built maturation room acts like a natural cave, used to house and mature a curation of boutique cheeses from both near and far. You’ll spy dreamy dairy creations from across France, Switzerland and England, and exclusive batches from some of Victoria’s own micro-dairies — all available to take home cut-to-order, as well as starring throughout the food menu. The kitchen’s celebrating this bespoke cheese selection alongside produce fresh from the adjoining market, with a series of daily menus. Breakfast might mean bites like a labneh-topped bruschetta, or perhaps the new cuban toastie featuring free-range Berkshire pork shoulder, ham off the bone and melted Marcel Petite comté.

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    Bill's Farm

    Ever the champion of top local produce, Bill’s Farm has cemented its status as one of Queen Victoria Market‘s go-to cheese traders. Let your cheese hunt lead you here and you’ll find a hefty selection of renowned varieties, sourced from both across the world and closer to home. Alongside a tempting array of deli meats, dips and antipasto offerings sit award-winners like Berry’s Creek Tarwin Blue and Holy Goat’s La Luna cheese. That’s Amore, Meredith Dairy Milawa Cheese and The Vegan Dairy all fly the flag for the local scene, or you can dive into international waters and grab a decadent hunk of Brillat-Savarin triple cream brie, as endorsed by world famous cheese guy Will Studd. It’s an expert lineup, curated by leading Melbourne cheesemonger Bill Tzimas, alongside owners Malcolm McCullough and Mark Scott.

    You’re welcome to pop past the stall to taste, browse and buy your favourites, or leave the hard work up to those in the know and let the Bill’s crew tailor a lavish meat, cheese and antipasto platter for your next get-together. The store even has those extra special occasions sorted with customisable cheese towers. Consider these decorated cheese wheel stacks the ultimate cake alternatives for true cheese lovers.

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    Harper & Blohm Cheese Shop

    Moving from its small shop in Essendon to a bigger location along Brunswick’s Sydney Road in 2018, Harper and Blohm’s expansion is a testament of the demand and popularity of its cheesy goods. The gourmet cheese shop sells ready-to-eat items like cheese toasties, cheese-filled baguettes and salads, alongside a range of cheeses, and milks, yogurts and creams as well.

    Visitors should expect a fresh, swanky interior that’s well lit from the natural light flooding in through the floor-to-ceiling glass storefront. You can perch happily in a bar stool with a coffee while you chow down on one of the delectable grilled cheese options. There’s the classic three-cheese — featuring cheddar, gruyere and raclette with caramelised onion — or the mushroom, taleggio, truffle pecorino and rosemary ($12–14). All toasties are vegetarian, but you can add ham or pastrami into the mix for an extra $2.

    The mastermind behind the operation is Olivia Sutton, who, after working as a cheesemonger here and overseas, opened the restaurant as a homage to her grandparents. If you’re eager to experiment with what she brings in, sign up for a monthly cheese subscription ($75–90), which includes 3–4 pieces of cheese from soft, hard and blue cheeses accompanied by information about the selections and the best places to store them.

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    Simon Johnson Providore

    Leave it to a stroll through Simon Johnson in Toorak to transform a midweek meal into a gourmet feast. Simon Johnson started his providore chain in Sydney in 1992, and with the namesake brand now boasting five retail stores across Australia, the company’s Melbourne location is no less impressive than the others.

    The Toorak location is a modern space chock-full of products held in easily navigable floor-to-ceiling shelves holding bottles, jars and kitchenware. Selling products from its sister companies — Calendar Cheese, Black Pearl Epicure and Australia on a Plate — Simon Johnson has access to some of the finest gourmet products in the market. Di Martino in Dolce and Gabbana designed packaging, Valrhona french chocolates and British-made Montgomery’s clothbound cheddar are just a few products provided in the popular hampers sold in-store and online.

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