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FOOD & DRINK

The Best Places to Buy Next-Level Cheese in Sydney

These spots see your cheese dreams and raise you with toasties, coffee and wine for a very gouda grocery trip.
By Georgia Hough and Concrete Playground
September 27, 2021
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By Georgia Hough and Concrete Playground
September 27, 2021
  shares

THE BEST PLACES TO BUY NEXT-LEVEL CHEESE IN SYDNEY

These spots see your cheese dreams and raise you with toasties, coffee and wine for a very gouda grocery trip.

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.

Home to some of the largest cheese selections in the country, Sydney's cheese shops are defined by honest, passionate owners, an appreciation for Australian-made products and exceptional cheese options. From long-running historic operations in the CBD to small artisan cheese shops in Manly, 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. 

Sydney is currently under stay-at-home restrictions. For more information on what you can and can't do in NSW, head to the NSW Government website or read the NSW COVID-19 public health orders.

  • 9

    Walk into Penny’s Cheese Shop, and you’d think you’d died and gone to cheese heaven. With two fridges stocked to the brim with creamy, stinky, funky and hard cheeses this little unassuming fromagerie is one of the best in Sydney. Why, you ask? Because of Penny. Whatever you’re looking for — or even if you’re not looking for anything at all — you’ll leave with a cheese that is your new favourite. Almost everything, like nearby Whole Beast Butchery, is cut to order. Little tasters are on offer most days, too, which should make it even easier to find a cheese you like. With an emphasis on education and service, Lawson, a self-professed “curd-nerd”, will guide you through her selection of local and international cheeses with humour and excitement. Aside from the service and the cheese, Lawson’s golden toasties, which quickly achieved cult status, are another reason you’ll return to the shop again and again and again. With cheese both on the inside and the outside of the Pioik bread, as well as a rotating range of fillings — from kimchi to smoked wagyu and jalapeños — we think they might just be the best in the city.

    Images: Kimberley Low.

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  • 8

    Bad smells usually have you heading in the opposite direction. But The Stinking Bishops is the exception. The Newtown boutique cheese bar and shop proves that cheese is one of few foods where an overwhelmingly onerous stench is considered a virtue. The wall of glory behind the counter invites visitors to gawk at the variety of Australian and imported cheeses, as well as cured meats available. A large blackboard to the side outlines them in more detail — and for even more information and suggestions, the delightful team on board will offer their sage advice. As well as straight cheese, this bar also has cheesy meals, such as guanciale mac ‘n’ cheese and a five-cheese toastie.

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  • 7

    Sitting on the corner of Wentworth Street and East Esplanade, just steps from Manly’s Ferry Wharf, is the Artisan Cheese Room. Occupying a small corner shop, this delightful room is created for cheesemongers, by cheesemongers. Owners Joanna and Paul Thompson opened up the carefully curated cheese haven after successful careers elsewhere — although a career in cheese with your significant other feels like a whole different level of success. Inside you can browse over 50 cheeses sourced from across the world, as well as from just a few hours’ drive away. If you’re now hankering for a cheese plate, then you might be interested in the store’s Cheese Club which provides a selection of cheeses each month along with biscuits and tasting notes (for all you cheese newcomers out there). Cheese lovers can choose between four options — one ($90), three ($260), six ($530) or 12 months ($1000) of cheese.

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  • 6
    Formaggi Ocello

    The meat and cheese cases at Ocello’s corner shop are nothing short of impressive. Stacks of brie, gorgonzola and pecorino sit next to hunks of exotic stiltons from the English countryside to complex milk cheeses from Italy. Ocello also has very knowledgeable staff who encourage the customers to try before they buy — particularly helpful (and necessary) when the cheese selection is one of the largest in Australia. Opposite Ocello’s main attraction are walls filled with complementary gourmet products like handmade pasta, olive oil, biscuits, nuts, wine, spreads … you get the idea. You can also pop in for lunch and a coffee or an afternoon glass of wine. We recommend ordering the four-cheese panini — and asking them to add truffle butter.

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  • 5
    Field Blend Wine & Cheese Store

    There’s nothing complicated or flashy about this wine and cheese shop. Sleek and thoughtfully presented, Field Blend provides a wide range of Australian and international wine choices with matching meats and cheeses for reasonable prices. Owners Martina Brazdovicova and Aaron Taylor have brought expertise from their previous wine shop in in the country town of Beechworth, Victoria to Balmain’s Darling Street. A visit to the quaint neighbourhood shop isn’t just transactional, either — in a nice touch, you’ll find a La Marzocco coffee machine so you can grab a coffee while you peruse your wine and cheese choices for later. The entrepreneurial duo has also launched its own wine club, which sends subscribers two bottles — ones that are well-circulated and good value, or exciting new finds from international and domestic wineries. Field Blend sources its wine and cheese from everywhere from France to small operations in rural Australia, so there’s no pretension here — just good stuff.

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  • 4
    Paesanella Food Emporium

    Sitting three storeys above its pizza restaurant, Paesenella’s Food Emporium in Marrickville is a modern delight with a deep history. Italian-born Umberto Somma arrived in Australia in 1956 and made a living selling his handmade mozzarella to the working class. More than half a century later and his legacy is encapsulated in the Paesenella brand, which sells their own buffalo mozzarella and ricotta made in its nearby factory. The Food Emporium has cookbooks, pasta, and imported goods, but the real treasures lie behind the gleaning glass cases that hold the freshly made Paesenella cheese packaged and ready to take home. If you’re looking for something heartier than a ball of mozzarella, the restaurant and pizza bar dishes out gourmet pizza pies made exclusively with Paesenella cheeses.

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  • 3
    Fourth Village Providore

    Few shops can claim to be a true family affair, but Fourth Village is one of them — and it’s a quality that only enriches the character of this lower north shore providore. The Quattroville family has curated an impressive supply of high-calibre products, with a deli, cheese room, flower shop and grocer all in the one place. The cheese room is where it’s at. All cheeses (from a raw milk roquefort to the Holy Goat cheese from Sutton Grange Organic Farm in Victoria) are cut to order and you can ask to try a taste before you buy. Fourth Village also has a restaurant selling pizza, pasta, risotto and salad — all made with plenty of cheese, of course.

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  • 2
    Paddington Alimentari

    Paddington’s Alimentari has made a name for itself for its menu consisting of simple meals made from high-quality produce. However, they also have a small, yet perfectly curated deli section. Its glass cabinet includes truffle pecorino and french d’affinois, specialty goat, cow and sheep cheese and strictly Italian-only prosciutto, including the crowd favourite, prosciutto di San Daniele. Alimentari also has a stunning leafy courtyard out the back, which is one of Paddo’s best-kept secrets. So if you fancy an espresso while they’re slicing your prosciutto and weighing your cheese, be sure to check it out. 

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  • 1
    Tenth Muse

    Inner west locals have been flocking to this inviting, no-fuss store to source good quality specialty ingredients and foods. Its shelves are filled with huge bricks of chocolate, black garlic-infused honey, single-source milk, an extensive assortment of canned seafood and most importantly, an impressive display of both local and international cheese. Ripe and soft to sharp and crumbly, Tenth Muse has what you’re looking for, with prices ranging from $45 a kilo up to $116 a kilo. If you like your cheese to absolutely stink (and honestly, who doesn’t), there’s a delectable wash rind from Binnorie Dairy in NSW. One of its most popular is the Beemster Royal Grand Cru, which is an aged Dutch cheese that has ‘milk crystals’ — mini, salty bits that burst cheesy flavour in your mouth.

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Top image: Penny’s Cheese Shop by Kimberley Low. 

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