In almost everything else, if the smell of something is so repugnant you immediately head for the opposite direction and reach for a peg (or heave). Example one: The Stinking Bishop, a washed-rind semi-soft cheese made from cow's milk in the south-west of England that yields a distinctive odour — so rank it puts a football team's steamy change room to shame.
Yet, the Stinking Bishops — a boutique cheese bar and shop — is proving that cheese is one of few foods where an overwhelmingly onerous stench is considered a virtue and, in fact, 'rancid and offensive' equals 'that would be perfect with some crackers and quince paste, I'll take 250g of the Irish Cashel Blue please'. Inspired by similar concepts throughout Europe, owners Jamie Nimmo and Kieran Day combined the cheese shop idea with a dine-in aspect and are winning noses in the foodie hotspot of Newtown.
And by 'winning noses' we'd like to stress that this Stinking Bishop is stench-free, unlike its counterpart from Gloucestershire. Furthermore, the polished fit-out shows no signs of an orange rind or yellowy centre. Instead, white tiled walls are contrasted with a black ceiling and sylish globes hang low, creating a very sleek space indeed. Diners are urged to either perch up at the benches or take a seat at the various wooden tables.
The wall of glory behind the counter invites visitors to gawk at the variety of Australian and imported cheeses and 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 — without a hint of cheese snobbery, which is very refreshing.
The dine-in menu has apparently undergone 'rigorous taste testing processes', and we're happy to oblige in continuing these savouring practices. Again, the staff take time to recommend varieties of cheese and charcuterie plates — which combine two, three or four types of cheese each (from $17). Another perk is the liquor licence and opening hours till 10pm on Thursday to Saturday. Who doesn't enjoy a glass of matching local wine, beer or whiskey with a creamy, soft Bert 3 Latte from Italy?
Other menu items should you decide to relish the opportunity to dine-in with said beverage include fresh salads, an English pork pie ($18) and 'Mr Crispy' toasted sandwiches that, of course, are oozing with cheesy goodness. The Wagyu smoked beef, gruyere and pickles ($12.50) is set to get tongues wagging.
The Stinking Bishop might be among the world's most pungent cheese, but we've got a nose for a good place, and our nostrils are leading us to Newtown.