Tucked within the residential neighbourhood of Greenwood Avenue off Bukit Timah, is a little piece of cheese heaven. The Cheese Artisans is not only an importer and retailer of up to 120 different varieties of European cheeses, it also a grocer where you can purchase selected fine food products like olive oil and wine, and a charming cheese bar where you can pop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner. An assortment of cheese boards, light bites, hot meals and even wines are available to order.
Still, it is the cheeses that are the main stars of the show here. Chief cheese monger or fromager, Oliver Sutton explains, “As well as importing and distributing our cheeses, we like to look after our cheeses properly so we have our own purpose-built maturing rooms. This is so that look after the cheeses properly and offer them to our customers in perfect condition. European cheeses come from an environment that is the ideal environment for cheese. Here in Singapore, with our high temperatures and humidity, cheeses struggle a little.”
It is thus important to look after the cheeses until they are of ideal eating conditions. Sutton notes, “We can’t always guarantee that all the cheese we get would be ripe so if you ask us for say a Camembert and we say for tonight it’s not ready, we will have something else in that category of cheese or style that is ripe and ready to eat that evening.
With such a wide range of cheeses, it can definitely be quite daunting when it comes to choosing the right fromage to bring home. Sutton recommends just heading into the shop to not only sample what is on offer, but to also seek out advise from either himself or the staff on the floor. With any customer, what Sutton does is to get them to sample cheeses to suss out what their flavour profile is, then direct them to recommended new cheeses. “I always think that if a customer walks in and asks for Brie and Cheddar, our job is to take them on a journey and ensure that they may walk out with a Brie and Cheddar but we really want to sell them two other cheeses that are of similar style to give them a new experience,” he says.
We got him to recommend some of the more interesting cheeses The Cheese Artisans carry:
Perl Wen: A Camembert style cheese from South Wales.
Ecorce de Sapin: Similar to Vacherin but non-seasonal and wrapped with spruce bark around the cheese. This is offered on the cheese bar menu, stuffed with garlic and rosemary, a splash of white wine and baked in an oven at about 180°C for about 10-15 minutes and served with sourdough crostini.
La Tur: A very rich and creamy cheese that uses three different milks – goat, sheep, and cow; or as they say “Tre Latte” – from Piedmont, Italy. Sutton describes this as “adult ice cream”: “It’s super rich, creamy, mousse-y. You literally just spoon it out of the jar. It’s fantastic as it is but even better if you add a drizzle of acacia or even better, acacia truffle honey.”
Wash Rind Cheese
Trou du Cru: Essentially a miniature version of Epoisses with an incredibly pungent aroma. This is washed with Marc de Bourgogne, (a local brandy from Burgundy), which is a grappa made from the grape must of wine production.
Alpine Blossom: The rind of the cheese has been packed with dried wild flowers that naturally grow in the Bavarian alps. The milk used to make this cheese comes from cows who graze on these same wild flowers and herbs, imparting the cheese a distinctively floral aroma.
Formajo Ciok: Drunken cheeses, where the cheese is packed around the rind with grape must or some them are immersed in wine themselves. The beautiful wine flavours come through especially when you eat towards the rind.
Krista: A 16 month-aged cheese from the Bavarian Alps exclusive to The Cheese Artisans. The base cheese of a 12-month Alex is aged a further four months to achieve a salty flavour profile that The Cheese Artisans specifically requested.
Smokey Blue: The base cheese is Cashel Blue, a really creamy Irish blue cheese, which The Cheese Artisans lightly smoke with hickory, pack with Chinese black tea then left to age. “As you eat from the centre of the cheese out towards the rind, the middle is still very creamy, kind of fudge-y slightly sweet. As you work your way out it gets more intense and you start to get those smokey notes coming out and then the tea just imparts real elegance to the finish.”
Fior d’Arancio: This is a blue cheese from Northern Italy, from the Venice region. Holes are drilled into the top of the cheese and the cheese is marinated in Passito Straw Wine, a Moscato wine, for 35 days. It’s then packed with orange zest that have also been marinated in the Passito, and aged for a further 90 days. The resultant cheese is rich, sweet, slightly salty, not super intense.
18 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park, Singapore 289212. Tel: +65 6463 4686