Best cheese shops in Melbourne
Prahran Market's Maker and Monger has graduated from its cute, curd-filled cart and has officially moved into its new store, which cheesemonger Anthony Femia affectionately refers to as 'the chapel of cheese.' Moving into bigger digs also means expanding its inventory, especially now there is a seven-metre-long cheese cabinet, a maturation room and a liquor licence to accompany the store. A range of exclusive cheese from the Yarra Valley, France and Spain will also be available at the new Maker and Monger, alongside a collaborative range of fresh cheeses like mozzarella, burrata and ricotta made by the That's Amore team on site.
Essendon's loss is Brunswick's gain with Harper and Blohm moving into bigger digs a few kilometres closer to the city. They're still doing their thing of supplying carefully selected, ever-changing, seasonal cheeses from Australia, UK, America and Europe, but they've extended their opening hours to six days a week, added an online store to deliver cheese to your door and are now serving an in-store menu for those who can't wait to get home to try their wares. This menu includes grilled cheese sandwiches in Q Le Baker bread, cheese-filled quiches and a selection of Victorian charcuterie from City Larder, Bundarra Berkshires and Warialda Belted Galloway.
A two-decade fixture of Victoria Market, Bill’s Farm is located on the fruit and vegetable side of the deli hall. A former secondary school mathematics teacher, Bill is the bee’s knees of cheese, being a qualified cheese grader and dairy judge. His shop has European and Australian cheeses plus plenty of smallgoods to enrich your dairy experience. Grab some Holy Goat, perhaps the wrinkly, citrussy La Luna, or the cute-as-a-button, bite-sized, velvety Piccolo.
In the middle of Spring Street Grocer is a spiral staircase that leads to the most glorious cheese bunker, where a squidgy goat’s milk cheese infused with the particularly herbaceous flavour of thyme is the outcome of a collaboration with Gippsland cheesemaker Burke Brandon. Among the cheddar treasures, a prize-winning Bay of Fires Tasmanian ($8.85 per 100g) with a subtle smokiness makes for easy eating. Grab a baguette on the way out and set yourself up in the Fitzroy Gardens.
With one of the biggest selections of cheese in Melbourne, the Cheese Shop Deli range is diverse, and around 80 per cent are imported. Among the trove is the fast-selling Il Forteto, an earthy Tuscan pecorino stuffed with shaved truffle. On the domestic side, “import replacement cheeses” like the Victorian-produced washed rind L’Artisan Mountain Man are choice picks.
This popular South Melbourne Market deli has been lovingly watched over for 33 years by owner and head cheese expert Maria Totos. The impressive walk-in cellar has rustic wooden shelves stacked high with some 200 cheese varieties. But Maria's greatest dairy achievement is one of her own creation: a sweet, pungent chocolate blue that she prepares from her own secret dry-rub cocoa recipe. The flavour is bold and savoury with a hint of sweetness from the chocolate. The deli also sells a slew of store-made products and antipasto. Expect queues.
Milk the Cow St Kilda, Melbourne's favourite licensed fromagerie, has spread its delicious wings and opened a second venue in Calrton. There's nothing much that can beat some good cheese and wine, and these guys do that and so much more – cheese fondue, cheese boards and cheese flights with matched wines, beers, sake and spirits.
This Carlton North cheese shop and café has proven a worthy successor to the building’s former tenant, the Milawa Cheese Factory. Despite demand for European cheese, Hudson tries to keep at least half of his inventory Australian and isn’t afraid to explore new tastes. The Shepperton-produced Locheilan Triple – one of the few cheeses Hudson consistently orders – is quite possibly the creamiest food item in Australia.
The vast majority of the 40-strong cheese collection is French, carefully selected to pair with the the equally impressive range of charcuterie and antipasto. The gruyère and saucisson sec work well for a full-flavoured, savoury pairing, while the popular D’Affinois Brie is perfect for a good slathering onto a baguette.
Decent mother-of-pearl caviar spoons aren’t easy to come by these days. Thank goodness there’s one well-known provedore where you’ll never want for paella pans, jars of wild thyme honey, assorted nectars and truffle oils. The Australian-owned boutique has its own temperature-controlled cheese fridge. Not sure you know what to buy? No problem. The shop hosts free tastings every Saturday with some of the select favourites and lets you try before you buy if you're ever in need of help.
Tony Nicolini’s deli is a trove of imported and locally produced Italian smallgoods – cured meats, sausages, pasta, candied fruit, aged balsamic vinegar and biscotti. Imagine the spread you could assemble here, picnicophiles... But let’s not forget the cheese. Although pecorino, a hard cheese made from ewes’ milk, is the speciality here, it’s the hunky chunks of freshly cut Parmigiano-Reggiano that walk out the door.