With a conga line of cheese-lovers eating their way into a mostly empty industrial warehouse space at Carriageworks, the Bon Fromage Festival was certainly a spectacle.
Presented by the Centre National Interprofessionel de l’Economie Laitière with the support of the European Union, it was the second time this European cheese festival had reached our shores, after a successful event in 2017.
Putting out over a tonne of cheese in bite size pieces, the free festival had over 7000 registered attendees across the three days. Their event kicked off with a slow shuffle along the 60-metre tasting table trying a wide range of mostly well-labelled cheese.
While most guests ate non-stop cheese as they walked along, one innovative attendee showed me her carefully collected choose bouquet.
Invited guests had a slightly more civilised introduction to our cheese, with world-renowned French cheese monger Francois Robin doling out individual tasting boards from a more limited selection of (unlabelled) cheese.
We got to sit and eat our cheeses at long wooden benches with complimentary French rosé adding up to a more leisurely cheese experience.
As I worked my way through some of my French cheese favourites – mild sweet Comté, the soft and funky-smelling Époisses, and the pungent but mild Port Salut – I was reminded that a woman cannot live on cheese alone.
Crackers, pickles, pastes and charcuterie are all big parts of what makes a cheese board such a wonderful experience.
To find any of these accoutrements, you had to move over to the paid part of the festival. Here, a popular bar serving gin and wine sat at the end of an alley of cheese mongers and food stalls from notable Sydney eateries like BL Burgers and LoLuk Bistro.
At the latter, a very handsome beret-clad man was working the raclette grill.
A steady queue of people paused to watch him scrape warm melted cheese onto salad and sauteed potatoes, with or without balancing charcuterie.
Australia on a Plate, the folks responsible for importing my beloved Époisses, celebrated one of our most beloved cheese ranges – the creamy delights by Fromager d’Affinois. Their staff handed out coveted mini cones of rich and creamy double-cream cheese, selling their way through kilos of take-home wedges.
While despite a branded stall, local cheese monger Ocello was nowhere to be found, competitor Simon Johnson put on a good show with cracker-mounted samples, plentiful sales and a clever pickle tasting stall.
Their supplier, Melbourne-based Dillicious pickles, had a row of samples that gave me such a welcome respite from all the cheese, I even bought their Oh So Spicy Halves ($14/700g) to take home with me.
Livened up with habanero chillies and dried horseradish, they’re just the ticket to get your cheese-tasting palate back in the game.
While there were all sorts of heavy cheese snacks, from cheese toasties to cheeseburgers on offer, what this festival really lacked was the things to counterbalance all the dairy.
If you’re thinking of going to a cheese festival like this one, my top tip would be to bring a container so you can take your cheese samples to a table and eat them in a more civilised fashion.
Consider loading your handbag with a packet of crackers; some cornichons wouldn’t go astray either.
As it turns out, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing: yes even cheese.
Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh
NOTE: You can see a full review of LoLuk Bistro back HERE.
2/411 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 7900 6251