Skip to main content

Breaking the mould on organic cheese

He held the rich, dark soil and its clump of weedy plants in his hands with reverence.

I've never seen someone so excited about a lump of dirt before.

But it's not just any dirt or any farmer,  I'm on John and Winnie Smith's organic dairy farm in Victoria's south west, part of a group of farms which supplies about 80 per cent of the organic milk in Australia.

I've seen cows trotting happily in with swollen udders ready for milking and cute calves that think I have their breakfast.  I've tried milk warm from the cow and the same milk chilled from the fridge. It tastes like milk used to taste, fresh, creamy and full of goodness.  Nothing like the weak, watery stuff with little flavour that I'm used to buying at the supermarket.

It's eight am and the farm has been busy for several hours. They are just finishing milking the more than 200 cows on the farm.

There are pails of creamy frothy milk on the dairy floor saved for the hungry calves waiting in pens outside.

Some of this milk is going down the road where third generation French cheesemaker Matthieu Megard from L'Artisan Cheese Timboon,is using it to create a new range of cheese rarely seen in Australia.

Matthieu has partnered with the Organic Dairy Farmers Australia Co-operative - which is owned entirely by organic farmers across Victoria - so he can provide a quality organic cheese unlike anything on the market.

The ODFA co-op, which was started by a small group of farmers who bucked traditional methods to go organic a decade ago, now has some 22 members, who all firmly believe in the long term sustainability of their farms, the well-being of their cows and how that translates to remarkable, certified organic milk.

It's that pure, untouched milk which has Matthieu excited.

Cheesemaker Matthieu Megard and Bruce Symons Organic Dairy Farmers Co-op CEO

The Frenchman, whose family has been in the cheese industry for a century, moved to Australia five years ago with a desire to create quality local cheeses.

After re-opening the Timboon factory two years ago he achieved that and L'Artisan Cheese was born.

Its products now range from fresh curd cheese to semi hard cheese and are available across the country in gourmet delis; and used by some of the country's best restaurants including Vue de Monde, France Soir and Jacques Reymond.

Matthieu says he wants to go a step further and create a hand-crafted gourmet semi-hard mountain style French cheese - something he couldn't achieve without untouched organic milk.

"Our emphasis on using the best local products has naturally pushed us to source truly pure, unique organic milk because it has such a significant impact on the cheese, from its texture, taste and colour to its creaminess.

Matthieu believes so much in the impact organic milk has on cheese, that he is converting his entire range.

Organic Dairy Farmers Co-op CEO Bruce Symons says it sees its role no different to a winemaker.

"Just as the quality of grapes and the types of grapes can impact on a wine, we truly believe that the quality of milk is no different, and by putting our milk in the hands of someone like Matthieu, it can produce incredible products."

He says the result is a win-win for everyone.

"For the consumer it means more choice and a gourmet product created using the best organic milk available which is hand-crafted by a respected artisan cheese-maker, and for our farmers it will showcase the truly unique aspects of their milk."

So what's the long term plans for this artisan French cheese-maker.

Matthieu says his ultimate dream is to create Australian raw milk hard cooked cheese, which is far superior in taste and allows the true flavours of the milk to come to the fore.

But for now he says the focus is on creating something reflecting the taste of his home-town using unsurpassed milk products  - "it's what we call in France 'Vraiment remarquable' - something truly remarkable."

The new cheese range will be available from early 2013.

Disclaimer: E,d+bK travelled to Victoria courtesy of the Organic Dairy Farmers Co-op


Popular posts from this blog

Brisbane's top 10 'chew with a view' restaurants and cafes

It's a beautiful day! Where can you go and dine in the warm sun with a view that you'll never want to leave?

Here are ten top places in and around Brisbane to while away a lunch hour or a whole afternoon when the weather is warm and the skies are blue .

River Quay, South Bank

South Bank’s River Quay precinct has plenty of opportunities to relax in the sunshine and just about any restaurant at River Quay will offer a great spot for a winter lunch with a large, grassed lawn rolling down to the river bank.  You can even lie in the sun if you so desire.

Stop for champagne, oysters and more at Cove Bar and Dining, enjoy French provincial food at Aquitaine Brasserie, take in the river view from a Balinese daybed while you tuck into the contemporary menu at The Jetty, feast on Italian cuisine at Popolo or sip a long drink on the riverside deck of Stokehouse Q where the menu draws on local produce combined with bold flavours from the Mediterranean.

River Quay is the spot for Sunday …

Thar she blows - how to hunt whales the friendly way

A grunt and a spurt of seawater rising into the air show the position of a mother humpback whale and her three-week-old calf.

I'm on purpose-designed whale watching boat and we have motored for an hour over the calm seas of the great sandy straits up the coastline of Fraser Island

Captain Phil tells the 50 or so people aboard that the tip of the island is where we will see the whales and he is right.

Our first mother and calf are a little shy at first, keeping the boat at a good distance but I can clearly see the much smaller calf swimming strongly beside its mother.

I'm fascinated by the large circles of calm water that float past us and Phil tells us these are whale footprints

"They break the water tension when they flick their tails to swim down resulting in the clear circles on the water,” Phil says.

Sailors used whale footprints to track whales back in the bad old days when whales were valued more for their blubber than their beauty.

Our next mother and calf are a l…

Lunch amongst the lavender in the Scenic Rim

It was time to brush the cobwebs off the motor bike over Easter and head out of Brisbane into the beautiful Scenic Rim.

We started down the highway towards Beenleigh in beautiful autumn sunshine and stopped for a coffee at The Outpost Cafe at Canungra.  This is a well known bikies hangout but don't expect too much in the way of chains and dreadlocks - it's more favoured by the middle aged bikie enjoying the freedom of the road second time round.

The road less travelled is always our favoured route for this type of outing and we back tracked through Rathdowney before reaching our destination for the day, Kooroomba Lavender Farm about 65 minutes from Brisbane in the Scenic Rim at Mt Alford near Boonah.

Autumn is not the premium time for viewing either the vineyard or the lavender but the view across the valley to the mountains was still outstanding.  The building has a New Zealand lodge feel to it with plenty of stone walls both inside and outside, complimented by timber and ex…

Ten top things to do in Noosa Heads

It doesn't matter how many times I head down the hill on Noosa Drive towards the ocean, I still get a little shiver of excitement every time. This very special part of the world has achieved international recognition for its unique environment and I am privileged to be able to dip my toes into it on a regular basis.

Here are ten of my favourite Noosa pastimes.

1. Although it’s always tempting to sleep in, I don't like to waste a moment of the day when I wake up in Noosa. The best way to start is in the coffee queue at Sails on Hastings Street and then a stroll along the winding boardwalk to the National Park, koala spotting along the way.

Depending on my mood and energy level, I continue the walk through the park to enjoy the beachside views. Some like to run it. You can pick up a coffee at the information hut in the national park as well.

2. After a bit of exercise there's nothing like a big breakie at Aromas and a spot of people watching. With t…

Lots to explore at Brisbane's South Bank

Four markets in one day - what a way to spend a Sunday!

We started at the organic markets at Downy Park, Windsor which was not such a good idea. Why? Well we took the dog and the place was full of puddles - he's a corgi with very low legs - it all ended up being very messy.

Also, these markets definitely finish up on their advertised closing time of 10.30am.  Call me slow or just plain lazy but I find it hard to get out and about early on a Sunday morning. We arrived primed for breakfast at 10am just as everyone was shutting up - they had even run out of bread for French toast!

However, this market was just the first on our list. Next, we drove to South Bank Parklands to explore the Young Designers Market and the Granite Belt Flavours Market - both on the same day.

Several designer/clothes/jewellery purchases later, K2 subdued his inner male and agreed to look for the Granite Belt Flavours market which was not in its usual spot.  On the way, we walked through the regular South Ba…