Pete Curtis and Rose Lambert started Hunter Valley Cheese Factory Co. in 1995 and have worked hand in hand with wineries in the region for more than two decades. Their family-run business at Pokolbin is open to the public seven days a week.
The couple’s daughter, Riley Curtis, is Hunter Valley Cheese Factory Co.’s Sydney manager. She knows a thing or two about cheese herself, as Weekender discovered.
Why do you think cheese is so popular today?
It’s just so easy to take out your wooden board, a few of your favourite artisan cheeses, gourmet crackers and bread and a bottle of wine to share over conversation with family and friends. People associate cheese with good experiences like eating out, celebrations, drinks with friends – there’s something about cheese that just makes people feel good. Plus it tastes bloody amazing.
What trends have you witnessed in the world of cheese over the years?
Keeping up can be quite a challenge and I can’t say I love them all ... like cheese-carving competitions, it’s a real thing, look it up! What is hugely popular now is cheese tier wedding cakes and beautiful art like grazing tables full of cheeses, meats, fruit, dips, paté and assorted gourmet crackers and breads. We do both at the Hunter Valley Cheese Factory Co. and have lots of fun working with our customers. Also, fresh cheese is all the rage at the moment. People are looking for farm to plate style ingredients now more than ever and there’s no fresher cheese than our two-day-old Marinated Rileys Fromage Blanc.
What is the secret to pairing cheese and wine? Not so much a secret these days, it’s the rule. The lighter the cheese the lighter the wine and accompaniments like crackers or fruit paste.
What cheeses do you make on site? Our artisan range of up to 10 varieties includes fresh cheeses, Bries and Washed Rinds. Cheese-making classes are starting this year which we are excited about. We’ll announce dates on our social media and website soon. We also do cheese platters, cheese tasting and wedding cakes, have a Cheese Club and can send hampers.
Is it easy to make cheese? The recipe is simple but the environments, temperatures and controlling your milk are the tricky components. Try starting with a fresh cow or goat milk cheese. Recipes are available in store or ask for one to be sent to you via our website: huntervalleycheese.com.au.
GIVEAWAY: WIN TICKETS
Bringing together the very best of Pokolbin’s food, wine and produce, the inaugural End 2 End Festival on September 15, 2018, is spread over four venues. More than 20 wineries are involved and hop-on, hop-off shuttle buses will run all day.
McLeish Estate is one of the hubs and is hosting a Semillon 2 Seafood experience. A highlight of the day will be four free masterclasses hosted by celebrity chef Fast Ed. There will be platters available to purchase from Hunter Valley Cheese Factory Co. as well as Olio Mio and Moorebank condiments tastings and stalls; music by Phonic; Hunter Valley Aqua Golf; a petting farm for the kids; and Slattery Helicopters will run scenic flights over Pokolbin. Chef Matt Dillow will prepare a gourmet lunch.
Weekender has a double pass to this year’s End 2 End Festival to give away; a double pass to attend one of the four masterclasses at the McLeish Estate hub; and one, two-person Hunter Valley Cheese Factory platter with bread, crackers, fruit paste and a selection of cold meats or olives.