Cheese is not a particularly common food on the Singaporean dining table, but it is being welcomed gradually as part of a meal. Local appreciation for cheese has gone beyond pre-packaged, pre-sliced films of plastic yellow in favour of gourmet varieties, typically envisioned as a good ol’ wheel of white rind and cream-coloured flesh. Instead of an accompaniment with pasta or between pieces of plain bread, cheese has become a sole highlight in its own right.
It is a course on its own: a colourful platter of blues, milky whites, deep orange and buttery yellow wedges with a small heap of dried fruits and crackers. The cheese platter is one of those things that can be enjoyed as an indulgent snack before or after dinner, and has a place for casual home dinners and fine dining occasions. There are no strict rules for enjoying a selection of cheese, and one can certainly get creative in building one up.
In Singapore, cheese lovers can afford to be picky about their choices. Local cheesemongers roll in wheels of affinage cheese from all over the world, offering a variety of milk and styles. There are interesting things to pick from and you’ll want to take your time to browse through.
Here’s what to consider when piecing together a curation: go for a range of light (think mozzarella and goat cheese) and strong cheeses (a blue, such as Stilton) with different textures. Get your platter together at these places.
The Cheese Ark
After working (and eating) at cheese farms around the world, Ai Ming Syu decided to bring a slice of what she had experienced back home through The Cheese Ark. Syu procures a selection of rare cheeses from artisanal fromageries she has personally visited in Italy, Holland, Sweden and Switzerland. Cheeses are ripened and matured at her shop, located at an old HDB block. Here, customers can take home or enjoy a weekly rotational cheese platter with charcuterie.
The Cheese Ark, 49 Stirling Road, #01-489, Singapore 141049, +65 9175 0090
The Cheese Artisans
Since 2012, The Cheese Artisans have been a wholesale supplier for local hotels and restaurants. Its online store features cheeses sourced from traditional European farms available for purchase in smaller quantities. The Cheese Artisans also has its own maturing rooms where it experiments ageing cheeses with novel ingredients such as Chinese black tea with Irish blue cheese. While its physical store/restaurant is now closed, the brand is looking to re-open a new concept soon.
The Cheese Artisans, +65 6463 4689
La Petite Boutique
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The Serangoon Gardens deli, by expats Morgane Freyermuth and Jean-Baptiste Couty, brings in a selection of food and wine from France. It has also amassed a considerable range of French cheeses, such as the Bleu d’Auvergne with veins of blue-green mould and the A Filetta made with unpasteurised Corsican sheep’s milk, decorated with fern leaves. Besides platters with cold cuts, La Petite Boutique also has raclette offerings of presliced cheese for your convenience.
La Petite Boutique, 4 Kensington Park Road, Singapore 557256, +65 6717 1849
The Cheese Shop
Hiding along the streets of Joo Chiat is The Cheese Shop, a two-storey shophouse manned by owner Christopher Moores. The store holds an international collection of cheeses. Amongst them is the Irish Porter, a pasteurised cow’s milk cheese that’s blended with dark Guinness stout. The Cheese Shop is also known for its birthday/wedding ‘cakes’ with tiers of cheese wheels.
The Cheese Shop, 267 Joo Chiat Road, #01-01, Singapore 427521, +65 9152 3601
Huber’s Butchery & Bistro
While Huber’s is best known for its stock of quality gourmet meats, it also carries a range of cheeses worth exploring. Its online store lists a selection from Europe and Australia, but it is worth exploring the brick and mortar concept at Dempsey. There, Huber’s offers a much bigger variety with over 150 offerings — one of the largest selections locally.
Huber’s Butchery & Bistro, 22 Dempsey Road, Singapore 249679, +65 6737 1588
Gourmet Shop de Chef Julien
Why not pick the brains of a French chef when putting together a cheese board? The online-based shop, led by chef Julien Bompard, maintains a continuous rotation of cheeses based on seasons and maturity. Cheese platters also come with name tags which will prove helpful at parties — you won’t want to repeat (or try pronouncing) Bleu d’Auvergne five times over to guests. Expect a range of French cheeses and DIY fondue sets with Gruyère and Emmenthal cheese.
Gourmet Shop de Chef Julien, +65 6534 5947
(Hero and featured images: The Cheese Artisans)