What do you get when you put all things food and drink together in one hall? Paradise. Or more specifically, Vino Paradiso. 

The International food and wine festival ran for three days over the weekend, and was a celebration of the world’s best food, wine, cider, craft beer and spirits. A range of Australian and International artisans and producers exhibited, with stalls including Gourmet Gozleme, The Dough Collective, Burger Bar, and Rocks Brewing Co. 

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The venue was well laid out, with plenty of seating and a DJ in Paradise Park in the centre. There were activities like grape crushing – of course we had to try it. Maybe it’s just because I’m a messy kind of girl, but stomping around in a barrel of grapes sounds like fun to me! Wine not. 

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As part of the festival, a series of VP Masters was on offer, in which experts shared their tricks of the trade and knowledge in their field. Being a lover of cider, I opted for Cheese and Cider Matching. 

When you think of sitting down on a summer evening with a good cheese, wine springs to mind as an obvious accompaniment. Wine and cheese; it seems to be the done thing. Cider is overlooked, but it turns out, it is actually the perfect pairing for cheese. 

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Ian Raynor from the Western Australian based Custard and Co. Cider and Cameron Rowan from Yarra Valley Dairy teamed up to take us through their cheese and cider pairings. The reason that cider and cheese are so well suited is pretty simple. Where there’s an orchard, there’s generally a dairy near by. The similarities in soil mean that even in proximity they are well matched. The lightness of cider complements cheese in a surprising way. 

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The pairings:

Custard and Co.’s Original Apple Cider finds its partner in fresh goats milk cheese. 

vino_paradiso004Original Apple Cider

The Original cider is light, bright cider. It is almost clear in colour and is made from whole apples, prominently pink ladies in this batch. There is an apricot flavour that adds to the lightness of the cider. Now I do love a bit of goats cheese, so this was an ideal match for me. The cheese has slight citrus flavours and is delicious spread onto a piece of bread. The turn around is quick in the cheese making process for this product; the goats are milked in the morning and hours later the cheese is made. Can you say fresh?

vino_paradiso005Goats Milk Cheese

The next glass to sip was filled with some Scrumpy cider. This must win just on its name. Mmm.. Scrumpy.

The Scrumpy has some history behind it, being the first style of cider created waaay back in 55BC. It was traditionally made by the woman of the house. Scrump means to pinch apples; apples were thieved and put whole into a barrel and left to ferment near the stove in the kitchen. You can’t beat that stolen apple taste! The cider is unfiltered and uncarbonated, meaning the flavours are stronger. The lack of carbonation means it’s the ideal match for cheese. In this case, Le Jack goats cheese got funky with the Scrumpy. Le Jack is a camembert style goats cheese that is semi-matured. The almost floral flavour of the Scrumpy accompanies Le Jack’s earthy, almost mushroomy taste.

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Scrumpy also goes well with the Persian Fetta. I find fetta to be a good all-round kind of cheese, from in salads, to pies and quiches to pizza. 

Vino_paradiso001Left to right; Original, Vintage Dry, Scrumpy and Straw Cider

Not quite as old as the Scrumpy, but still old school, is the Vintage Dry Apple Cider. It is a medium dry with low carbonation. I found it to be sweeter on the first sip, with a slightly sour tone coming through in the aftertaste. Ian explains that this is because of the tannins present – a compound that is present in wine. Old school vintage is met with semi-mature, in the form of the Black Savourine goats cheese. The Black Savourine is based on a French goats milk cheese, and uses penicillium candidum (white mold) to form a crust on the outside and break down the cheese slightly. The white mold draws the acid out through the cheese. The cheese could be matured for a further four months if you feel the flavour isn’t quite right. 

vino_paradiso002Clockwise from bottom left; Goats Milk Cheese, Persian Fetta, Le Jack, Black Savourine and Bulls Eye

The final cider is one that hasn’t been released yet; straw cider. The straw cider uses – you guessed it – straw to filter. Apples are layered with bio-dynamic straw, and the layers are pressed down. It’s fermented for three months, with the result being a nose that’s quite ‘farmhousey.’ The aim is to show people older ways of filtering and about the evolution of ciders. 

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Straw Cider, meet Bulls Eye semi-hard cheese. The hard cheese is still quite creamy, with a nutty taste. It would be perfect with some crackers or grated as a topping for pasta. Good old Persian fetta also meshes with the Straw Cider as well. Trusty fetta. 

Interestingly, going back to the original goats cheese I noticed its strong, tangy flavour much more following the other cheeses. The richness of the cheese is complemented by cider in a way that wine can’t match. Wine, red in particular, tend to be a heavier drink. 

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I have never considered it before, but the lightness of cider meets its match in cheese. And now I do consider it… I must admit I’m pretty excited. It’s the new romance/bromance of the summer. And I’m looking forward to some summer lovin’.

Vino Paradiso ran from the 31st October to the 2nd November at Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh, Sydney. For more information, visit vinoparadiso.com.au.
 
Custard and Co. Cider
75 Goldfields Road, Donnybrook WA
Web: custardco.com.au
Phone: (08) 9731 0311
 
Yarra Valley Dairy
70-80 McMeikans Road, Yering VIC
Web: yvd.com.au
Phone: (03) 9739 0023
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The biggest decision of Jess's day is often what to have for lunch. A coffee addict, sweet tooth and glutton all rolled in one; Jess has a love for food. She has a reputation among her friends as a big eater, and has taken on several eating challenges just to prove a point. Jess loves to bake, mainly to indulge her own sweet tooth, but also to share the dessert love! Jess works in hospitality and is constantly surrounded by delicious food - she is always first to volunteer as taste tester when any new recipes are being created. There’s no need to ask if Jess is hungry – she almost always is.