Ageing gracefully

Author: Michael Harden
Photography: Alicia Taylor

Step into a new cave of fromage-related wonder.

At the bottom of an orange spiral staircase, the Cheese Cellar at Spring St Grocer in Melbourne is like a forgotten station on the M├ętro, all shiny glazed bricks and curved lines. The larger of its two rooms will soon be a cheese bar with 28 seats, a cheese-rich menu (think glam toasties and salads) and a cheese-friendly wine list, while the smaller room houses more than 40 cheeses, mollycoddled into perfect condition by resident affineur (or cheese-finisher) Anthony Femia. "Most of the cheese we have here is European and the majority of that is French," he says. "Everything you see is at peak condition: we won't release a cheese until it's reached maturity, which is something many cheese sellers don't have the luxury of doing." The maturation rooms hold treasures ranging from Fromagerie P. Jacquin St Maure and Petit Munster to Langres from Champagne, the rind of which Femia washes in a Champagne and salt solution. Femia recently placed fourth in the prestigious Concours Mondial du Meilleur Fromager world cheesemonger championship and is evangelical about spreading the word about properly treated cheese to the world. "We don't want this to be the Christmas cheese shop where people only come once a year," he says. "It's a place to explore and taste and see unique and different things." Spring St Grocer, 157 Spring St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9639 0335

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