We chat with Olivia Sutton, founder of Harper & Blohm, a specialty cheese shop and kitchen located on Sydney Road, Brunswick. They focus on highlighting the very best handmade and farmhouse cheeses from local and international producers (and, yes, Milawa Cheese is among them!)
Tell us a bit about your cheese career to date.
I worked for The Calendar Cheese Company for about ten years on and off, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers in Dublin and Savour & Grace before opening Harper & Blohm in 2014. I’m also a judge of the National Dairy Australia Awards, and the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria.
Opening your own cheese shop is a big commitment! How did Harper and Blohm come about?
By accident really, I was not thinking about opening a shop until friends Mario Di Lenno and Gerald Diffey of Geralds Bar got chatting with the owners of The Prince Wine Store. We thought it would be great to open a cheese shop within a tiny corner space of their store in Essendon. We were in Essendon for almost four and a half years before relocating to a much larger shop front just over the freeway on Sydney Road, Brunswick, where we have been for two and a half years. The shop is called Harper & Blohm after the maiden names of both my grandparents.
Store image via @harperandblohm Instagram
What are the top perks of your job?
Getting to eat lots of cheese! Meeting other people who also like to eat lots of cheese.
Fess up – do you have a favourite Milawa Cheese?
Milawa King River Gold, it’s a classic Australian cheese. I love the semi-firm texture and it has just the right amount of stink. King River Gold works well on a cheese board, or in cooking as a substitute to taleggio or fontina.
Describe your ideal cheese platter:
I enjoy cheese boards more in the cooler months and often I’m happy with one hero cheese. My ideal cheese board would have a blue, a washed rind and a semi-hard cheese made with goat or sheep milk. I think a few nuts, dried fruits, and a great baguette.
Favourite cheese and booze match?
Blue cheese and a dark beer such as a porter or stout.
What keeps you busy outside of cheese?
Eating and drinking! Plus swimming, and talking to my indoor plants.
And for our followers, what is your best cheese tip?
When putting together a cheese board for a larger group start cutting into the cheese before serving. I sometimes cut half of the hard cheese into strips as it’s easier for people to pick up, and take a wedge out of any round cheeses. This way it helps people to relax and enjoy the cheeseboard without thinking they are destroying your presentation.