Celebrating local makers Julian and Alana Langworthy
I thought I would say goodbye to 2018 by heaping some well deserved praise on a couple of WA artisans and the heart led Perth venue which provides a stage for clever makers to share their story, produce and be appropriately appreciated for what they have achieved.
December 4th I had the pleasure of taking a seat for a beautiful masterclass at Fromage Artisan. Here owner, Danicia Quinlans, throws her all into fan girling cheese and beverage makers from near and far. At the Fromage Bar you can enjoy a piece of cheese and a glass of wine, or a full flight of cheese matched with all manner of booze, then slink down to the very cool re purposed bank vault from which Danica and her team retail the world's most interesting fromage and offer tasting and conversation with the cheese monger. They also run a Fromartisan Club so fellow fans can enjoy a delivery of mind bending cheeses on a monthly basis.
The masterclass I attended showcased the talents of winemaker Julian Langworthy and his, once wine and now cheese-making, wife Alana Langworthy.
Julian Langworthy is hitting goals in his career as chief winemaker for the Fogarty Wine Group and was recently named 2019 winemaker of the year in the James Halliday Wine Companion. Somehow, with a huge team to mentor and manage, he has still found time for a side hustle with two mates and it was his wines made for the lighthearted Goon Tycoons he was tasting alongside Alana’s glorious small batch cheeses from her business the Yallingup Cheese Company.
I won’t go into back stories on Julian and Alana, for they are long, illustrious and filled with an irritating amount of natural genius, so I’ll let you Google for further details. I will however say that there was something super special about a tasting with a married couple walking us through the ways in which their wine and cheese complimented one other. Julian and Alana were both obviously highly respectful of each others talents as well as playful in that wonderful self deprecating Aussie way I love. Alana shared that her most renowned cheese, the “St Julian”, lets off a certain odor when released from its mould which is reminiscent of her husbands flatulence after a big night. St Julian...the cheese.. is too good to let that put you off though. As Alana states on her website, “Cheese should not be a hockey puck, it should grow legs and walk off your plate.” Amen to that I say! Alana is an artisan who, although learned, is happy to take chances, have a play and find her way to a great product through trial and error. The cheeses we tasted were all exceptional, though Alana hinted at some moments where her experiments had not been so successful.
Goon Tycoons wines are certainly way more serious than the name suggests. They are expertly experimental and the quality fruit is sourced from, what the team believe to be, the best growing regions in West Australia for each of the varietals used. It will be a wine brand to watch for both quality, value and point of interest. Each of the wines we tasted were sophisticated yet approachable and certainly a drop you would happily take to a friends house for dinner for a bit of wine banter. I can wholeheartedly recommend the 2018 Supermodel Riesling, 2018 Smoking Gun Chenin, 2018 “Rapunzel” Rose and the 2017 Prohibition Red. You can drop by the “Goon Room” at Abbey Vale for a full tasting if it takes your fancy. There you will also find all of Alana’s Yallingup cheeses so you can recreate your own masterclass.
There were a few fun new factoids I picked up at the masterclass. After tasting her Ash Brie made with a layer of morning, then a layer of afternoon milk, both with their own characteristics, I learned that the ash used for cheese making is almost always ethically sourced coconut shell. Apparently ash speeds up the breakdown of the curd as well as arrests the white mould which you would usually find on the outside of a Brie or Camembert, so the standard rind does not form. Also fascinating is that our male and female pheromones lead men and women to experience the tasting of goats cheese differently.. Whaaaat? Alana talked us through what are considered the male and female qualities found in cheese. Buttery and creamy notes are female, while earthy, truffle notes are male.
Now I’m a card carrying food nerd and I could have bored my fellow masterclass attendees with a machine gun fire of questions for Julian and Alana, but in the end the stories and details are all played out in the glass and on the plate. For me it was a really memorable food experience with two stand out artisans in a purpose created venue. Loved it!
Below are some links to further points of interest on Alana, Julian and Fromage Artisan.