Coming home from work the other day I missed my tram by a mere minute. The handy tram app on my iphone told me it would be another 19 minutes until the next tram. It was cold, I was hungry and so I decided to explore a little of Armadale’s High Street.
A few times lately I’d noticed people on my tram with Thomas Dux Grocer bags, so I knew the gourmet store had to be somewhere in the vicinity. A friend who used to live in Armadale was always raving about the selection of international produce there, yet I’d never managed to make it there for myself.
So off I went, just a block and a half from the tram stop and there it was – food heaven. Now I wouldn’t go as far as to compare it with Le Bon Marché in Paris (my eternal favourite store), but nevertheless, I was impressed.
Specialty pastas, excellent quality oils and cured meats made up the Italian section; whilst the entire back wall offered a diverse range of gourmet heat-and-eat meals ranging from Indian curries to delicious looking tarts and fresh gnocci.
There was a macaron display counter, which, whilst it looked very pretty, I doubted if there was enough turnover to ensure you’d be buying fresh (and personally, I prefer La Belle Miette in the city – but that’s a whole other blog post!).
Fresh fruit and vegetables, with a substantial section dedicated to organic produce, provided a colourful interlude and I couldn’t resist a punnet of deep red, fragrant strawberries. And at just $3.95 at this time of year, I was very impressed.
I then arrived at the main event – the cheese counter.
With a set up very reminiscent of Le Bon Marché, there was a selection of pre-portioned cheeses (including my favourite hard cheese – beaufort) as well as a manned-counter. In addition, a further selection of pre-packaged cheeses was available and it was here that I found my Holy Grail.
I should preface this by saying that I simply adore smelly cheeses. I used to think of blue cheese when anyone said stinky cheese, but I soon discovered that France is simply full of deliciously pungent cheeses that, on the surface, look harmless enough.
As a child Max recalls hating this cheese, purely because to a small child, the name, petit munster, sounded way too close to monster – and who wants to eat monster cheese?
As an adult, however, he loves it, and when living in France we’d often add some small pieces to our soup to melt, making for a very quick, easy and delicious meal.
It had been awhile, however since my last encounter with a truly smelly cheese (though I had consumed a large amount of délice de Bourgogne on the 14 juillet) and as I got home and eagerly cut off a small sliver, the memories came racing back. I recalled that one must be a little careful when handling munster, as the smell immediately permeates any skin it touches and seeps in, refusing to budge completely for a day or so.
Whilst eaten raw, this cheese has a very strong taste, when cooked it adds a delicious silkiness to the dish and the taste is much smoother. And so, that evening we took great delight in adding it to our leek and mushroom puff pastry tart – divine!