Say Cheese…and Vino with Anthony Femia from Maker & Monger.

Cheese might be his first love, but when paired with great wine, cheesemonger Anthony Femia is in tableside heaven. He’s all about bringing a melting moment to the palette at his famous Prahran venue, and asked some of Melbourne’s best-known chefs to create their own spin on a classic cheese toastie [through a series dubbed Friends of Fromage] – on the menu until September.

His classic All American toastie has been on the menu since he opened the store in 2015.

“This toastie’s flavour is inspired by my life-changing trip to Vermont in USA when I stayed at Jasper Hill Cellars as part of the Churchill Fellowship that I won to study fromage abroad,” says Anthony Femia.

“The flavour is an ode to the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, whose sales allow Jasper Hill Cellars to fund their micro dairy and microbiological research that is changing thousands of years of thinking in dairy science – and because it’s a damn tasty and moreish cheese,” he says.

The Write Drop asks Anthony Femia what he loves about the city and what are his favourite wines when he’s not fussing over which cheese.

What do you most love about Melbourne
I love the European feel of Melbourne; the food, culture, arts and people make this the most liveable city in Australia. Streets like Flinders Lane, Gertrude Street and Smith Street are home to some absolutely incredible dining experiences, and what’s better than strolling through the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Favourite food memory
Food is love for me. My heart is full of so many incredible meals across the world and at home. But if there is one moment that gives me pure joy when I reflect on it, it would have to be eating a slab of comte with the Master Affineur of Marcel Petite in the heart of Fort St. Antoine in the Jura mountains of France, the birthplace of Comte. Sharing the cheese with a glass of Ganevat Savagnin whilst learning from this master about the intricate flavours of Comte that dance on your tongue is the very reason why I do what I do and absolutely love it.

Favourite dish
I’m going to be biased here and say the winter buffalo mozzarella tart at Gimlet. The incredible balance of flavour of the tart shell, globe artichoke purée, hazelnuts, winter lettuce and vinaigrette with the subtle sweetness of the Italian buffalo mozzarella we airfreight is perfection on a plate.

Where to drink
Whatever the special pour wine by the glass is at Public Wine in North Fitzroy, sitting at their communal table and eating the oeuf mayonnaise. Campbell Burton serves up the best selection of natural wines with a fun and friendly vibe.

Best Hangover Cure
It would have to be either our flaming Reuben or pimento toastie paired with a Bloody Mary, then finished with a tin of Bonilla a la Vista Spanish chips. Someone recently had this unique experience at Maker and Monger and I hear they were cured enough to get back up for another night on the town!

Interstate Bar To Try

Poly in Sydney for its stunning play of flavours and balance in each dish that is served with a very smart beverage list you can really enjoy.

Overseas Destination

Montforte d’Alba will always have my heart. This enchanting village is perched on a hill overlooking the famous wine regions of Barolo, Novello, and Serralunga. Visit in September and October for the rolling hills of lush vineyards, and take day trips to surrounding towns like Bra for the epic regional cuisine and wines.

Three Ingredients That Describe You

Risotto rice, Marcel Petite Comte Reservation, and Espelette Pepper.

Favourite Wine

Clos Cibonne – Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes, Tibouren Côtes de Provence Rosé – The Rolls Royce of Rosé. Fleshy texture, perfect acidity, notes of stewed strawberries and just a touch of salinity. Summer in a glass all year round.

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