CHEESE is said to give you nightmares, according to an old wives tales.
But for Quakers Hill resident, Alison Brien, all she could dream about was a career filled with cheese.
So she quit her corporate job and studied the art of cheese-making under French cheese master Herve Mons and obtained the UK Cheese Guild’s Diploma of Cheese.
‘‘There [are] so many things I love about cheese,’’ Mrs Brien said.
‘‘Firstly, cheese is something that we have eaten for thousands of years, and it’s essentially still made the same way with the same basic ingredients —milk, rennet and salt.
‘‘The art of cheese-making also amazes me - transforming milk into such a vast variety of cheeses with different flavours, shapes and sizes.’’
Mrs Brien now works as a cheesemonger and fromager.
She is also an accredited cheese judge, regularly judging at the Australian Specialty Cheesemakers Show, the Australian Grand Dairy Awards and the Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Show.
She has also represented Australia in the 2011 Cheesemonger Invitational in New York City.
‘‘It’s really crazy and it’s like the Olympics for cheesemongers,’’ Mrs Brien said.
‘‘The competition is about being a good cheesemonger so they test you on the skills you would need like knowing different cheeses and where they are from, cutting to the right weight and being able to wrap the cheese.’’
Last year, Mrs Brien hosted an eight-part TV series called Channel Cheese which aired on TVS.
The show followed the cheese fanatic on her travels exploring the flavours, places and faces of cheese.
‘‘I was going to the US to compete in the Cheesemonger Invitational so we thought why not start a show on what I do,’’ Mrs Brien said.
‘‘A lot of people find what I do and my travels interesting.
‘‘So, we filmed my travels to the States, going to a cheese festival in Italy, we talked with other cheesemongers and provided cheese tips.’’
The series will be shown on TVS in the first half of this year.
Mrs Brien's cheese tips:
-Buy only what you will eat within a week or so, it's better to buy small pieces more often than to have a large piece sitting in your fridge for weeks.
-Always let your cheese come to room temperature before serving so the full flavours are released. This will take about 30 to 60 minutes depending on the weather.
-Local artisanal goat and sheep's milk cheeses are seasonal and generally only available during the warmer months, so make the most of them now.
-Always keep your cheeses in a sealed container in the fridge, wrapped in cheese paper or a double layer of baking paper.
-Farmers markets are a great way to discover local cheeses and give you an opportunity to meet the cheese-maker as well.