Just Opened! Cheese Room & Cafe for Hunter Belle Cheese
We all know that our love of the Hunter Valley stems from its beautiful wines, the choice of decadent food, the gorgeous scenery and of course the fact that we have some of Australia’s best cheese available right here on our doorstep. Well, HUNTERhunter is happy to report that the family run Hunter Belle Cheese has opened a new and much larger cheese shop for us cheese loving fiends.
Hunter Belle Cheese Room was originally located upstairs at Ben Ean however the love of cheese was too strong for that modest space and the team had to find a larger venue for the growing cheese empire.
The perfect place recently identified itself on the site of De Iuliis Wines. We visited the new Hunter Belle Cheese Room the week of their opening to catch up with the wife and husband team and road test a few of their award-winning cheeses.
Hunter Belle Cheese Room is located on Broke Road, Pokolbin in a standalone building to the left of De Iuliis Wines. In its larger location, the team have taken the opportunity to expand their offering, not only do they have a tasting experience and shop to purchase their range, they now also have a cheese focused cafe on site and a gelato bar. We felt it was our civic duty to loosen our belts and try all of the above.
We started with a tasting. Although there is a private tasting room that can be booked, we grabbed a seat at the high table to be amongst all the action. The lovely Denise took us through a tasting plate of 5 cheeses for $5.
This included for us the Briebelle - a triple creamy soft brie with a strong flavour. The Cranberry and Pistachio - one of the favourites at our table with the sweetness of the cranberry complementing the sharpness of the cheddar. An Ol’ Smokey which was a vintage smoked cheddar. A Caramelised Onion and Thyme Cheddar - this gold medal winning cheddar had subtle tastes of thyme mixed with the sweetness of the onion. And lastly the famous Camembelle made from the milk of Brown Swiss Cows (they make the best kind of cheese apparently) with a mild mushroom flavour.
This was only the start of the cheese journey, so we then headed over to the cafe to join owners Tania and Geoff Chesworth for a chat and, you guessed it, some more cheese.
Tania and Geoff were the loveliest couple. You could see straight away why they have had a successful business since they took on Hunter Belle Cheese in 2009. They had a kind and confident demeanor and were obviously very passionate about their family run business and the high quality Australian made and owned cheeses that they produce.
The Chesworth family, after 6 generations of milking cows on the banks of the Hunter River, decided they needed a change and became the owners of Hunter Belle Cheese. It truly is a family business with Tania and Geoff running the operations and cafes, and son and wife team, Jason and Annie, running the production and wholesale side of the business. Jason even gets in there and makes the cheese when he can find the time. The business quickly grew and now you can buy their cheeses not only at their two Cheese Cafes (Pokolbin and Muswellbrook) but also online, at selected retailers and in Woolworths stores across NSW.
The newest cafe here in Pokolbin boasts cheese in many ways, from the not so humble cheese board, to kids cheese toasties, a baked CamemBelle and the piece de resistance - the Pokolbin Platter. And this is what we were lucky enough to enjoy.
A platter is an understated description of this feast. It was more like a high tea of cheese! Served on a rustic metal two storey serving platter this lunch for 2 people (or hearty snack for 4) was brimming with goodness.
We won’t spoil it and list everything on there but a few of our favourites were the Blue Moon - a semi-hard “beginners” blue cheese with subtle flavour that is perfect to convert those non-blue eating friends of yours - you know who I am talking about! The Arc-en-Ciel smoked trout which was absolutely divine when paired with the LaBelle labna style yoghurt cheese. And the Mr Charcuterie boutique meats were delicious, especially the Wagyu Bresaola - an aged beef which was full of flavour and very tender. We enjoyed our platter with a De Iuliis wine, but there is a full drinks list available including hot coffees, kids milkshakes and even beers and a Tilse Apple Cider if that’s your thing.
The Hunter Belle Cheese Room is the perfect stop for something to eat or to pick up some of the Hunter Belle Cheese range of goodies. They cater for all visitors including and it’s a great space for families with a huge lawn area out front and lots of room inside the cafe. Plus, the house made brownies and the gelato bar on site are always a nice bonus to reward the kids (and yourself) for being well behaved after a day of wine tasting.