Southeast Asian cuisines were primarily dairy-free. But decades of colonisation and recent global surge have brought about an interesting fusion of Asian and Western cuisines. Hosted by Cheese Master François Bourgon, Hong Kong witnessed the second edition of ‘Open your taste, Enjoy European cheese’ last week. The Gourmet Cheese workshop demonstrated the complexity and diversity of cheese that can be paired in a multitude of ways for all occasions. Underlining the infinite pairing possibilities, the workshop uniquely paired a selection of cheeses with French whiskies.
East meets West
First originated in Europe, cheese tasting is increasingly becoming a trend all over the world. It is considered as one of the oldest manufactured food in European history and there with around 1,200 variants. French cheese master was impressed how Hong Kong was slowly emerging as a very well educated market for cheese. People here are open to cheese tastings and the locals are curios to learn about different flavours of cheese and how they can be paired with Asian foods, he said.
Cheese master to Michelin-starred tables around the world, Bourgon said, “Cheese provokes the senses on all levels, from aromas and touch to sight and moreover taste. With various acidity, saltiness, creamy and fatty sensations, it really is a natural taste enhancer, which has always been used in European cuisine to enhance and magnify other ingredients.”
Although the most famous pairing remains Wine; cheese can be paired with any kind of liquid actually. From beer and whiskies to coffee it can be adapted to suit various local flavours, he added. Asia, in this point of view, is far more interesting than Europe because people have no a priori.
Bourgon said that the possibilities of pairing European cheese with Asian foods were incredible. For instance, wasabi goes well with fresh goat cheese, a dash of coriander can refresh a wash rind like Epoisses while a Blue cheese works wonderfully well with a ginger confit.
The cheesy guide
We got the cheese master to spill the beans on how to use and store cheese.
- For optimal flavour, take the after-dinner cheese platter out of the refrigerator an hour before consumption. Cheese should be served at room temperature for the taste and aroma to gradually develop.
- Cheese comes in diverse shapes, and how to cut a cheese is also a very important factor. The purpose is to achieve the greatest tasting pleasure — round or square cheeses should be cut like into triangles like slices of pie; triangular pieces of Brie should be cut from the top to the bottom into bite-size pieces; cylindrical cheeses should be cut into little circles; smaller cheeses can simply be halved.
- To preserve the original texture of a cheese, and to keep them from losing flavour, simply wrap the cheese tightly in its original packaging, plastic cling wrap or aluminum foil.
Cheese dining in Hong Kong
If you are novice to the cheese world, take a pick from one of Bourgon’s favourite restaurants in Asia that combine Europeans cheese and Asian flavours.
- ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge
29/Floor, 18 On Lan St, Central, Hong Kong
- The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
Elements, International Commerce Centre (ICC), 1 Austin Rd W, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong
- La Terrasse by ÉPURE
Shop 403, inside ÉPURE, Level 4, Harbour City, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong