2016 Australian Grand Dairy Awards

At the beginning of February I was fortunate to be have been invited to the 2016 Australian Grand Dairy Awards to taste some amazing Australian dairy products. I quickly jumped at this opportunity since who in their right mind can say no to an evening full of cheese?

Now in its 17th year, this award recognises and awards the top dairy makers around Australia for their great expertise and efforts through a very rigorous judging process. It took a panel of 24 expert judges over 2 days to go through the 300+ products, which you can imagine is no small feat (cheese coma!). Yuye and I were fortunate to have tasted all of the winning products.

This event was held at the Pop Up Patch behind Federation Square, a tasteful space adorned with vintage decorations, edible garden patches and of course, our dairy awards tables. The tiny bit of drizzle that evening did not deter anyone’s high spirits, especially not with Alice ‘In Frames’ Zaslavsky as our host. Her cheerful and cheesy jokes lit up the gloomy sky and prepared us for the salivating evening ahead.

A total of 19 winners were announced in their respective categories with Bulla Crème Fraiche taking the Grand Champion Dairy Award and Heidi Farm Gruyere taking the Grand Champion Cheese Award.

The list of winners were as follows:

Ice CreamDooley's Premium Chocolate Ice CreamDooley's Ice Cream
GelatoCow and the Moon Pannacotta with Strawberry & Balsamic Ripple GelatoCow and The Moon
Butter or Butter BlendWester Star Original ButterFonterra Brands (Aust) Pty Ltd - Cobden
Hard CheeseSouth Cape ParmesanLion Dairy & Drinks
Flavoured YoghurtRuby and Roy's Yoghurt Divine Vanilla BeanThe Fabulous Fresh Bros
Specialty White Dairy DrinkPaul's Smarter White MilkParmalat Aust Ltd - Lidcombe
Dairy DipParadise Beach Purveyors Smoked Trout & Chives DipParadise Beach Purveyors
Flavoured Dairy DrinkNorco Real Iced Chocolate UltimateNorco Foods - Raleigh
Natural YoghurtMundella Greek Natural YoghurtMundella Foods Pty Ltd
Blue CheeseKing Island Dairy Black Label Triple Cream BlueLion Dairy & Drinks
Washed Rind CheeseKing Island Dairy Stormy Washed RindLion Dairy & Drinks
Semi-Hard and Eye CheeseHeidi Farm Gruyere*Lion Dairy & Drinks
MilkHarvey Fresh Free Range Full Cream MilkHarvey Fresh
CreamBulla Crème Fraiche*Bulla Dairy Foods
Cheddar Style CheeseBay of Fires Cloth Bound CheddarFowlers Cheese
White Mould CheeseFlinders Estate Ashed BrieSnow Brand Australia
Goat's or Sheep's Milk CheeseMeredith Dairy ChevreMeredith Dairy
Flavoured CheeseGreen Valley Dairy Yoghurt Cheese Balls in Chilli OilGreen Valley Dairy Corporation Pty Ltd
Fresh Unripened CheeseFloridia Ricotta Floridia Cheese Pty Ltd
*Grand Champions

A huge congratulations to all the winners!

During the evening, we followed Alice around the venue to the various stations. We met the makers and applauded their well deserved award while nibbling on delicious creations that included the award winning products. One of my favourites was the beetroot and chevre macaron (with Meredith Dairy Chevre) which gives the sweet macaron a slightly salty and acidic addition, making it well balanced and creamy. I usually can’t eat many macarons as they are way too sweet but I may have had a few too many that night. I’m still salivating thinking about them.

Jake Kellie (2015 Young Chef of the Year) was there to wow us with his creation of the Harvey Bay Fresh Milk mousse with honeycomb, viola and sour berries. These not only look good but tasted great.

I could not go past the Ice Cream, Gelato and Yoghurt station though. What looked like a child’s paradise, the dessert station was covered in toppings we could add to our heart’s content. Although I was very tempted, I tried sticking to the fresh fruits and so that it was easier to taste the natural flavours of the beautiful products. I loved both the chocolate ice cream and the strawberry gelato, not overly sweet but full of deep satifying flavours. The yoghurts were fantastic too and went perfectly with the fresh berries.

The night though was all about the cheese for me. I went around and tasted all the cheeses at least twice, but it was too difficult to decide which were my favourites. They were all that good.

After a delicious night of cheese and dairy tastings paired with wines, fruits and other ingredients, we were satisfyingly stuffed to our necks and stumbled home with serious cheese comas. The great thing about the awards is that these are all local products that you can find in supermarkets or local specialty shops. Visit the websites above for more information and try to hunt them down and have a taste for yourself!

Thanks again to AGDA and Keep Left for inviting us along to such a prestigious event and I look forward to supporting these and other fantastic dairy producers in future years.

Disclaimer: Ichigo Shortcake was invited to attend the Dairy Awards as a guest of AGDA with thanks to Keep Left. All opinions are her own.

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