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4 gourmet produce stores selling artisanal ingredients and alcohol

Gourmands can expect to find top-notch products from Singapore, Australia, and Europe.


    For the past few years, finicky cheese eaters could find their favourite Tomme de Savoie or appropriately-aged Comte on the temperature-controlled shelves of The Cheese Ark in Pasarbella at Turf City. It was where owner Syu Ai Ming kept her precious stash of rare cheeses painstakingly sourced from small villages in France, Italy, Holland, the UK, Sweden, and Switzerland.

    In July, she relocated from the hipster Pasarbella to an HDB space at 49 Stirling Road, which she says has "perfect synchronicity with the artisanal cheese story" she has been advocating for the last five years. She explains: "Ancient artisanal cheeses are getting harder to come by because many of these homestead dairy farms are forced to shut as they are unable to compete with cheaper, widely available industrial cheeses." This is happening across Europe, including cheese-obsessed France.

    By the same token, her shop is located in one of the first HDB blocks in Singapore, and "everyone knows the uncertain fate of these flats, which could be demolished soon". She feels it helps to make a connection with customers, so they can better appreciate the transience of the cheeses they buy from her.

    The former advertising executive learnt cheesemaking in Europe more than 10 years ago. She established The Cheese Ark in 2013 because she wanted to gather as many as possible of 'forgotten' cheeses for people to try before they become extinct. In the beginning, she stocked about 80 types of cheeses, and has since added another 60 varieties to her inventory.

    One of the rarest cheeses that The Cheese Ark carries is Boeren Goudse Oplegkaas (Aged Farmstead Gouda), made by hand using ancient techniques. Years ago, Ms Syu had her first taste of an eight-year wheel. She reminisces: "It was remarkably different from the commercial version, and amazing in complexity and taste." When The Cheese Ark was launched, the remaining cheesemakers, Magdalena and Nico Captein, had decided not to continue making the gouda as there wasn't enough demand to justify their time and effort.

    Ms Syu, who ages the cheese herself in a special affinage room, continues: "I bought the remaining wheels, and kept telling them that people still remember the gouda they once aged and that they should continue to produce it. Thankfully, the Capteins decided to revive the cheese just for us. We have been working on this for the last few years and waiting for the cheese to come of age." Meanwhile, customers can enjoy a host of time-honoured cheeses paired with wines and charcuterie at The Cheese Ark's new store.

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This article was originally published in The Business Times.

Photos: BT/SPH, Bublik, The Cheese Ark, ShiokFarm & Artisan Selections