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Hot Plates: Emile & Solange, Albion

Emile & Solange owner Sarah Thuillet

Emile & Solange owner Sarah Thuillet

Tiny new Emile & Solange with its white walls, simple timber shelving, vintage French posters and bric-a-brac is decidedly a fromagerie with benefits.

For starters, there's the owner: Normandy expat Sarah Thuillet. Thuillet chooses each cheese and can chat at length about the contents of her temperature-controlled cabinets, advising which Camembert is perfect for eating right now, or which chèvre might benefit from a little extra ripening. She also offers tastings - maybe a morceau of fragrant raw milk Abondance, or a sliver of nutty aged Comté, or perhaps a creamy slice of Pont-l'Évêque? Each item is cut to order and wrapped in cheese paper.

Cheese is almost part of Thuillet's family. Grandmother Solange ran a Crèmerie-Fromagerie in Coutances, Normandy selling milk from grandfather Emile's farm and sourcing product from some of the same suppliers now providing Emile & Solange with cheese.

"In Normandy, it's all about the cheese, and the butter and the milk - so you learn about it even if you don't want to. It's part of the culture," Thuillet says. "I grew up around cheese - we didn't ever have a lunch or a dinner without it."

About 80 per cent of Emile & Solange's starting stock of around 50 different cheeses hails from France, but alongside the Roquefort and washed-rind cow's milk offerings from Langres, you might also find a cow-sheep blend Italian La Tur, a Raclette or perhaps some small-batch cheese from Tasmania, South Australia or Queenstown.

Hard and semi-hard raw milk cheeses are a speciality, because Thuillet says unpasteurised cheese provides the best expression of terroir. She's now on the hunt for more small-batch Australian cheese and also plans to sell eggs, butter and cream. Already there's a neat selection of locally made saucisson, some Spanish fuet anis, Portuguese-style chouriço, plus nice-to-haves like cold extracted organic Miellerie honey from Tasmania, Dijon mustards, and baguettes from Crust & Co, Wilston.

Emile & Solange, 10 Fox St, Albion, Qld, emileandsolange.com

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