The Cheese Ark is the kind of place that we would expect to see in Dempsey, Cluny Court or Orchard Paragon. But this specialist cheese shop has chosen to open in an unlikely location in Singapore. It is in a ground floor shop of a HDB block along Stirling Road in Queenstown. It had just relocated there from its previous location in PasarBella at The Grandstand (the former Singapore Turf Club premises in Bukit Timah). Having read the interesting story about the Cheese Ark and its proprietor, Ms Syu in Channel News Asia (Scared of Stinky Cheese?) . We decided that we had to make a trip to Queenstown.
Can you spot the Cheese Ark in the picture above? It is the shop right in the centre of the photograph. They have not had time to make a signboard but we understand that one is on the way. Actually I thought that a no signboard cheese shop is very cool. The unmarked glass door is the entrance and behind it is a simple dining area for customers who prefer to dine in. The entire place is air-conditioned and neat.
As you can see, the dining area of the Cheese Ark is spartan. The only decoration are the pots of orchids. But there is beauty in the simplicity and the rawness of the place.
Wondering further inside, we find the preparation area and retail space where cheese, wines and related paraphernalia are displayed for sale. The stock of cheese and butter are kept in the chilled cellar.
The only food available at the time of our visit was cheese. The friendly owner offered to make us a cheese platter. She asked if we had preferences. We do not know enough of cheese to make any request, except that we really do not like goat cheese. With that as the only guideline, she started preparing our platter. We did not ask about price and what she was putting together – so it was a kind of cheese omakase.
This was the cheese platter that was served. Eight types of cheese were beautifully and thoughtfully laid out on a slab of chilled slate, with printouts of the cheese descriptions and unit prices. Crackers, nuts and dried fruits (mulberry and fig) enhanced the presentation and taste of the cheese. The cheeses were arranged in a logical fashion. We eat in a clockwise direction, starting from the softest to the strongest tasting one.
For the wines to go with the cheese we decided to go for glasses of port and madeira. We thought that the sweetness of these wine would go well with most types of cheeses, especially if very strong ones were included on the platter.
In the end we were very pleased with the cheese and the wines. We had an enjoyable and educational time at The Cheese Ark. The selection of cheese was well made. There was contrast. Each was different and nice in its own way. We tended to like the soft cheeses more. Not knowing what we were going to eat added to the fun factor. The element of surprise in taste was part of the enjoyment. Eating the cheese first and then reading the description proved to be an enjoyable way of discovering unknown cheeses. Our favourites cheeses of the day were the Regal du Terroir Triple Cream, Baron Bigod and Gorgonzola Dolce.
The costs of everything (cheese, nuts, crackers) were tallied up and presented in the final bill. The total cost of our cheese adventure was about $114. We thought that the price of the cheeses and supporting items were quite reasonable. The wines were rather pricey – the three glasses of wine ($68) took up a big part of the cost.
The Cheese Ark
Blk 49 Stirling Road #01-489
Opens 11am to 9 pm, Tues to Sun