How can I put this in a politically sensitive way, so that I don’t offend anyone’s patriotic zeal? How’s this – Australian butter is crap. Honestly, it is. In fact, the only thing worse than our crap, bland, brainless butter is the crappier, lobotomy-white, lazy-ass-whipped, flavourless butter that they serve in US supermarkets. If you love your butter, you’re probably buying French or Danish – I keep Lurpak on steady rotation in my fridge, only using the Australian butter for menial tasks, like making clarified butter.
But I’m not here simply to rant (not that there’s anything wrong with that) – I’ve actually got good news. I was at Brasserie Bread’s Banksmeadow headquarters to meet with social media mavens and food hounds, Tony Hollingsworth and Lorri Loca, when Tony introduced me to the Pepe Saya butter that they’re now stocking here. I tried a taste on a piece of cracking sourdough bread, and it send my brain a-tingling.
I have no friggin’ idea who Pepe Saya is, but Senior Pepe churns a mean ‘handcrafted’ cultured butter. We’re talking rich and satiny, with a wide taste spectrum that tilts ever slightly towards sour – not so much that it’d put you off, but rather a subtle tongue play that makes you think, ‘More, please’.
A little read-up on the Pepe Saya website, and I learn that this kind of cultured butter separates the cream from the pasteurised Aussie cow’s milk. Then a lactic culture is ‘inoculated’ into the cream, which ferments its and brings our the sourness. Think of only the mildest hint of Jarlsburg. “The fermentation process produces additional aroma compounds,” the site says, adding that it “makes for a full-flavoured and more ‘buttery’ tasting product.” Hell, I’m no butter-making guru, but this kneaded butter is the bees knees. I also discovered that Pepe Saya’s butter scored the gold and overall ‘Champions’ gongs at the recent 2010 Melbourne Fine Food Show, so I’m not the only one gong mental over Pepe’s lactic fabulousness.
It cost about $8.50 for me to walk away with a 225g round of the salted stuff (an unsalted version is also available), which is certainly more expensive that your normal 500g cheapo block, but way more satisfying. I’d rather butter my toast with a 20-cent lashing of the good stuff, rather than devour a 10-cent shmear of mediocrity.
So now that I’ve found my first example of decent Aussie butter, I’m wondering, are there any others out there? I recently overheard some food folks gossiping about some killer Jersey butter that’s going around, and then Googled a lightly salted Jersey butter from NSW’s Over the Moon Dairy in Glen William, from the Upper Hunter. It’s spruiked at Harris Farms and a bunch of area farmers’ markets, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled. Has anyone tried it, or found another notable Aussie butter? Feel free to post any suggestions, and together we can ‘spread’ the love.
Pepe Saya, pepesaya.com.au