In the foodie wonderland that is Prahran Market, I’ve found a slice of heaven that makes my heart beat a little faster. Amidst all the fruit and veg traders of Harvest Hall, Maker & Monger is doing a mean trade in #nextlevel cheese toasties and raclette, served from a sweet little French food cart.
Run by renowned cheesemonger Anthony Femia (formerly Spring Street Grocer), Maker & Monger is a must for any Melbourne cheese fiend. The menu is petite: there’s an All-American Grilled Cheese Sandwich, oozing with Cabot Cheddar from Vermont and Monteray Jack from California; an alternating grilled cheese toastie with a twist (when we went it was capsicum and cayenne); and then the showstopper—the raclette, bubbling before your very eyes, before being smeared onto potatoes with a side of cornichons. To drink, there’s Mork hot chocolate and apple cider for now, with alcoholic bevvies not too far off. Because, cheese and wine.
On my first visit on a Sunday afternoon, I had not got my butt into gear early enough and the raclette was devastatingly sold out, so I settled for the signature toastie with the mostie. No ordinary grilled cheese, this bad boy was served on two slices of Noisette bread, whose stall is conveniently located just across the walkway. Featuring a smattering of parsley, and four types of finely chopped onion—all sourced from the very best market traders—this was quite possibly the best toasted sanga I’ve ever wrapped my chops around. Stringy melted cheese, crunchy golden bread, with the added tartness and sweetness from the onions—it was, quite simply, perfection.
I swore I’d be back for the raclette, and it didn’t disappoint. Watching it bubble and gurgle is a sight for sore (possibly hungover) eyes, adding theatre to what is essentially a pretty basic dish. Once malleable, the cheese was smeared onto confit potatoes, then topped with porcini powder. A trio of cornichons, and the dish was complete. It’s not fancy, but boy is it comfort food on crack.
In the works are plans for a permanent store and cellar at the market, where you’ll be able to shop the highly curated selection of international cheese, chew the fat with other cheese heads, and dine on constantly evolving cheesy offerings. As the weather heats up and the idea of potatoes is a bit too much to stomach, Anthony is planning a blue raclette, served with figs. Drool.
At the heart of Maker & Monger is Anthony’s drive to educate Melburnians on the world of cheese, glorious cheese. As to the biggest no-no many of us are guilty of? Storing cheese in cling wrap (guilty as charged). The Big Cheese has spoken.
Image credit: Sabine Legrand for The Urban List