Sonic Seasoning: Valerie Henbest talks to us about all things cheese and music

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Valérie Henbest, from the Smelly Cheese Shop, will lead you on a sensory experience of cheese, wine and music in the show Sonic Seasoning at the Adelaide French Festival this weekend.

With music by Adelaide’s Zephyr Quartet, you will explore the relation between your five senses and good food through a musical voyage.

We spoke with Valérie about the show and all things cheese.



Valerie, you run the Smelly Cheese Shop in the Adelaide Central Markets. Tell us about how you came to work with cheese.

Cheese, along with bread/baguette, were the only things that I was truly missing when I first landed in Australia some 20 years ago.

When desperately looking for some Roquefort at the time it was \getting banned, I stumbled upon Peter Heaney who owned Say Cheese and still had some of it.

The rest was history as we are now partner in life and in business.

It allowed me to go back to France regularly (and the rest of the world) to source more interesting French cheeses.


What is your favourite cheese?

Do you ever have a favourite child? Well, truth is, if I had to select only 2 or three, it would have to be a matured Epoisses from Burgundy, a matured Comte from Jura and a good Roquefort. You see, cheese need to have character and stops you in your track when you put it in your mouth. It needs to create memories.


Have you met a cheese you didn’t like?

Bland cheeses. Industrial cheeses with no soul. Flavoured cheeses…


You will be presenting Sonic Seasoning at the Adelaide French Festival. Tell us about the show.

Sonic Seasoning came from the pressing need I had to find a complete way to excite all your senses. It is quite easy with 4 of them, but the ear was not really fully engaged. And as I love music (I was at the conservatorium playing a bit of piano back in France), associating music with flavours and aromas became second nature.


What is your favourite cheese/wine combination?

I do love triple cream with a nice champagne. And Roquefort with a Sauternes at the end of a meal is unbeatable. If you get a chance, you should try Comté with Vin Jaune from Jura!


Which music would you pair with a strong blue cheese?

I always envisioned eating Stilton with Pumps and Circumstances from Elgar. Festive and loud.



Or with a soft gooey camembert?

Camembert is close to my heart as I was born in Normandy. I see countryside and pastures with that cheese therefore something quite pastoral. Or Debussy “L’Apres-midi d’un faune”.


Or conversely, which cheese would heavy metal music work well with?

You got me here… I am not a real Heavy Metal music fan. But I would possibly go towards a very well matured and sharp Cave Aged Cheddar.


Which cheeses will you be presenting at Sonic Seasoning?

You should come and check for yourself… but there will be 5 different styles: creamy, goat, semi-hard, washed-rind and blue.


Sonic Seasoning is on this Sunday 13 January at 12:30pm on the Dunstan Playhouse Stage. Sadly it has already sold out. 


What are your favourite cheeses and music styles?

Related Posts

Matilda Marseillaise

Discover more from Matilda Marseillaise

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading