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Love cheese? Yoghurt? Cream? The 2017 Australian Grand Dairy Awards seek out the best in the country

I love dairy. I love cheese, I love yoghurt, I love cream, I love ice cream, gelato, cheese, cheese and I also love cheese. Ironically I developed lactose intolerance when I was 17, so most of my dairy adventures are sponsored by Lacteeze; enzyme pills that help to break down the lactose in my favourite foods so I don't become a bloated, gassy mess.

The good news is that cheese has very little lactose, and hard cheese especially. I also find that the higher quality the dairy product, the less effect it has on me. It may be to do with the diet the cows are fed on, the processing, or the fact that I'm just up myself and assume that if something's fancy, it couldn't possibly hurt me.

The Australian Grand Dairy Awards recognise and reward excellence and quality in Australian dairy produce, paying tribute to the achievements of the highly-skilled specialists who develop and make these products. Created in 1999, the Australian Grand Dairy Awards are Australia's most prestigious national dairy awards and the highest accolade for Aussie dairy producers.

I was fortunate enough to receive a gorgeous hamper of some of the winning products two weeks ago, and I've rarely been more excited to see the courier!

Don't get me wrong, I love getting flowers delivered, but you can't eat flowers.

This awesome basket contained:

- Maleny Dairies Choice Full Cream Milk - which took out the Champion Milk award

- King Island Dairy Roaring Forties Blue - the Champion Blue Cheese for 2017

- Mil Lel Superior Parmesan Cheese - Champion Hard Cheese

-House of Riz Traditional Greek Rice Pudding - Champion Dairy Dessert

-Mundella Greek Natural Yoghurt - Champion Natural Yoghurt

Where to start?! There were 20 champion categories this year and I was lucky enough to receive 5 to sample. I was overjoyed to see the Greek rice pudding - I had a not-so-brief moment in 2007 where I would drive by the Tarragindi Fruit Barn, pick up a rice pudding and scarf it in the car before I even got home. I adore Greek rice pudding. Luckily I broke up with the guy who lived in Salisbury (lovely guy though) who necessitated me driving by the fruit barn so I was able to break the addiction; live a normal life. Until now. The House of Riz version was everything you want rice pudding to be: creamy, textured, moorish, cinnamony. Yup, I just said cinnamony. Unless you're in Melbourne this seems pretty hard to come by, although apparently Aussie Farmer's Direct supplies it in Queensland. I can vouch that any dairy I've ever received from Aussie Farmer's was spectacular, so it makes sense. Check out the House of Riz website here.

The Roaring Forties Blue we are no strangers to in this household. You can get it at major supermarkets and delis. Although I've never procured such a generous slab as the one in our hamper, Dylan and I have been enjoying this one since late 2013. I first picked up a piece when we were holidaying in Central Queensland. We tried it on a cheese platter with lavosh and fruit; fell in love. It was quite cold when we first tried some so I suggested putting it out for a few hours to come down to room temperature. When we came back to it late in the afternoon, we smelled it before we even entered the kitchen. It was glorious. He had so much personality, we named him Fred. And so forevermore in our house, Roaring Forties will always be Fred. We love ya, Fred.

We're also no strangers to Maleny Dairies. We often buy the various milks for the kids (supermarkets, delis, fruit barns) and although they're freaked out by the cream top on some of the varieties, we feel happy knowing they're experiencing milk 'the way it used to taste'. Ie, like cream. Totally delicious. The Full Cream Milk we sampled was lovely - less 'white' than most commercial milks and a round flavour. I enjoyed it greatly in my coffee and even a little glass on its own with a square of chocolate drew no complaints from my sensitive gut. Luscious gear. If you're a milk lover, I highly recommend treating yourself to any of the milks by Maleny Dairies.

The Mundella yoghurt was lovely too - I'm usually a fat free Chobani girl, so the mouthfeel of a full fat Greek yoghurt was a real treat. I had it plain, with fruit and even used some in my favourite James Fell banana bread recipe. This one is a treat saved for our Western Australian friends at leading and independent supermarkets. I'm unaware of any East-Coast stockists.

Last but certainly not least was the Mil Lel Parmesan. Be still be beating heart. Amazingly after two weeks there is still some of this epic wedge in our fridge, but only through using every ounce of self-control. We generally buy Mil Lel shaved parmesan in a resealable bag at leading supermarkets as it's a great price per kilo and tastes amazing. I also use less when it's shaved. If I'm chiseling off hunks from a wedge such as the beauty I received...let's just say dinner becomes more 'you guys have the bolognese, I'm with my cheese right now'. The tasting notes on this cheese are far more eloquent than I could hope to be: 'This hard cheese embodies the typical fruity and savoury flavours of a well-aged Parmesan with just the right dry crumbly texture. Too good for just grating, serve this on your next cheese platter with slices of fresh pear.'

To check out the full range of 2017 Grand Dairy Champion products, go to the Australian Grand Dairy Awards website.

A huge shoutout to the good people at AGDA for gifting me such a plentiful sampler of the country's finest. I don't mean to be cheesy, but I was really touched to receive such a lovely gift. If you'll excuse me, I need to go be with my Parmesan now.

Much love,

Brisbane Foodie

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