Pepe Saya is an artisanal butter churner located in Tempe, NSW. I first found the butter on store shelves a few years ago and it’s only now that I decided to pick it up and give it a go. Mostly, I was just put off by the high price. At my local store, it was $9.99 for a 225gm block. This was comparable to the Lescure next to it and about 4 or 5 times that of Allowrie, my typical choice. Combine that with the artisanal spruiking and I was worried that this was some fakeass rich hipster shit. Well, it is, in a sense, it is a premium product but it’s a good one for sure. Is it worth the money?

I bought a block of salted butter to try. So far, I’ve had it on it’s own as well as slathered over some sourdough. The salt is 50% Olsson’s Pacific Dairy Salt and 50% Murray River Pink. I would say that the seasoning isn’t particularly strong, probably just a little under, which is good because people usually pop more on anyway. They are a pretty small operation that used to only use cream from Country Valley Dairy in Picton, NSW but are now forced to also source cream from Allansford in Victoria. The stuff from Country Valley is from free roaming grass fed cows if that makes any difference to you. It’s one of the things that gives the butter a golden hue as well as affecting the flavour. I suppose if your nose pointed high enough, you’d taste the terroir of Picton in every creamy daub.

And creamy it fucking is. I have tried a fair few butters. Up til this point, I can safely say that the expensive poncey French shit (Echirre, Lescure, Isigne Ste Mere etc) was the best shit, albeit way overpriced. Pepe’s is just better and at a slightly lower price range. Mind you, I still have to compare it with other premium Australian butters. The reason why I think Pepe’s is better is because it’s cheaper than the imported French mass produced shit but it’s also local and fresh. Keyword fresh because the French stuff suffers from a freeze and a plane ride and more time getting to your store shelf.

I might not be French or poncey but my tastebuds know good shit when they come into contact with it. As a child, my mother gave me slivers of cold butter whenever she was prepping anything with butter. When people see me eating cold butter, they’re usually aghast. I like a lovely thin slice (like chocolate thickness) of butter on top of hot toast drizzled with honey. I can eat butter by itself just as easily. Pepe’s is clearly good enough to eat by itself. The flavour is distinct because it is cultured butter and the texture divine. Straight from the fridge overnight, it’s easily scraped up by my knife and spreads easily too. This is a sure sign that there’s a high fat content in the butter, which contributes to a luxurious mouthfeel and brilliant flavour.

Is it 5 times better than cheap butter? Well, that’s not a fair comparison because in the first place, cheap “butter” isn’t really proper butter. Pepe’s butter is actually butter. You can watch a few videos on their processes and how they do it all by hand, from the churning to the squeezing of buttermilk to the forming and packaging. Personally, I’d definitely use this as a great table butter on bread etc. When it comes to cooking, I’m more likely to use something else but on the rare occasion, I think perhaps as a finish on something special it might be worth wasting. On bread, there is no comparison, it’s heaps better, maybe not 5 times but it is better. If you eat butter by itself like me, it’s more than 5 times better.

Edit* Ok so I just pilfered some Brasserie Ciabatta, which I like to eat toasted with some cold butter and a drizzle of honey on the top. I also prefer to use salted butter in this case because I’m a sucker for sweet/savoury. I just want to say that after a fortnight in my kimchi filled fridged, it has taken on some wonkiness but that’s just the nature of butter. However, it’s ability to absorb fridge odours notwithstanding, Pepe Saya’s butter has taken my honey drizzled, cold buttered hot toast to the next level; simply because it has a higher fat content than regular butter and morphs ever so much more luxuriously on the palate. Sitting on the hot toast, the previously firm (not hard) butter has sort of coalesced into this amorphous beast waiting to melt in your mouth that resists creeping into the crevices of the spongey bed it sits on. Mmm.

Other than butter (unsalted, salted, truffled…) Pepe also does buttermilk (duh), mascarpone and creme fraiche plus desserts under the Homemade Fine Foods label. You can find Pepe Saya in Thomas Dux as well as a few good grocers. Or alternatively, you can eat it at Reuben Hills, Kitchen By Mike, Rockpool, Sepia and many other fine place.

Incidentally, that channel on vimeo, Food Wine Dine, is chockful of goodies, from Sonoma Sourdough to Chat Thai to Glenloth Game.

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