Posted by AmandaThursday, October 17th, 2013
Savvy Company's 'BIG Cheese' - Vanessa Simmons - (aka our Cheese Sommelier) hit the airwaves! She was recently called in to be interviewed (in French no less!) on CBC Radio Canada. Even over the radio & en francais, you can detect that her passion for cheese oozes over. I wanted to share the highlights from her conversation with CBC's host Anne Michaud - another Canadian cheese enthusiast. Listen to the CBC Radio Canada interview
Vanessa certainly knows her cheese! She trained with the Cheese Education Guild in Toronto – Canada’s only comprehensive cheese appreciation program - and spends countless hours with local cheesemongers & cheesemakers. And she shares her discoveries in her blog: Curd on the Street and hosts special artisan cheese tasting events. Tip: next one is on Tuesday October 22 featuring award winning cheeses from across Canada. More info & to buy tickets >>
"Cheese is my passion", states Vanessa as she gets warmed up on-air to show Anne & the others in the studio the 'whey' around the cheese board overflowing her handpicked selection.
Vanessa tells us about the enormous energy & passion in the people she has got to know who produce artisan cheeses, just the way the Savvy Sommeliers pick up on the enthusiasm of winemakers. Same keeners - different biz. Vanessa successfully conveys their enthusiasm when talking about cheese & cheesemakers from all over Canada. "We have so many cheeses to be proud of " exclaims Vanessa "that of course I want to tell the world about them!"
It is tough to talk about cheese over the airwaves and not make listeners hungry! Everyone in the CBC Radio studio tasted, ooohed & aaahed as Vanessa passed around the cheese board & described each cheese. This is indeed majestic with the full gammet of cheeses - white, yellow, blue, creamy, hard, even smelly - each made with either goat, buffalo, cow & sheep milk.
At the beginning of her interview, Anne Michaud introduces the concept of Savvy Company describing how we specialize in the world of wine, craft beer & artisan cheese by creating social events. Then Anne dives into the cheese chat with Vanessa (I translated the interview into English for you)...
Anne Michaud - What is your role as Savvy Company’s Cheese sommelier?
Vanessa Simmons - I complement our Team of Savvy Sommeliers who focus primarily on wine. Just as every wine has a story, so does every cheese. I take great joy in sharing the stories behind the cheeses—where they come from, how they’re made and who made them. There’s a little bit of science and a lot of love that goes into artisan cheeses. Their makers are nurturing by nature: they create these delights for others to enjoy. It’s my job to help spread the enjoyment of wine and cheese.
AM - Are there any good cheeses made in Ontario?
VS - There are soooo many wonderful cheeses made here in our own back yard and yet many people don't know about them. I love going out to the country and meeting with the cheese makers and sampling their tasty produce. Hopefully with time consumers will realize all the time & effort that goes into making a great cheese and that you don't have to buy cheese at the supermarket, in fact it tastes better if you don't!
AM - What is the evolution of Ontario cheese?
VS - It's amazing how in last few years so much cheese production has become artisanal and there is a love of cheese that goes into the making of it, rather than mass-produced factory cheese. These days, cheesemakers are so much younger than you'd think - they are in their 20s & 30s. This business has a community ot young people starting out as farmers then beginning to manufacture cheese - it's great to watch.
AM - Are these artisan cheeses the same price as manufactured cheeses?
VS - Really there isn't that much difference between them - but you sure can taste the difference in the quality. A piece of artisan cheese (150g-200g) will be in the neighborhood of $7-$10. Once you start buying - and eating - artisan cheese, you really won't be able to go back to "regular" cheese.
VS - I chose these 5 cheeses to show you the broad spectrum of Ontario's artisan cheese production, from fresh to hard to blue cheeses. You should always start with the softest and most light-weight cheese so as not to overwhelm your palate. And then slowly work your way towards stronger cheeses.
Cheese #1 - Bella Casara
Quality Cheese of Vaughan, Ontario, won the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix with its cow’s milk Ricotta, won the category of fresh unripened cheese made from sheep or mixed milk with its Bella Casara Buffalo Ricotta. I call it 'pure happiness', creamy & delicious!
Cheese #2 - Bliss
"Bliss from Monteforte Dairy is a soft, bloomy rind cheese made of sheep milk and enriched with cow’s cream...and though you wouldn’t walk around with a bottle of cream tucked in your lunch bag, you can get the same pleasure from a wedge of Bliss – just packaged more practically.
Ruth Klahsen is a pioneer in Ontario cheese-making; she has created this soft & creamy cow's milk cheese like a Brie which smells of wild mushrooms with a buttery & salty flavor to it...as we all say: "it's pure happiness."
Cheese #3 - Bonnechere
Back Forty Artisan Cheese also has new & very young cheesemakers, they've been in the cheeze biz for just over a year. Bonnechere is a semi-firm, pale yellow cheese. Pay special attention to the 'special' crust this cheese has with striking textured mahogany brown rind & some quite pungent aroma of smouldering wood, caramel odors. It's a a gentle but expressive cheese.
Cheese #4 - Gunn's Hill
Gunns Hill Artisan Cheese by Five Brothers – cheddar style, see the fancy skin yellow; another cheese winner Grand Prize Winner Farm Cheese, done with brothers. "This is a hand crafted washed rind cow's milk cheese that combines traits from Gouda and another Swiss variety called Appenzeller. It is available at 8 months old and in the future we will offer an 18 month old version. It is delicately aged on cedar wood planks adding robust flavors to the cheese. It has creamy and rich flavors with sweeter overtones and distinctive eyes throughout the body of the cheese
Cheese #5 - Celtic Blue
The interview was about to wrap when they got around to the blue cheese, so suffice it to say this one is delicious cheese and even the photo makes you want to try Celtic blue from Glengarry Fine Cheese – the typical blue taste is mild and not aggressive and is softened by a nice buttery aroma, really creamy!
Here are some of Vanessa’s Cheese Tips:
Yes, you can eat the rind! Cheese rind is meant to be enjoyed - unless it’s red and made of wax.
When it comes to cheese, don't be shy - taste before you buy.
There’s a world of cheese beyond the grocery store - explore!
Store cheese cold but serve at room temperature.
Cheese and wine pair beautifully. Explore, experiment and find the right balance....
Cheese is a magical thing.
Join Vanessa on Tuesday October 22 when she hosts 'Canada’s Greatest Chunks of Cheese' event. This is the first-of-its-kind artisan cheese tasting featuring 2013 award winning cheeses that she has discovered from coast to coast.
Special price $55 until the end of the weekend. Attention cheese lovers - you don’t want to miss out!
Ottawa – Tuesday October 22 7pm
There are only 6 seats left
Buy your tickets > >