Posts Tagged ‘Fromagerie du Presbytère’

Got your tickets? BC, Ont, Quebec & NS wineries are coming to town!

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, June 15th, 2017
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The countdown to Canada150 & Ottawa2017 celebrations is on!  We’re celebrating in a BIG way this year – by showcasing wines from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec & Nova Scotia at our upcoming event: Oh Canada! Celebrate Red & White in Ottawa on Thursday, June 22 – next week!

100% Canadian wines.  You read that right…wines from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec & Nova Scotia will be available for you to Taste & Buy….then have your favorites delivered to your doorstep.

 

Don’t miss it!  Celebrate Red & White 

Corks will be popping at this all-Canadian Taste & Buy as we celebrate winemakers who have worked incredibly hard to put our country on the world wine map. Meet these Canadian wine rockstars, taste their wines that are WOWing the world…then order your favs to enjoy at home.

 

It’s THE event you have been waiting for…

The #1 question we get asked: Can you buy from BC, NS & Quebec wineries as well those in Ontario?  YES you can!  Oh Canada! Celebrate Red & White Taste & Buy event is all about ordering wines from BC, NS, Quebec and Ontario…then have them delivered directly to your home or office to enjoy all summer long.

 

Show your colours!  Buy a $80 ticket & bring a friend for FREE OR $150 for a foursome of Canadian wine lovin’ friends

Canadian cheese too!

What goes best with Canadian wines?  Canadian artisan cheese of course! Cheesemakers & our Cheese Sommelier will be serving samples of award-winning cheeses that you can buy onsite too.

 

Look who is coming:

From British Columbia…

Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery
Sperling Vineyards
Abeego

From Niagara…  

Legends Estates Winery
Reif Estate Winery
The Good Earth Food & Wine Co.
Two Sisters Vineyards
Westcott Vineyards
Vieni Estates 

From Prince Edward County…

Casa-Dea Estates Winery
Huff Estates
Karlo Estates
Keint-he Winery & Vineyards
Kinsip House of Fine Distillers
Trail Estate Winery

From other corners of Ontario & Ottawa…

Copper Tree Creative Studio
Mariposa Dairy
Pure Bread Bakery
Sprucewood Handmade Cookie Co.
St-Albert Cheese Co-op
The Merry Dairy
Top Shelf Preserves

From Quebec…

Ferme Guy Rivest
Fromagerie Montebello
Fromagerie Nouvelle-France
Fromagerie du Presbytere
Vignoble Carone Wines

From P.E.I…

COWS Creamery

From Nova Scotia…

Gaspereau Vineyards
Jost Wines

 

Wine Shopping Heaven! 

At this Taste & Buy event, EVERYTHING is 100% Canadian.

Create your own combo of Canadian wines to have delivered to your home after the event. You won’t find any of the featured wines at the LCBO – the wines will be delivered straight from the winery anywhere in Canada directly to you.  AND…there’s FREE shipping on 6 or more bottles of your top picks.

Bring a picnic basket & fill it up with artisan cheeses & gourmet treats too.

 

TIP: Be a V.I.T!

What’s a V.I.T? A Very Important Taster.  With 100+ wines, cheeses & goodies to try, purchase your tickets then upgrade each person for an additional $25 to get a V.I.T. Pass.   

You’ll enjoy red carpet treatment with advance access from 5 to 7pm to spend more time sipping & meeting the makers.  Stay as long as you like for the main event.

Buy your Ticket & V.I.T. Pass >>

 

Don’t miss this all-Canadian celebration! 

Buy your tickets >>   Event Deets

DATE: Thursday June 22 – next week!
VENUE: Horticulture Building @ Lansdowne Complex in Ottawa

TIMES:
V.I.T. Reception – 5 to 7pm ($25 upgrade pass per person is required)
Main Event – 7 to 9pm

ADVANCE TICKETS ONLY: $80 + bring a friend FREE  OR  Group of 4 people for $150
IDEA: Take the bus.  OC Transpo is FREE – simply show a printout of your ticket.

 

Wear Red & White…Win $50

Be a proud Canadian  – come to this Taste & Buy event dressed head to toe in red & white and we’ll automatically give you $50 off your ticket to our next Savvy Event.

 

Unable to make it, but want to order?

Don’t sweat it!  The Savvy Team will help you stock up on featured wines showcased at this event. Call 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us & we’ll send you the complete list of wines & online order form.  You too can get FREE shipping – your order needs to be received by midnight on Sunday June 25.

 

WIN TICKETS!  Go on the Savvy Scavenger Hunt…

Find this video on our Facebook or Instagram pages, then…LIKE it & POST the name of your favorite Canadian wine.  On Monday, we’ll pick 2 lucky people to receive a pair of tickets & V.I.T. Passes to join us at Oh Canada! Celebrate Red & White.  It’s easy to win!  On your mark…Get Set…GO!!!

 

Psst…it’s Father’s Day weekend!

Yikes…totally forgot? Our #1 Father’s Day gift is a subscription to our Savvy Hip Hops beer-o-month club.

Click here to subscribe your Dad for 4 or 6 months & his fridge will auto-magically be filled with the best craft beers from a different Ontario brewery each month – bottles, growlers & cans not available at LCBO or The Beer Store.  100% guaranteed to make your Dad smile from beer to beer!

 

We’re hiring…

We have cool summer job opportunities for a high school or university students to work with the Savvy Team at Savvy HQ in Ottawa. We’re looking for creative & savvy students who are keen to learn about Canadian wine, artisan cheese, craft beer & cider.

Interested?  Contact us on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send your resume to cheers@savvycompany.ca

 

Happy Birthday Canada!
Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)
cheers@savvycompany.ca
www.savvycompany.ca

Keep in touch with us…
@SavvyDebbie
@SavvyCompany
@SavvyWines
@SavvyHipHops
@SavvyCoolCurds
#CountyintheCapital
www.facebook.com/SavvyCompany
instagram.com/savvycompanyinc

 

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12 Outstanding Cheeses of 2014

Posted by Vanessa

Friday, January 16th, 2015
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Love cheese?  You’ll love this shopping list!  Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons compiled this list of her ‘top cheeses of 2014’ for www.cheeselover.ca.  It is so delicious that we’re sharing it with you!

Keep this handy for your next visit to one of these artisan artisan cheese shops.

Celtic Blue Reserve

Glengarry Celtic Blue Reserve

Glengarry Fine Cheese has made another winner!  Located in Eastern Ontario just north of the village of Lancaster, they specializing in fine artisan style cheeses from cow & goat milk. This results in delicious, fine cheese that is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted!

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: This reserve blue cheese is even more robust, buttery than the regular Celtic Blue we know and love from Glengarry Fine Cheese

Taliah

Taliah is a finished cotton cheddar aged 1 year, manufactured by Olivier Ducharme of Fromagerie Du Charme in St-Rémi-de-Tingwick, Québec

Taliah

Taliah has a welcoming aroma that is clean and earthy. Made from unpasteurized milk (not raw but thermized, meaning it undergoes heat treatment but not at high temperatures as in the pasteurization process). The wheel is aged 10 months to a year. There is a smooth richness in each bite, with the added bonus of those crunchy tyrosine crystals one finds in a the classic Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Sweet, clean milk notes woven with a gentle tanginess and a good balance of salt. The finish mirrored what I love in a good, aged sheep’s-milk cheese – mellow, creamy notes that have complexity and length. The texture clinched the deal, crumbly but not dry.

Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar

Lenberg Classic ReserveA special creation from Mariposa Dairy located near Lindsay, Ontario in the City of Kawartha Lakes. This award winning cheese is handcrafted in small batches using premium Ontario goat’s milk, resulting in a unique and delightful cheese. Once the wheel has been crafted, it is carefully wrapped in its bandage to preserve freshness and flavor. After aging in a humidity controlled room for 12 months, the cheese is ready to enjoy.

Perfectly creamy and buttery, with the slight tang of goat’s milk and a hard, crumbly texture, this cheese is a perfect alternative to cow’s milk cheddars.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Continues to wow me year after year. Tangy, fruity, yet clean.

Bonnechere

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe signature cheese from Back Forty Artisan Cheese  – a small farm nestled in the heart of the Lanark Highlands.  Cheesemaker Jeff Fenwick and his original raw ewe milk cheeses have grown to become favorites of top chefs and cheese lovers alike.

A distinct feature of Bonnechere cheese is the rind that is toasted over an open flame before aging. This painstaking process, traditional for certain Basque cheeses, imparts a delicious caramel essence which permeates the body of the cheeses as it ages, and provides a delicious contrast to the tangy and fruity body of the cheese.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: One-of-a-kind and very rare to find aged. Packs a punch of flavour with awesome bite on the finish.

Magie De Madawaska

Produced by Fromagerie le Détour in Témiscouate-sur-le-lac in Québec

Magie de MadawaskaThis soft, washed-rind cheese is made with pasteurized whole milk that comes exclusively from Jersey cows from the Témiscouata region. Its orange rind is shiny, soft and sticky, sometimes displaying white moss spots. Like the rind, the ivory-coloured interior is sticky. It is chalkier at the centre and smoother towards the exterior. Its texture is supple even when the cheese is young, but as it ages, its chalky part fades and the interior becomes smooth and runny.

When it is older, it becomes so runny that it might call for a spoon. Magie de Madawaska has a mild, lactic, woody and earthy aroma that becomes more pronounced with age. Its taste varies from mild to strong, with an earthy, roasted hazelnut and lactic (melted butter) flavour.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Runny, lucious, creamy, buttery, nutty and ooey-gooey good when perfectly à point (cheese-speak: fully ripened).

Bella Casara Mascarpone

Canadian Cheese AwardsCrafted by Quality Cheese who specialize in fine soft cheeses – Boccancini, Borgonzola, Mozarella, Riccotta as well as select semi-soft & hard cheeses.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Rich, and oh so sinful, with flavors of butter, cream and a hint of sweet dulce de leche (to quote myself!). Hard not to eat right from the spoon.

 

Quality Cheese burrataQuality Cheese Hand-Pulled Burrata

Another winner by Quality Cheese.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Heaven. Pure indulgence. Need I say more?

 

Sylvan Star Natural Smoked Gouda

Sylvan Star Farms smoked goudaSylvan Star Cheese Farm, of Red Deer Alberta, makes their cheese from heat-treated milk which contains no additives, no antibiotics and is lactose free. They produce Gouda, Edam, sheep Manchego & Gruyere cheese at their farm.  They smoke their Goudas to perfection in their own smokehouse – mild or medium, take your pick.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Surprising! Hints of bacon, maple and smoke, with an overlay of butter and nut rounding out its smooth and supple texture.

Chever a ma maniereChèvre a Ma Maniere

Made by Fromagerie L’Atelier is located in central Quebec and specializing in goat and cow milk cheese.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Elegant, delicate, tender, yeasty, gorgeous!

 La Madeleine

La madelaine cheeseIn 2009, Jean-Paul and Marie-Chantal Houde (brother and sister) decided to join forces to develop a dairy barn project and cheese that is structured and rewarding for the family farm, Fromagerie Nouvelle FranceSince opening in 2010, Fromagerie Nouvelle France has won more than 18 awards in various competitions, including the Best Cheese From Québec in 2011 and 2014 for their signature Zacharie Cloutier.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Soft and sweet, with a hint of sour finish.

Pont Blanc

Au Gres des ChampsProduced by Au Gré des Champs in Québec, is a farmstead artisan-made cheese that is ladled into a mold. It is a month the first raw milk cheeses aged under 60 to be made in Canada.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Texture of soft ice cream sandwich with flavours and aromas of fresh sweet milk and grass that lingers and lingers.

Laliberté

laliberteIn 2005 the old presbytery at Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick was transformed into a cheese production site, Fromagerie du Presbytere…making outstanding artisanal cheeses. The milk from the farm only has to cross the road to get to the fromagerie, which operates 7 days/week.

Laliberté is a triple cream cheese, made with whole milk. Its wonderful bloomy rind surrounds a melting paste with an exquisite creamy mushroom flavour & its name comes from the name of the sculptor, Alfred Laliberté.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Cheesecake-like luxury, silky, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

 

Pace yourself this is a cheese smorgasbord for anyone.
Bon appetite!

 

Photo credits: Thanks to Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons, CheeseLover.ca as well as the cheese producers for these photos.

 

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Wheying in on Quebec’s top cheeses

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
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Have you ever tasted cheese? I mean really tasted it. Rolled it around with your tongue and let it linger on the roof of your mouth? Cheese eating is a sensual and sensory pleasure according to Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons. “You want the cheese to go right to the back of your mouth, popped up where the peanut butter used to get stuck when you were a kid, and swish it all the way around so you are absolutely coating your palate and getting all of your taste buds working,” she advises.

Vanessa Simmons is openly fanatical about artisan cheeses

Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese SommelierI met Simmons at a tutored tasting for Quebec cheeses at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, in June. The Festival, showcasing the best Canadian cheeses under one roof, attracted 4,000 cheese lovers this year. Artisan cheeses from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Alberta were all on offer.

One-third of the producers were from Quebec, Canada’s leading cheese-making region. According to Simmons, Quebec cheese makers are well organized and funded, share knowledge, are well informed by international research and display superior craftsmanship.

Tasting – REALLY tasting – your cheese

Simmons is passionate about cheese and even has a cow named after her. She led a two-hour Quebec cheese tasting and advised on proper tasting technique. The cheeses on our plates ranged from light to robust. We were given three choices for pairing — Keint-He Winery’s 2010 Pinot Squared, Stanners Vineyards 2010 Lincoln Lakeshore Chardonnay or Beau’s Beaver River beer. “At the end of the tasting you should not just taste cheese on the back of your palate, otherwise your wine is not bold enough to stand up to that cheese. If all you taste is wine or beer, there’s not enough going on with that cheese — it’s not big enough,” she said.

Premium Goat Milk Cheddar, Back Forty Artisan Cheese Co. and Black River Cheese CompanySimmons encouraged us to get physical with our cheese, to rip each piece in two and examine the formation of the curds inside. We noted whether the cheese broke evenly or if there was a jagged edge. We considered whether the cheese was made from a mould or hand crafted with care. We examined the outside, inside, colour and texture and noticed if the cheeses were creamy, hard, glistening or runny.

Then we savoured the fabulous cheeses of popular producers such as Fromagerie Médard, Fromagerie du Presbytère, Fromagerie Nouvelle France and Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent.

Fromagerie Médard: Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean Region

Normand Côté is the fifth generation owner of Domaine de la Rivière, a farm in Saint-Gédéon, Québec, two hours north of Montreal. The dairy, Fromagerie Médard, named after Médard Côté, the son of the original landowner, uses milk from the farm’s Brown Swiss cows. Fromagerie staff member Diane Paget explained that the taste of the cheese varies depending on what the cows ate: “Was it just pasture or was it augmented because of a sparse year?”

Belle mère cheese Fromagerie MédardOn hand at the Festival were two Fromagerie Médard cheeses. The first one, Belle-Mère (in photo at left), an orange-brown washed rind semi-firm cheese was made from pasteurized milk and aged for three months. Washed rind cheeses are bathed in liquid, usually salted water, wine, brandy, local spirits, or herbs making them susceptible to bacteria that break down the curd from the outside, resulting in a more pungent flavour. The Belle-Mère with big buttery notes and aromas of lilac and lavender won a 2012 Selection Caseus award in the semi-firm, cow’s milk cheese category. Also made with pasteurized cow’s milk, 14 arpents, aged 30 days, was creamy and full of flavour, with the slight taste of hazelnut.

Fromagerie du Presbytère: centre-du-Québec Region

The Morin family has operated the Louis d’Or farm in Warwick, Quebec for four generations. In 1980, the farm went organic. Holstein and Jersey cows chow down on dry hay, clover, timothy grass, bluegrass and other organic grains and are not injected with antibiotics or hormones. “This dairy really pushes the envelope with raw cheese and more layers of complexity. They are more true to traditional cheese making,” says Simmons. A renovated church rectory built in 1936 houses the dairy. Friday nights are a celebration of cheese and community. Visitors converge on the rectory lawn with bottles of wine and beer to enjoy fresh cheese, music and bread.

bleu elizabethFromagerie du Presbytère took three awards at the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, Best Blue and Best Organic for Bleu d’Élizabeth (photo at left) and Best Swiss-type Cheese for Louis d’Or, aged for 18 months. I sampled four Fromagerie du Presbytère cheeses.

The Brie Paysan, a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese had a bloomy rind and soft paste that melted in my mouth. Bloomy rind cheeses are covered with Penicillium candidum forming a white casing causing the cheese to ripen from the outside and become soft and runny on the inside. The vegetal, grassy and fungal notes offered an amazing expression of terroir.

Laliberté is a triple cream cheese, made with whole organic milk and aged for 45 days. The bloomy rind surrounds a soft paste with mushroom flavour and a creamy mouthfeel.

Louis d'Or cheeseLouis D’Or, made from raw organic cow’s milk is crafted in 40-kilogram wheels and develops complex flavours after nine months of ripening. This washed rind, firm pressed, cooked paste cheese has nutty and fruity aromas.

Bleu d’Élizabeth is a semi-soft fruit-flavoured cheese made from non-pasteurized milk, displaying blue and greenish veins resulting from the presence of Penicillium roqueforti.

Fromagerie Nouvelle France: Eastern Townships

A young brother and sister team, Marie-Chantal and Jean-Paul Houde, started a sheep farm and a cheese-making operation, the Fromagerie Nouvelle France in 2010. Jean-Paul tends to a herd of over 200 East Friesian sheep on the 250-acre farm in the village of Racine. Marie-Chantal makes cheese.

Fromagerie Nouvelle France’s signature cheese, Zacharie Cloutier, is a raw sheep’s milk cheese, named for an ancestor who came to Canada from France in 1634. This ancestor is also said to be a distant relative of Céline Dion. In its first appearance at the 2011 Selection Caseus awards, Zacherie Cloutier won gold for the best cheese in Quebec in all categories. This orange washed rind, firm pressed cheese, aged for six months, exudes aromas of butter and caramel.

Le pionnier cheeseLe Pionnier, a cheese-making partnership between Fromagerie Presbytère and Fromagerie Nouvelle France is a 40-kilogram wheel made of raw sheep’s and cow’s milk coming from the cheese maker’s herds. The cheese is a “great marriage of cow’s milk cheese according to Morin’s tradition, and sheep’s milk cheese, according to Houde’s tradition,” offers Simmons. Le Pionnier is a firm cheese with a bit of washed rind, a dense cheese texture and some earthiness, and is very robust. Aged for 10 to 12 months, Le Pionnier displays complex aromas of butter, brown sugar and macadamia nuts with a delicate floral note. As Simmons says, “This cheese says ‘look at me’ and is very indicative of their personalities. They are very outspoken cheese makers.”

Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent: Iles de la Madeleine

In 1998, Jérémie Arseneau brought over a herd of Canadienne cows, a small black heritage breed, from Saint-Simon-de-Rimouski and l’île Verte to Îles-de-la-Madeleine. He launched the Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent and began cheese production on islands traditionally known for a strong fishing industry.

Pied du Vent cheesePied-du-Vent (photo at left) is a whole milk, soft surface-ripened cheese with a bloomy natural rind and a dominant flavour of hazelnuts. Surface-ripened cheeses have mould on the rind, ripening the surface first and then the inside.

Tomme Des Desmoiselles is a raw milk thermalized cheese in a gouda-like style with a washed rind. The cheese is full and robust with a fruit aroma. You get a bit of salt in the cheese because the cows graze on hay and grasses around the edge of the island and right on the border of the St. Lawrence River. Two beautiful small hills on the Havre Aubert landscape inspired the fromagerie in the creation of this cheese.

Plan your route of Quebec cheeses from east to west

To sample some stellar cheeses, take a tour on La Route des Fromages du Quebec linking producers across the province. Enjoy the ride through Quebec’s scenic countryside. Many barns are open, allowing direct access to goats, sheep, cows or calves.

Ontario cheese tasting trails

In Ontario, check out Oxford County’s new cheese trail to see a life-sized statue of record-setting milk producer Springbank Snow Countess, or be a cheese maker for a day. Or head for the Taste Trail in Prince Edward County for a quick calcium fix. You’ll develop a whole new appreciation for fromage.

 

This article was written by Merle Rosenstein, a freelance travel, food and beverage writer.
Click here to see this article as it appeared in
Quench Magazine.

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These Canadian cheeses are medal worthy!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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This week our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons is one of 10 judges in the first Canadian Cheese Awards Surrounded by over 250 wedges of cheeses & sampling all day long is hard job. . .  but Vanessa is happy to do it!

“I am delighted & honoured to be a judge for this brand new competition of Canadian cheeses.  There are many Canadian artisan cheeses that win international awards, the time is ripe to have the Canadian Cheese Awards,” shares Vanessa.

Neal's Yard Dairy: Mecca for cheese lovers. Photo: Julia Rogers.Georgs Kolesnikovs from CheeseLover.ca and the organizer of the Great Canadian Cheese Festival is the main man behind the scenes of this ground breaking competition.   While organizing the awards, Georgs called out to his cheese industry friends (including Vanessa) asking them for their top cheese picks of the year.  Here’s the Best Bites: Outstanding cheeses of 2013 as published on CheeseLover.ca.

Only one imported cheese – Taleggio – made the 2013 most memorable list, Julia Rogers offers this ‘shopping tip’, “As far as international picks go, I’d suggest that any cheese lover make a pilgrimage to Neil’s Yard Dairy in London (photo left ). The pleasures are too many to enumerate, but this is mecca, without a doubt. And, yes, I tasted virtually everything in this photo! – Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

 

Drumroll please…Outstanding cheese of 2013

The cheeses are listed in alphabetical order, so consider this as your ABC’s of artisan cheese!

Alfred Le Fermier (24 months), Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Alfred Le Fermier is a true, rustic, organic, raw cow’s milk farmstead cheese made in small batches, pressed and cooked, washed/turned by hand, as a way of life on the farm. It has a European style, but with local terroir, as a result of choosing closely the hay from their local Estrie region. Note heavy woodsy, herbal and mild floral aromas, with layers of milky, grassy and buttery complexity on the palette, more pronounced when aged for 24 months. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Beau’s Abbey Style Cheese, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
A delicious marriage of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese of Woodstock, Ontario, with Beau’s All Natural Brewing of Vankleek Hill, Ontario. This sumptuous semi-soft cheese is washed with a seasonal beer from Beau’s. Beer and cheese together, pure bliss! – Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Brebichon, Les Fromages du Verger
I simply adore Brebichon, a farmstead sheep milk cheese that is oh so creamy, delicate and lucious. This apple juice washed cheese is an absolute must buy on every stop I make at Fromagerie Atwater in Montréal. – Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

Chemin Hatley, Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Made with organic raw milk from a closed herd of fourth-generation family-farmed cows, this cheese readily fulfills its potential. Supple and fragrant, with yeasty and savoury aromas, and a long layered finish. – Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

Crottin à ma Manière, Fromagerie L’Atelier
The goat’s milk cheese Crottin à ma Manière from Simon Hamel at Fromagerie l’Atelier in the Bois-Francs region of Québec surpasses famed Chavignol of France, is much cheaper and it’s federally licensed. – Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Dragon’s Breath Blue, That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm
A rare find and 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalist, Dragon’s Breath Blue is a closely guarded family secret. Unique in shape and size, these small cylinders of blue cheese are aged only a few weeks then coated with wax for ripening another 2-6 months. The flavor and texture varies by season, more buttery/creamy in the summer months with higher fat content in the milk. Note sharp blue flavor, moist texture with fruity notes, and little blue veining depending on exposure to air. More than worth the shipping charges! – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Figaro from Glengarry Fine Cheese. Photo: Vanessa Simmons.

Figaro, Glengarry Fine Cheese (left)
I choose Figaro from Glengarry–not that I don’t love (and love the Global award!) for the Lankaaster Aged but I kind of forgot about the amazingly fresh and delicate qualities. And we found each other again this year–lucky for me. – Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail 

Fleur des Monts, La Moutonnière
Not as consistent as one might want, though still an ambitious and expressive farmstead cheese modeled loosely after Manchego, but more floral, bright and pungent. – Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture 

Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese
I’ve served the Grizzly Gouda from Sylvan Star many times at events or at home this year and it is outstanding in its complexity, looooong finish and “ability to wow” factor. – Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail 

La Sauvagine Réserve, La Maison Alexis de Portneuf
Somehow the cheesemakers at Alexis de Portneuf improved their already mouth-watering, soft, mixed rind La Sauvagine cheese. What did they do? Add cream to it, making it a triple crème. Grab some of this cheese while you can. A limited amount of this OMG mouth experience was created. – Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Laliberté, Fromagerie du Presbytère,
 I have to start with Laliberté from Fromagerie du Presbytere–the triple cream that I could not stop eating, and made from organic milk to boot. – Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail

Lankaaster Aged, Glengarry Fine Cheese
Supreme Global Champion at the 2013 Global Cheese Awards, this firm to hard cow’s milk cheeses comes shaped in a loaf or wheel, covered in a waxy rind, and is a Gouda-style after Dutch farmstead cheeses. It’s a rich, dense, chewy cheese with intense buttery, fruity, caramelized nutty flavors that linger forever. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Le Vlimeux, Fromagerie Le Mouton Blanc
It’s not hard to see how this multiple Caseus award-winning cheese is smokin’ hot! Vlimeux is a firm, pressed, uncooked raw sheep’s milk cheese, with a hard, waxy, glossy, caramel-hued rind. Smoke, salt and nut permeate the interior overlaying the cheese’s natural sweet milky flavors in a perfect complement. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Maple Cheddar, Black River Cheese
 What could be more Canadian than Black River’s Maple Cheddar? This cheese provides a bite that is perfectly balanced between sweet and savoury, and just —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
Okay, this is part of the cheese but my wife and I cannot resist adding small cubes of it into our soups, chili, tomato sauce and risotto. The dried rind softens in the broth, releasing its flavour and becomes chewable. We love it so much that we actually have to buy some from our local grocery store. – Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Pont Blanc, Fromagerie Au Grés Des Champs
Pont Blanc is a soft, lactic, surface ripened cow milk cheese. A rare find outside the farmstead retail store, the skin-like rind on this beauty reminds of intricate ivory lace, while the dense interior has the texture of a soft cream sandwich and moist piece of cheesecake. Note pronounced flavors and aromas of fresh sweet milk, and grass that linger and linger. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Ricotta, Quality Cheese
The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Grand Champion, the humble Ricotta from Quality Cheese reigned supreme, winning against more than 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first ever for both an Ontario cheese and a fresh category cheese. Fresh, creamy, melt in your mouth Ricotta (which means re-cooked in Italian, as it’s made from the leftover whey after making other cheese). Very light, but rich, and very versatile as a simple cheese to eat with a variety of garnishes/condiments or used in cooking. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company 

Taleggio, Northern Italy
Taleggio (1996 Italian DOP) has and will always be in my Top 10. It’s a semi-soft, washed rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that is named after Val Taleggio where it has been made since the 10th century. The cheese has a thin crust and a strong aroma, but its flavour is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang. – Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Water Buffalo Mozzarella, Old West Ranch

James Meservy deserves a medal for perseverance! He has faced many challenges in the last two years in his attempt to bring high quality Old West Ranch Water Buffalo Mozzarella to the artisan Canadian cheese market. When it is in its finest form, it is dense and velvety without being the least bit rubbery and sweetly milky with a tangy underpinning that keeps us reaching for more. – Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant

 

 

Flavoured cheeses

It is surprising, even to me, that two of my three faves of 2013 are flavoured cheeses, which to me is a testimony to high-quality cheesemaking. Flavours that meld with the cheese substrate where the cheese and the flavour counterpart do a sublime dance.  – Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant

Ruckles, Salt Spring Island Cheese Company David Wood knocks it out of the park, again. In a sea of so many pedestrian offerings of marinated goat cheese, Ruckles is in class all its own. Firm yet silkily textured cylinders of cheese are bathed in grapeseed oil which is speckled with a mix of thyme, rosemary, chives and garlic, in perfect proportion.

Chili Pecorino, The Cheesiry The Chili Pecorino is one of my favourite offerings from Rhonda Zuk Headon’s repertoire. The balance of chilis embedded in this toothsome cheese provides a gentle heat that lingers on the palate while the nutty, olive flavour of this sheep milk cheese still holds its own. Not an easy accomplishment but Rhonda pulls it off!

Cheese fondues

Cheese fondue, the melted-cheese dish popular some years ago, is making a comeback—but without the classic ingredients of Comté, Beaufort, Gruyere or Emmental.

Four new ready-to-eat Cheese Fondues arrived on the market in 2013. All amazing, with either Louis d’Or, 14 Arpents or Victor et Berthold or the one from Charlevoix with both 1608 and Hercule in the box!  – Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

One of my best bites was a fondue made from Victor et Berthold, a beautiful washed rind from Fromagerie Du Champ a la Meule in Québec. This cheese made one of the most delicious fondues of all time. It made me very happy. – Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

 

Spend a day with Vanessa & learn all about cheese!

Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese SommelierThis is every cheese lover’s dream – join us for a fun-filled day with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons. Nibble & nosh all day as Vanessa introduces you to cheeses from around the world, share stories about cheesemakers & show you the ‘whey’ as you learn cheese-y lingo, how artisan cheese is made, tips on buying cheese. . . and loads more!

To top it all off, your tastebuds will be put to the ‘test’ by sampling wines & craft beers to decide which really is the best pairing with cheese.

Date: Saturday March 22 – 10:30am to 4:30pm
Location: MUST Kitchen & Wine Bar – Ottawa
Savvy Special: $140 before March 15 (reg $155).  Includes everything as well as gourmet lunch

This Cheese ‘Class’ will sell out fast! > >

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Pairing Cheese with Craft Beers

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, June 28th, 2012
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Amongst the kettles, bags of hops and bottling lines four family run brewpubs and breweries – Kichesippi Beer Company, Ashton Brewing Company, Big Rig Brewery, The Clock Tower Pub celebrated Ontario Craft Beer Week at Savvy Company’s Artisan Cheese & Craft Beer Tasting.  For more pictures of this fun event, visit Savvy Company’s Facebook album.

As Paul Meek, owner of Kichesippi, told the sold out crowd, “while there are lots of beers here, artisan cheese and Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons will be the rockstars”.   I selected regional artisan cheeses that would shine on their own, while provide a delicious compliment to the evening’s feature local brews.

Beer and cheese share a common origin – grain (beer made from grain, barley for example), and grain is fed to dairy animals, so with this cycle, it’s no wonder that the two are a true match. Engrained in ancient history, they are both primal foods: beer as the oldest fermented beverage and cheese with origins dating back to 8000 BCE.

Cheese and beer pairing is refreshing .  Beer balances out the salt content in cheese and cuts through protein/fats that sit on the tongue allowing a better tasting experience. I suggest to pair your cheese with a beer taking into consideration the weight of both, to ensure that one does not overpower the other (heavy beers with stronger cheeses – perfect match!).

 At the event, crowd favorite cheese and craft beer pairings included:

CHEESE: Goat Gouda  from Clarmell Farms, Osgoode, Ontario (goat milk)
BEER: Clocktower Kolsch or Ashton Blueberry Wheat

CHEESE: Bonnechere from Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Lanark, Ontario (sheep milk)
BEER: Big Rig Hefeweizen Wheat

CHEESE: Réserve La Pérade from Fromagerie F.X. Pichet Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec (cow milk)
BEER: Clocktower Red

CHEESE: Gré des Champs from Fromagerie Au Gré des Champs , Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Québec (cow milk)
BEER: Kichesippi 1855

CHEESE: Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from Cow’s Creamery, Prince Edward Island (cow milk)
BEER: Ashton Brown Ale

CHEESE: Bleu D’Élizabeth from Fromagerie du Presbytère, Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, Québec (cow milk)
BEER: Kichesippi Heller High Water or Ashton Brown Ale

 

Where to buy these artisan cheeses?

Here’s my shopping list of where to find the beer friendly cheeses in Ottawa & area:

Goat Gouda – Clarmell Farms/Glengarry Fine Cheese
Available from:  Clarmell Farms/Glengarry Fine Cheese, Serious Cheese Shop, Ottawa Farmer’s Market (Brewer Park), Kanata Farmer’s Market

Bonnechere – Back Forty Artisan Cheese
Available from: FoodSmiths in Perth, Serious Cheese, The Piggy Market, Carp Farmer’s Market

Réserve La Pérade – Fromagerie F.X. Pichet
Available from: La Trappe A Fromage

Gré des Champs – Fromagerie Au Gré des Champs
Available from: La Trappe A Fromage

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar – Cow’s Creamery
Available from:  Serious Cheese Shop, Farm Boy

Bleu D’Élizabeth – Fromagerie du Presbytère
Available from: La Trappe A Fromage, Ottawa Bagel Shop, Jacobsons Gourmet Concepts

 

Looking to discover more artisan cheeses? Every 2 weeks, I feature a different artisan cheese in my blog: Curd on the Street  Enjoy! 

 

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The Best of the Fest …Cheese Festival that is!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, June 14th, 2012
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I laughed, I cried (they were tears of joy for the abundance of cheese), and ate a heck of a lot of cheese. Close to 4000 cheeselovers assembled in Picton, (aka Prince Edward County) June 1st to 3rd to celebrate their love for curd at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. A plethora of over 125 different types of cheese showcasing our nation’s best from PEI to Vancouver Island were ripe and ready – soft cheese, hard cheese, blue cheese, stinky cheese, pungent cheese, young and old cheese, rustic cheese, raw cheese, and sheep, cow, goat and even buffalo milk cheese.  Joining them in the Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair were all the best compliments to cheese — artisan foods of crackers, breads, charcuterie, jams, chutneys, jellies, honey, and fine wines, ciders, and craft beer.

I was adamant to not miss a single second of my cheesey weekend, and so planned to leave on Thursday early evening.  After packing the car to the hilt with event supplies, my large electric cooler, and other cheesey bits and pieces for my tutored tasting I was on the road again, although much later than expected, but happy my destination yet again involved cheese.  Of course, I had to fit in a last minute stop/cheese pick up at Clarmell Farms on the way, for chèvre & goat gouda cheese as a special treat for the Cooks & Curds Gala chefs on Saturday night.  Big hugs and thanks to Paul & Grace Mussell for the snack & extra coffee to keep me awake as I hit the road.

Rain, rain go away!  Friday began ducking raindrops during quick wine stops at Rosehall Run & Huff Estates before heading to the Crystal Palace to check out the site and check in for volunteer duties.  Despite crappy weather, the show must go on – dedicated volunteers diligently worked to set up the site, get exhibitors moved in, assemble registration packages, complete guest cooler bags, get volunteers oriented, cut & organize cheese, direct trucks/rentals arriving, set up special event facilities, and decorate, among many other logistical tasks. Amid very organized chaos, everyone silently prayed as one mind to the cheese gods for beautiful weather Saturday and Sunday (thank you, cheese gods).  Friday ended with a casual meet & greet of the stellar lineup of chefs featured at Saturday’s Cooks & Curds Gala, courtesy of Swallow’s Ivy Knight, chef wrangler extraordinaire, Ottawa’s own Michael Blackie  – Executive Chef of the National Arts Centre – among them.

Saturday started peacefully with more prayers (thank you, cheese gods) and quickly turned to cheese frenzy with tutored tastings on cheddar & cheese 101, ongoing demos, sampling of all kinds, a cheese food court, Food Network celebrity Bob Blumer’s grilling artisan cheese pizza, and me taking it all in from behind the scenes helping cheesemakers, selling cheese, and organizing hospitality for the chefs, post-gala.  Congrats to Chef Michael Blackie for top honors for the second year in a row, recognized by the People’s Choice Award he shared with Montreal’s Francois Gagnon at Cooks & Curds for his delicious Highland Blue Cubic Melt.   An outstanding 400 guests took part in the strolling dinner.

Family day Sunday arrived too early after a late night, but provided more of an opportunity to chill & chat with the Quebec cheesemakers featured in my “Taste of Quebec” tutored session and sample my picks one last time.  I wandered at a more leisurely pace to nibble on yet more cheese, take in the milking demo, photograph Yvette the water buffalo in the dairy farm before showcasing the best of La Belle Provence. I was pleasantly surprised to see friend & Ottawa cheesemonger Peter Fiander volunteering with the prep team in the kitchen under the guidance of newly certified Cheese Sommelier and festival cheesemonger Jackie Armet.  Thanks to Savour Ottawa member Maggie Paradis, of Fromagerie les Folies Bergères for the spotlight goat milk cheese on my plate – soft, surface-ripened La Sorcière Bien Aimée.  Made on April 24, our advanced planning made sure it was perfectly “à point”.  Jackie’s daughter Clare can certainly attest – she enjoyed every finger lickin’ moment of it.

Volunteering is a great way to get closer to cheese, meet cheesemakers and increase your cheese IQ.  Consider joining the cheese team for 2013.

All in all it was a whirlwind, but super cheesey weekend.  Here’s my roundup of “Best of the Fest” and here’s a look at the photos I took too!  Just looking at them will make you hungry!

–  Monforte Dairy launching a new Spanish-styled, dry, crumbly, pasteurized sheep’s milk blue – rustic, powerful – and in need of a name – tweet @monfortedairy  if you have ideas for Ruth.  The Piggy Market carry Monforte products locally.  My tasting notes for Black Sheep can be found here

–  Glengarry Fine Cheese expanding their horizons with a new artisan buffalo milk blue and goat gouda made with milk from Clarmell Farms. Often found at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market, Thyme & Again Creative Catering, Farm Boy, Sobey’s, The Piggy Market, and Serious Cheese

– Tosano sheep’s milk cheese from Mariposa DairyI was thrilled to again try my outstanding cheese bite for 2011, Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar which is rarely available anywhere – if you see it, snap it up without hesitation.

–  New friends at Seed to Sausage – best pairing of charcuterie for cheese around (also great party pals).  Available at The Ottawa Bagel Shop & The Piggy Market locally as well as being featured at Play Food & Wine, Beckta Dining & Wine, Murray Street Kitchen, and Town, among others. The venison and fennel salami was a fave.  Thanks again for your support!

–  Shout out to budding cheesemakers at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese – in business for a mere 6 months now, and new on the Ontario cheesemaking scene with Gouda & Swiss style soft, firm and hard farmstead cow’s milk cheeses.

–  BackForty Artisan Cheese, even with a change of ownership to Jeff & Jenna Fenwick still continues to shine with Madawaska, Bonnechere, and beautiful rustic wheels of Highland Blue.  We look forward to tasting Jeff’s own creations in 2013 (or sooner in Ottawa!).  Look for them at the Carp Farmer’s market on Saturdays.

–  Cheesewerksthrilled to see my old cheesey classmate Kevin’s dream turned into reality – well done on the branding and delivering on the promise of superb artisan grilled cheese, as the festival’s Official Grilled Cheese.

–   Michael’s Dolce – with new Rhubarb & Black Pepper Jam (pair with Coulée Douce, Laliberté, Riopelle, Bliss or Figaro) & unbelievable Citrus Ginger Chutney (fresh chèvre, Sorcière Bien Aimée).  Peach Cardamom Jam is my pick for his most versatile, goes with every cheese flavor.  I had fun making pairing recommendations on the fly as we chatted with visitors at the Taste of Ottawa booth.

–   Thanks to friends of cheese – wine & craft beer makers Karlo Estates, Rosehall Run, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company & Barley Days Brewery for the donations to keep our Cooks & Curds Gala chefs happy (very important to keep the chefs happy, so huge thank you!)

–  Hats off to The Ontario Waterbuffalo Company/Quality Cheese for their first ever cheddar made from waterbuffalo milk.  Mild, creamy & a great snack.

–  Always great to see friends Vicki from Empire Cheese (very creative, your new cheddars flavored with Mrs. McGarrigle’s Mustards), Black River Cheese (love Maple Cheddar), Best Baa Dairy (wouldn’t be a cheese fest without you, Eweda, Mouton Rouge & Ramembert), and the team from Glen Echo – featuring Cow’s Creamery Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from PEI, Salt Spring Island Cheese (oh, Juliette!) & Kootenay Alpine Cheeses (Alpindon made its way into Bob Blumer’s blue cheese cappuccino)

Sightings of cheeseheads young and old sparks  an idea for 2013 – think there should be a cheesehead fashion show next year Georgs? King & Queen Curd perhaps?

–   Lise Morrisette & Plaisirs Gourmets who brought Quebec to Ontario including the talented Marie-Chantal Houde Fromagerie Nouvelle France maker of multi award-winning Zacharie Clouthier, her raw sheep’s milk cheese.  And, Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère  – his cheeses were an easy sell – they speak for themselves – Brie Paysan showing especially ripe & ready with rustic vegetal aromas & flavors, and renowned Bleu D’Elizabeth & Louis D’or , 9 month & rare 2 year.  If you see Jean at an event, ask him for the good stuff – he usually has it along with him hiding under the counter somewhere.

–  New from Niagara – Upper Canada Cheese’s Nosey Goat Camelot alongside classic Niagara Gold – a bit reminiscent of Cape Vessey – coming along nicely as a cheese, much further developed, soft, subtle than when first released.

–   Mad Mexican’s Jose Hadad provided my snack for the drive home to Ottawa. Amazing I didn’t end up with more of his salsa, roasted tomatillo/avocado and salsa verde in my lap.

–   Lastly stunning craft beer & cider matches in Beau’s Beaver River, Mill Street Brewery’s Wit & County Cider Company’s County Cider paired with robust cheeses from my Taste of Quebec session – best with Petits Vieux (Fromagerie Médard), Zacharie Clouthier, Fleuron (Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde – it’s a beautiful thing), & Fromagerie F.X. Pichet’s organic Baluchon among others.

Hats (or cheeseheads) off to all the hardworking staff, volunteers, cheesemakers, artisan food producers, winemakers, presenters, chefs, celebrities, sponsors, speakers, supporters, mother nature and in particular, all you cheese lovers who attended for making this best celebration of Canadian curd yet.  If you didn’t make it, grab a pen and book the June 1st weekend in your calendar right now for the third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival in 2013.

My photo album of The Cheese Festival is on Savvy Company’s Facebook page – enjoy!

-Vanessa

 

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Blue cheese you’ll die for!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
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As the temperature falls, I prefer cozy evenings indoors, crackling fires, big spicy red wines & slow cooked comfort food.  And to go with them is this week’s cheese pick, the perfect cold weather curd, Bleu D’Élizabeth.  Produced by family run Fromagerie du Presbytère, in the central region of Québec, it’s named for the small, recently-restored rectory that houses the cheese factory in the village of Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick. 

This beautiful, semi-soft, raw organic cow’s milk blue cheese has a natural rind with spots of dark clay.  The creamy, silky, melt-in-your mouth paste (inside of the cheese) is speckled with blue and blue-green veins throughout from the presence of Pénicillium Roqueforti (what makes a blue cheese turn blue).  Bleu D’Élizabeth is rich in flavor, with a hint of sweetness and spice, without being overbearingly salty.  Cold Canadian nights call for this hearty blue on your cheese board, either shining on its own, or playing a starring role as your dessert plate, joined by your favorite local ice wine, iced cider or port.


FACTBOX:
Cheese:  Bleu D’Élizabeth

Producer:  Fromagerie du Presbytère
Interesting Fact: The piquant (spicy) flavor in blue cheese is a result of mold development (veins) due to exposure to air.

 

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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A winner across the board: Louis d’Or cow’s milk cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, September 8th, 2011
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The secret to exceptional cheesemaking is happy, healthy, animals, according to Jean Morin, owner of Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick. This week’s cheese pick, Louis d’Or, lets the secret out. The raw organic milk comes from neighboring Louis d’Or Farm. Jean is always excited to talk cheese with an incredible level of passion for his craft that translates directly to his products. Louis d’Or is making headlines as four-time winner at the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix for farmstead, organic, firm and overall competition Grand Champion and 3rd place award for Best In Show at the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference.

Made in monster-sized 40 kilogram wheels this washed-rind cow’s milk cheese is cooked, pressed and aged for nine to twenty-four months. Resulting is a smooth, rich-textured paste encased in an antique gold colored rind. Aromas range from butter to onion and ripe pineapple. A complex mix of sweet, salty, and dominant nutty, fruity flavors finish with a tingle that lingers thanks to raw milk.

 


FACTBOX:

Cheese: Louis d’Or

Producer: Fromagerie du Presbytère
Interesting Fact: Raw milk cheeses can be sold in Ontario if aged for a minimum 60 days; there are a few exceptions sold in Quebec, aged for less.

 

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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