We are in love! In love with Canadian cheese that is! We’re thrilled to highlight Fromagerie Nouvelle France from Racine, Quebec in this month’s Savvy Cool Curds. The hardworking, passionate sister brother team of Marie-Chantal and Jean-Paul Houde make spectacular raw and pasteurized sheep milk cheeses, winning over 20 awards since their first cheese, Zacharie Cloutier was born, including top honours for Best Cheese in Quebec, twice.
In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…
… Very special and hard-to-find artisan cheeses including:
La Madelaine 150g
Zacharie Cloutier 200g
Zacharie Cloutier 12 month 200g
Le Pionnier 200
Looking for more fabulous Nouvelle France Cheese?
Would you like more cheese from this month’s Savvy Cool Curds? Just call our Savvy Team & we’ll arrange a special shipment for you (if it is still available that is!). Put us on speed dial – Savvy Cool Curds Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email@example.com
Cheers & Enjoy!
– Vanessa & the Savvy Team
Photos by Vanessa & Fromagerie Nouvelle France unless noted.
Fromagerie Nouvelle France
by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier
I first met Marie-Chantal Houde (left in photo) during a special cheesemaking workshop I attended at my first ever cheese conference put on by the American Cheese Society, in Montreal in 2011. It’s an action packed week of learning and tastings, and networking with cheese gurus and legends in the industry, a not to miss event for cheese professionals and enthusiasts alike.
Marie-Chantal was demonstrating the making of her special Zacharie Cloutier cheese, which at that time, was brand new on the market. I was in awe of both the science and art of cheesemaking coming to life in front of my eyes as pure milk was transformed into something even greater than itself.
We take for granted the work involved in making artisan cheese, the level of skill, effort, luck and love to make such a quality product for the enjoyment of others. PH/acidity needs to be just so, a light touch or heavy hand is needed depending on the type of cheese being made. And timing is everything. As I watched Marie-Chantal she had not only the expertise, but the intuition as well which made the whole exercise look seamless, effortless and simple, and I fell in love with cheese, again. She was approachable and fun, answering my questions with interest, later inviting me to meet more of the Quebec cheesemaking crowd, and from there I was “in” as the girl from Ontario promoting Canadian cheese.
Committed to Local
Fromagerie Nouvelle France, located in the tiny village of Racine, Quebec, is a brother and sister enterprise founded in 2009. It’s the tale of family joining forces, passionate about sheep farming and raw milk and excellent quality production in the making of fine cheese. Cheesemaker Marie-Chantal studied in France, and is a sought after consultant and technical expert and industry speaker, especially in the area of raw milk cheese production. Jean-Paul Houde is the shepherd, tending to the 250-acre family farm where the siblings were born, with his expertise in animal husbandry and taking care of the land.
Over 300 East Freisian and Lacaune ewes enjoy their summers spent out in pasture among the rolling hills with beautiful vistas as their view. They are fed dry hay, which contributes to the high quality of the milk they provide, playing a huge factor in Marie-Chantal & Jean-Paul’s mission to create the best sheep’s milk cheeses in the region. The two are committed to their region; their little shop at the town’s farmer’s market promotes complimentary artisan products made in the area. They’re full of hospitality, ready to share knowledge on a farm tour, or cheesemaking stories over a glass of wine outside at the picnic table. Cheese is made at the Fromagerie du Presbytère facilities in Warwick (who we featured in November), not far away, with which they have a special partnership, friendship and shared passion.
Since their launch, every one of the Fromagerie Nouvelle France cheeses have been winning awards regionally at the Canadian Cheese Awards, and Caseus, Quebec Cheese Awards for best cheese, best soft cheese, best raw milk cheese, best in show, in North America at the American Cheese Society in multiple categories, and on the world stage at the World Cheese Awards.
As you dig into your Savvy Cool Curds this month, you’ll taste the difference excellence makes and see why Fromagerie Nouvelle France has made a name for themselves as leaders in the artisan cheese industry in Canada.
Enjoy every bite!
~ Cheese Tasting Notes ~
Below are Vanessa’s tasting notes and photos for each cheese in your Savvy Cool Curds, along with additional tidbits of interesting information, suggested food pairings & recipes to try too!
Frechette is a named for a family from both sides of the Houde clan, and is like a chèvre only made with cow’s milk, lighter and more delicate than a cream cheese, making it a heavenly choice. Another award winner for Fromagerie Nouvelle France, it took top honours in the Best Flavored Cheese category at the Canadian Cheese Awards in 2016.
Tasting Notes: This mild fresh cheese is fluffy and silky but flavourful on the palate with noticeable herb and garlic flavors.
Suggested Pairing: The sky’s the limit with this versatile yummy cheese. Tuck dollops into phyllo triangles or purses with sautéed wild mushrooms and leeks. Quickly melt for a fast and easy veggie dip. Spread on crostini and broil, topped with rosemary and honey.
La Madelaine, another tribute to Marie-Chantal’s ancestry and heritage, is a crowd-pleasing favourite, consider it one of those little luxuries of life. Soft, oozy and sinful, it’s perfectly ripe for to enjoy right now.
Tasting Notes: La Madelaine is a soft, surface ripened sheep milk cheese with a dewy, delicate bloomy rind. Inside a runny pearly colored paste bursts with flavor of sweet grass, dry hay, and sweet milk, with light mushroomy aromas.
Suggested Pairing: Enjoy with Ontario Organized Crime Pinot Gris or a Quebec Sparkling Ice Cider. Pair with fermented berry fruit flavors, cassis, sour cherry or cranberry or a local hot red pepper jelly for a complimentary zing.
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.
Tasting Notes: Marie-Chantal’s love for her craft and talent transfers to her flagship cheese. Zacharie Cloutier is a 6-month semi-cooked, firm, raw sheep’s milk cheese with a very distinct exterior basket weave design attributed to a specially selected mold that gives the cheese and apricot rind its unique appearance. Inside is a dense, meaty, bone-coloured paste that portrays a mix of complex aromas and flavors: salt, butter, hazelnut, caramel, and coconut, with a hint of ripe pineapple.
Suggested Pairing: Zacharie Cloutier is an awesome melting cheese and goes well with any stone-fruit-based jam or compote. Pair with unoaked Chardonnay.
Zacharie Cloutier – 12 Month
This mature version of Zacharie Cloutier is a rare find out of the shop and took home third place honours at the 2015 Quebec cheese awards the first year it was launched.
Tasting Notes: With age it’s rind becomes a little drier and more mottled, while retaining the distinctive basket weave and the eyes (holes) are noticeably smaller due to loss of moisture. Flavors develop further into the sweeter and fruitier end of the spectrum. Small crystals are noticeable as a sign of quality.
Suggested Pairing: Grate into anything for an extra savoury finish. Enjoy with a local Chardonnay or mildly hoppy craft beer.
I first tasted this cheese 6 years ago at the American Cheese Society conference in 2011 – “surprise” is what it was called. Pionnier (Pioneer) is what it is called now as a tribute to two of Quebec’s cutting-edge cheesemakers Marie Chantal-Houde and Jean Morin.
Tasting Notes: Pionnier is a 12 month 40kg firm, washed-rind, cooked, raw mixed cow and sheep’s milk cheese, a mix of Louis D’Or & Zacharie Cloutier, both award-winners in their own right. You’ll get everything in this cheese: butter, grass, brown sugar, complexity, tanginess and even fermented tropical fruit!
Suggested Pairing: Use Pionnier as you would Parmesan. A robust red wine, Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon will stand up to the complexity in this cheese. Experiment with Ice Cider.
~Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses ~
With Fréchette …
Herbed Root Vegetable Cobbler
Recipe & Photo Credit: Better Homes & Gardens
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
1lb. rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 medium carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. dried fines herbs, herbs de Provence, or Italian seasoning, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 oz. semi-soft cheese with garlic and herbs (Fréchette)
Herbed Cheese Dumplings
Herbed Cheese Dumplings
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. dried fine herbs, herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning, crushed
½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter
¼ cup finely shredded Zacharie Cloutier cheese, 12 month
2 lightly beaten eggs
⅓ cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In an ungreased 3-quart baking dish, combine potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, onion, and garlic.
In a small bowl, combine broth, fines herbs, salt, and pepper. Pour over vegetables, stirring to coat. Bake, covered, about 1 hour or until vegetables are nearly tender. Carefully uncover vegetables, stir in semisoft cheese.
Drop Herbed Parmesan Dumplings into 12 mounds on top of hot vegetables. Bake, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted in centers of dumplings comes out clean. Let stand for 20 minutes before serving.
Herbed Cheese Dumplings
In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, fine herbs, herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning, and salt. Using a pastry blender cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in Zacharie Cloutier cheese. In a small bowl, combine eggs and milk. Add all at once to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened
With La Madeleine…
Grilled Vegetable and Cheese Panini
Recipe & Photo Credit: Yummly
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
1 Asian eggplant (cut into 8 slices, each 4 inches long, ¼” thick)
2 zucchini (small, cut lengthwise into 8 slices, ¼” thick)
1 red bell pepper (small, seeded, cut into 8 slides, each ¼” thick)
3 tbsp. spring onions
1½ tsp. herbs de Provence
Freshly ground pepper
8 slides country bread
6 Tbsp. olive tapenade
7 ½ oz. soft sheep milk cheese (La Madeleine), thinly sliced
Preheat an electric Panini press according to the manufacturers instructions.
In a bowl, stir together the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and the 3 tbsp. dipping oil, the herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables on the preheated Panini press, turning once, until tender, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Brush one side of each bread slice with dipping oil. Lay the slices, oiled side down, on a clean work surface. Spread each of 4 slices with 1 ½ tbsp. tapenade. Top with 2 slices of each vegetable. Arrange the cheese on top, dividing evenly. Top each with one of the remaining bread slices, oiled side up.
Place the sandwiches on the preheated Panini press and cook according to the manufacturers instructions until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve immediately.
With Zacharie Cloutier…
Cheddar, Leek & Mushroom Focaccia
Recipe & Photo Credit: Zeste.tv
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8hr 10 minutes
3.5 lbs. of Quebec lamb leg or shoulder
8 slices of multigrain organic bread
6 oz. of Zacharie Cloutier cheese
Fresh basil pesto
Salt and pepper the leg of lamb. Cook over medium-high heat in a frying pan in olive oil, until it turns into a beautiful golden color. Transfer to slow cooker and bake for 8 hours at low heat.
Slice the leg and keep more or less 175 g. Butter each slice of bread and spread it on the inside with a bit of old-fashioned mustard on one side and mayonnaise on the other.
Add one slice of cheese. Top with shredded lamb and basil pesto.
Place the two slices in a skillet heated on medium heat, with a little olive oil. Cook until golden and fold together.
With Zacharie Cloutier 12 month…
Recipe & Photo Credit: Curieux Begin TeleQuebec
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
1 lb. of beef tenderloin, thinly sliced
2 French shallots, finely chopped
½ tsp. green olives, pitted and chopped
1 small garlic clove, pressed (or finely chopped)
¾ tsp. diced Zacharie Cloutier – 12 month
Tabasco (to taste)
¼ tsp. celery leaves, chopped
10 chives, chopped
1 handful of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
Place beef, shallots, olives, garlic and cheese in a mixing bowl and mix well.
Add the herbs and the Tabasco salt and pepper and mix well, coating with oil to obtain a soft texture.
Serve immediately on grilled baguette croutons.
With Le Pionnier…
175 g Zacharie Cloutier cheese
175 g of Louis D’Or cheese (substitute Pionnier)
175 ml of dry white wine, lager or dry apple cider
2 tsp. white flour
2 tsp. garlic clove
To taste pepper and nutmeg
Add the wine or beer to the pot. Heat until the mixture is simmering. Add the garlic clove to the pot. Add the cheese gradually and stir continuously. Add pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Stir until smooth and smooth and serve with crusty bread and blanched vegetables.
Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!
Tags: 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards, Accredited Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons, American Cheese Society Awards, Beef Tartare, Best Flavoured Cheese, Better Homes & Gardens, Canadian Cheese Awards, Caseus, cheddar, Cheese Fondue, cheesemaker Marie-Chantal Houde, Cheesemaker Marie-Chantel Houde, Curieux Begin TeleQuebec, Fromagerie Frechette, Fromagerie La Madeline, Fromagerie Le Pionnier, Fromagerie Nouvelle France, Fromagerie Zacharie Cloutier, Fromagerie Zacharie Cloutier 12 month, Grilled Vegetable and Cheese Panini, Herbed Cheese Dumplings, Herbed Root Vegetable Cobbler, Jean-Paul Houde, Leek & Mushroom Focaccia, Quebec Cheese Awards, Savvy Company, Savvy Cool Curds, Savvy Cool Curds artisan cheese of the month club, Savvy Sommeliers, sheep milk cheese, Wikibouffe, www.savvycompany.ca, Zeste.tv