Want to know how to hold onto Summer a little bit longer? Think local and think cheese…your dreams will come true! It’s still summer you can’t deny it when you look around the farmers’ markets still showing off all the local produce while they can.
My latest interview with Leanne Cusack on CTV News at Noon was just like A Cheese Game Show – with Michael O’Byrne claiming to be a ‘mozarella man’ which he might live to regret that as he had the chance to expand his horizons on the set that morning with so many cheeses to sample and so little time!
My cheese story began at a Cordon Bleu cooking class when food prep was going on so we were boiling some milk in the morning and then in the afternoon we had a freshly-made feta cheese to crumble on our salad. My AHA moment for sure. That’s the beginning and the rest, as they say, is history. I’m now a Cheese Sommelier (in my spare time) or if you prefer ‘Maitre Fromagier‘, either term rolls off the tongue quite nicely…rather like cheese in fact.
Let’s Celebrate Canadian Cheese
The best part of my day is often all about cheese. Whenever possible I breathe, smell & eat cheese so I wanted to take you on a little journey to help extend these marvelous summer days. Walk with me along the scumptious Canadian cheese board that I prepared for this TV segment – all made locally – and you will see what I see. Great flavors made lovingly by true artisans of their craft.
Based on a traditional French Recipe from a cheese Called Tomme de Savoie this is a cheese native to the French Alps. Traditionally a skimmed cow’s milk cheese, Milkhouse Tomme is made with a full cream Sheep’s Milk, leading to a richer flavour and creamy texture. The cheese has an edible, natural rind which adds an earthy flavour. Our interest in Tomme de Savoie grew out of the enjoyment of a now retired cheese maker’s take on the classic called “Tomme de Gaston.”
Here’s a story for you…did you know it takes 10L of milk to make 1lb of cheese and that one day when I visited Kyle & Kate the young couple who run the dairy, well we milked a couple of sheep. 14 that is! And those 14 sheep gave us 7L of milk. So the long & short of it is even all the milk of those 14 sheep there isn’t enough to produce 1 lb of cheese. Tough work making cheese, I say.
Inspired by her goat farming protégée and playing off popular TV series “Bewitched” Maggie Paradis’ says that La Sorcière Bien Aimée was born to add a brie type to the wonderful variety of other goat, cow and sheep’s milk cheeses produced by Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères. Not one to compromise quality or consistency, Maggie’s cheese must always be good or she won’t make it – pure and simple.
Handmade from whole natural milk, La Sorcière Bien Aimée has a good, clean goaty flavour with a hint of sweet grass and no bitterness, ammonia or aftertaste, even if a little overripe. The paste is thick, smooth, creamy and silky, wild with mushroom aromas and a salty finish. Specific cultures and a cheesemaker’s patience and care give these excellent results — not rushing is crucial. I love Maggie’s cheeky attitude as she describes the aging of La Sorcière… “the cheese pouts at first, then it will cry, becoming a weepy mess…”. My sentiments exactly, only they’re tears of joy in this case.
One of my earliest & fondest cheese tasting memories is my cheese pick this week, Bonnechere, from local Back Forty Artisan Cheese, hailing from Ottawa Valley’s own Lanark Highlands. I was a young, unripened cheese enthusiast when I discovered Back Forty cheeses years ago, made from raw sheep’s milk & hand-crafted in the kitchen of owner Jim Keith. This special find is named after the rugged Bonnechere River & mysterious cave landmarks of our region.
Bonnechere is one-of- a-kind artisan cheese. It’s a semi-firm, double pressed and unique both inside and out. A beautiful, chestnut patterned toasted rind covers the interior smooth ivory paste. Hand torching gives Bonnecheresmoky aromas and a very distinct caramel flavor. As it ages, these characteristics amplify the tangy, sweet, and fruity body of the cheese. Sour milk lingers with a slight amount of acidity. Produced in very small quantities with seasonal milk, it’s a hot commodity. If you see this cheese, don’t blink, don’t hesitate, snap it up immediately. I suggest The Piggy Market or Serious Cheese as a starting point. Make these cheesemongers your best friend and you’ll never miss out.
Situated along the banks of the picturesque Black River, Black River Cheese remains dedicated to preserving more than a century old tradition of producing real cheese; superior tasting and handcrafted, using only 100% pure fluid milk from Price Edward County dairy farms, and no modified milk ingredients, artificial preservatives or animal rennet.
This amazing bit of sweetness in your cheese will see you through summer for sure! Made by one of Prince Edward County’s two main cheese makers, Black River Cheese, this cow’s milk cheese is a great combo of sweet & salty.
This multi-award-winning cheese from Mariposa Dairy in Lindsay, ON, is preserved in wax to hold all the flavour. Each piece is aged a minimum of 9 months and up to two years. Mariposa waxed goat cheddar will inspire your taste buds to enjoy the nuances of a great cheese and make any occasion memorable.
So many great Canadian cheeses…how to taste them all?
Where to buy Canadian cheese in Ottawa?
In Ottawa, there is so much great local produce that we should take the time and the trouble to enjoy it – take a break from the daily grind and go to farmers markets on the weekend to seek out the freshest produce. That’s where you can meet the people who grow the peaches, talk to the cheesemongers who make the cheese and hear first hand about the bread that is baked fresh that morning.
While the weather is still warm & sunny, visit any number of Ottawa’s Farmers markets which showcase only local produce on Saturdays & Sundays until Thanksgiving. Try each of these, you will probably discover something about each market that will keep you coming back! Parkdale Market, Main Street Market, Brewer Park Market, Westboro Market.
For those of you not in the know, Ottawa has some great specialty shops where you can buy local cheese. Here are just a few of them: Jacobsons at 141 Beechwood in the Rockcliffe/Manor Park area; Serious Cheese at 442 Hazledean in Kanata and Piggy Market at 400 Winston Avenue in Westboro.
Summer Recipe for Peach & Beet Salad
From Vanessa’s Kitchen
Watch it live on CTV News Ottawa
6 Local peaches
Olive oil to toss fruits in
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup local wild blueberries
1/4 cup toasted nuts or seeds of your choice
handful of microgreens
200g fresh chèvre or fresh local feta
Salt & pepper to taste
Slice peaches (skin on) and combine with partially cooked beets. Roast at 400F-425F for about 30 mins.
Let cool then toss together with Upper Canada dried cranberries, local wild blueberries, toasted nuts or seeds.
Put fruits & nut mixture over bed of microgreens and add fresh chèvre (such as Crosswind Farms cranberry organge chevre available at Piggy Market). And voila!
Thanks to my sous-chef Leanne for all her help in producing this summer salad.
Bon appetit & here’s to holding onto summer!