At the height of summer, this month’s Savvy Cool Curds is inspired by my tour around Italy a few years ago as well as the empty place left in my heart (and stomach) for Italian homemade, melt in your mouth, soft artisan
cheeses. Mama Mia! After living on fresh cheese daily for almost a month, I was thrilled to return home to discover new finds by Quality Cheese in Vaughn, Ontario.
Italy’s finest is made here with a touch of Canadian flair by three Borgo brothers who believe passionately in making cheese from the heart that reflects in their product. “Do it right or don’t do it at all” is the motto. Bellisimo!
In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…
… the biggest and best assortment of cheeses yet! Very special and hard-to-find artisan cheeses including:
– Ricotta 300g
– Burrata 250g
– Buffalo Mozzarella 125g
– Mascarpone 250g
– Fleur de Buffala 200g
– Triple Crème Brie 300g
Craving more cool Quality Cheeses?
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
– Vanessa & the Savvy Team
by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier
As soon as I entered the doors of Quality Cheese, I was struck by the warm, comforting aromas of fresh and cooked milk that instantly took me back to my vacation in Tuscany, Italy and it’s amazing landscapes, traditions, delicious food, artisans and history.
My visit and tour to Quality Cheese reminded me why I barely made it home from that vacation as I had spent three weeks at the height of sensory enjoyment, in awe and amazed by the simplicity yet flavorful impact of dishes made with love and only the finest and freshest of ingredients.
The Borgo family of Vaughn, Ontario – representing four generations behind Quality Cheese – manufacture, distributes and retail Italian specialty cheeses unlike any others made in Canada. Their first cheese was made almost 55 years ago. Quality Cheeses – particularly the ones in the fresh cheese category in your Savvy Cool Curds – are firmly rooted in Italian artisanal cheesemaking tradition and to this day are made with the same family recipes.
Innovative but firmly rooted…
The three Borgo brothers are actively involved in the business with Albert as the cheese salesman, Joe as the cheese scientist, and William (Bill) as the master cheesemaker. While traditional, these men are blazing new trails and innovating all the time.
Much applause and award-winning recognition has been given over the years to their delectable cheeses made with cow, buffalo and goat milk. When their Ricotta won the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2013, it was an industry first. Never before had a fresh cheese, or an Ontario cheese won Grand Champion (best of the best) in the awards’ history. From the judges’ perspective, their Ricotta was a shining star, and truly the best example of a well-made artisan cheese at the ceremony, standing out among the crowd.
Even on the plant floor they’ve been innovating for over 17 years. From how milk is stored and piped, to various safety and sanitary processes, to finding ways to become more efficient at cheesemaking while retaining quality and artisan craftsmanship, their business is tweaked on a daily basis.
Experience in action
The heightened energy and activity in the make room is akin to bees buzzing around a hive, almost organized chaos-like, but with the execution and precision that demonstrates years of experience and expertise. Albert, Joe and Bill continue to be very hands on, testing curd as they weave through equipment, tweaking machines, and providing guidance on texture and readiness.
A lot goes on in a ‘make day’. Fresh, tender mozzarella curd is cut and waits patiently in the vat to be transformed into multiple cheeses. Whey is drained from the fresh mozzarella and gets re-purposed into vats and heated to make fresh ricotta that is sold warm daily at the plant. Then the ricotta is hand scooped into forms or small tubs for immediate sale at retailers. Stretchy fresh mozzarella curd is hot water warmed, plied and kneaded into small oblong shapes, cut, hand stretched into pouches and filled with fresh cream/creamy curd as a delicious center. Chalky white buffalo mozzarella curd drains as cheesemaker Bill waits for the right texture before the next step – hand stretching.
Nothing says summer like the freshest, tastiest, juiciest and most flavorful of artisan and local foods ingredients. Dive into this month’s Savvy Cool Curds cheeses, grab good friends, and head for your backyard or cottage deck or dock for easy peasy entertaining during laziest haziest days of summer!
– 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!
Humble Quality Cheese Ricotta (ricotta means cooked again) reined supreme in 2013, winning Grand Champion against over 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first for both an Ontario and fresh category cheese.
Tasting Notes: Made with 100% Canadian whole cow or buffalo milk and the whey of from other brie-style and mozzarella cheeses, acidity and temperature levels are carefully monitored to ensure quality craftsmanship. Each Ricotta is hand-dipped and packed cool, resulting in a rich, luxurious, creamy, dense, full lactic and sweeter tasting product. Locally, the Ricotta is sold hot, straight from the vat for neighbors who appreciate the traditional Italian style.
Suggested Pairing: “It is like fresh milk, you can do anything with it”, says Albert Borgo. “Eat it as a staple, some as food ingredient like with toast and jam.” Try in cheesecake, fresh pasta, with fresh seasonal fruit, pancakes or dessert recipes or the Plum Salad with Ricotta and Prosciutto Twist recipe in the LCBO Food & Drink Magazine.
Experience the luxury of hand crafted silky artisan Mozzarella di Buffala as it’s meant to be. Made with 100% pure milk from local water buffalo (don’t be fooled with “cheater” buffalo mozzarella which is mostly cow’s milk with small percentage of buffalo milk mixed in!). A bit sweeter than it’s Italian cousin because salt is added during the make process instead of after in brine.
Tasting Notes: Enjoy the fresh, mild, buttery milky flavor and smooth silky texture of this small, soft and delicate but oh so versatile cheese.
Suggested Pairing: Pairs perfectly with both sweet and savory accoutrements from your local farmer’s market.
Burrata is a rare breed of cheese in the fresh category, as a mix of mozzarella & cream, its name meaning, “buttered”.
Tasting Notes: Burrata is part pasta filata (meaning stretchy) cheese as a combo of scraps of soft fresh mozzarella curd and cream center and curd that has been worked, heated and stretched it into little pouches around the exterior. Enjoy flavors of rich, buttery, fresh milk and thick cream.
Suggested Pairing: Serve classically with ripened tomatoes, drizzled with oil, cracked black pepper & fresh basil. Try it with a twist, grilled plums drizzled with balsamic vinegar & small toasts.
As far as fresh cheeses go, if ricotta was the humble man’s cheese, mascarpone is the “Gatsby” of the fresh cheese world. True to Italian culture, Bella Casara Mascarpone exemplifies passion, as a sexy and sinful artisan cheese.
Tasting Notes: As a description rich, luxurious and voluptuous come to mind along with butter as a main theme. Caramelized butter-coloring appeals to the eye, while the lightest of sweet dulce de leche flavor melds with butter and cream on the palate. Even the consistency, density, smoothness are what one would find of the best quality hand churned butter.
Suggested Pairing: IMHO Bella Casara Mascarpone is best eaten with a tablespoon, straight. Or, use in your favorite brownie recipe as an extra special secret ingredient for maximum cheesy goodness.
Fleur de Buffala is a unique cheese for Ontario, just released onto the market, and aged for only a few weeks, made with local water buffalo milk.
Tasting Notes: These small, tender wheels of soft surface-ripened cheese have a rustic and delicate appearance from the light dewy crust of a rind. Feel the luxurious texture on your palate while enjoying both grassy and herbaceous aromas and flavors. Will be ripe and ready to best enjoy mid-next week.
Suggested Pairing: Pair with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc and lazy summer afternoon.
Albert’s Leap Triple Cream Brie is a shining example of a fan favorite, made with only the 100% Canadian milk, delivered in the wee hours of the morning to ensure maximum freshness for cheesemaking.
Tasting Notes: Triple cream Brie follows French-style making processes, as a classic soft surface-ripened cheese with a velvety, downy rind and full on characteristic butter, cream and mushroomy aromas and flavors.
TIP: Save this cheese for another week or two to experience it at its peak as the inside becomes supple and runny.
Suggested Pairing: Try flipped on the grilled (indirect heat) warm with fresh grilled stone fruit or with any array of fresh homemade summer fruit jams.
– Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses –
Burrata with Roasted Grapes & Figs
Recipe & Photo Credit: LCBO Food & Drink Summer 2016
6 oz red seedless grapes
6 ripe black mission figs, quartered
2 tsp olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 Burrata at room temperature
2 tsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh purple thyme leaves
Toasted baguette or crackers (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Place grapes and figs on a foil-lined baking sheet, trying to keep bunches of grapes together (for a lovely presentation). Drizzle with oil. Season with salt. Bake for 10 minutes
Place cheese on the middle of your serving dish, surrounded by warm fruit. Drizzle everything with honey and sprinkle with purple thyme. Encourage guests to take slices of cheese and roasted fruit onto their plates or you can plate it for them. Serve with slices of toasted baguette or your favourite crackers (such as Rosemary Raisin Pecan Raincoast Crisps) or oatcakes to make it more like a dessert.
Recipe & Photo Credit All You Need is Cheese
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
½ cup slivered almonds
1-⅓ lbs. Ricotta
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla abstract
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
½ cup all purpose flour
Dried cranberries for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).
In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in water and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes to obtain a syrup. Cook lemon slices in syrup over medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain the syrup into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Spread almonds in an oven-safe baking dish and toast them for 7–10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat Ricotta with eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest and the reserved lemon-flavored syrup. Incorporate the flour.
Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) spring form pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Cover bottom of pan with toasted almonds and pour Ricotta mixture on top. Bake in the oven 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cake is firm and lightly golden. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 1 hour before removing from pan.
Decorate chilled Ricotta cake with candied lemon slices and dried cranberries. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: This cake can also be accompanied by a cranberry coulis, if desired.
With Buffalo Mozzarella…
Ombre Fresh & Roasted Tomatoes On Charred Bread
Recipe & Photo Credit: LCBO Food & Drink Summer 2016
This recipe substitutes Wasabi cream cheese for fresh buffalo mozzarella
1 round Buffalo Mozzarella
3 small beefsteak tomatoes
2 pkgs. mix of red and orange cherry and grape tomatoes
Olive oil – use the Unrefined Olive oil we included!
Sea salt and pepper to taste
4 slices sourdough bread (or an Italian crusty bread)
¼ cup crispy shallots (found in Asian markets, or fry your own)
Slice buffalo mozzarella into 8 thin slices.
Slice beefsteak tomatoes into wedges, keep cherry and grape tomatoes whole.
Preheat broiler on oven.
Place foil on a baking sheet, add cherry and grape tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Broil until just starting to pop and blister, around 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and lift foil from baking sheet. Refrigerate tomatoes to cool.
Place bread on baking sheet and toast until slightly charred.
Spread each toast slice with 2 slices of buffalo mozzarella, and sprinkle evenly with crispy shallots. Arrange fresh and broiled tomatoes in a colourful Ombre composition, moving from reds to oranges. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Melon and Mascarpone Salmon Tartare
Recipe & Photo Credit: Quality Cheese
½ cup Bella Casara Mascarpone
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp. fresh dill
10 oz. very fresh salmon
½ cup honeydew melon
½ cup cucumber
Whip Mascarpone and milk together. Add lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Chill.
Chop salmon, honeydew and cucumber into small cubes. Place salmon in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Gently mix together, and let rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Divide tartare into 4 ramekins, then invert onto plates.
Top with Mascarpone and season to taste. Serve immediately with slices of bread.
With Fleur de Buffala…
Roasted Portabello Mushroom with Albert’s Leap Melted Brie
Recipe & Photo Credit: Quality Cheese
4 Portobello mushrooms
8 oz. Fleur de Buffala Brie
½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup raspberry vinegar
Fresh tender lettuce or mixed greens
Preheat barbecue to medium.
In a bowl, mix shallot with mustard. Add olive oil and whisk to mix. Add vinegar and season to taste. Set aside.
Gently clean mushrooms with a damp cloth. Remove stems, keeping only the caps. Stems may be used for another recipe.
Brush mushroom caps with a little dressing and cook them upside down on grill.
When mushrooms are tender, divide cheese slices between them so that interiors are filled. Let Fleur de Buffala melt and serve on a bed of lettuce, accompanied with remaining vinaigrette.
With Triple Cream Brie…
Choco Brie S’Mores
Recipe & Photo Credit: All You Need Is Cheese
8 Graham Crackers
3 oz. Triple Cream Brie, sliced
1 ½ oz. of dark or milk chocolate, chopped
1-cup miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
Arrange crackers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Top each cracker with Brie, chocolate and finish with marshmallows.
Place in the oven and cook until nicely browned, 7–10 minutes. Serve hot.