Posts Tagged ‘award winning Canadian cheeses’

Make my Cheese Canadian – please!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018
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Warning: if you love artisan cheese, you’ll be drooling over this article.

Grocery stores and farmers markets are overflowing with artisan cheese – the good news is that the rise of local cheesemakers is not stopping anytime soon.  There is no need to venture to the European section of the cheese counter to find a wedge that will WOW.  Impressive cheese is made in our backyard.  In fact, being in Ottawa we are treated to cheesemakers on both sides of the border – Quebec and Ontario.

And we are talking about more than just cheddar! Locally made cheeses span the gamut of tastes and styles.  Best of all, Canadian cheeses are rivaling the European equivalent at international competitions.

One of Canada’s renown judges at these competitions is Vanessa Simmons  – Cheese Sommelier and curator of Savvy Cool Curds – the only artisan cheese of the month club that exclusively features Canadian cheeses. Vanessa knows everything there is about cheeses and she travels coast to coast visiting cheesemakers and farmers to learn the ‘whey’ they make Canadian cheeses.  “Often a recipe that has been passed through a family for generations is the starting point,” explains Vanessa.

This is exactly the case with Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese located in Woodstock – Canada’s dairy capital.  “We make alpine style cheese like they do in Holland”, explains Shep Ysselstein (in photo) who weaves his family Dutch roots into his rapidly growing cheese business. “All of my cheese is made with the milk of my father’s herd of 120 Holstein cows.  Every two days, fresh milk is delivered from the farm across the street to my cheese production facility.  I use every last drop.”  Gouda, washed rind cheeses and brie are Shep’s signature creations. If you have enjoyed the Beau’s cheese – washed with Lugtread Beer – the cheese is in fact made at Gunn’s Hill.

Sheep, goat and cow milks are the main ingredient that the cheesemaker starts with.  Seasonally, the cheesemakers need to tweak their recipes to reflect the make up of the milk. In the winter, they need to compensate for higher fat content in the milk, in order for the cheese to not be too soft.  During times of the year when the animals are fed a lot of carrots, there are higher levels of beta carotene in the milk, resulting in a cheese with a more golden hue. Whether the recipe is a family secret or not, cheesemaking is part art & part science.

 

So many cheeses, so little time!

In France, they boast that there are over 365 different types of chévre (goat cheese), equating to one to enjoy each day.  While this sounds devine, the idea of constantly trying different cheeses is definitely appealing.  Where to start?

 

Vanessa offers these tips:

Check out the Best Before Date – Pick a cheese that is closest to best before date to enjoy right away.  This might actually mean that the price of the cheese is discounted for quick sale!  “Often cheese is sold into grocery stores young. You want a cheese that has been ripening.”  The exception to this rule: Fresh Cheese or Cheese Curds.

Soft rounds of cheese – Buy small! Give them a squeeze on the sides.  Notice if they are firm or ‘squishy’.  What you want is a round where the edges are soft to indicate that the cheese is ripe n’ ready.

It’s OK to eat the rind – The rind is often washed with wine, beer or a special concoction that is intended to help the aging process while the cheese is in the caves.  The effect is a hardened outside to the cheese that is fine – not to mention delicious – to eat.  The exception to this rule: watch out for rind that is wax.  This is not intended to be eaten!

Like your curds squeaky? – As soon as you put curds in the fresh, the squeak disappears. The cheese is fine on the counter for a few days.

 

Building a Canadian Cheese Board 101

With these tips, Vanessa makes it easy to create a cheese board to serve instead of slaving hours to make hors d’oeuvres or a fancy dessert. Use Vanessa tried & true tips and you’ll be guaranteed to get Oooohs and aaahs reviews for your cheese selection.

Vanessa’s Buying Tips: 

Milk type – cow, sheep, goat, buffalo (when in season).  Buy at least one of each

Style of cheese – Select different styles: fresh, soft, semi-soft, washed, firm, hard…and always make sure there is a blue cheese!

Age of Cheese – have a variety of young & old cheeses

Visual Variety – select cheeses that have visual appeal.  Rounds, wedges, chunks, even in pyramid shape – in combination will create WOW factor.

How much? – 5-10gms of each cheese/person is a good rule of thumb.

Vanessa’s Serving Tips:

Take them out of the fridge – make sure the cheeses are at room temperature – arrange on the cheese board atleast 1 hour beforehand.  This will allow the flavours and texture to shine their finest

One knife please – place one knife per cheese on the board.

To cut or not to cut – Don’t cut up small pieces in advance.

Wood, plate or slate – Use an interesting wooden board, cross cut log, antique plate, slate or marble tiles or tiered trays for visual appeal.

Plain Jane – Serve specialty breads and plain crackers.  Crackers dressed with herbs or spices will conflict with the taste of the cheese.

Add ons – sprinkle onto the board fresh berries, dried fruits, toasted nuts, olives, caramelized or pickled onions or milder charcuterie items as accompaniments.

 

This is part of an article written by Debbie Trenholm that will appear in the January/February 2018 issue of Ottawa Life Magazine

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A kaleidoscope of cheeses from Salt Spring Island

Posted by Vanessa

Friday, May 27th, 2016
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This month’s Savvy Cool Curds hails all the way from Canada’s west coast, as a tasty way to shift into summer.  Soft Chèvre is only one of many unique, handcrafted goat and sheep milk cheeses from David Wood’s Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, near Fulford Harbour south of Ganges, nestled among the Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Colombia.

Having discovered this quaint, artisan community almost 20 years ago while on a chartered sailing adventure with Savvy Company’s founder Debbie Trenholm (hmmm…maybe there was an inkling of the business on that trip!), I experienced first-hand how the simple & relaxed lifestyle is the order of the day for the local residents. 

CoolCurds_mail-2In your May Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

… very hard-to-find and delicious artisan goat milk cheese including:

Flower Chèvre
Pepper Chèvre
Romelia
Blue Juliette

Sold on Salt Spring Island 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 cheers@savvycompany.ca

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing…
Salt Spring Island Cheese Company

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier 

 

It’s hard not to fall in love with Salt Spring Island, BC, dubbed a “nature lover’s paradise”.  From experiencing remote, pristine beaches to stunning coastal scenery to gorgeous vistas and landscapes one never wants to leave.  With the discovery of Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, the hub of this small artist community, a more fitting reference might be “cheese lover’s paradise”.

Salt Spring Island Cheese Company sold their first cheese in 1996.  Twenty years later they are true to their roots, having maintained their philosophy of making the best cheese around, of family, pride and a commitment to quality in using only 100% natural ingredients in their cheeses.

All In The Family

David WoodDavid Wood (in photo at right – credit The Globe & Mail) has maintained the business as a small, family-oriented company, even though it started as a one-man show.  While he makes cheese less and less these days, all of his children, Daniel, Joshua and Thea are involved in the business in one way or another.  And impressively, all of them can make cheese too – they come by it honestly.  Daniel particularly remembers back to when he was twelve years old, milking sheep before school, and working in the shop after school and during the summer months while on school break.

Daniel is proud of their unique specialty products. He attributes his passion to his parents’ and to seeing the business grow from when he was a child. To date he’s one of the few who works on Christmas Day and is thrilled to do it too!. 

Cheesemaking Challenges

Salt Spring Island cheeses are as much a feast for the eyes as they are pleasing to one’s palate. A rainbow of color and textures from their fresh, equisite garnishes make them most distinct.   Creating such a pretty package isn’t without it’s challenges however, each cheese is individually hand labeled, and handpacked which is a lot of manual effort.

With few ingredients, cheesemaking isn’t complicated, it’s all in consistently controling the factors involved such as temperature, milk quality, milk quantity, humidity and timing among other things

In the beginning they had varying amounts of milk from little to a crazy supply availability.  The longer a cheese is aged, the more opportunity there is for something to go wrong with it (and for one to find that out through the tasting feedback loop) as in the case of their more aged, Montaña their flagship hard sheep’s milk.  Montaña is the company’s labor of love and overall favorite to produce however there is more consistency in making chèvres and the soft cheeses and more guarantee in the supply chain thus their shift in focus from sheep to goat milk. Seasonality also plays a role; recipes have to be adjusted in summer as the fat content of milk changes.

Watch for more to come…

There are a few ideas cooking up in the kitchen at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company.  Watch for additional flavours of Ruckles, their delectable soft chèvre marinated in grape seed oil among other new releases. The company also plans to expand slowly into the US.

To sum it up Daniel says “we’re a goat milk cheese company that happens to milk sheep on the side. We put a lot of pride in what we do, a lot of care and effort, with a focus on local, high quality ingredients and to doing things the right way. That’s the difference in our cheeses.”

  Cheese Tasting Notes •

 

Below are Vanessa’s tasting notes for each cheese in your Savvy Cool Curds, along with interesting tidbits, suggested food pairings & recipes to try too!  Photo credits: Vanessa Simmons

Flower Chèvre

Salt Spring Island Cheese Flower ChevreBeautifully packaged, the very small round containers are designed to show off a variety of flavors & garnishes including red peppercorns, edible flowers, roasted garlic, rosemary, lemon, chili, tapenade, truffle and basil to name a few.  Festive and fabulous for entertaining – these pretty little cheeses make great “alternative” hostess gifts.

Tasting Notes:  Inside you’ll find a soft, pasteurized, and unripened goat’s milk chèvre that is smooth, rich and incredibly creamy with a hint of tanginess and mild citrus note. 

Suggested Pairing: Serve on homemade crackers, spread on crispy baguette, melt over grilled vegetables, fold into omelets, mash into potatoes, crumble on salad. Enjoy with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc…from Canada of course!

 Pepper Chèvre

Salt Spring Island Cheese Pepper ChevreA tasty way to begin an evening is with one of the many flavored varieties of handmade artisan cheeses from this unique cheese maker.  Stunning festive on a cheese plate, or as a quick last minute entertaining idea on it’s own.

Tasting Notes:  This peppered, soft, pasteurized goat’s milk chèvre is beautifully packaged, topped with whole red & green peppercorns.  Smooth & creamy with a hint of tanginess, acidity, and a little spicy kick!

Suggested Pairing:  Enjoy on homemade crackers, wrap with smoked salmon, toss into fresh pasta for a quick and colorful dinner fix.  

Salt Spring Island Cheese RomeliaRomelia

Named after an employee, Romelia is unique among the many varieties of handmade artisan cheeses from Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. It’s rare to find this type of soft, goat milk cheese in Canada.

Tasting Notes:  Romelia is a soft, surface-ripened, washed-rind pasteurized goat’s milk cheese, sold in small wheels. Its rind is hand-washed as it ages over five weeks, which intensifies the aroma and flavor, giving it a bright orange/apricot color and “sticky” texture. The paste is smooth, and rich, but toothsome and almost fudgy when young, with tangy, slightly strong meaty flavors.  Romelia is best when ripe and runny. 

Suggested Pairing: A favourite pairing with this cheese is Michael Dolce Peach Cardamom Jam, or local stone fruit based marmalade.  Enjoy with a Canadian Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio.  

 

Salt Spring Island Cheese Blue JulietteBlue Juliette

Blue Juliette is produced in the same style as Camembert, handmade with lots of tender loving care and very little handling throughout the cheese making process!

Tasting Notes:  This soft, surface-ripened, pasteurized goat milk cheese has a thin, mixed, velvety, white & blue/grey, bloomy rind developed due to the addition of Penicillium Roqueforti culture (used in making of blue cheese). The paste is creamy white, firm towards the center & slightly softer closer to the rind. Note the goaty fragrance, herbal & mild mushroom scent with a creamy, slightly salty & tangy flavour, slightly stronger than its sister cheese Juliette, which more resembles a mild goat milk brie.

Suggested Pairing:  Pair with a Gamay or Pinot Noir red wine.  Melt wedges into phyllo pastry squares and garnish with stewed cherries, strawberries or raspberries drizzled with a dash of balsamic vinegar.

 

Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With Flower Chèvre…

Empress Honey & Salt Spring Island Goat Cheesecake

Chef Morgan Wilson, Victoria BC – The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker By the Sea,  Jennifer Schell 2015

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  60 minutes

Recipe for Empress Honey & Salt Spring Island Goat CheesecakeIngredients for Cheesecake

3 ½ cups Salt Spring Island Goat Cheese
½ cup mascarpone cheese
¾ cup Empress honey (or other local honey)
6 tsp. cornstarch
1 2/3 cup sour cream
6 large eggspinch salt
½ tsp. lemon juice
zest from a ½ lemon
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for Cheesecake Base

1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs (for a gluten-free option use gluten-free cracker crumbs)
¼ tsp. cinnamon powder
2 ½ Tbsp. butter, melted

Method

For cheesecake: In a mixer, combine goat cheese, mascarpone, honey and starch until it reaches a smooth paste consistency.  Add the sour cream and mix further.

Gradually add in the eggs, salt, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla extract.  Mix until combined.

For cheesecake base: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, and then spread the mix on the bottom of a foil wrapped 6” cake ring.  Compact the crumbs and bake at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Pour the prepared goat cheesecake mix on the baked base.  Bake at 250 degrees F for 45-50 minutes until firm in the center.

Yields 1 6-Inch Round Cake

“This gorgeous cake is rich but not too sweet.  The goat cheese adds a lovely tang and the beautiful Empress honey lends a sparkle of sweetness.  Serve with a sweet wine, at a table in a bee pen with a chef, a cheese maker, a beekeeper, and a goat named Bess… that’s what we did!” Misconduct Wine Co. in Penticton BC recommends Misconduct Inverno Icewine with this dessert. 

 

With Pepper Chèvre…                     

Patty Pan Squash Frittata

The Ravishing Root & Mother Felker Farms

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Recipe for Patty Pan Squash FrittataIngredients

12 patty pan squash
1 dozen eggs
1 bell pepper
1 onion
1 large tomato
1 package of fresh Salt Spring Island Goat Cheese (Flower or Pepper)
Salt and pepper to taste (omit pepper if using pepper chèvre)
Handful of fresh herbs

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the stem portion off the squash, leaving the ¾ of the bottom intact.  Using a melon baller or teaspoon, scoop out the inside of the squash leaving ¼ – ½ on the outside wall of the squash, and arrange on a baking sheet with parchment.

Sauté onion and bell pepper until they become translucent, add to a large mixing bowl with salt, pepper (omit pepper if using pepper chèvre), eggs, tomato and herbs and half of the goat cheese.  Using an immersion blender mix all the ingredients and fill hollowed out squash.  Top with remaining cheese.  Cook for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the patty pan.

Serves 12 as an appetizer or 6 as a main.

 

With Romelia…

Best Burger

Rock Salt Restaurant

Chosen because of the rave review on this restaurant’s website. Add your favourite fixings including a thick wedge of Romelia & crispy bacon. 

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  10-15 minutes 

Ingredients

Combine:

2 large eggs (beaten)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced onion (really really small or burgers will fall apart)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Then add and mix well:

1 cup breadcrumbs
1 kg hamburger meat
Wet mix
Wedges of Romelia cheese
Crispy strips of bacon

Recipe for Best Burger from Rock Salt RestaurantMethod

Form into balls and then press firmly into patties.

Burgers are always best if cooked over a flame.

Be careful to ensure that they are done all the way through but not over done.  When the juice runs clear they are done.

 

With Blue Juliette…

Salt Spring Island Stuffed Chicken with Peach and Cherry Chutney

Recipe & photo credit from thriftyfoods.com
Prep Time:
  30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes 

Ingredients for the chutney

Recipe for Salt Spring Island Stuffed Chicken with Peach & Cherry Chutney2 ripe peaches, halved, pitted, and diced
1 cup pitted cherries coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint or cilantro
½ medium red onion, finely chopped
Salt to taste

Ingredients for the chicken

4, 6oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
125 g. salt spring island lemon sheep cheese (substitute Blue Juliette)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chilli powder
Salt and pepper

Method

Combine chutney ingredients and let stand 30 minutes to allow flavours to meld. With a small, sharp knife, cut a pocket in the top end of each chicken breast.

Slice a wedge of Blue Juliette. Place cheese into into the pocket you made in the chicken. Brush chicken with vegetable oil, then sprinkle with spices and salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Divide chicken among plates and serve chutney alongside. A mixed green salad would go nice with the chicken. 

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

 

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Smash hit on the local cheese scene

Posted by Vanessa

Monday, May 2nd, 2016
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Savvy Cool Curds cheese of the month club
Featuring Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères
–  April 2016 –

 

Hey Ewe! The Savvy Team are thrilled to bring ewe April’s Savvy Cool Curds, hailing from the tiny little town of Sainte-Sixte, Québec. Named after the famous Parisian music hall depicting fun and frivolity, La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères cheeses are a far cry from foolish and continue to be a smash hit on the local cheese scene.

Folies Bergeres logoLots of love, passion and farmstead milk from the East Friesian sheep they raise create a wide variety of yummy cheeses. Maggie Paradis and Christian Girard are proudly “in the business of selling pleasure, not cheese”. Their light-hearted approach to cheesemaking – and life overall – is evident right down to the cancan-dancing sheep with colourful tutus, adorning their logo.

“The Savvy Team is great & having this opportunity to be featured in Savvy Cool Curds is exciting!  Anyone who has met Vanessa Simmons quickly learns that she is passionate about Canadian cheese.  She has developed strong ties to the cheesemakers & has made countless contributions to promoting local, regional, provincial & national cheesemakers.  Savvy Cool Curds subscribers are in for a treat …the best part is that all of the cheese discoveries will be proudly Canadian.”

Maggie Paradis, owner & cheesemaker, Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères (Quebec)

 

CoolCurds_mail-2In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

… Approximately a kilogram of hard-to-find artisan sheep milk cheese including:

La Petite Folie 150g
La Petite Démone (Fine Herb) 140g
La Sorcière Bien Aimée 200g
Raclette de Brebis 200g
La Coulée Douce 200g

“Fou” (crazy) about Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères 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 cheers@savvycompany.ca

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing…

Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Folies Bergeres building

From finishing feta in the make room, to farmer’s market visits to milking sheep in the parlour there is always an adventure to be had in the company of Maggie Paradis and Christian Girard (in photo below), the local “crazy shepherds” (translation) of La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères.  Life is busy for this talented, dedicated, passionate and hardworking couple.

There are lambs to tend, sheep to shear, rams to satisfy, ewes to feed, barns to clean, milks to receive and process, cheeses to make and ripen, markets to attend and a business to run all with the goal of producing the very best possible artisan and farmstead cheeses to be enjoyed by all – and they do it with a huge dose of “joie de vivre”.

Only the best will do

Maggie Paradis & Christian GirardBoth have exacting standards. Not one to compromise quality or consistency, Maggie’s cheese must always be good or she won’t make it – pure and simple.  Specific cultures and a cheese maker’s patience and care give these excellent results — not rushing any step of the process is crucial.

The high quality of their milk (both from their flock and sourced locally for the goat and cow milk) and the high touch, manual labour involved in her cheesemaking are key contributors to the consistency and excellence of their cheese over time.

Maggie confesses “I am easily bored.” She is always thinking up new cheeses and innovative ways to be efficient in her cheesemaking.  Recently, haloumi was born because she had the moulds to make it in, the same used from her cow and goat’s milk cheddars.

And while each cheese has its own challenge in the aging or making or packaging, she believes in simplification and letting nature do its part.

A ladies man…

As shepherd, Christian has a way with the ladies – the couple’s East Fresian ewes that is. Milking twice a day is routine, between the demands of farm and cheesemaking.  When I visited their farm this past weekend, I was in awe observing how the sheep shuffled into the parlour and automatically took their places (rewarded with fresh feed – that is his magic!) oblivious to being milked. With a gentle touch and crooning voice, Christian coaxes every last drop of milk out of every ewe’s teat, knowing each of the ladies personally from either front or back end. 

What’s in a Name?

Coulee_Douce_smallMaggie loves a double entendre, thus her naming theme which depicts their personal characters as much as their cheeses, demonstrating they truly aren’t like everyone else.  Chèvre Fatale (a spin on Femme Fatale), L’Apprenti Sorcier (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) all are distinct and memorable as well as very visual.

International renowned local artist & friend of the couple Koen de Winter is the talent behind each hand-drawn illustration.  One cheese, Raclette, remains yet unnamed! Think about it as you dive into your Savvy Cool Curds – all name ideas are invited!

When asked, Maggie describes herself as a strong, potent cheese that bites back and Christian as a “pâte molle”, calm on the outside & all gooey on the inside.  Both perfect in their own “whey.”

As you can see…and soon will taste… there is personality in each of the cheeses made by Maggie and Christian. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 

 

• Cheese Tasting Notes •

 

Below are Vanessa’s tasting notes for each cheese in your Savvy Cool Curds, along with additional tidbits of interesting information, suggested food pairings & recipes to try too!  All cheese photos were taken by Vanessa too.

La Petite Folie

La Petite FolieAward-winning La Petite Folie (meaning a little fun) is the simplest of Maggie’s cheeses to make yet the most labour intensive to package, given the care it takes to preserve the integrity of the cheese. I consider it one of life’s little luxuries, a treat for yourself reflecting the best nature has to offer as a reflection of fresh, rich ewe’s milk. 

Tasting Notes:  Petite Folie is a soft, unripened pasteurized ewe’s milk cheese with mild lactic aromas, a rich, dense, silky texture and clean, milky-creamy flavours finishing with a hint of citrus. 

Suggested Pairing: Pair with a robust grainy or seed bread or Enerjive Quinoa Crackers that we have popped into this month’s  box.  Mix in with crab, or top with smoked trout or salmon.

 

La Petite Démone (Fine Herb)

La Petite DemoneAs far as labels go, the gorgeous illustration for La Petite Démone is my second favourite of all of Maggie’s product labels (first place goes to Chèvre Fatale with her puckering red lips).

Tasting Notes:  Chèvre-style soft, fresh, unripened, pasteurized, goat milk cheese that comes in three flavors: plain, fine herbs and roasted red pepper. The texture is like velvet across your tongue and flavors are clean and herbaceous without being overpowering. Finishes with a characteristic tang that lingers. Notice no chalky texture or soapy aftertaste that can be common with many large-scale production goat milk chèvres (key indication of high quality milk).

Suggested Pairing:  The sky’s the limit for pairing this cheese – stuff into the center of a homemade burger, perk up a Sunday morning omelet with a dab, or melt into mashed potatoes as your “secret ingredient”.

  

La Sorcière Bien Aimee

LA Sorciere Bien AimeeInspired by her goat farming protégée and playing off popular TV series “Bewitched”, Maggie Paradis’ La Sorcière Bien Aimée, was born to add a brie type to the wonderful variety of other goat, cow and sheep’s milk cheeses she produces. 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.

Tasting Notes:  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. 

Suggested Pairing: A favourite pairing with this cheese is Michaelsdolce’s Spiced Cranberry or Spiced Cherry Jam.

 

Raclette de Brebis

Raclette de BrebisMaggie is on the hunt for an official sexy name for this cheese. Once you’ve tried it pop her a note on Facebook with your ideas!

Tasting Notes:  Maggie’s Raclette de Brebis is a pale straw colour, firm yet soft, curd-y & cooked pasteurized sheep milk cheese washed in raspberry wine from local Domain Mont Vézeau. Has a pleasant slightly sweet aroma and herbal, grassy and mild nutty flavours.

Suggested Pairing:  Use in a traditional Raclette recipe either as half wheel or small slices. Enjoy melted on toast topped with bacon (suggest Seed to Sausage Black Pepper Molasses Bacon). Pair with unoaked Chardonnay.

 

La Coulée Douce

La Coulee DouceNow this is a cheese for chilling out! A reflection of the cheesemaker herself, Maggie is laid-back, chilled, goes with the flow (thus the cheese’s name/label image) and doesn’t take life or herself too seriously (while remaining quite serious about making top notch artisan cheeses).

Tasting Notes:  100% pure pasteurized, firm, small wheel sheep’s milk cheese with an ivory slightly open (shows small holes) paste and thin, rustic, golden-hued washed rind.  Creamy aromas compliment rich, milky, slightly toasty and fermented fruit flavours with a grassy finish making it the perfect match for Quebec iced or apple cider as used to wash the rind from neighbouring Verger Croque-Pomme.

Suggested Pairing:  Serve shaved on homemade peach or apple pie. Or, as Maggie likes it, a bit aged, crumbly & dry with a good Port.

Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With La Petite Folie…

Waffle with Cream Cheese and Smashed Berries

Recipe & photo credit: BonAppetit.com
Prep Time:
  10 minutes Cook Time: 3 minutes

IRecipe waffles with cream cheese & smashed berriesngredients

1 waffle
2 tablespoons cream cheese (La Petite Folie)
2 tablespoons raspberries, blueberries or blackberries
1-tablespoon honey or agave

Method

Use a frozen whole grain waffle, or freeze leftover homemade waffles between sheets of waxed paper.

Toast a waffle and smear with cream cheese (La Petite Folie).

Using a fork, smash raspberries, blueberries or blackberries on top of the cream cheese (La Petite Folie).

Drizzle with honey or agave. Enjoy! 

 

With La Petite Démone (Fine Herb)…                     

Filet Mignon with Balsamic Syrup and Goat Cheese

Recipe & Photo credit: FoodNetwork.ca 

Maggie herself recommends the use of La Petite Démone on steak melted as a quick and easy sauce or garnish.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes

Recipe filet mignon balsamic syrup & goat cheeseIngredients

1 ½ cups Balsamic Vinegar
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of butter
6 (5-6 oz.) filet mignon steaks (each about 1-inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salt and pepper to tast
2 oz. soft, fresh goat cheese (La Petite Démone Fine Herb)

Method

Boil the balsamic vinegar in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 of a cup, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.  Melt the butter in a heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper.  Cook the steaks to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Transfer the steaks to a baking sheet.  Cover the cheese over the steaks and broil just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute.  Sprinkle with pepper.

Transfer the steaks to plates.  Drizzle the balsamic sauce over and around the steaks and serve. 

 

With La Sorcière Bien Aimée…

Baked Maple Brie

Recipe & Photo credit: Foodnetwork.ca 

Maple season is here! Substitute luxurious La Sorcière Bien Aimée in this recipe and you’ll have a sure-fire crowd-pleasing appetizer.

Prep Time:  5 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes 

Ingredients

Recipe baked maple brie1 package brie cheese (La Sorcière Bien Aimee)
1-cup maple syrup
2 apples, finely sliced
½ cup of brown sugar
1-teaspoon cinnamon
1 bag Tostitos bite sized round tortilla chips
(or Vanessa’s addition fresh baguette thinly sliced)

Method

Remove rind from top of brie (for easier dipping).

Make slices into the brie and insert apples.

Top with brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup and apple as desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

 

 

With Raclette de Brebis…

Grilled Swiss Cheese Sandwich with Asparagus

Recipe & Photo credit: Dairygoodness.ca 

This recipe substitutes sheep milk cheese for the cow’s milk cheese originally used, as it’s a perfect compliment to fresh, seasonal, spring asparagus. 

Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes 

Recipe grilled Swiss cheese sandwich & asparagusIngredients

1 bunch of green and/or white asparagus (3/4 lb. or 350g), trimmed
60 ml homemade Gouda asparagus pesto
8 slices whole wheat bread
4 oz. (120g) of Le Moine Cheese (cut into 8 slices) – substitute Raclette de Brebis
Butter at room temperature 

Gouda Asparagus pesto

1/4-cup (60 mL) raw almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch of asparagus (about ¾ lb – 350 g), cut into 1˝ (2.5 cm) pieces
1 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) Aged Gouda, finely grated (substitute La Coulee Douce or last month’s Back Forty Bonnechere if you have any left!)

Method

In a large saucepan, cook asparagus in salted boiling water for 2 min. Drain.

Spread Gouda asparagus pesto over 4 slices of bread and top each one with 2 cheese slices. (For Pesto – In a food processor, chop almonds and garlic, add asparagus and process until finely chopped, continue to process while gradually pouring in oil, season generously with salt and pepper, and add cheese, transfer to a jar and seal with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.)

Add asparagus, alternating green and white, placing the tips in one direction and then the other. (If the asparagus stems are too thick, cut in half lengthwise).

Cover with remaining slices of bread. Butter outside of sandwiches, and cook in a skillet on medium heat for 4–5 min on each side.

Cut each sandwich into quarters and serve with a green salad, if desired. 

 

With La Coulée Douce…

Strawberry and Sheep Milk Crostini

Recipe & photo credit: Christian Begin – IGA 

We eat with our eyes first! This gorgeous colors; yet simplicity of this recipe makes you want to devour it! Cut into smaller slices, it’s a perfect pre-BBQ appetizer. 

IRecipe strawberry & sheep milk crostiningredients

1 baguette
olive oil, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 fairly thick slices of La Tomme de Brebis de Charlevoix Cheese (substitute La Coulée Douce)
Honey, to taste
20 very ripe strawberries, quartered
60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
8 basil leaves finely minced

Method

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).

Cut baguette into 4 equal-length pieces and then slice each one lengthwise to obtain 8 pieces & brush the inside of the baguette pieces with olive oil. Sprinkle them with freshly ground pepper.

Place a slice of La Tomme de Brebis de Charlevoix cheese onto each one. Drizzle with honey.

Broil until cheese has melted, watching carefully to ensure the bread doesn’t burn, about 2 minutes.

Remove crostini from the oven and top with fresh strawberries.

Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with minced basil. Serve immediately.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

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No fooling around @ Back Forty Artisan Cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Friday, April 1st, 2016
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Savvy Cool Curds cheese of the month club
Featuring Back Forty Artisan Cheese
–  March 2016 –

 

Spring is in the air and the wait for bursts of radiant sunshine and colourful bulbs; fresh local produce, picnics and farmer’s markets will soon be over.  All of the Savvy Team are celebrating the arrival of spring with Back Forty Artisan Cheese and bring you first of the season, lovingly hand crafted ewe’s milk cheeses for this month’s Savvy Cool Curds.

Jeff Fenwick, owner and cheesemaker at Back Forty is equally as eager to swing into spring.

For our feature in Savvy Cool Curds, we have allocated a small batch of our Highland Blue, Bonnechere, Flower Station and our highly sought after Madawaska.  These cheeses will be among the first that we have produced in 2016 and customers will benefit from our rich & flavorful sheep milk cheese using the highly nutritious milk produced during the spring.”

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…CoolCurds_mail-2

Break into your March Savvy Cool Curds & you will find approximately a kilogram of hard-to-find artisan raw sheep milk cheese including wedges of:
Flower Station approx. 200-250g
Madawaska approx. 200-250g
Bonnechere 250g
Highland Blue 150g

Bowled over by Back Forty Artisan 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 – Canadian Cheese Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

  

Introducing…
Back Forty Artisan Cheese

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Back Forty shop

My Sunday country drive through the rolling hills of the Lanark Highlands brings me to the relocated home of Back Forty Artisan Cheese. It’s been about five years since Jeff and Jenna Fenwick (photo right) purchased Back Forty Artisan Cheese from James Keith embarking on different journey and complete change of lifestyle. Back Forty Jenna and Jeff

They’re living the dream and loving the balance they’ve achieved between pursuing their passions (for Jeff, cheesemaking, and Jenna, creating hand illustrated screened textiles at jennarose.ca), farming in Lanark County, North Frontenac and enjoying the great outdoors and peaceful tranquility of their remote country location.

Crossing the Chasm

From a cramped 300 square foot kitchen where the husband and wife team were “living in a cheese factory” with whey buckets, equipment and aging cheeses all around their house… fast forward to late 2015 and early 2016.

Now today’s biggest challenge is increasing production to begin to offset the costs of expansion and investment in a brand new facility.  They have to learn how to use the new and upgraded equipment all the while and increasing production.

During this learning curve, one of the cheeses refuses to co-operate, giving Jeff a hard time by flattening out rather than keeping its shape (cheese is fickle, especially with the slightly change in milk, or culture, or feed of the animals).

For consistency and quality Jeff works very closely with his two farm partners whose nearly 300 East Freisan and British Milk Sheep ewes will provide him a planned 4000 litres of milk this year, netting approximately 5,000 to 7,000 kgs of handmade cheese….that is a lot of cheese!

Creating Community

More land and space with expanded facilities for production and aging allow Jeff and Jenna to dream even bigger. They’ll be “officially open to the public” on the July long weekend of this year, receiving visitors at their farm for the first time.

Stay tuned for details – as a Savvy Cool Curds subscriber, you will receive VIP invitations to the festivities!

As I write this issue of Curd on the Street, the bar for the tasting room is being crafted. A first and second floor outdoor patio is being designed to be a destination for cheese lovers and nearby cottagers to congregate. Jeff and Jenna hope to develop a new community, partnering with craft breweries, hosting small group classes, farm to table dinners featuring local chefs using ingredients from their own land.

Plans for a rustic guest retreat cabin, hiking and walking trails are also in the works.  I’ve thrown in a request for a wood-fired pizza oven (why not?)


Coming soon!

Savvy Cool CurdsOn the cheese front watch for Jeff’s soon-to-launch (yet unnamed) Munster-style semi-soft, washed-rind sheep’s milk cheese, with a gorgeous pumpkin-hued exterior.  As well, a local beer washed cheese is being experimented.  There are plans for a hard aged grana style cheese and a few small batch specialty varieties available only at the farm such as fresh curds, a haloumi/paneer style grilling cheese and maybe even fresh ricotta (we should be so lucky!)

While Jeff will add to his roster of cheeses, he’ll continue to be choosy and handpick his distribution and retail locations to ensure there continues to be a strong personal connection from the cheese back to the farm. We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring to you the first cheese of 2016 from the farm to your table.

Enjoy your Back Forty cheeses!

 

• Cheese Tasting Notes •

Below are Vanessa’s tasting notes for each cheese in your Savvy Cool Curds, along with additional tidbits of interesting information, suggested food pairings & recipes to try too!

Flower Station

Back Forty Flower StationFlower Station, one of the little known Back Forty Artisan Cheeses (we are excited that they made some just for you!), is a Greek-style feta named for a small community in the Lanark Highlands. It’s Jeff’s easiest cheese to craft as it only takes three days from start to finish  – making, cutting/salting, and packaging in wedges.

Tasting Notes:  At sixty days, Flower Station says spring as a fresh, un-ripened, semi-firm, Mediterranean-style raw sheep’s milk feta.  Stored in it’s own whey you’ll find a toothsome slightly crumbly texture. Mild citrus combines with a good balance of salt and fresh milk flavors from these little ivory wedges.

Suggested Pairing:  Jenna finds Flower Station the most versatile of their family of cheeses for daily cooking, using it on everything from omelets to pizza.  A little will go a long “whey”. We agree!

Madawaska

Back Forty MadawaskaThis is ‘a little slice of heaven’. Hands down the perfect find for the hard-core cheese lover in your life. Rich and luxurious, it reminds of a dense, beautiful piece of cheesecake in both appearance and texture.  Eat this cheese first as it is ripe and ready for you to enjoy!

Tasting Notes:  The triple cream of sheep’s milk cheeses, Madawaska is a semi-soft, surface-ripened raw ewe’s milk cheese. With its thick, white, almost crust like bloomy rind, and creamy, dense paste you will find mushroomy aromas and full, sweet, tangy, milky mildly grassy flavours linger nibble after nibble.

Suggested Pairing: This is one time for the cheese to stand alone. Or, link with the lightest of white wines (Sauvignon Blanc because of similarities in grassy notes), so as not to overpower.

Bonnechere

Back Forty BonnechereMy earliest and fondest tasting memories years ago, as a then-unripened-cheese enthusiast, is Jeff Fenwick’s Bonnechere, a one-of-a-kind, semi-firm, cooked, and double-hand pressed raw sheep milk cheese. Bonnechere is especially unique inside and out, named for the rugged Bonnechere River and mysterious cave landmarks in the area. Normally aged for about three months before being sold, Jeff prefers this cheese aged for six months…guess what…you are getting the premium wedge of this cheese as the wheels of this 6 month aged cheese was chosen especially by Jeff just for YOU.

Tasting Notes:  A beautiful, chestnut patterned toasted rind covers the interior smooth ivory paste. Torching by hand gives Bonnechere smoky aromas with very distinct caramel flavor. With age, these characteristics amplify the tangy, sweet, and fruity body of the cheese. Sour milk lingers with a slight amount of acidity. It’s produced in very small quantities in two to three kilograms wheels with seasonal milk from the smaller of Jeff’s two farm partners.

Suggested Pairing: With its fruit forward flavour profile, enjoy with hard cider or fruit flavoured craft beer. Thick slices, a quarter or half wheel melted and toasted as Raclette are a sure fire party pleaser. Also popular on fig-bread with caramelized onions and grilled.

Highland Blue

Back Forty Highland BlueThis is Back Forty’s most popular creation! Named after local Lanark Highlands, it is considered to be one of Canada’s most distinctive artisan blue cheeses.  Its artistry was recognized and awarded with a medal at the Royal Ontario Winter Fair.  This cheese is a labor of love as Jeff’s favorite to make requiring the most work, including piercing by hand 120-130 times per wheel to promote bacterial growth.

Even if you are not a fan of blue cheese…a bite of Highland Blue will probably convert you.

Tasting Notes:  Highland Blue wheels are tall, regal and rustic. As a semi-firm unpasteurized sheep’s milk blue cheese, it has a dense, antique ivory to golden paste with prominent vertical teal-blue colored veining throughout, and a mottled natural rind.  Notice a distinct sharpness, salty richness and earthy flavor with a bit of a kick in the piquant finish.

Suggested Pairing:  Traditionally, this cheese pairs perfectly with a local ice wine, Late Harvest Vidal, or Port.  For a different twist, try an Iced Cider from Quebec, with dried apricots as garnish to bring out extra flavor pop.

 

Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With Flower Station…

Beet and Feta Cheese Quiche

Recipe & Photo: Ricardocuisine.com

IngredientsBeet and Feta Quiche

2 yellow beets
2 red beets 

Crust

1 ¼ cups (310 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 Tbsp 30 ml) ice water, approximately

Filling

1 ¼ cups (310 ml) Flower Station feta cheese, diced
1 ¼ cups (310 ml) 15% cream OR milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper – to taste

Method

With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F).

Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tender. Let cool. Peel and cut into ½-cm (1/4-inch) thick slices. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse for a few seconds at a time, until the butter is the size of peas. Add the water. Pulse again until the dough just begins to form. Add water, if needed. Remove the dough from the food processor and form into a disk with your hands.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough. Line a 25-cm (10-inch) quiche plate with a removable bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place the rack in the lowest position of the oven.

In a bowl, combine 1 cup (250 mL) of Flower Station feta cheese with the cream, eggs, and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into the crust. Place the beets in a rosette shape, alternating colors. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake for about 45 minutes. Let stand about for 10 minutes before serving.

Delicious hot or warm.  Freezes well.

 

With Bonnechere and Madawaska…                     

Wild Onion and Wild Mushroom Tart

FoodNetwork.ca Great Canadian Cookbook

Courtesy of Alexander McNaughton, Tofino, British Columbia

IngredientsOnion and Wild Mushroom Tart

Pre-made pastry
Good-sized handful of onions or 2 to 3 large leeks, finely sliced
2 – 3 large shallots, minced
Butter for sautéing
Salt and pepper to taste
⅓ cup fresh thyme, destemmed
1 cup (approx) white or red wine, sherry or stock
2 – 3 lbs. (900 g to 1.35 kg) wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles,  morels, hedgehogs or angel wings, cleaned and shredded finely by hand (you can substitute store-bought mushrooms)
3 – 5 egg yolks, depending on tart size
1 ½ cup (approx) cheese, such as a Parmesan, manchego or Asiago (Vanessa’s recommendation: substitute Bonnechere for the mushroom mixture & thin slices of Madawaska for the top )

Method

Roll out pastry and chill in tart pan in fridge for up to 30 minutes. (One of Vanessa’s tricks is to make the pastry bigger than I need and fold the crust tightly into a roll, creating a flaky layered crust that’s sure to impress.) Roll out dough approximately 2 inches (5 cm) bigger than your pie shell.

While pastry chills, thinly slice onions and shallots; caramelize with butter in a pan. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Add about a cup of wine, just as the onions/leeks release their sugar and begin to stick for rich, sweet flavor. Once liquid has evaporated, remove onions and shallots; set aside.

Increase heat to high and add small amount of oil and butter; sauté mushrooms until they release liquid and edges are crispy. Mushrooms should be seared hot so they caramelize nicely; remove from heat before they go watery or limp. Once filling components have cooled, combine with 3 to 5 egg yolks (depending on tart size) and generous amount of cheese (Bonnechere – about 1 cup) to bind tart. Top with about ½ cup cheese (slices of Madawaska).

Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for up to 40 minutes. Be sure that the cheese has bubbled and is crisp before removing the pie from oven.

 

With Highland Blue…

Barbequed Venison Salad with Raspberry Balsamic

Recipe & photo credit: Bite – NZ’s home of Food

Blue cheese and venison is one of Jeff’s favourite pairings. A sprinkle of Highland Blue to finish this salad will punch up its WOW factor.

IngredientsBBQed Venison

olive oil to drizzle
8 medallions of venison
1 eggplant, sliced 1cm thick
2 red peppers cut into 2 cm thick wedges
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1cm thick wedges
2 corn cobs, husk removed, cooked in boiling water for 2 minutes
1 basket cherry tomatoes, halved
4 handfuls baby rocket, watercress or mesclun leaves

Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

½ cup raspberries, fresh, or thawed from frozen
1 lemon
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
75 grams of Highland Blue cheese (Vanessa’s addition!)

Method

Heat barbecue on medium to high heat. Rub oil over venison and season with salt. Drizzle eggplant, red pepper, asparagus, corn and red onion with olive oil. Cook venison for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium (do not cook more than medium).

Set meat aside to rest before slicing. Cook eggplant, pepper, asparagus, corn and red onion for 5-10 minutes on barbecue until cooked through.

To make the dressing, shake all ingredients together in a screw-top jar until well combined.

When cool enough to handle, cut corn kernels off the cob using a sharp knife.

To serve, toss salad leaves and cherry tomatoes with barbecued vegetables and venison. Divide between plates and drizzle with raspberry balsamic dressing. Top with crumbled Highland Blue.


Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

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Fan of ice cream? You’ll love COWS Creamery cheeses too

Posted by Vanessa

Monday, February 22nd, 2016
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Savvy Cool Curds cheese of the month club
Featuring COWS Creamery
–  February 2016 –

 

February is the time to celebrate LOVE – the love of artisan cheese, that is, through Savvy Cool Curds –Canada’s only artisan cheese-of-the-month club. We are udderly in love and absolutely crazy for the craft cow’s milk cheddars you’ll discover, sent with TLC from the hardworking team at COWS Creamery all the whey from Charlottetown, PEI. Hope you like those cheese-y puns!

cows logoCOWS Creamery cheesemaker Armand Bernard caringly selected and packed our Savvy Cool Curds shipment personally. “We were thrilled to have our products included in the Savvy Cool Curds Cheese of-the-month-club! Working with Vanessa and the Savvy Company has been great & energizing.  We appreciate everything they are doing to promote our products & Canadian artisan cheeses in order to get our cheeses enjoyed by consumers.”

We’re equally as excited to have COWS Creamery on board as featured cheesemakers this month. Time to crack open this month’s Savvy Cool Curds and get mooving!

CoolCurds_mail-2In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

Over a kilogram of hard-to-find artisan cheese including wedges and blocks of:

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar 400g

Extra Old Cheddar 400g

Appletree Smoked Cheddar 250g

NEW! Cultured Butter 250g

Craving more COWS Creamery cheddars?

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 cheers@savvycompany.ca

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing…
COWS Creamery

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

 

cows building

I made a quick side trip following Devour Food Film Fest last fall to catch up with the folks from COWS Creamery. From meeting Scott Linkletter, passionate president to bubbly wholesale manager Andrea White to dedicated cheesemaker Armand Bertrand,visits are always a pleasure, one really feels at home in their company.

My adventure began with Armand’s warm PEI welcome and a tour of the COWS Creamery empire minutes from downtown Charlottetown, PEI. What a treat to watch ice cream making in action – “Wowie Cowie” using all natural, wholesome ingredients lovingly added by hand!

Ice cream & cheese & oysters, oh my!

The COWS story begins with with COWS world famous ice cream launch in 1983. Today they have over 32 flavours. T-shirts followed in 1987 – its was a business opportunity that hatched because shirts kept being sold off the backs of staff due to the popular whimsical images of a local artist.

Did you know that COWS has been producing some of North America’s most sought after oysters since the early 1990’s? I was treated to a quick visit to Raspberry Point Oysters, where I had the good fortune to slurp a salty “Lucky Lime Oyster” fresh out of the bay. Highly recommended on your next PEI road trip!

blocks of cheese2006 started cheese production with Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar and COWS Extra Old Cheddar was also born as a fortuitous by-product when it was discovered they didn’t have enough molds for all the curd produced. We are excited to have these in your Savvy Cool Curds…so excited that we doubled up in your parcel!

Scott Linkletter presides over this small culinary kingdom around Prince Edward Island, which today has expanded beyond ice cream, oysters & cheese to now include Anne of Green Gables chocolates & Raspberry Cordial.

True Terroir

Terroir in cheesemaking is defined as a reflection of the milk from the region into the cheese. COWS Creamery cheeses are some of the best examples of Canadian terroir, expressing all that PEI lands offer from salt air exposure to iron rich red soil. Holstein and other variety cows from small farms provide fresh PEI milk that manifest flavors akin to a potato warehouse, making its terroir unique as a tiny blip in a big country but with something in the air and soil that can’t be replicated anywhere according to Armand.

One process – two contrasting cheeses

COWS cheddars are the most amazing contrast in cheeses – beginning with the exact same simple ingredients and cheese production process, yet ending with vastly different results. Once ready, COWS Extra Old Cheddar curds are pressed into 40 kilo blocks, vacuum packed and aged under plastic for 20 months or so. Avonlea clothbound is pressed into molds and receives multi-layers of cheesecloth smeared with lard, aging exposed to air for 14-18 months. Over that time while being brushed, flipped and turned regularly it will lose approximately 10% of moisture contributing to its drier, flaky texture.

Proud Moments

Cheesemaker armand cheesemakerArmand (in photo on left) feels proud every time an award is won, whether at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, Canadian Cheese Awards, US ACS Competition or on a big stage recently at the World Cheese Awards which was a bit of a shock as it was decided on a whim to enter. Avonlea Clothbound received Super Gold as one of the top 16 cheeses in the world held in the same company as the likes of Keens and Montgomery cheddars that have been winning for generations. To him its a validation of a good recipe right from farm to make process to aging and that they are on the right path. We couldn’t agree more!

Say Canadian cheese!

Armand maintains Canada has one of the best and safest milk supplies in the world which means by starting off with the best product and adding TLC is going to result in fantastic cheese. Looking at all the small producers and niche cheeses made here, quality is improving every year, and with the global recognition of it, Canadian cheese absolutely competes.

• Cheese Tasting Notes •

 

Below are Vanessa’s tasting notes for each cheese in your Savvy Cool Curds, along with additional tidbits of interesting information, suggested food pairings &recipes to try too!

Extra Old Cheddar

Cows Extra Old CheddarOne of the very best qualities of artisan cheese is their uniqueness. Like children or snowflakes, no two cheeses are ever the same. This holds true for COWS Creamery Extra Old Cheddar, a stark contrast bi-product to COWS flagship cheese Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. Although hard to believe they are made from the same milk and process, Extra Old Cheddar was born of happenstance due to a surplus of milk and lack of clothbound cheddar molds, the pressing and ripening stages being the only differences in production.

Tasting Notes: Multi-award winning Extra Old Cheddar is a gently heat-treated (unpasteurized) cow’s milk cheese, with a semi-firm, smooth, pale butter yellow coloured paste made using vegetable rennet.  It’s nicely balanced for cheddar, with milky aroma, mild fruity and saltiness and not a sharp bite but more a robust, complex, cooked milk flavour that lingers.  Cheesemaker Armand advises its “best enjoyed between eighteen and twenty-four months, which concentrates the flavours, giving an “old, traditional, production profile on the palate.” Bernard describes the Extra Old Cheddar as “wholesome, original, historic, and back to what our grandparents used to know”, recommending to “try a bite and let it speak.”

Suggested Pairing: This versatile cheese rises to every occasion, enhancing soups, sandwiches, casseroles and an omelette of all kinds or as cheesemaker Armand likes it, as an accompaniment to an egg sandwich.

 

Appletree Smoked Cheddar

This amazing cheese was based on the COWS Extra Old Cheddar recipe, aged for 2 years, Appletree Smoked Cheddar is vastly different in texture and taste profile. Each piece or loaf is cold smoked for 8 hours to enhance the flavor.

cows smoked cheddar2014 – World Championship Cheese Contest – Awarded World’s Best Smoked Cheddar

2013 – Canadian Cheese Grand Prix – Awarded Canada’s Best Flavored Cheese

Tasting Notes: The key to excellent smoked cheddar is to begin with an awesome cheese (and not have the smoke mask an inferior product as some do). Appletree Smoked Cheddar has a beautiful pale caramel exterior. When sliced you can see how the smoke penetrated the cheese. Tasting gives maple, bacon and umami flavors layered over butter.

Suggested Pairing: Add a few slices to a breakfast BLT, melt over homemade or BBQ burgers for an extra je ne sais quoi or enjoy on its own with a craft Porter or Stout beer.

 

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

Inspired by a Scottish recipe and English style cheddar & made in the tradition of the colonial times of one of my favourite childhood book series, Anne of Green Gables is award-winning Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, recently taking title to 2015 Best Vintage Cheddar at the World Cheese Awards. Cheesemaker Armand Bernard muses, “we went back in time to bring the flavour forward” and of this, the cheese speaks for itself.”Avonlea Clothbound tops Vanessa’s Canadian best Canadian artisan cheese list.

Tasting Notes: This attractive-looking, tasty cheddar is a complete contrast from the Extra Old Cow’s Block Cheddar, even though they’re made from the same unpasteurized milk. Aged on white fir wooden shelves for 14-18 months at 10-12 degrees & approximately 88-90% humidity, when ripe it shows a natural, waxy-like rind closer to the outside enveloped by a dark grey/brown, aged, weathered-looking cheesecloth covering. Inside is a burst of gold goodness of crumbly texture, with a complex aroma and flavour profile. It’s earthy (think potato) closer to the outside, but with creamy, buttery, sweet & tangy flavours in the chewy center, all at the same time.

Suggested Pairing: Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is perfect for nibbling on it’s own. Pair with a robust oaky Ontario chardonnay or track down Niagara’s Coyote’s Run Merlot – the pairing with Avonlea was all the rave at at a recent Savvy Event.

Armand’s tip: Avonlea is a household peacekeeper it goes equally well with wine or beer.

 

NEW! Cultured Butter

Cows butterHot off the press (or out of the butter mold as the case may be) and exclusively for our Savvy Cool Curds subscribers is a sneak preview of COWS Creamery newly launched Cultured Butter. Our shipment includes the blocks from the very first batch of COWS Cultured Butter – it’s so early the product packaging isn’t even ready yet (foil will be pink!)

Cultured butter (very European style) is made with active bacteria that are added into the cream the night before and left to let sit and cool. The result is a mildly tangy taste with a touch less salt than normal, giving more of a true creamy reflection of milk flavor but with the same 84% butterfat content as the COWS sea salted, unsalted churned butter.

Tasting Notes: COWS Creamery Cultured butter is the palest of yellows in hue, and has a soft, silky texture on the palate. Flavors are cream forward, followed by a slight tang and finishing with a hint of buttery mashed potato.

Suggested Pairing: Use this special cultured butter sparingly, savouring every moment: a small pat on your favourite fresh-out-of-the-oven homemade blueberry muffins, smeared on grainy toast or pooled melted in a mound of mashed potatoes.

 

Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With Extra Old Cheddar…

The Best Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese

FoodNetwork.ca by Jamie Oliver
Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

Broccoli and Cheese - Food Network Canada2 clove garlic
50 g unsalted butter
50 g plain flour
500 mL semi-skimmed milk
500 g fresh or frozen broccoli
75 g mature Cheddar cheese (COWS Extra Old Cheddar)
1 kg fresh or frozen cauliflower
2 slices ciabatta or stale bread
2 sprig fresh thyme
25 g flaked almonds
Olive oil

Photo Credit: foodnetwork.ca

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

Peel and finely slice the garlic and put it into a medium pan on a medium heat with the butter. When the butter has melted, stir in the flour for a minute to make a paste, then gradually add the milk, whisking as you go, until lovely and smooth.

Add the broccoli (cut up first, if using fresh) and simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is cooked through and starts to break down, then mash or blitz with a stick blender (adding an extra splash of milk to loosen, if using fresh broccoli). Grate in half the Cheddar and season to perfection.

Arrange the cauliflower in an appropriately sized baking dish (cut into florets first, if using fresh), pour over the broccoli white sauce and grate over the remaining Cheddar. Blitz the bread into breadcrumbs in a food processor, then pulse in the thyme leaves and almonds. Toss with a splash of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and then scatter evenly over the cauliflower cheese. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden and cooked through, then enjoy!

Tip: It’s really good fun to play around with different cheeses in this dish and how they taste and melt. It’s also nice to try different veg instead of cauliflower – for instance, 2–3cm chunks of celeriac, squash, potatoes or leeks would all work a treat. Have a play and see what your favorites are – some veg might take longer to cook than others, so test with a knife to check they’re cooked through before serving.

 

With Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar…

Great-Grandma’s Sour Cream Apple Pie

Recipe from Anita Stewart’s CANADA: The Food, The Recipes, The Stories (HarperCollins Canada 2008) FoodDayCanada.ca

Savvy Cool Curds…one of the neatest new ways to stock up on some of the finest cheeses in this
fromage-loving country of ours, at the peak of ripeness.” – Anita Stewart

From Anita Stewart…

As many realize, a recipe can be a chronicle of a way of life. My now 98 year-old mother wrote: “We always called this ‘Dutch-apple pie.’  It was quite a favorite in my growing-up years.  I recall vividly my grandmother making it. She was from Prussia. The sour cream came, of course, from the cream can in the cellar.  That cream can held the makings of our home-churned butter, sour cream for mother’s biscuits, etc.  What was left over was picked up by the creamery truck to be made into butter, which eventually found its way into our local grocery stores.

Today I use Northern Spys, which are often huge…and I just bought a basket of medium sized Greenings, one of the old fashioned apples of southern Ontario orchards. If you’re using a smaller variety like Cortland or Gala, you will likely have to increase the number of apples to 4 or 6. The only prerequisite is that the apples must be from a Canadian orchard. I bake with lard. In my grandmother’s day, she would have rendered her own pigs to get the fat to make the pie shell so crisp and golden.  But access to good pork fat is rare these days so I use Tenderflake & the pastry recipe on the package.”

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 80 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings

Food Day Canada - Apple PieIngredients

One unbaked 9”(23 cm) unbaked pie shell
3 or 4 large tart apples, such as Northern Spys
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
3 Tbsp (45 mL) all purpose flour
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) sour cream
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1 Tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar (second amount)
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, thinly sliced (Vanessa’s addition!)

Photo Credit: fooddaycanada.ca

Method

Peel and slice the apples into unbaked pie shell.  Reserve 1 tbsp. (15 mL) of the sugar. Stir remaining sugar with the flour, salt and sour cream until smooth.  Spread over the apples.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and reserved sugar.

Bake in preheated 425’F(220’C) oven for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350’F (180’C) and continue baking until bubbling and lightly browned, about 35 – 40 minutes.  Let cool for 30 minutes to set before serving. Garnish with long curls (made with veg peeler) or thin slices of Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar.

 

With Appletree Smoked Cheddar…

Classic Cheddar Beer Fondue

Perfect for celebrating in February, the smoked cheddar will add a flavour twist to this dish!

Recipe & photo from eatwisconsincheese.com
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

Cheese Fondue1 large shallot, minced
2 Tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup lager or pilsner beer
4 cups (16 ounces) (Try a Canadian Craft Beer from Savvy Hip Hops!) Wisconsin cheddar cheese, shredded (Substitute COWS Appletree Smoked Cheddar)
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

For Dipping:
Sliced apples, French bread, broccoli, cauliflower florets…even boiled PEI potatoes!

Method

Sauté shallot in butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until tender. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Stir in beer; heat until warm. Reduce heat to low.

Toss cheddar with flour, mustard powder, paprika and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Gradually add cheese mixture to saucepan, stirring constantly between each addition until melted. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer cheese sauce from the saucepan into a warm fondue pot. Keep warm. Serve with apples slices, jalapeno cheese or French bread cubes, broccoli and cauliflower florets.

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

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Top 5 reasons to go the Cheese Festival

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
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The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is a fun-filled weekend of nibbling delicious artisan cheese from coast to coast.  No where in Canada are there more chunks of cheese than here – and it all happens in the quaint town of Picton in the heart of Prince Edward County. We have been proud to sponsor this festival every year.  With so much to see, eat & do, here are our top 5 reasons why you should join us.  Pack up the car & head down for the weekend, or join us on the Savvy Bus – only a few seats left!

Makers & Mongers dinner logo#1 – Have dinner under the stars at the NEW Makers+Mongers event

Mix and mingle with the neat people who make and sell great cheese and tasty artisan foods while eating, drinking and making merry at Makers+Mongers on Saturday evening.

What’s for dinner?

Artisan appetizers
Cheese-themed dishes
Unbelievably tasty chicken on the barbie by Seed to Sausage
Ontario’s finest wines and newest craft beers featured at the cash bar
Cheese-themed dishes prepared by local chefs using winners in the Canadian Cheese Awards.

The Guest of Honour: Marie-Claude Harvey of Fromagerie FX Pichet, makers of Le Baluchon, the Canadian Cheese of the Year.

Here are all the details of the evening:

Date: Saturday June 7, doors open at 6 p.m.
Setting: Casual and informal – with music
Location: Cheese Festival’s new Celebrate Ontario Pavilion on Picton Fairgrounds in Picton, Ontario.
Admission:  $26.55+HST
Click here to purchase advance tickets  or purchase at the door. Hurry as only 300 tickets to this exclusive event will be sold.

 

#2 – You be the Judge – tutored tasting hosted by Vanessa Simmons & Janice Beaton

Saturday at 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
The tables are turned…this time you will be the judge as you taste & score Canadian Cheese Awards winners to select People’s Choice for Canadian Cheese of the Year.

cheese-of-the-year-1000-mar-19-copyHere is your chance to sample the 16 best artisan cheeses made in Canada in a three-hour marathon tasting. Yes…3 hours of nothing but cheese! Evaluate and score them just like a judge would in a competition.  You’ll be guided by two experts who served as judges at the Canadian Cheese Awards earlier this year, Vanessa Simmons cheese sommelier at Savvy Company and Janice Beaton, owner of Janice Beaton Fine Cheese and FARM Restaurant, Calgary. Your scores will be tabulated on the spot to then determine the People’s Choice Canadian Cheese of the Year. It will be interesting to compare your choice against the cheese the professional judges named at the REAL Canadian Cheese Awards on April 7 2014 in Toronto.Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese Sommelier

Janice and Vanessa were amongst those judges.  During this tasting, they will explain how to look for technical excellence and why different cheese show different aesthetic qualities. In the end, it comes down to flavour, aroma and texture. The 16 cheeses you will sample and judge will be the category winners in the Awards, such as Washed Rind Cheese, Flavoured Cheese and Fresh Cheese. Click here to view the entire list of categories.

You’ll leave the tasting with a much deeper understanding of cheese. Don’t quit your day job just yet! As a new ‘judge’, you’ll be given a red Canadian Cheese Awards apron as well as VIP pass to the 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards in Montréal.

Tickets: still a few spots left – ORDER NOW

 

#3 – Wine or Beer, Which Pairs Better with Cheese? – tutored tasting hosted by Debbie Trenholm

Debbie Trenholm - Savvy CompanySaturday at 2 p.m.
We’ve all been to a Wine & Cheese . . . but might Beer & Cheese be a better taste match?

Join Debbie Trenholm, Sommelier at Savvy Company and founder of Savvy Hip Hops Ontario craft-beer-of-the-month-club as she puts fine wines and craft beers to the taste test.  The winning verdict of this Battle of the Taste Buds will be determined after enjoying many chunks of award-winning Canadian cheese paired with outstanding Ontario wines and craft beers. It’s not easy being cheesy, yet one thing is for sure, this tasting will be delicious!

Bonus: All participants will take home complimentary wine and beer tasting glasses.

Tickets: still a few spots left – ORDER NOW

 

#4 – More than 200 amazing Canadian artisan cheeses

Vanessa cheese board for CBC Radio Canada Fr transmissionArtisan cheeses from coast to coast – hardly any available in grocery stores!

The Festival showcases producers who turn the pure milk of Canadian cows, goats, sheep and water buffalo into cheese, using no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

At this year’s Cheese Festival there will be more than 125 cheeses from Canadian producers that you can buy. Bring cash as Crystal Palace, our historic venue, isn’t wired for credit cards. There is an ATM on the premises. An insulated Festival cooler bag for hauling fromage home can be purchased for $10 to benefit a cheese scholarship for a deserving young Canadian.

Click here for a complete list of cheese makers from Ontario, Quebec, BC, Nova Scotia & PEI.

 

#5 – Buy your favorite Ontario Wines

The fine wines of Prince Edward County, the newest VQA wine region in Canada, are naturally front and centre at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, but this year, for the first time, you’ll also be able to taste wine from Niagara.

Click here for the list of wineries from Ontario which will be at the Cheese Festival.

 

Cheeseheads at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival by Vanessa Simmons…and there are even more reasons go to the Cheese Festival!

A variety of specialty exhibitors and vendors can be found in the Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair showcasing artisanal foods, wine, beer and cider. Click here for the list of other exhibitors & vendors to make this a great day out.

So whether you drive or hop on the Savvy Bus from Ottawa & Kingston, we want you to make the most of your cheese laden weekend.

 

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