Posts Tagged ‘Back Forty Artisan Cheese’

 It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy

Posted by Debbie

Friday, January 8th, 2016
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Are you often mesmerized by the number of different cheeses? There are so many interesting wedges and rounds that it is hard to know where to start. In the latest issue of Ottawa Life Magazine, our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons advises, “Try it all! Good cheese shops in town will offer you a small slice to sample.”

And you don’t have to look farther than our own backyard for artisan cheese that rivals any around the globe. A few months ago, Glengarry Fine Cheese located in Alexandria (35 minutes from downtown Ottawa) was awarded Best of Show for its Celtic Blue Reserve at the 2015 American Cheese Society Awards. In November at the World Cheese Awards, Prince Edward Island’s Cow’s Creamery won Super Gold in the Vintage Cheddar category for its Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. To add to this high acclaim, this unique cheddar was named one of the top 16 cheeses in the world.

Spend your time searching for good cheese

Like wine and craft beer, not everything that the cheesemaker creates is readily available at your local grocery store. Farm Boy, Whole Foods, Metro and some Loblaws locations all have decent Canadian cheese selection. Specialty stores like Jacobsons (New Edinburgh), Nicastro’s (Westboro & downtown), Serious Cheese (Kanata) and The Piggy Market (Westboro) have even a greater selection of hard-to-come-by artisan cheeses.

CoolCurds_mail-2Or…have it delivered to your door!

Rather than running around all these stores, you can have cheese delivered. There is a new ‘whey’ to discover artisan cheeses made across Canada…subscribing to Savvy Cool Curds artisan cheese-of-the-month club. “It is our way of forging a connection between the dynamic people who make artisan cheeses and the consumers who enjoy it at home”, explains Simmons. Each month a different Canadian cheesemaker is showcased and Simmons curates 4 to 5 different cheeses in a parcel that is delivered to the subscriber’s home or office. “To add to the enjoyment of each bite of cheese, I share the stories behind the uber-talented, passionate, creative and often eclectic cheesemakers. Each person has an interesting story that makes their cheese even richer.”

Meet Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons

Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese SommelierThere is no one better suited than Vanessa Simmons to select the best in Canadian cheese to discover each month. Savvy Cool Curds is hands-down a great idea. I see it each year at our festival, consumers want local…they want Canadian!” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, Founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

What’s in the box?

Every month subscribers will receive a parcel hand-delivered containing 4 to 5 different wedges and rounds between 200 to 250 grams each. The assortment of farmstead and artisan cheeses are at their peak ripeness and ready to simply be unwrapped and served. From fresh to washed or aged, made using  cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and on occasion – buffalo milk; all told, the parcel will be approximately 1 kilogram of delicious Canadian artisan cheese.

Coming soon

Cheese lovers will be in heaven when their monthly parcel arrives from these cheesemakers: Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese (Ontario), Cow’s Creamery (PEI), Back Forty Artisan Cheese (Ontario), Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères (Quebec), and new on the scene in Prince Edward County Lighthall Vineyards & Dairy (Ontario). And that is just the beginning.

To top it all off, in each issue of the monthly Curd On The Street Magazine, Simmons’ shares her tasting notes, tips & tricks, along with cheese-laden recipes.

Seriously…Canadian artisan cheese delivered to your doorstep. Does life get any better than this?

 

This article will appear in the Feb/March 2016 Ottawa Life Magazine

 

 

 

 

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Our BIG CHEESE News!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
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ANNOUNCING: New cheese-of-the-month club delivers hard-to-come-by Canadian artisan cheeses Savvy Company launches ‘Savvy Cool Curds’.

Ottawa-based Savvy Company just made it easier for cheese lovers to enjoy the growing number of artisan cheeses being produced across Canada. Today Savvy Company has launched Canada’s first cheese-of-the-month club that hand delivers ready-to-enjoy Canadian artisan cheeses to your doorstep. Known for its wine & craft beer expertise and innovative Taste and Buy events, Savvy Company has expanded its business to work with cheesemakers, creating yet another innovative way of connecting consumers with producers with this new service.  Well-known Savvy Company Cheese Sommelier, Vanessa Simmons, will curate Savvy Cool Curds.

CoolCurds_mail-2“The artisan cheese industry in Canada is growing tremendously and making an incredible impression on the world stage.  Just last week at the World Cheese Awards, Prince Edward Island’s Cow’s Creamery won SuperGold in the Vintage Cheddar category for its Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar and it was named one of the top 16 cheeses in the world! In August, Ontario’s Glengarry Fine Cheese was awarded Best of Show for its Celtic Blue Reserve at the 2015 American Cheese Society Awards,” says Savvy Company president and sommelier Debbie Trenholm.

“Artisan cheese is a perfect pairing with wine or craft beer.  We offer Savvy Selections wine-of-the-month club and Savvy Hip Hops craft beer-of-the-month club which have both become the largest in Ontario.  Launching Savvy Cool Curds was a natural progression, seizing yet another opportunity to wave the Canadian flag.”

savvy_coolcurds_ColourEvery month Savvy Cool Curds subscribers will receive a parcel hand-delivered on the Wednesday closest to the 15th of the month.  A delivery of Savvy Cool Curds will contain 4 to 5 different wedges and rounds between 200 to 250 grams each.  A variety of farmstead and artisan cheeses have been hand-selected by Simmons and the month’s featured cheesemaker to ensure seasonality and peak ripeness for immediate enjoyment.  From fresh to washed or aged and made using various milks – cow, goat, sheep and on occasion – buffalo; all told, the parcel will be approximately 1 kilogram of delicious Canadian artisan cheese.

To further the enjoyment & discovery of the featured cheeses, subscribers will receive the Curd on the Street eZine – a monthly mini magazine with the insider scoop, Cheese Sommelier’s tasting notes, tips & tricks along with cheese-laden recipes.

“Savvy Cool Curds is hands-down a great idea. There is no one better suited than Vanessa Simmons to select the best in Canadian cheese to discover each month. I’m sure the cheese-of-the-month club will succeed because consumers want local…they want Canadian,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, Founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival held annually in Picton, Ontario.

“The team at Savvy Company is great & having this opportunity to be featured in Savvy Cool Curds is exciting for us. Anyone who has met Vanessa Simmons quickly sees 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.  Subscribers to Savvy Cool Curds will benefit from her personal connections…the best part is that all of the cheese discoveries will be Canadian,” glows Maggie Paradis, owner & cheesemaker, Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères in Quèbec.

The feature cheesemakers to date for 2016 include:Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese Sommelier

January Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, Woodstock (ON)
FebruaryCow’s Creamery, Charlottetown (PEI)
MarchBack Forty Artisan Cheese, Lanark (ON)
April Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères, St-Sixte, (QC)
May Lighthall Vineyards & Dairy, Prince Edward County (ON)

To subscribe for four, six, 12 months or longer, visit www.savvycoolcurds.ca.
Holiday Promo – subscribe for 6 or 12 months before December 30th & the subscription cost will be $55 per month (regular $60).

“As soon as Debbie told me about Savvy Cool Curds, I wanted to be featured. In fact, a cheese-of-the-month club is so incredible, that I am going to subscribe!” supports Glenn Symons, owner, winemaker & assistant cheesemaker, Lighthall Vineyards & Dairy.

“Consumers have fallen in love with artisan cheese. It is amazing. We have people who have subscribed to both our wine & craft beer of-the-month-clubs.  Now, their fridge will be full!’ exclaims Trenholm.

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More about Savvy Company

Savvy Company specializes in creative social experiences – whether making the enjoyment of wine accessible to all, exploring the worlds of craft beer or discovering artisan cheeses. Their team of accredited Sommeliers delight in designing wine, beer and artisan events, shining the spotlight on the people who make them.  Their Savvy Selections wine-of-the-month club is Ontario’s largest featuring Ontario wines not available in the LCBO, while Savvy Hip Hops has rapidly grown to be Ontario’s largest craft beer-of-the-month club.  Recently Savvy Company launched Savvy Cool Curds – Canada’s first artisan cheese-of-the-month club. Visit www.savvycompany.ca, follow @SavvyCompany or @SavvyVanessa on Twitter.

 

Media Contact:
Debbie Trenholm
Founder & Sommelier
Savvy Company
debbie@savvycompany.ca
@savvydebbie
613.SAVVYCO (613.728.8926)
cell: 613-851-1785

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12 Outstanding Cheeses of 2014

Posted by Vanessa

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

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

Celtic Blue Reserve

Glengarry Celtic Blue Reserve

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

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

Taliah

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

Taliah

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

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

Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar

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

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

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

Bonnechere

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

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

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

Magie De Madawaska

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

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

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

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

Bella Casara Mascarpone

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

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

 

Quality Cheese burrataQuality Cheese Hand-Pulled Burrata

Another winner by Quality Cheese.

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

 

Sylvan Star Natural Smoked Gouda

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

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

Chever a ma maniereChèvre a Ma Maniere

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

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

 La Madeleine

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

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

Pont Blanc

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

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

Laliberté

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Riverview Cellars – a little winery making BIG wines

Posted by Erin

Monday, June 16th, 2014
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Savvy Selections Ontario wine of the month club

Savvy Selections wine of the month club 
Featuring Riverview Cellars

– June 2014 –

 

Riverview Cellars is boutique winery that is a true family affair. There are 2 generations working together in harmony with a shared vision and passion to create beautiful, approachable wines produced in small batches. The family has been on the land since 1975 starting out with fruit farm. In 1992, the transition began with the first rows of vineyards took shape with Gewürztraminer vines that are now producing award winning vintages – more on that later!

What you need to know now is that the Pillitteri family comprises of Salvatore (Sam) & his wife Angelia (Lina) as well as their 4 children Angela, Maria, Connie & Michael (Mike).  Together this tight knit family fulfilled a dream of opening the winery in 2000 and it has been going gang-busters ever since.

Our Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling chatted with prodigal son Mike Pillitteri who is the General Manager to catch up with what has been happening at the winery since we last featured them in Savvy Selections (in 2011 – during their 10th anniversary) and to see what he thinks will make his winery THE place to see on your summer wine tour of Niagara.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Angelina’s Reserve Gewürztraminer VQA 2012– $19.95 This wine is so consistent, it wins medals year after year.

Salvatore’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2011– $24.95 A signature wine & a personal favourite of Mike’s. He is very proud that we selected this wine as it just won a silver medal at the Ontario Wine Awards held in April.

Salvatore’s Reserve Syrah VQA 2012 $29.95 An incredible red wine from Niagara-on-the-Lake that is hard to come by as only 207 cases in produced. These vines did not fare well during the past harsh winter, so Mike is doubtful that there will be any 2014 Syrah wine made.

Where to find those hard-to-find wines…

Due to the small batch nature of wine produced at Riverview, it is rare to find a wide selection of their wines at the LCBO.  If you would like additional bottles of your Riverview favourites – or other featured Ontario wineries – just give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to debbie@savvycompany.cato arrange an additional delivery for you. It is always my pleasure to introduce you to wonderful new Ontario wines!

Do you like Rosés?

Our Savvy Sommeliers have been hard at it, tasting 30+ recently released Rosés from across Ontario to pick out the best of the best for you to enjoy over the summer.  In the upcoming few weeks, we will be launching a new case of wine offering – that will make you think pink all summer long.  Stay tuned…

Cheers & enjoy your Riverview wines!

Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing…

Riverview Cellars Estate Winery

Presented by Erin Bolling

Now that summer has arrived (fingers crossed) my thoughts are turning to vacation time, patio entertaining and BBQ – right?  The wines from Riverview Cellars suit all palates and foods year round with their style that will impress a connoisseur and make a novice feel comfortable with each bottle they open.  From the winery tasting room, to the glass, Riverview creates wine enjoyment. The following quote on Trip Advisor seems to sum up the experience: “We are tourists, not wine connoisseurs. They made us feel welcome and very comfortable.” Meanwhile, our panel of Savvy Sommeliers was impressed to the point there was debate about which wines to offer this month. Read on to see why Riverview is a must-visit when you plan your next trip to the Niagara wine region.

A family Affair

Mike and familyFirstly allow me to take a line to congratulate Mike and his wife Sarah (in photo on left) on the birth of their second son Leo a few weeks ago. I was amazed and pleased he had so much time for me with all the winery work while juggling fatherhood. The fact that we spoke by phone did not dampen his ability to portray his true passion for what he does and how grateful he is to be part of this family run winery.

His father Sam is his mentor and colleague. Sam focuses on the vineyard while Mike is the General Manager. Mike’s three sisters helped to launch the winery and contributed their artistic talents to developing the Riverview brand. You can still find the family matriarch (and mother) Lina working occasionally in the gift shop. While Mike’s sons are only 3 yearsold and 7 weeks – who knows – perhaps his boys will continue the next generation of the family business.

The Little Winery that Could

Riverview is a ‘boutique’ winery. This may be a buzz word these days, yet Riverview lives up to the image that a boutique winery evokes. The wines are made in small batches and carefully hand crafted by the winemaker. These wines are difficult to find at the LCBO because their production quotas are often not enough; what a loss for those who do not subscribe to Savvy Selections (shameless plug but I can’t help it)!

Mike stressed the personal relationship he & his team strive to establish with each and every customer. Even as a GM, can find Mike in the tasting ready to welcome visitors. For Savvy Selections subscribers, Mike asked me to mention that if you call in advance he’ll be happy to conduct a winery tour himself with you!  Equally, we look forward to introducing you to the Pillitteri family when they participate in an upcoming Savvy Event.

Boutique wineries are often thought to produce better wines, and this is definitely in the case of Riverview. In fact the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and the Gewurztraminer reigned over the big wineries with recently having won silver medals at the Ontario Wine Awards. This is certainly impressive – Congrats Mike!

The Elephant in the Room…..

The trees may be in full leaf right now but I’m sure we all remember the harsh winter that just passed. Again, Mike’s candidness with me was a pleasure because of course I’m curious about what we can expect from the 2014 season (as far as he can tell at this point).

Old man winter did not treat all vines equally.  Mike reports that the Syrah vines in Niagara were decimated. Cool climate Syrah is gaining in popularity with its fresh, peppery qualities. When you open this bottle make sure to savour it….this wine is sourced from a trusted farmer in NOTL who was not able to save any of the Syrah after this past winter. The Syrah in your Savvy Selections is a hot commodity (and not even listed on Riverview’s web site).

Overall at Riverview, the vineyards seem to have fared approximately at a 60%-70% survival rate – and this is good news. The Niagara River sub-appellation has an extra pocket of protection and benefits from the lake effect as well as close proximity to the Niagara River. This results in earlier spring warming and moderate temperatures that shelter the vines from frost that result in an overall longer growing season.

Planning a Vacation?

Riverview Cellars barn - low resWith a young family it can be hard to get away. Mike feels Riverview has something to offer the whole family. They grow their own peaches, nectarines, cherries & apples that are often available to enjoy with their special cheese plates to enjoy on the winery patio. In addition to wine, there is grape juice for the kids.

This summer Riverview will be hosting local food trucks and hosting the annual ‘Fontana Party’ in August. Mike told me that since they’re part of the cyclist network he keeps a set of Allen wrenches nearby in case a bicycle breaks down he can help!

The cycling path follows along the river and is across from the winery so plan to bring or rent a bike and enjoy the scenery and great wines. Now that is a great way to explore Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

 

Reserve Gewürztraminer VQA 2012 $19.95

When asked what wine he most often drinks Mike didn’t hesitate in stating this Gewürztraminer is the one! He enjoys the complexity of this wine and its ability to match with Asian and Indian cooking. The Savvy Selections tasting panel has to agree. In fact, Mike shared with us his personal recipe for Pad Thai that he regularly serves for his friends & cooking group ‘Dudes with Food’.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A classic example of Gewürztraminer. The first thing we noticed was the aromatic nose – teasing us with floral roses and ginger spice. The taste follows through with lychee, mango and apricot. The viscous mouth feel is like honey and the finish is satisfying and long, slightly sweet and spicy. Yum!

Suggested Food Pairing: Hands down, Gewürztraminer is one of the best food wines to serve with exotic foods. Whether you’re in the mood for Asian, Indian or Middle Eastern cuisine, you’ll find a happy match with anything spicy.

 

Salvatore’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2011$24.95

A silver medal winner of 2014 Ontario Wine Awards, Mike is especially proud of this since 2011 vintage was not one of the best years for this grape in Niagara. He felt the upgraded drainage of the vineyard done 5 years ago helped hold in the nutrients that translated to this winning wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:This Cabernet Sauvignon has aromas of strawberry, rhubarb, cranberry and allspice with hints of dark chocolate that follow through on the finish. It is a well integrated wine with a smooth, juicy finish that lasts just long enough.

Suggested Food Pairing:  The Savvy Sommeliers agreed that this would be another great BBQ wine or take a pause to enjoy it with mushroom risotto, a Sunday roast or event pasta with meat sauce. With such a versatile wine, let’s try something completely different and pour a glass to unwind with an artisan cheese plate loaded with Canadian cheeses – just like they serve at the winery.

 

Salvatore’s Reserve Syrah VQA 2012 $29.95

According to the newly released Maclean’s Magazine special edition ‘Wine in Canada’, Syrah may be the new hot grape grown in Canada’s cool climate. Our Savvy Selections tasting panel certainly attests that Riverview may be one of the trail blazers in popularizing this grape in Ontario with this outstanding wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:   “Pow!”,  “Hmm”, and “Aaahh” were heard simultaneously around the table when this wine was poured into the tasting glass. It is a deep red wine with earth, warm spice, fresh pepper, loads of fruit such as pomegranate, raspberry, blackberry and chocolate notes. At 13.1% it is not an overly alcoholic Syrah but it still packs a warm spicy punch and finish to match.

Suggested Food Pairing: There was no question that this is a wine that begs for the BBQ. We bantered back and forth between ideas of grilled duck, ribs or steak…but in the end have settled on steak with a mushroom sauce. No matter what you drink this with the peppery freshness of the Syrah will be a winning combination with anything from your grill.

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With Angelina’s Reserve Gewurztraminer VQA 2012…

Pad Thai
From Mike’s Kitchen

Ingredients

1 package of pad thai noodles (approx. 400g)
½ white onion (sliced julienne)
1 clove garlic
1 tea spoon of shredded ginger
2 table spoons coconut oil
2 table spoons peanut butter
2 large carrots (sliced julienne)
1 large red pepper (sliced julienne)
12-15 large shrimp uncooked
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
2-6 drops of sirachi sauce (depends on desired heat)
1 green onion1 handful of cilantroSalt & pepper

Method

Get large wok ready to a medium heat.

Put vegetable oil and toasted sesame oil in pan while adding onions, garlic, ginger. Sautee until translucent, then add sliced carrots and peppers along with peanut butter, coconut oil, sweet chili sauce, and srirachi .

Boil noodles until soft and add to wok when ready.

Add shrimp into wok and cook with mixture until the shrimp turns pink.  Add salt, pepper and herbs to taste.

Toss frequently and serve, enjoy!

 

With Salvatore’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2011…

Artisan Cheese Plate

Holiday-Cheese-BoardWhen it comes to pairing wine with cheese there are no hard and fast rules.  It is a world of ‘drink what you like and eat what you like’. As a rule of thumb, Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with hard cheeses such as Old Cheddar and Parmesan. Additionally, soft Blue Cheese, Gorgonzola or semi-soft Gouda would do the trick.

We turned to our Savvy Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons for specific recommendations of cheeses to match this Cabernet Sauvignon.   For more cheese ideas, read Vanessa’s blog: The Curd on the Street

 

Lankaaster Aged Glengarry Fine Cheese, Alexandria Ontario

Lankaaster from Glengarry Fine Cheese

 

2013 Global Cheese Awards – Supreme Global Champion 

Named for its local region (“kaas” the Dutch word for cheese), aged for 14 to 24 months, this extra old batch of Lancaster is from gourmet artisan cheese maker pioneer Margaret Morris. 

Vanessa’s Notes: Firm to hard cow’s milk cheeses comes shaped in a loaf or wheel, covered in a waxy rind is a Gouda-style after Dutch farmstead cheese. It’s rich, dense & chewy with intense buttery, fruity, caramelized nutty flavors that linger forever.

Bonnechère Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Lanark, Ontario

Bonnechere from Back Forty ArtisanRecently changed ownership, with new & very young cheesemakers at the helm who have in the cheese biz for just over a year, this striking cheese has not changed. If you see this cheese, don’t blink, don’t hesitate, snap it up immediately.  (it is great with craft beer too!)

Vanessa’s Notes: Bonnechère 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 Bonnechère smoky 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.

Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm, Nova Scotia

2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalist

A rare find! Take Note the recipe for this cheese is a closely guarded family secret.

Vanessa’s Notes: Unique in shape and size, these small cylinders are aged only a few weeks then coated with wax for ripening another 2-6 months. The flavor and texture varies by season, more buttery/creamy in the summer months with higher fat content in the milk. Note sharp blue flavor, moist texture with fruity notes, and little blue veining depending on exposure to air. More than worth the shipping charges!

Bleu D’Élizabeth Fromagerie de la Presbytere, Warwick Quebec

Bleu D'Elizabeth, Fromagerie de la Presbytere by Vanessa Simmons2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Category Winner: Blue Cheese& Organic Cheese

2013 Sélection Caseus, Quebec Fine Cheese Awards Best of Show Winner: Gold, Emeritus & Blue-Veined Cheese Category 

Vanessa’s Notes:A beautiful, semi-soft, raw organic cow’s milk blue cheese, it has a natural rind with spots of dark clay.  The creamy, silky, straw-colored paste is speckled with slate & blue-green veins throughout. Rich in flavor, with a hint of sweetness, spice, & salt, it pairs beautifully with iced wine, cider or port.

 

Building a Cheese Board with Pizazz

To create a cheese plate that will undoubtedly create ooohs and aaahs, Vanessa offers these tips in a recent blog: How to create a festive cheese board

Mix it up

Consider taste, style and texture. Choose a theme — region, milk type (cow, sheep, goat, buffalo) or category (fresh, soft, semi-soft, washed, firm, hard, blue). 3-5 cheeses display well on a board or serve one stellar cheese as an appetizer, or dessert. Buying cheeses that look different will offer visual appeal to your table. 5-10gms/cheese/person is a good rule of thumb.

Holiday-Cheese-BoardServe cheese with star treatment

Serve at room temperature. Offer one knife per cheese. Don’t cut up small pieces in advance. Allow breathing room between cheeses so aromas don’t mix. Use an interesting wooden board, cross cut log, plate, slate or marble tiles or tiered trays for visual appeal. Keep it simple and your cheese will shine.

Compliment your cheese

Serve specialty breads, gourmet crackers, fresh seasonal or dried fruits, figs, dates, raw or toasted nuts, olives, caramelized or pickled onions or milder charcuterie items as accompaniments

Store cheese properly

Wrap leftovers of soft, semi-soft and washed rind cheeses in parchment or cheese paper, and pop into a small Tupperware or Ziplock bag. Refrigerate in a container in the vegetable drawer (for high humidity).

Have a cheese tip for us?

If you find a particular good match with the Riverview Cabernet Sauvignon, let us know!  Send us your tip to cheers@savvycompany.ca or Tweet us at @SavvyCompany or directly with Vanessa @SavvyVanessa

 

With Riverview Salvatore’s Reserve Syrah VQA 2012…

Grilled Peppercorn Steak

From Foodnetwork.com
Serves 6

Ingredients

(10 -12 ounce) New York Strip Steaks
1 garlic clove, bruised, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil (or as needed)
1 cup cracked peppercorns, preferably a blend of black and white (approximate amount) or 1 cup fresh coarse ground black pepper (approximate amount)
salt, to taste

Method

Pat steaks dry with paper towels & rub both sides of each steak with garlic, then brush lightly with olive oil.

Line large baking sheet or tray with waxed paper.

Spread thin layer of pepper on plate, lightly coat both sides of steak with pepper, and place on waxed paper. Repeat with remaining steaks and additional pepper.

Meanwhile, prepare charcoal for grilling (or heat broiler); just before grilling, lightly salt both sides of steaks. Grill steaks over hot fire or broil 4 inches from heat until browned and crusty on outside but still pink at center, about 5 minutes each side for medium-rare.

Transfer steaks to serving plates and serve at once.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

 

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Talking about Canadian artisan cheese on CBC!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, October 17th, 2013
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Savvy Company‘s ‘BIG Cheese’ – Vanessa Simmons – (aka our Cheese Sommelier) hit the airwaves!  She was recently called in to be interviewed (in French no less!) on CBC Radio Canada.  Even over the radio & en francais, you can detect that her passion for cheese oozes over. I wanted to share the highlights from her conversation with CBC’s host Anne Michaud – another Canadian cheese enthusiast. Listen to the CBC Radio Canada interview 

They chatted endlessly about all kinds of artisan cheeses.  Anyone listening would quickly learn that Canada makes more than just cheddar.

Vanessa certainly knows her cheese! She trained with the Cheese Education Guild in Toronto – Canada’s only comprehensive cheese appreciation program –  and spends countless hours with local cheesemongers & cheesemakers. And she shares her discoveries in her blog: Curd on the Street and hosts special artisan cheese tasting events.  Tip: next one is on Tuesday October 22 featuring award winning cheeses from across Canada.  More info & to buy tickets >>

“Cheese is my passion”, states Vanessa as she gets warmed up on-air to show Anne & the others in the studio the ‘whey’ around the cheese board overflowing her handpicked selection.

Vanessa tells us about the enormous energy & passion in the people she has got to know who produce artisan cheeses, just the way the Savvy Sommeliers pick up on the enthusiasm of winemakers. Same keeners – different biz.  Vanessa successfully conveys their enthusiasm when talking about cheese & cheesemakers from all over Canada. “We have so many cheeses to be proud of ” exclaims Vanessa “that of course I want to tell the world about them!”

It is tough to talk about cheese over the airwaves and not make listeners hungry! Everyone in the CBC Radio studio tasted, ooohed & aaahed as Vanessa passed around the cheese board & described each cheese.  This is indeed majestic with the full gammet of cheeses  – white, yellow, blue, creamy, hard, even smelly – each made with either goat, buffalo, cow & sheep milk.

At the beginning of her interview, Anne Michaud introduces the concept of Savvy Company describing how we specialize in the world of wine, craft beer & artisan cheese by creating social events.  Then Anne dives into the cheese chat with Vanessa (I translated the interview into English for you)…

Listen to the CBC Radio Canada interview >>

 

Anne Michaud – What is your role as Savvy Company’s Cheese sommelier?

Vanessa Simmons – I complement our Team of Savvy Sommeliers who focus primarily on wine. Just as every wine has a story, so does every cheese. I take great joy in sharing the stories behind the cheeses—where they come from, how they’re made and who made them. There’s a little bit of science and a lot of love that goes into artisan cheeses. Their makers are nurturing by nature: they create these delights for others to enjoy. It’s my job to help spread the enjoyment of wine and cheese.

AM – Are there any good cheeses made in Ontario?

VS – There are soooo many wonderful cheeses made here in our own back yard and yet many people don’t know about them.  I love going out to the country and meeting with the cheese makers and sampling their tasty produce.  Hopefully with time consumers will realize all the time & effort that goes into making a great cheese and that you don’t have to buy cheese at the supermarket, in fact it tastes better if you don’t!

 AM – What is the evolution of Ontario cheese?

VS – It’s amazing how in last few years so much cheese production has become artisanal and there is a love of cheese that goes into the making of it, rather than mass-produced factory cheese.  These days,  cheesemakers are so much younger than you’d think – they are in their 20s & 30s. This business has a community ot young people starting out as farmers then beginning to manufacture cheese – it’s great to watch.

AM – Are these artisan cheeses the same price as manufactured cheeses?

VS – Really there isn’t that much difference between them – but you sure can taste the difference in the quality. A piece of artisan cheese (150g-200g) will be in the neighborhood of $7-$10.  Once you start buying – and eating – artisan cheese, you really won’t be able to go back to “regular” cheese.


AM – What’s on your cheeseboard today?

VS – I chose these 5 cheeses to show you the broad spectrum of Ontario’s artisan cheese production, from fresh to hard to blue cheeses. You should always start with the softest and most light-weight cheese so as not to overwhelm your palate. And then slowly work your way towards stronger cheeses.

Cheese #1 – Bella Casara

Quality Cheese of Vaughan, Ontario, won the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix with its cow’s milk Ricotta, won the category of fresh unripened cheese made from sheep or mixed milk with its Bella Casara Buffalo Ricotta. I call it ‘pure happiness’, creamy & delicious!

Cheese #2 – Bliss

“Bliss from Monteforte Dairy is a soft, bloomy rind cheese made of sheep milk and enriched with cow’s cream…and though you wouldn’t walk around with a bottle of cream tucked in your lunch bag, you can get the same pleasure from a wedge of Bliss – just packaged more practically.

Ruth Klahsen is a pioneer in Ontario cheese-making; she has created this soft & creamy cow’s milk cheese like a Brie which  smells of wild mushrooms with a  buttery & salty flavor to it…as we all say:  “it’s pure happiness.”

Cheese #3 – Bonnechere

Back Forty Artisan Cheese also has new & very young cheesemakers, they’ve been in the cheeze biz for just over a year. Bonnechere is a semi-firm, pale yellow cheese. Pay special attention to the  ‘special’ crust this cheese has with striking textured mahogany brown rind & some quite pungent aroma of smouldering wood, caramel odors. It’s a a gentle but expressive cheese.

Cheese #4 – Gunn’s Hill 

Gunns Hill Artisan Cheese by Five Brothers – cheddar style, see the fancy skin yellow; another cheese winner Grand Prize Winner Farm Cheese, done with brothers. “This is a hand crafted washed rind cow’s milk cheese that combines traits from Gouda and another Swiss variety called Appenzeller. It is available at 8 months old and in the future we will offer an 18 month old version. It is delicately aged on cedar wood planks adding robust flavors to the cheese. It has creamy and rich flavors with sweeter overtones and distinctive eyes throughout the body of the cheese

Cheese #5 – Celtic Blue 

The interview was about to wrap when they got around to the blue cheese, so suffice it to say this one is delicious cheese and even the photo makes you want to try Celtic blue from Glengarry Fine Cheese – the typical blue taste is mild and not aggressive and is softened by a nice buttery aroma, really creamy!

 

Here are some of Vanessa’s Cheese Tips:

Yes, you can eat the rind! Cheese rind is meant to be enjoyed – unless it’s red and made of wax.

When it comes to cheese, don’t be shy – taste before you buy.

There’s a world of cheese beyond the grocery store – explore!

Store cheese cold but serve at room temperature.

Cheese and wine pair beautifully. Explore, experiment and find the right balance….

Cheese is a magical thing.

 

Calling all Cheese Lovers!

Join Vanessa on Tuesday October 22 when she hosts ‘Canada’s Greatest Chunks of Cheese’ event.  This is the first-of-its-kind artisan cheese tasting featuring 2013 award winning cheeses that she has discovered from coast to coast.

Special price $55 until the end of the weekend.   Attention cheese lovers – you don’t want to miss out!

Ottawa – Tuesday October 22 7pm
There are only 6 seats left
Buy your tickets > >

 

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Fabulous Farm Fresh Feta Most Versatile of Cheeses

Posted by Vanessa

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
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My longing for spring to hurry up and arrive inspires this week’s cheese pick.  I dream of radiant sunshine, colorful tulips & daffodils, picnics, fresh local produce, farmers’ markets, and FETA.  One of the most versatile of cheeses, it gives an added zing to spring & summer dishes; think salads, pizzas, burgers, wraps.

Sticking to tried and true traditional cheesemaking, Jeff & Jenna Fenwick, the new owners of Back Forty Artisan Cheese are carrying on the spirit of old world methods using 100% raw ewe’s milk in the production of their hand-lovingly crafted, small batch artisan cheeses.

Flower Station, one of the little known Back Forty Artisan Cheeses is a fresh, un-ripened, semi-firm, Mediterranean-style raw sheep’s milk feta.  Stored in it’s own whey, you’ll find slightly crumbly texture with mild citrus flavor combined with a good balance of salt and fresh milk flavors from these little ivory wedges.

Spring is in the air & as the weather warms up you’ll see them soon at the Carp Farmer’s Market. Find their other popular cheeses Madawaska, Highland Blue & Bonnechere on the board at local restaurants, Foodsmith’s in Perth, The Piggy Market and Serious Cheese, while available.

Factbox:

Cheese:  Flower Station
Producer: Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Lanark County, Ontario
Interesting Fact: Feta falls into the fresh, un-ripened cheese category, which are cheeses that receive minimal or no aging.  It has a longer shelf life when persevered in it’s own brine.

 

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Flower Station by Vanessa Simmons

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Vanessa’s Cheese-y Top 10 To Do’s this year

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, January 10th, 2013
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All too often, the beginning of a new year we jot down things ‘to do’ differently.  Well, that is exactly what our Cheese Sommelier – Vanessa – has done for you as she shares with you cheese-y tips to get your 2013 off to a tasty start.  Drum roll please….

1. Check out Milkhouse Dairy

Ottawa region’s newest raw sheep’s milk producers Cait & Kyle from Smiths Falls.  Sheep Tomme & fresh feta won’t be ready until summer 2013 but well worth the wait.  I’ve met & milked one of their star players sheep Brigitte – you’re in for a treat.

2. Take a road trip to ‘La Belle Province’

From Ottawa, a road trip to Montreal and back in a day with about 5-7 cheese stops along the way is easy.  Must visits include Le Troupeau Bénit, Fromagerie de la Table Ronde (think Fleuron), Fromagerie de la Suisse Normandie, and Fromagerie Montebello to name a few.

3. Try these exotic and unique cheese boards

Bored with your boards?  On one of my recent trips to the Ottawa Farmer’s Market (where I buy a lot of my artisan cheese), I found these exquisite cheese boards handcrafted by Joseph Henri.  Without a doubt, they are the hottest cheese boards – made here in Ottawa!

4. Go on a shopping spree at Glengarry Fine Cheese

A quick drive to Lancaster (Ontario) makes for a fun shopping trip…for cheese that is.  Be on the look out for their newest addition of stellar artisan cow’s milk cheeses – Nevis will be making its debut around March – stay tuned!

5. Visit the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Prince Edward County, June 1-3 2013


2013 marks the 3rd year for this weekend long festival held in Prince Edward County.  It is a tasty weekend that will fill your head with lots info about artisan cheeses & fill your belly with delicious cheeses from across Canada.  Read my blog highlighting the 2012 festival.  This year, Savvy Company returns as a sponsor & I will be hosting a cheese tasting.

6. Become a cheesemaker for a day!

Glengarry Fine Cheese hosts a full day workshop.  The hands on experience will definitely increase your appreciation for the stunning cheeses we make in Canada.  And never again will you be the one asking why artisan cheese is more expensive.

7. Get over yourself & try a bite of blue cheese.

All you non-believers out there don’t know what you’re missing (close your eyes, it helps!).   Start with “beginner blues” such as Celtic Blue, St. Laurent Blue & Bleu D’Élizabeth & Geai Bleu as they are surprising soft flavours – far from the off putting pungent flavours & aromas that often come to mind when someone says ‘blue cheese’.

 

 

8. Join me for the Great Canadian Cheese Discovery

It’s a tasty way to spend an evening sampling a variety of cheeses while I show you the “whey”.  Each evening features a selection of cheeses from a different province (January – Ontario, February – Quebec, March – BC, PEI & NS).  With a glass of Canadian wine in hand you will learn the fun-damentals of artisan cheese with each bite. Advance tickets only… these tastings sell out fast!

9. Head to Prince Edward County for wine…and cheese too!

With over 25 wineries awaiting your discovery, there are cheese makers too.  My must visis include Black River Cheese (definitely try their yummy Maple Cheddar) & the new County Cheese Company (located in the Waupoos Marina).  Stop for lunch or dinner at the Agrarian Cheese Market for the best gourmet grilled cheese sandwich around!

10. Spread the curd

Remember to support our 6 local artisan cheese producers Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Clarmell Farms, Canreg Station & Pasture Dairy, Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères, Glengarry Fine Cheese & Milkhouse Dairy.  Most of them are members of Savour Ottawa & can be found during the summer months at farmers markets all over the city & surrounding regions.  Let’s keep Ontario’s budding cheese industry alive!
 

 

 

 

 

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Smokin’ Hot Bonnechere cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, April 5th, 2012
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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 Bonnechere smoky 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.

 

 

FACTBOX:
Cheese:  Bonnechere
Producer:  Back Forty Artisan Cheese
Interesting Fact:  Pressing a cheese expels more whey and gives the paste a firm, dense texture.

 

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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All I Want for Christmas is … Cheese!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, December 15th, 2011
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With a week until Christmas to go, my cheese pick this week, Madawaska, is the perfect gift for the hardcore cheese lover on your list.  Back Forty Artisan cheeses are all made from raw sheep’s milk & hand-crafted in the kitchen of owner James Keith who refers to cheesemaking as “magic alchemy”.  Find his cheeses at select gourmet deli & fine food shops in Ottawa while they last (Murray Market, Serious Cheese or The Piggy Market).  Don’t forget a small slice for Santa to guarantee an extra checkmark beside your name on the “nice” list this year.

Madawaska is a little slice of heaven.  Rich and luxurious, it reminds of a dense, beautiful piece of cheesecake in both appearance & texture.  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 (fuzzy) rind, and creamy, dense, slightly open paste you’ll find mushroomy aromas and full, sweet, tangy, milky flavors linger nibble after nibble.

 

FACTBOX:
Cheese:
  Madawaska
Producer:
 Back Forty Artisan Cheese
Interesting Fact:
 Triple cream cheeses are soft-surface ripened cheeses that have cream added, giving them a longer shelf life, more solid texture, and higher fat content.

 
Enjoy! – Vanessa

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Calling all blue cheese lovers

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, August 25th, 2011
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Blue cheese lovers take note!  This week’s cheese pick, Highland Blue, by Back Forty Artisan Cheese hails from Lanark County.  A true artisan farmstead blue cheese for the blue cheese lover, this regional favourite and award winner at the Royal Ontario Winter Fair is named after our local Lanark Highlands.  Highland Blue’s popularity puts it in high demand – get yours before it’s gone for the season.

This tall, regal, rustic, semi-soft unpasteurized sheep’s milk blue cheese has a dense, antique ivory to golden paste with prominent vertical teal-blue colored veining throughout, and a mottled natural rind.  You’ll notice a distinct sharpness, salty richness and earthy flavour with a bit of a kick in the piquant finish.  Traditionally, this cheese pairs perfectly with a glass of Icewine, Late Harvest Vidal, or traditional Port.  For a different twist, try an Apple Ice Wine from Quebec, with dried apricots as garnish to bring out a bit of extra flavour pop.


FACTBOX:
Cheese:  Highland Blue
Producer:
  Back Forty Artisan Cheese
Interesting Fact:
 Blue cheeses turn blue from the addition of bacterial culture Penicillium roqueforti to the milk during cheesemaking, then exposed to air when the cheese is pierced with needles.

 


Enjoy! – Vanessa

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