Posts Tagged ‘Best Baa Dairy’

No black sheep here! 100% creamy sheep milk cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017
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Spring has sprung …and hopefully you will feel the same sunny vibe when you open this month’s parcel of Savvy Cool Curds.  Bright colour cheeses & bundles of delicious-ness are there, waiting to be enjoyed.  This month, we shine the spotlight (or should I say ray of sunshine) on Best BAA Diary located in the small town of Fergus, Ontario.

Best Baa Dairy is a family run business that makes stunning cheese with local sheep milk. Not only do they make artisan cheese, their yogurt and ice cream is fantastic too…and it’s 100% sheep’s milk!  “The days are long but this tremendous family effort is rewarded by happy consumers of our delicious sheep milk products”, says Nicole Bzikot, the dairy’s second-generation owner.

 

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

… these rare artisan cheese beauties:

Feta
Eweda Cru
Sheep in the Meadow
Ramembert
Mouton Rouge

 

Nicole and Peter – like Elisabeth and Eric before them – fundamentally believe that the viability, as well as sustainability, of the family farm is the backbone of rural communities.  Nicole and Peter continue the family mantra and are committed to the Five Freedoms of farming practiced by farming communities in the UK:

Freedom from hunger and thirst.
Freedom from fear and disease.
Freedom from discomfort.
Freedom from pain and injury.
Freedom to express natural, normal behaviour.

By providing the herd with these five freedoms, they tend to be healthier and the need for medication rare.

 

Special gift from us!

In your package this month you’ll find a little something extra from Savvy Company.  Our marketing wizard, Karen, let me in on a wonderful product she recently discovered; an all natural and reusable food wrap made from beeswax!  This Canadian invention keeps cheese much fresher and longer than plastic wrap can.  Give it a try and let us know what you think!  Learn how to use and care for the wrap at abeego.com.

Enjoy your cheese!

Would you like more cheese from this month’s Savvy Cool Curds?  If we have extra chunks of cheese, you are welcome to it. Just call our Savvy Team & we’ll arrange a special shipment for you.  Put us on speed dial – Savvy Cool Curds Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

 

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

 

Introducing….
20 Questions with Nicole Bzikot

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

We’ve finally left winter behind, and we are ‘lighten-ing’ it up on these pages too.  Time to try something different to keep things fun & to dig a bit deeper and get some interesting ‘dirt’ (sorry for that corny pun) on the dynamic people behind the cheeses that we send you.   Not only are they great cheesemakers, they are incredibly interesting people with neat stories to tell about how they got into cheese biz!

So,  let’s pose some questions and put Nicole on the “Savvy Hot Seat”, shall we?

Current Job:
My husband Peter and I are the owner operators.  Peter’s parents started the biz & in January they retired. Honestly though, everyone does a bit of everything!

It’s Wine O’clock. What wine & cheese combo would you like right this minute?
My go-to is the Mouton Rouge, yet it needs a robust red to go with it and with the sun pouring into the cheese shop, I am thinking more along the lines of Rose wine right now.  So that definitely would be best with the Ramembert.

When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The funny thing is that my background is in textile art.  I met Peter when I bought cheese at the St Laurence Market.  Interestingly, I was selling art supplies and hand made craft items at the time. I never EVER dreamed that I would be living on a farm. The craft part of me stays true as we are crafting cheese here.

What is in a name?
Around here, product names are often highly debated. We take the approach of using silly Sheep-related puns to make memorable.

What is it about cheese that got you hooked?
Cheese can be political, romantic, and when you travel there is always different types to try.

What lead you down the path to becoming the cheesemaker you are today:
Cheesemaker wasn’t my dream job, but now I realize that I love eating cheese and it is such meaningful work .  It is definitely physical work, I use my hands to create.  The best part is that our customers write regularly to thank you for the products we make.  That fills my soul.

Is there music playing in the cheesemaking facility right now?
Absolutely.  We mix it up all the time.  We have satellite radio and usually we listen to the channel called Spectrum.  It plays a mix of the 70s-80s-90s.

Favorite thing about the local cheese industry:
I love the fact that we know the people & family behind the milk we purchase.  It provides a significant income that allows them to stay on their family farm.

Favorite thing about making cheese:
By the end of the day you have a product that people need & want to keep them healthy. Something tangible.

What is the unglamorous thing about cheesemaking?
I find it funny that anyone thinks this is glamourous. Everyday we wear something just short of being called PJs & a hairnet.

Why did you choose yellow and green wax for your cheeses?
They are happy colours. Green = grass. Yellow = sunshine.

Industry Mentors:
We are humbled by what the cheese that is coming out of Quebec. While we grow, we are always trying to raise our own standards.

What wine region do you want to visit next?
Italy. But honestly, it is hard to get away.

One surprising thing that I’m really good at:
I have always enjoyed leadership through comraderie.  In addition to Peter and I, there are 8 people on staff.  They are all local (not relatives!).  The interesting thing is that we are all friends outside of work too.

When is your birthday (no year required!):
March 22 – and wouldn’t you know it…my Zodiac symbol is a ram!   

My Birthday “Favorite Meal”
That is easy….spaghetti.  Or fresh lobster, but that is hard to come by here in Fergus.

A funny moment you remember about visitors coming to the cheese shop:
People are shocked when they meet me after chatting on the phone or online.  I am 6 feet tall & have a young face.  I usually get “you can’t possibly be the owner….you are too young!”

What does you daughter think?
She is 9 years old and is very proud of what we do.  She stamps the bags or is on the front line ready to offer samples at Farmers Market. I think she might like to be a shepherdess, like her grandmother.

 

 

~ Cheese Tasting Notes ~

Typically, Vanessa offers her tasting notes…but for this issue we are mixing it up a bit and have asked Nicole to share her thoughts on the special cheeses in this month’s Savvy Cool Curds.

 

Feta

This traditional Greek style feta is made from pasteurized and raw sheep milk.  The flavour in both versions is tangy and full, with hints of lemon.  The flavour is more abundant in the raw milk version with greater nutritional value preserved (cheese speak: flavour loss through pasteurization).

It takes upwards of 3 weeks to make this feta, then it is packaged in brine made from the whey.  This delicious cheese can stand on its own or enhance your favourite dish.

 

Eweda Cru

Beginning with a traditional gouda recipe, this raw milk cheese is aged for a minimum of 9 months.  Each wheel is marked with information pertaining to the producer of the milk used.

Each round of this semi-hard cheese weighs approx. 3 kgs.  Why is the wax green?  To represent the grass.  Cut inside and you will find the paste (cheese speak: the cheese) is pale yellow with many small holes.  The texture is slightly crumbly yet smooth on the tongue.  Its rich, earthy aroma leads beautifully towards an explosive, complex flavour.

When savoured, Eweda Cru is nutty at first, then grassy with a lingering finale of creamy freshness.

 

Mouton Rouge

It’s playful name; this firm cheese is mild yet pleasing, and full of surprises.

The reddish tinged rind encases a pale, creamy yellow paste, dotted with small holes.  The aroma is fresh and grassy.  The nutty rind contrasts beautifully with the mild, slightly buttery inner paste.  A lingering creaminess remains on the palette.  Made in rounds of 1 to 3 kgs that have aged for upwards of 60 days.

 

Ramembert

Get it?  This cheese is Best BAA’s version of Camembert.  “We love using puns for our product names…it makes you remember them better” says Nicole, laughing at her own joke.

This small, bloom ripened cheese, has an exterior that is fluffy and white, concealing an ivory white interior.  The paste is creamy and smooth with an earthy, mushroomy aroma.  The cheese is at its best when the sides yield easily to pressure.  Then the cheese oozes goodness!  Store in the fridge when ripe and serve with a crisp baguette, a few grapes and any bold red wine.

 

Sheep in the Meadow

This lactic cheese has a bloomy rind sprinkled with Herbes de Provence from France. Rosemary and thyme dominate the aroma while mushroomy undertones also are noticed.  Close to the rind, the texture is creamy, and you will find it increasingly firm towards the centre.  Luxuriously smooth, the creamy paste is imbued by the herbs.

It is a versatile cheese that can be enjoyed in its early, fresh cheese stage or in its later ripened state.  Savour it your way!

Photo credits: GuelphToday.com

 

 

 ~ Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses ~

Asparagus Eweda Tart

from Martha Stewart’s kitchen

 

Ingredients

Flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Eweda cheese, shredded
1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

 

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet.

With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with cheese. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

 

 

Lamb and Feta Chili

From Nicole & Peter’s Kitchen – Best Baa Dairy
TIP: This makes a BIG batch to feed a hungry crowd or to store in your freezer for a quick an easy meal later!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
250 grams of fresh Feta cheese
1 medium yellow pepper
1 medium red pepper
1 kg of ground lamb
3  16 oz. cans of tomato sauce
3 tablespoons of chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Brown the ground lamb in a large pot.  Salt and pepper the meat while it is cooking.  Drain the lamb and set it aside in a second, medium size pot.  Saute the onions, garlic and peppers in the same pot used for browning the meat (without cleaning it!)  If there isn’t sufficient fat left in the pot, you may want to use a little olive oil.

Return the lamb to the large pot.  Add the tomato sauce and chili powder.  Cook on medium heat for approximately one and a half hours.

Serve up the chili in your favourite bowls and garnish with a few spoonfuls of the fresh sheep milk cheese curd or sheep milk creme fraiche.

Enjoy!

 

 

Curry Potato and Cheese Patties

From Nicole & Peter’s Kitchen- Best Baa Dairy

Ingredients

8 medium potatoes, peeled
1 cup of Eweda Cru cheese, grated
1 egg
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons of curry powder
½ cup of flour

 

Directions

Boil potatoes till tender.  Mash and cool.  Add egg, cheese, onion and salt. Form mixture into golf ball sized balls.

In separate bowl, mix flour and curry powder.  Roll potato balls in flour mixture.

Over medium heat, press in frying pan with olive oil and fry until lightly browned.  Add more grated cheese on top if desired and serve!

 

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The Best of the Fest …Cheese Festival that is!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, June 14th, 2012
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I laughed, I cried (they were tears of joy for the abundance of cheese), and ate a heck of a lot of cheese. Close to 4000 cheeselovers assembled in Picton, (aka Prince Edward County) June 1st to 3rd to celebrate their love for curd at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. A plethora of over 125 different types of cheese showcasing our nation’s best from PEI to Vancouver Island were ripe and ready – soft cheese, hard cheese, blue cheese, stinky cheese, pungent cheese, young and old cheese, rustic cheese, raw cheese, and sheep, cow, goat and even buffalo milk cheese.  Joining them in the Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair were all the best compliments to cheese — artisan foods of crackers, breads, charcuterie, jams, chutneys, jellies, honey, and fine wines, ciders, and craft beer.

I was adamant to not miss a single second of my cheesey weekend, and so planned to leave on Thursday early evening.  After packing the car to the hilt with event supplies, my large electric cooler, and other cheesey bits and pieces for my tutored tasting I was on the road again, although much later than expected, but happy my destination yet again involved cheese.  Of course, I had to fit in a last minute stop/cheese pick up at Clarmell Farms on the way, for chèvre & goat gouda cheese as a special treat for the Cooks & Curds Gala chefs on Saturday night.  Big hugs and thanks to Paul & Grace Mussell for the snack & extra coffee to keep me awake as I hit the road.

Rain, rain go away!  Friday began ducking raindrops during quick wine stops at Rosehall Run & Huff Estates before heading to the Crystal Palace to check out the site and check in for volunteer duties.  Despite crappy weather, the show must go on – dedicated volunteers diligently worked to set up the site, get exhibitors moved in, assemble registration packages, complete guest cooler bags, get volunteers oriented, cut & organize cheese, direct trucks/rentals arriving, set up special event facilities, and decorate, among many other logistical tasks. Amid very organized chaos, everyone silently prayed as one mind to the cheese gods for beautiful weather Saturday and Sunday (thank you, cheese gods).  Friday ended with a casual meet & greet of the stellar lineup of chefs featured at Saturday’s Cooks & Curds Gala, courtesy of Swallow’s Ivy Knight, chef wrangler extraordinaire, Ottawa’s own Michael Blackie  – Executive Chef of the National Arts Centre – among them.

Saturday started peacefully with more prayers (thank you, cheese gods) and quickly turned to cheese frenzy with tutored tastings on cheddar & cheese 101, ongoing demos, sampling of all kinds, a cheese food court, Food Network celebrity Bob Blumer’s grilling artisan cheese pizza, and me taking it all in from behind the scenes helping cheesemakers, selling cheese, and organizing hospitality for the chefs, post-gala.  Congrats to Chef Michael Blackie for top honors for the second year in a row, recognized by the People’s Choice Award he shared with Montreal’s Francois Gagnon at Cooks & Curds for his delicious Highland Blue Cubic Melt.   An outstanding 400 guests took part in the strolling dinner.

Family day Sunday arrived too early after a late night, but provided more of an opportunity to chill & chat with the Quebec cheesemakers featured in my “Taste of Quebec” tutored session and sample my picks one last time.  I wandered at a more leisurely pace to nibble on yet more cheese, take in the milking demo, photograph Yvette the water buffalo in the dairy farm before showcasing the best of La Belle Provence. I was pleasantly surprised to see friend & Ottawa cheesemonger Peter Fiander volunteering with the prep team in the kitchen under the guidance of newly certified Cheese Sommelier and festival cheesemonger Jackie Armet.  Thanks to Savour Ottawa member Maggie Paradis, of Fromagerie les Folies Bergères for the spotlight goat milk cheese on my plate – soft, surface-ripened La Sorcière Bien Aimée.  Made on April 24, our advanced planning made sure it was perfectly “à point”.  Jackie’s daughter Clare can certainly attest – she enjoyed every finger lickin’ moment of it.

Volunteering is a great way to get closer to cheese, meet cheesemakers and increase your cheese IQ.  Consider joining the cheese team for 2013.

All in all it was a whirlwind, but super cheesey weekend.  Here’s my roundup of “Best of the Fest” and here’s a look at the photos I took too!  Just looking at them will make you hungry!

–  Monforte Dairy launching a new Spanish-styled, dry, crumbly, pasteurized sheep’s milk blue – rustic, powerful – and in need of a name – tweet @monfortedairy  if you have ideas for Ruth.  The Piggy Market carry Monforte products locally.  My tasting notes for Black Sheep can be found here

–  Glengarry Fine Cheese expanding their horizons with a new artisan buffalo milk blue and goat gouda made with milk from Clarmell Farms. Often found at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market, Thyme & Again Creative Catering, Farm Boy, Sobey’s, The Piggy Market, and Serious Cheese

– Tosano sheep’s milk cheese from Mariposa DairyI was thrilled to again try my outstanding cheese bite for 2011, Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar which is rarely available anywhere – if you see it, snap it up without hesitation.

–  New friends at Seed to Sausage – best pairing of charcuterie for cheese around (also great party pals).  Available at The Ottawa Bagel Shop & The Piggy Market locally as well as being featured at Play Food & Wine, Beckta Dining & Wine, Murray Street Kitchen, and Town, among others. The venison and fennel salami was a fave.  Thanks again for your support!

–  Shout out to budding cheesemakers at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese – in business for a mere 6 months now, and new on the Ontario cheesemaking scene with Gouda & Swiss style soft, firm and hard farmstead cow’s milk cheeses.

–  BackForty Artisan Cheese, even with a change of ownership to Jeff & Jenna Fenwick still continues to shine with Madawaska, Bonnechere, and beautiful rustic wheels of Highland Blue.  We look forward to tasting Jeff’s own creations in 2013 (or sooner in Ottawa!).  Look for them at the Carp Farmer’s market on Saturdays.

–  Cheesewerksthrilled to see my old cheesey classmate Kevin’s dream turned into reality – well done on the branding and delivering on the promise of superb artisan grilled cheese, as the festival’s Official Grilled Cheese.

–   Michael’s Dolce – with new Rhubarb & Black Pepper Jam (pair with Coulée Douce, Laliberté, Riopelle, Bliss or Figaro) & unbelievable Citrus Ginger Chutney (fresh chèvre, Sorcière Bien Aimée).  Peach Cardamom Jam is my pick for his most versatile, goes with every cheese flavor.  I had fun making pairing recommendations on the fly as we chatted with visitors at the Taste of Ottawa booth.

–   Thanks to friends of cheese – wine & craft beer makers Karlo Estates, Rosehall Run, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company & Barley Days Brewery for the donations to keep our Cooks & Curds Gala chefs happy (very important to keep the chefs happy, so huge thank you!)

–  Hats off to The Ontario Waterbuffalo Company/Quality Cheese for their first ever cheddar made from waterbuffalo milk.  Mild, creamy & a great snack.

–  Always great to see friends Vicki from Empire Cheese (very creative, your new cheddars flavored with Mrs. McGarrigle’s Mustards), Black River Cheese (love Maple Cheddar), Best Baa Dairy (wouldn’t be a cheese fest without you, Eweda, Mouton Rouge & Ramembert), and the team from Glen Echo – featuring Cow’s Creamery Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from PEI, Salt Spring Island Cheese (oh, Juliette!) & Kootenay Alpine Cheeses (Alpindon made its way into Bob Blumer’s blue cheese cappuccino)

Sightings of cheeseheads young and old sparks  an idea for 2013 – think there should be a cheesehead fashion show next year Georgs? King & Queen Curd perhaps?

–   Lise Morrisette & Plaisirs Gourmets who brought Quebec to Ontario including the talented Marie-Chantal Houde Fromagerie Nouvelle France maker of multi award-winning Zacharie Clouthier, her raw sheep’s milk cheese.  And, Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère  – his cheeses were an easy sell – they speak for themselves – Brie Paysan showing especially ripe & ready with rustic vegetal aromas & flavors, and renowned Bleu D’Elizabeth & Louis D’or , 9 month & rare 2 year.  If you see Jean at an event, ask him for the good stuff – he usually has it along with him hiding under the counter somewhere.

–  New from Niagara – Upper Canada Cheese’s Nosey Goat Camelot alongside classic Niagara Gold – a bit reminiscent of Cape Vessey – coming along nicely as a cheese, much further developed, soft, subtle than when first released.

–   Mad Mexican’s Jose Hadad provided my snack for the drive home to Ottawa. Amazing I didn’t end up with more of his salsa, roasted tomatillo/avocado and salsa verde in my lap.

–   Lastly stunning craft beer & cider matches in Beau’s Beaver River, Mill Street Brewery’s Wit & County Cider Company’s County Cider paired with robust cheeses from my Taste of Quebec session – best with Petits Vieux (Fromagerie Médard), Zacharie Clouthier, Fleuron (Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde – it’s a beautiful thing), & Fromagerie F.X. Pichet’s organic Baluchon among others.

Hats (or cheeseheads) off to all the hardworking staff, volunteers, cheesemakers, artisan food producers, winemakers, presenters, chefs, celebrities, sponsors, speakers, supporters, mother nature and in particular, all you cheese lovers who attended for making this best celebration of Canadian curd yet.  If you didn’t make it, grab a pen and book the June 1st weekend in your calendar right now for the third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival in 2013.

My photo album of The Cheese Festival is on Savvy Company’s Facebook page – enjoy!

-Vanessa

 

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