Posts Tagged ‘Canadian artisan cheese’

THE Coolest Canadian Gifts

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017
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With a year of celebrating Canada’s 150th milestone, there are a number of nifty gifts that would make any Canadian beam with pride. Here’s a quick shopping list – and the neat part is that you don’t even have to get out of your comfy couch or battle parking lots to get them.  A few clicks is all that it takes to get your holiday shopping done.

Shake up a good cocktail

Whether vodka, gin, rye, rum or whisky is the potion of choice, there are a handful of artisan distilleries with different small batch creations that will can be easily wrapped up with a bow. Take a drive to get the taste of place or, be on the look out for these rare finds at the LCBO:

 

Add a dash or splash of this neat treat

Move over maple syrup, the grapes are coming! Typically used for icewine, Vidal and Cabernet grapes grown in Niagara are now being crushed to make a unique, one-of-kind Ice Syrup.

Drizzle on pancakes or use as a marinade or add a dash to salad dressings, Ice Syrup has unlimited uses for any cook.  You can even add a splash to a sparkling wine to make a truly Canadian Kir Royale.

$20 each at www.icesyrup.com or fine grocers.

 

Go crazy for Canadian craft beer 

Back by popular demand, the one-of-a-kind Hoppy Holiday Advent Calendar will make any beer fan smile from ear to ear.  This is the grown-up version of an advent calendar when we were kids.

Rather than filled with chocolates or toys, there are 24 hard-to-find craft beers from every corner of Ontario to create a unique assortment spanning the full gamut of styles of beer.

Check out www.savvycompany.ca/advent for price & to order.

 

 

Serve Canadian Cheese – please!

Vanessa Simmons has been called Canada’s famous Cheese Sommelier because she is knows how to put together a cheese board that will WOW.  She has made it super easy for you this holiday season by hand-picking an assortment of artisan cheeses – from across Canada – for you to give as a gift or serve at a holiday party.

Simply order her Savvy Cool Curds Holiday Pack and Vanessa will send you 5 ready-to-eat cheeses in wedges and rounds that are not available at grocery stores.

$55 plus delivery anywhere in Canada www.savvycoolcurds.ca

 

Everyone will love this book!

This coffee table book is 178 pages with the best photos, essays & stories from across Canada during our big birthday year including many memories of the Ottawa 2017 celebrations. Each page defines what it means to be Canadian.

A perfect gift for proud Canadians or to have on hand when visitors come to town.

$50 available online only – click here >> 

 

This article written by Debbie Trenholm appeared in the November-December issue of Ottawa Life Magazine

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11 Practical Tips for Cheese Pairings

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017
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Our Sommeliers Vanessa Simmons & Debbie Trenholm was contacted by Laura Brehaut of Postmedia to offer their top cheese & wine pairing tips.  We snipped out the 11 Practical Tips for Cheese Pairings from this article that oozed with great info to share from Debbie & Vanessa as well as other leading Canadian cheese supporters.  Click here for the full article on Postmedia web site.

 

Tip #1 – What to look for…

“With any kind of pairing, you’re looking for balance. You’re looking for harmony in your mouth… You’re looking to make one or both sides of the pairing better,” says Jesse Vallins, Complex Cheese Pairings instructor at George Brown College and executive chef at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Tavern. “You can follow the rules and what experts say (but) at the end of the day, listen to your own mouth.”

 

Tip #2 – Consider intensity…

Vallins offers the example of Le Riopelle de l’Isle – “a big, rich, buttery, triple cream cheese” – made by Fromagerie Île-aux-Grues in Quebec. If you were to pair it with a light-bodied wine, the nuances in the beverage would be lost. Likewise, pairing buffalo mozzarella or ricotta with a bold red would “totally obliterate the flavour” of the fresh cheese.

 

Tip #3 – How much cheese should you buy?

For a tasting of five or more cheeses, buy 30 – 60 grams (1 – 2 oz) of each cheese per person. Round up if your guests are cheese lovers, or if you’re serving fewer cheeses. Round down if you’re serving other dishes, or presenting more cheeses.

 

Tip #4 – What temperature should it be?

Serve cheese at room temperature. Vanessa Simmons recommends taking the cheese out of the fridge at least 45 minutes before guests arrive. As you’re taking the cheese out, put your white and sparkling wines in the fridge to chill, Savvy Company’s lead Sommelier Debbie Trenholm says. While most reds will be stored and served at room temperature, she prefers to chill her Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

Tip #5 – Start with a tasting pour: (30-60 mL/1-2 oz).

“A variety of wine goes a long way. Not every bit of cheese has to have a swig of wine. They should be enjoyed on their own separately and then played together to discover that taste,” Trenholm explains.

 

Tip #6 – “Red wine and cheese is a bit of a fallacy” Vallins says.

“It doesn’t actually work that well and it really shocks a lot of people.” As a rule of thumb, he suggests experimenting with dessert, fortified, sparkling, and off-dry white wines instead. “It’s a lot easier to make a great pairing than it is with reds. To me, the whole phrase ‘wine and cheese’ comes from sweet, sparkling and fortified wine.”

 

Tip #7- Use a separate knife for each cheese.

This will prevent the muddying of flavours. Additionally, make sure that each knife can stand up to actually cutting the cheeses it’s partnered with, especially with firmer varieties, Simmons says.

 

Tip #8 – What order do you go in?

Basic principles of progression apply, whether composing vertical or horizontal flights, or a spectrum of styles: young to old; mild to strong; and blues are always last.

 

Tip #9 – It’s a cheese faux pas to cut the “nose”

The very tip of a wedge of cheese represents the heart of the wheel. It has a very different character than the rest of the cheese and is definitely worth sharing. If you’re cutting from a wedge, slice off the side and be sure to take the accompanying bit of rind, too. If it’s a wheel, cut a slice from centre to rind as you would a piece of cake (if it’s a soft cheese, don’t scoop out the centre).

 

Tip #10 – When do you eat the rind?

If the rind is made of wax, don’t eat it, Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons of Savvy Company suggests. Otherwise the choice is entirely up to the eater.

 

Tip #11 – How should you wrap leftovers?

Simmons recommends only buying what you need: “What’s good this week may not be great next week. It’s more like a ‘just in time’ type of experience.” If you do have leftovers, use cheese, parchment or wax paper, or a reusable product like Abeego. Avoid plastic wrap. You can also put wrapped cheese in a plastic bag or resealable container for a few days. Or better yet, make fromage fort – a French spread made by blending leftover cheeses, wine, garlic and seasonings (see Jacques Pépin’s recipe on food52.com).

 

This wine and cheese pairing, as well as the Top 11 list, appeared in Postmedia newspapers across Canada on April 4, 2017.

Click read the online version on Postmedia web site 

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SOLDOUT! County in the Capital

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017
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County in the Capital is happening again on Thursday April 20, 2017.  It is another sellout event.  This year there is even MORE neat bevvies to try…and buy. 150+ wines, craft beers, ciders & spirits too.  And of course there will be artisan cheese & treats too!

Below is the list of bevvies that will be available for you to sip & sample.  These gems are not at the LCBO, so this evening is designed to try as many as you like…then order those you want to enjoy at home.  Just like ordering from Amazon or your favorite online shop, you can have bottles delivered to your home or office.

Order in person by attending County in the Capital where you can meet the makers OR order online (until April 23rd) from us.

CLICK TO ORDER ONLINE>>

County in the Capital is so popular that every year we host the event in a bigger space…yet we always sell out!  It’s a special occasion to have all of Prince Edward County under 1 roof AND to have them all in Ottawa.

 

 

Look what bevvies will be available to Taste & Buy:

Casa-Dea Estates Winery

2016 Dea’s Cuvée Sparkling $20.95

2016 Pinot Gris $18.95

2013 Cabernet Franc $18.95

2013 Pinot Noir Reserve $21.95

Devils Wishbone Winery

2016 Wicked White $19.00

2016 Pinot Gris Rosé $22.00

2014 Cabernet Franc $25.00

2014 Pinot Noir $29.00

Half Moon Bay Winery

2014 Riesling $16.00

2013 Merlot $24.00

Huff Estates – last month’s featured winery in our Savvy Selections wine-o-month club

2016 Pinot Gris $22.00

2016 Riesling Off Dry $20.00

2016 Rosé $19.00

2014 Pinot Noir Reserve $35.00

2014 South Bay Merlot $40.00

Karlo Estates – this month’s featured winery in our Savvy Selections wine-o-month club

2013 Three Witches $20.00

2015 Niagara Peninsula Riesling $22.00

2013 Chardonnay $25.00

2015 Patio Reserve Rosé $18.00

2013 Triumvirate $28.00

2015 Pinot Noir $35.00

2014 Van Alstine Red (fortified) $39.00

Keint-He Winery & Vineyards

2015 Voyageur Gewürztraminer $20.00

2015 Voyageur Riesling $20.00

2014 Portage Chardonnay $25.00

2014 Greer Road Chardonnay $35.00

2014 Portage Pinot Noir $30.00

2012 Queenston Road Pinot Noir $30.00

Lacey Estates Winery

2015 Riesling Off-Dry $19.95

2013 Gewurztraminer Off-Dry $19.95

2015 Pinot Noir $25.00

2012 Cabernet Franc $32.00

2012 Dorland Reserve $32.00

2012 Cabernet Franc Magnum 1.5 L $60.00

2012 Dorland Reserve Magnum 1.5 L $60.00

Lighthall Vineyards

Progression Sparkling $20.00

Fence Sparkling Rosé $25.00

2016 Riesling $25.00

Stanners Vineyard

2014 Riesling $23.00

2015 Chardonnay PEC $30.00

2014 Pinot Noir PEC $30.00

2014 Barrel Select Pinot Noir PEC $39.00

The Grange of Prince Edward

2014 Select Riesling $21.95

2013 Estate Chardonnay $21.95

2013 Select Gamay Noir $22.95

2013 Select Cabernet Franc $24.95

Trail Estate Winery

2015 Sauvignon Blanc $26.00

2015 Wild-Ferment Riesling $28.00

2015 Barrel Ferment Riesling $28.00

2014 Barrel Ferment Chardonnay $32.00

2015 Unfiltered Chardonnay (pre-release) $32.00

2013 Cabernet2 $39.00

2014 Cabernet2 $39.00

Traynor Family Vineyard

2015 Sauvignon Blanc $25.00

2014 Chardonnay $25.00

2015 Baco Noir $25.00

Madonna Vermouth $35.00

Waupoos Estates Winery

2015 Honeysuckle $12.95

2015 White Rabbit $14.95

2013 Pink Rabbit $14.95

2015 Red Rabbit $16.95

2015 Baco Noir $21.95

 

And there will be craft beers & ciders too!

401 Cider Brewery

Orchard Blend Cider 6-pack $19.50

Pear Apple Cider 6-pack $19.50

Caramel Apple Cider $15.95

The Gatsby (cocoa infused) $15.95

Barley Days Brewery

County IPA $6.50

Cherry Porter $6.50

County Light 6-pack  $18.00

Sacred Mule Sparkling Ale 6-pack $18.00

Harvest Gold Pale Ale 6-pack $18.00

Wind & Sail Dark Ale 6-pack $18.00

Clafeld Cider

Smashed Hard Apple Cider 6-pack $14.95

Elderflower Cider & Wine 6-pack $22.50

Rosehip Cider & Wine 6-pack $22.50

Framboise 6-pack $22.50

County Cider Company

County Apple Cider $5.95

County Pear $6.90

County Peach $6.90

County Blood Orange $6.90

County Feral $6.90

Tortured Path $7.95

Waupoos Premium 4-pack $13.55

And new to County in the Capital this year….

Kinsip House of Fine Spirits

Still’s Whisper Vodka $39.95

Juniper’s Wit Gin $39.95

Duck Island Rum $63.95

Du Bois Maple Whisky $35.95

Crimson Rye $68.95

 

 

 To top it all off, these cool creations will also be featured:

Cheesemakers…

5th Town Artisan Cheese

La Fromagerie Folie Bergeres

 

Gourmet Artisans…

Abeego

County Posters

Emerson Pringle Carpentry

Prince Edward County Hot Sauce Company

 

Travel & Tourism…

Prince Edward County Tourism

 

Mark our words, County in the Capital is ALWAYS a fun night out…and you will get lots of tips on places to visit when you head down to The County.  Here’s our top 101 to do in PEC tips to get you started!

 

 

 

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It doesn’t get any fresher than this!

Posted by Vanessa

Monday, August 15th, 2016
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At the height of summer, this month’s Savvy Cool Curds is inspired by my tour around Italy a few years ago as well as the empty place left in my heart (and stomach) for Italian homemade, melt in your mouth, soft artisan

Quality cheesecheeses. Mama Mia! After living on fresh cheese daily for almost a month, I was thrilled to return home to discover new finds by Quality Cheese in Vaughn, Ontario.   

Italy’s finest is made here with a touch of Canadian flair by three Borgo brothers who believe passionately in making cheese from the heart that reflects in their product. “Do it right or don’t do it at all” is the motto. Bellisimo!

 

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

… the biggest and best assortment of cheeses yet! Very special and hard-to-find artisan cheeses including: savvy_coolcurds_Colour

– Ricotta 300g
– Burrata 250g
– Buffalo Mozzarella 125g
– Mascarpone 250g
– Fleur de Buffala 200g
– Triple Crème Brie 300g

 

Craving more cool Quality Cheeses?

Would you like more cheese from this month’s Savvy Cool Curds? Just call our Savvy Team & we’ll arrange a special shipment for you (if it is still available that is!). Put us on speed dial – Savvy Cool Curds Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

 

Introducing…
Quality Cheese

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

 

As soon as I entered the doors of Quality Cheese, I was struck by the warm, comforting aromas of fresh and cooked milk that instantly took me back to my vacation in Tuscany, Italy and it’s amazing landscapes, traditions, delicious food, artisans and history.

My visit and tour to Quality Cheese reminded me why I barely made it home from that vacation as I had spent three weeks at the height of sensory enjoyment, in awe and amazed by the simplicity yet flavorful impact of dishes made with love and only the finest and freshest of ingredients.

The Borgo family of Vaughn, Ontario – representing four generations behind Quality Cheese – manufacture, distributes and retail Italian specialty cheeses unlike any others made in Canada. Their first cheese was made almost 55 years ago. Quality Cheeses – particularly the ones in the fresh cheese category in your Savvy Cool Curds – are firmly rooted in Italian artisanal cheesemaking tradition and to this day are made with the same family recipes.

Innovative but firmly rooted…

The three Borgo brothers are actively involved in the business with Albert as the cheese salesman, Joe as the cheese scientist, and William (Bill) as the master cheesemaker. While traditional, these men are blazing new trails and innovating all the time.

Much applause and award-winning recognition has been given over the years to their delectable cheeses made with cow, buffalo and goat milk. When their Ricotta won the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2013, it was an industry first. Never before had a fresh cheese, or an Ontario cheese won Grand Champion (best of the best) in the awards’ history. From the judges’ perspective, their Ricotta was a shining star, and truly the best example of a well-made artisan cheese at the ceremony, standing out among the crowd.

Even on the plant floor they’ve been innovating for over 17 years. From how milk is stored and piped, to various safety and sanitary processes, to finding ways to become more efficient at cheesemaking while retaining quality and artisan craftsmanship, their business is tweaked on a daily basis.

 

Experience in actionCHEESE FACTORY

The heightened energy and activity in the make room is akin to bees buzzing around a hive, almost organized chaos-like, but with the execution and precision that demonstrates years of experience and expertise. Albert, Joe and Bill continue to be very hands on, testing curd as they weave through equipment, tweaking machines, and providing guidance on texture and readiness.

A lot goes on in a ‘make day’. Fresh, tender mozzarella curd is cut and waits patiently in the vat to be transformed into multiple cheeses. Whey is drained from the fresh mozzarella and gets re-purposed into vats and heated to make fresh ricotta that is sold warm daily at the plant. Then the ricotta is hand scooped into forms or small tubs for immediate sale at retailers. Stretchy fresh mozzarella curd is hot water warmed, plied and kneaded into small oblong shapes, cut, hand stretched into pouches and filled with fresh cream/creamy curd as a delicious center. Chalky white buffalo mozzarella curd drains as cheesemaker Bill waits for the right texture before the next step – hand stretching.

Nothing says summer like the freshest, tastiest, juiciest and most flavorful of artisan and local foods ingredients. Dive into this month’s Savvy Cool Curds cheeses, grab good friends, and head for your backyard or cottage deck or dock for easy peasy entertaining during laziest haziest days of summer!

 – Cheese Tasting Notes – 

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

 

ricottaRicotta

Humble Quality Cheese Ricotta (ricotta means cooked again) reined supreme in 2013, winning Grand Champion against over 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first for both an Ontario and fresh category cheese.

Tasting Notes: Made with 100% Canadian whole cow or buffalo milk and the whey of from other brie-style and mozzarella cheeses, acidity and temperature levels are carefully monitored to ensure quality craftsmanship. Each Ricotta is hand-dipped and packed cool, resulting in a rich, luxurious, creamy, dense, full lactic and sweeter tasting product. Locally, the Ricotta is sold hot, straight from the vat for neighbors who appreciate the traditional Italian style.

 Suggested Pairing: “It is like fresh milk, you can do anything with it”, says Albert Borgo. “Eat it as a staple, some as food ingredient like with toast and jam.”  Try in cheesecake, fresh pasta, with fresh seasonal fruit, pancakes or dessert recipes or the Plum Salad with Ricotta and Prosciutto Twist recipe in the LCBO Food & Drink Magazine.

 

buff mozzBuffalo Mozzarella

 Experience the luxury of hand crafted silky artisan Mozzarella di Buffala as it’s meant to be. Made with 100% pure milk from local water buffalo (don’t be fooled with “cheater” buffalo mozzarella which is mostly cow’s milk with small percentage of buffalo milk mixed in!). A bit sweeter than it’s Italian cousin because salt is added during the make process instead of after in brine.

Tasting Notes: Enjoy the fresh, mild, buttery milky flavor and smooth silky texture of this small, soft and delicate but oh so versatile cheese.

 Suggested Pairing: Pairs perfectly with both sweet and savory accoutrements from your local farmer’s market.

  

QualityCheeseBurratabyVanessaSimmonsBurrata


Burrata is a rare breed of cheese in the fresh category, as a mix of mozzarella & cream, its name meaning, “buttered”.

 Tasting Notes: Burrata is part pasta filata (meaning stretchy) cheese as a combo of scraps of soft fresh mozzarella curd and cream center and curd that has been worked, heated and stretched it into little pouches around the exterior.  Enjoy flavors of rich, buttery, fresh milk and thick cream.

Suggested Pairing: Serve classically with ripened tomatoes, drizzled with oil, cracked black pepper & fresh basil. Try it with a twist, grilled plums drizzled with balsamic vinegar & small toasts.

 

mascarponeMascarpone

As far as fresh cheeses go, if ricotta was the humble man’s cheese, mascarpone is the “Gatsby” of the fresh cheese world. True to Italian culture, Bella Casara Mascarpone exemplifies passion, as a sexy and sinful artisan cheese.

Tasting Notes: As a description rich, luxurious and voluptuous come to mind along with butter as a main theme.  Caramelized butter-coloring appeals to the eye, while the lightest of sweet dulce de leche flavor melds with butter and cream on the palate. Even the consistency, density, smoothness are what one would find of the best quality hand churned butter.

 Suggested Pairing: IMHO Bella Casara Mascarpone is best eaten with a tablespoon, straight. Or, use in your favorite brownie recipe as an extra special secret ingredient for maximum cheesy goodness.

                                       

fleur de buffFleur de Buffala

Fleur de Buffala is a unique cheese for Ontario, just released onto the market, and aged for only a few weeks, made with local water buffalo milk.

Tasting Notes: These small, tender wheels of soft surface-ripened cheese have a rustic and delicate appearance from the light dewy crust of a rind. Feel the luxurious texture on your palate while enjoying both grassy and herbaceous aromas and flavors. Will be ripe and ready to best enjoy mid-next week.

 Suggested Pairing: Pair with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc and lazy summer afternoon.

 

 

triple cream brieTriple Cream Brie

Albert’s Leap Triple Cream Brie is a shining example of a fan favorite, made with only the 100% Canadian milk, delivered in the wee hours of the morning to ensure maximum freshness for cheesemaking.

Tasting Notes: Triple cream Brie follows French-style making processes, as a classic soft surface-ripened cheese with a velvety, downy rind and full on characteristic butter, cream and mushroomy aromas and flavors.

TIP: Save this cheese for another week or two to experience it at its peak as the inside becomes supple and runny.

Suggested Pairing: Try flipped on the grilled (indirect heat) warm with fresh grilled stone fruit or with any array of fresh homemade summer fruit jams.

 

– Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses –

 

With Burrata…

Burrata with Roasted Grapes & Figs

Recipe & Photo Credit: LCBO Food & Drink Summer 2016

 

Ingredientsburratta recipe

6 oz red seedless grapes
6 ripe black mission figs, quartered

2 tsp olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 Burrata at room temperature
2 tsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh purple thyme leaves
Toasted baguette or crackers (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Place grapes and figs on a foil-lined baking sheet, trying to keep bunches of grapes together (for a lovely presentation). Drizzle with oil. Season with salt. Bake for 10 minutes

Place cheese on the middle of your serving dish, surrounded by warm fruit. Drizzle everything with honey and sprinkle with purple thyme. Encourage guests to take slices of cheese and roasted fruit onto their plates or you can plate it for them. Serve with slices of toasted baguette or your favourite crackers (such as Rosemary Raisin Pecan Raincoast Crisps) or oatcakes to make it more like a dessert.

 

With Ricotta…

Bella Casara Ricotta Cake with Lemon

Recipe & Photo Credit All You Need is Cheese

Ingredientsriccotta recipe

⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
2 lemons
½ cup slivered almonds
1-⅓ lbs. Ricotta
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla abstract
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
½ cup all purpose flour
Dried cranberries for garnish

Method

Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).

In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in water and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes to obtain a syrup. Cook lemon slices in syrup over medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain the syrup into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Spread almonds in an oven-safe baking dish and toast them for 7–10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat Ricotta with eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest and the reserved lemon-flavored syrup. Incorporate the flour.

Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) spring form pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Cover bottom of pan with toasted almonds and pour Ricotta mixture on top. Bake in the oven 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cake is firm and lightly golden. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 1 hour before removing from pan.

Decorate chilled Ricotta cake with candied lemon slices and dried cranberries. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: This cake can also be accompanied by a cranberry coulis, if desired.

 

 

With Buffalo Mozzarella…                    

Ombre Fresh & Roasted Tomatoes On Charred Bread

Recipe & Photo Credit: LCBO Food & Drink Summer 2016
This recipe substitutes Wasabi cream cheese for fresh buffalo mozzarella

Ingredientsbuff mozz recipe

1 round Buffalo Mozzarella
3 small beefsteak tomatoes
2 pkgs. mix of red and orange cherry and grape tomatoes
Olive oil – use the Unrefined Olive oil we included!
Sea salt and pepper to taste
4 slices sourdough bread (or an Italian crusty bread)
¼ cup crispy shallots (found in Asian markets, or fry your own)

Method

Slice buffalo mozzarella into 8 thin slices.

Slice beefsteak tomatoes into wedges, keep cherry and grape tomatoes whole.

Preheat broiler on oven.

Place foil on a baking sheet, add cherry and grape tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Broil until just starting to pop and blister, around 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and lift foil from baking sheet. Refrigerate tomatoes to cool.

Place bread on baking sheet and toast until slightly charred.

Spread each toast slice with 2 slices of buffalo mozzarella, and sprinkle evenly with crispy shallots. Arrange fresh and broiled tomatoes in a colourful Ombre composition, moving from reds to oranges. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

 

With Mascarpone…

Melon and Mascarpone Salmon Tartare

Recipe & Photo Credit: Quality Cheese

 IngredientsMascarpone recipe

½ cup Bella Casara Mascarpone
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp. fresh dill
10 oz. very fresh salmon
½ cup honeydew melon
½ cup cucumber

Method

Whip Mascarpone and milk together. Add lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Chill.

Chop salmon, honeydew and cucumber into small cubes. Place salmon in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Gently mix together, and let rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Divide tartare into 4 ramekins, then invert onto plates.

Top with Mascarpone and season to taste. Serve immediately with slices of bread.

 

 

With Fleur de Buffala…

Roasted Portabello Mushroom with Albert’s Leap Melted Brie

Recipe & Photo Credit: Quality Cheese

Ingredientsfleur de buff recipe

4 Portobello mushrooms
8 oz. Fleur de Buffala Brie
1 shallot
½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup raspberry vinegar
Fresh tender lettuce or mixed greens


Method

Preheat barbecue to medium.

In a bowl, mix shallot with mustard. Add olive oil and whisk to mix. Add vinegar and season to taste. Set aside.

Gently clean mushrooms with a damp cloth. Remove stems, keeping only the caps. Stems may be used for another recipe.

Brush mushroom caps with a little dressing and cook them upside down on grill.

When mushrooms are tender, divide cheese slices between them so that interiors are filled. Let Fleur de Buffala melt and serve on a bed of lettuce, accompanied with remaining vinaigrette.

  

With Triple Cream Brie…

Choco Brie S’Mores

Recipe & Photo Credit: All You Need Is Cheese


brieIngredients

8 Graham Crackers
3 oz. Triple Cream Brie, sliced
1 ½ oz. of dark or milk chocolate, chopped
1-cup miniature marshmallows

Method

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

Arrange crackers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Top each cracker with Brie, chocolate and finish with marshmallows.

Place in the oven and cook until nicely browned, 7–10 minutes. Serve hot.

 

Enjoy the summer with your Savvy Cool Curds!

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Our BIG CHEESE News!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
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cheese-board-slider

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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Tips & tricks for this weekend’s Cheese Festival

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
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Are you whey keen on cheese? With the largest cheese festival in Canada coming up this weekend (June 7 & 8), we want to help make your visit to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival the best experience yet. You will discover that Canadian cheese is so MUCH more than just cheddar! It will be a fun day meeting & learning from the dynamic people who put their heart & soul into crafting the cheeses. And new this year is a post-fest party Makers+Mongers that we are proudly sponsoring.  It will be a fun (and delicious) way to unwind after the festival and mix & mingle with those involved in the cheese biz.

cheese festival logoWith so much to see & do, it’s easy to be overwhelmed…so here are a few ‘cheesey’ tips to help you prep for the fest:

Tip #1 – How to Get There?

Hop on the Savvy Bus bound for The County stopping in at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival for the afternoon, then onwards to visit 2 wineries, then have dinner under the stars at the Makers+Mongers event.  Sit back & relax.  Let our Savvy Sommeliers take care of all of the details of this marvelous day trip.  Pick up points in Ottawa (downtown & west end) as well as Brockville & Kingston.  Only 6 spots left.  Book your spot on the Bus >>

Tip #2 – Make your ‘Must Try’ list

While you may be blown away with the numbers of different cheeses on display at Cheese Festival, the obvious question is: Where to Start?

Here the list of cheese makers by province to help you map out your trip around the festival.

Tip #3 – How to taste a cheese

Holiday-Cheese-BoardIt’s certainly not rocket science, yet here is how the pros do it – as easy as Eyes, Nose & Mouth:
EYES – Admire the rind (outside) & paste (inside), the color & texture
NOSE –Take a big sniff – what does the aroma remind you of…A barn? fruit? nuts? earth?
MOUTH –Take a nibble – Do it taste like mushrooms? sour milk? grass?  Saltiness? Herbs? Bitterness?
REPEAT & ENJOY of course…

 Tip #4 – Be on the look out for these cheeses!

There will be over 200 cheeses…yes you read that right 200! Be forewarned and don’t try to sample them all. In addition to the recent award winners from the All Canadian Cheese Awards, here some to be sure to try at either the Cheese Festival or make sure to seek them out at your local cheese store.

Ricotta – Quality Cheese

Best of Show: 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Grand Champion
2013 American Cheese Society Category Winner. 

Ricotta in Italian means re-cooked.  This cheese is made from the leftover whey after making other cheese. This Ricotta reigned supreme, winning against over 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first ever for both an Ontario cheese, & fresh category cheese.

My Notes: Fresh, creamy, melt in your mouth.  Very light, but rich & very versatile as a simple cheese to eat with a variety of garnishes/ condiments or used in cooking.

Le Sabot de Blanchette – La Suisse Normande

sabot2013 Selection Caseus Goat’s Milk Cheese, Laureate 

Inspired by their Swiss & French cultures, the resulting products are a marriage made in heaven & leaving their mark in Quebec.  Cheeses are made from goats raised on the farm, in true “fermier” fashion.

My Notes: This soft-surface-ripened goat’s milk cheese has a unique pyramid shape, with a lovely, natural, slightly wrinkled, soft moldy rind, that on occasion displays spots of blue.  The paste is creamy, velvety, firm towards the center & slightly softer closer to the rind.  It has a fresh aroma, with a light acidity.

 

Pont Blanc – Fromagerie Au Grés Des Champs

Pont Blanc cheese2013 Selection Caseus Cow Milk Cheese, Fresh/Soft Paste, Laureate 

Organic farming techniques contribute to the aromas & flavors in their cheeses, as cows feed from forage fields of aromatic plants & flowers & care is taken to preserve flavors through the milking, handling & cheesemaking processes. One of the only producers of raw milk cheeses aged less than 60 days in Canada.

My Notes: Soft, lactic, surface ripened cow milk cheese.  A rare find. The skin-like rind reminds Vanessa of intricate ivory lace, while the dense interior has the texture of a soft cream sandwich or cheesecake.  Note pronounced flavors & aromas of fresh sweet milk & grass that linger and linger.  Finger licking good!

 

Alfred Le Fermier – Fromagerie La Station de Compton

Alfred le Fermier cheese2013 Selection Caseus Longaevi 

Famous among Quebec cheeses, having won more awards over the years than one can keep track of.  Simon Pierre, master cheese maker started off helping out & never left the business! Named as a tribute to his grandfather Alfred Bolduc who started the business 80 years earlier – as shown in the beautiful imprint inset into the rind of the cheese. 

My Notes: A true, rustic, organic, raw cow’s milk farmstead cheese made in small batches, pressed & cooked, washed/turned by hand. It has a European style, but with local terroir, as a result of choosing closely the hay from their local Estrie region (terroir!). Note heavy woodsy, herbal & floral aromas, with layers of milky, grassy & buttery complexity on the palette, more pronounced with age.

 

Mont Jacob – Fromagerie Blackburn

Mon Jacob cheese2013 Selection Caseus Silver 

Named for a mountain across from the cheese shop, not surprisingly big on taste! 

My Notes:  A semi-firm, farmstead, pale blush-colored washed-rind cheese whose ivory paste becomes suppler with age – softening closer to the rind. Aromas are pronounced at room temp & on the palate experience fruity, salty flavors, sweet & sour cooked milk. Dense texture is perfect for snacking, or melted as grilled cheese.

 

Old Grizzley – Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd.

Old Grizzly cheese2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Category Winner: Gouda & Farmhouse Cheese 

Owner Jan Schalkwijk, has been making cheese for over fifty years, from The Netherlands to Canada, has always been a dairyman, focusing on cows as a hobby. 

My Notes: Named for power & strength, naturally ripened & touted as “lactose-free” after one week due to the cultures used & the varying of temperature from room to higher than average during the first stages of affinage. Aged for two years, it has strong flavors of nut combined with a smooth creamy texture.

 

Lankaaster Aged – Glengarry Fine Cheese

Lankaaster from Glengarry Fine Cheese2013 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. 

My 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.

 

Bleu D’Élizabeth – Fromagerie de la Presbytere

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
 

My 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.

 

TIP #5 – Stay for dinner at Makers+MongersMakers & Mongers dinner logo

New this year we are sponsoring the post-festival party called the Makers+Mongers serving up even more opportunity to mix & mingle with folks in the cheese biz while noshing on gourmet creations.  Each dish will feature one of the top winning cheeses from the Canadian Cheese Awards.

Everyone welcome to join the fun.

Buy your tickets in advance or at the door >>

 

 

 

BONUS TIP #6 – Even more ways to learn about cheese

And be sure to take part in the seminars too – including a Craft Beer & Cheese tasting by our own Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm. And my seminar: The People’s Choice Awards to select your favorite Canadian cheese.

vanessa-bioYou 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.

Here 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.

Tickets: ORDER NOW

  

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

Saturday 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

We make it easy to be cheesey!

See you at the fest!

-Vanessa

 

 

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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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Wheying in on Quebec’s top cheeses

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
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Have you ever tasted cheese? I mean really tasted it. Rolled it around with your tongue and let it linger on the roof of your mouth? Cheese eating is a sensual and sensory pleasure according to Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons. “You want the cheese to go right to the back of your mouth, popped up where the peanut butter used to get stuck when you were a kid, and swish it all the way around so you are absolutely coating your palate and getting all of your taste buds working,” she advises.

Vanessa Simmons is openly fanatical about artisan cheeses

Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese SommelierI met Simmons at a tutored tasting for Quebec cheeses at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, in June. The Festival, showcasing the best Canadian cheeses under one roof, attracted 4,000 cheese lovers this year. Artisan cheeses from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Alberta were all on offer.

One-third of the producers were from Quebec, Canada’s leading cheese-making region. According to Simmons, Quebec cheese makers are well organized and funded, share knowledge, are well informed by international research and display superior craftsmanship.

Tasting – REALLY tasting – your cheese

Simmons is passionate about cheese and even has a cow named after her. She led a two-hour Quebec cheese tasting and advised on proper tasting technique. The cheeses on our plates ranged from light to robust. We were given three choices for pairing — Keint-He Winery’s 2010 Pinot Squared, Stanners Vineyards 2010 Lincoln Lakeshore Chardonnay or Beau’s Beaver River beer. “At the end of the tasting you should not just taste cheese on the back of your palate, otherwise your wine is not bold enough to stand up to that cheese. If all you taste is wine or beer, there’s not enough going on with that cheese — it’s not big enough,” she said.

Premium Goat Milk Cheddar, Back Forty Artisan Cheese Co. and Black River Cheese CompanySimmons encouraged us to get physical with our cheese, to rip each piece in two and examine the formation of the curds inside. We noted whether the cheese broke evenly or if there was a jagged edge. We considered whether the cheese was made from a mould or hand crafted with care. We examined the outside, inside, colour and texture and noticed if the cheeses were creamy, hard, glistening or runny.

Then we savoured the fabulous cheeses of popular producers such as Fromagerie Médard, Fromagerie du Presbytère, Fromagerie Nouvelle France and Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent.

Fromagerie Médard: Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean Region

Normand Côté is the fifth generation owner of Domaine de la Rivière, a farm in Saint-Gédéon, Québec, two hours north of Montreal. The dairy, Fromagerie Médard, named after Médard Côté, the son of the original landowner, uses milk from the farm’s Brown Swiss cows. Fromagerie staff member Diane Paget explained that the taste of the cheese varies depending on what the cows ate: “Was it just pasture or was it augmented because of a sparse year?”

Belle mère cheese Fromagerie MédardOn hand at the Festival were two Fromagerie Médard cheeses. The first one, Belle-Mère (in photo at left), an orange-brown washed rind semi-firm cheese was made from pasteurized milk and aged for three months. Washed rind cheeses are bathed in liquid, usually salted water, wine, brandy, local spirits, or herbs making them susceptible to bacteria that break down the curd from the outside, resulting in a more pungent flavour. The Belle-Mère with big buttery notes and aromas of lilac and lavender won a 2012 Selection Caseus award in the semi-firm, cow’s milk cheese category. Also made with pasteurized cow’s milk, 14 arpents, aged 30 days, was creamy and full of flavour, with the slight taste of hazelnut.

Fromagerie du Presbytère: centre-du-Québec Region

The Morin family has operated the Louis d’Or farm in Warwick, Quebec for four generations. In 1980, the farm went organic. Holstein and Jersey cows chow down on dry hay, clover, timothy grass, bluegrass and other organic grains and are not injected with antibiotics or hormones. “This dairy really pushes the envelope with raw cheese and more layers of complexity. They are more true to traditional cheese making,” says Simmons. A renovated church rectory built in 1936 houses the dairy. Friday nights are a celebration of cheese and community. Visitors converge on the rectory lawn with bottles of wine and beer to enjoy fresh cheese, music and bread.

bleu elizabethFromagerie du Presbytère took three awards at the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, Best Blue and Best Organic for Bleu d’Élizabeth (photo at left) and Best Swiss-type Cheese for Louis d’Or, aged for 18 months. I sampled four Fromagerie du Presbytère cheeses.

The Brie Paysan, a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese had a bloomy rind and soft paste that melted in my mouth. Bloomy rind cheeses are covered with Penicillium candidum forming a white casing causing the cheese to ripen from the outside and become soft and runny on the inside. The vegetal, grassy and fungal notes offered an amazing expression of terroir.

Laliberté is a triple cream cheese, made with whole organic milk and aged for 45 days. The bloomy rind surrounds a soft paste with mushroom flavour and a creamy mouthfeel.

Louis d'Or cheeseLouis D’Or, made from raw organic cow’s milk is crafted in 40-kilogram wheels and develops complex flavours after nine months of ripening. This washed rind, firm pressed, cooked paste cheese has nutty and fruity aromas.

Bleu d’Élizabeth is a semi-soft fruit-flavoured cheese made from non-pasteurized milk, displaying blue and greenish veins resulting from the presence of Penicillium roqueforti.

Fromagerie Nouvelle France: Eastern Townships

A young brother and sister team, Marie-Chantal and Jean-Paul Houde, started a sheep farm and a cheese-making operation, the Fromagerie Nouvelle France in 2010. Jean-Paul tends to a herd of over 200 East Friesian sheep on the 250-acre farm in the village of Racine. Marie-Chantal makes cheese.

Fromagerie Nouvelle France’s signature cheese, Zacharie Cloutier, is a raw sheep’s milk cheese, named for an ancestor who came to Canada from France in 1634. This ancestor is also said to be a distant relative of Céline Dion. In its first appearance at the 2011 Selection Caseus awards, Zacherie Cloutier won gold for the best cheese in Quebec in all categories. This orange washed rind, firm pressed cheese, aged for six months, exudes aromas of butter and caramel.

Le pionnier cheeseLe Pionnier, a cheese-making partnership between Fromagerie Presbytère and Fromagerie Nouvelle France is a 40-kilogram wheel made of raw sheep’s and cow’s milk coming from the cheese maker’s herds. The cheese is a “great marriage of cow’s milk cheese according to Morin’s tradition, and sheep’s milk cheese, according to Houde’s tradition,” offers Simmons. Le Pionnier is a firm cheese with a bit of washed rind, a dense cheese texture and some earthiness, and is very robust. Aged for 10 to 12 months, Le Pionnier displays complex aromas of butter, brown sugar and macadamia nuts with a delicate floral note. As Simmons says, “This cheese says ‘look at me’ and is very indicative of their personalities. They are very outspoken cheese makers.”

Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent: Iles de la Madeleine

In 1998, Jérémie Arseneau brought over a herd of Canadienne cows, a small black heritage breed, from Saint-Simon-de-Rimouski and l’île Verte to Îles-de-la-Madeleine. He launched the Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent and began cheese production on islands traditionally known for a strong fishing industry.

Pied du Vent cheesePied-du-Vent (photo at left) is a whole milk, soft surface-ripened cheese with a bloomy natural rind and a dominant flavour of hazelnuts. Surface-ripened cheeses have mould on the rind, ripening the surface first and then the inside.

Tomme Des Desmoiselles is a raw milk thermalized cheese in a gouda-like style with a washed rind. The cheese is full and robust with a fruit aroma. You get a bit of salt in the cheese because the cows graze on hay and grasses around the edge of the island and right on the border of the St. Lawrence River. Two beautiful small hills on the Havre Aubert landscape inspired the fromagerie in the creation of this cheese.

Plan your route of Quebec cheeses from east to west

To sample some stellar cheeses, take a tour on La Route des Fromages du Quebec linking producers across the province. Enjoy the ride through Quebec’s scenic countryside. Many barns are open, allowing direct access to goats, sheep, cows or calves.

Ontario cheese tasting trails

In Ontario, check out Oxford County’s new cheese trail to see a life-sized statue of record-setting milk producer Springbank Snow Countess, or be a cheese maker for a day. Or head for the Taste Trail in Prince Edward County for a quick calcium fix. You’ll develop a whole new appreciation for fromage.

 

This article was written by Merle Rosenstein, a freelance travel, food and beverage writer.
Click here to see this article as it appeared in
Quench Magazine.

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These Canadian cheeses are medal worthy!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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This week our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons is one of 10 judges in the first Canadian Cheese Awards Surrounded by over 250 wedges of cheeses & sampling all day long is hard job. . .  but Vanessa is happy to do it!

“I am delighted & honoured to be a judge for this brand new competition of Canadian cheeses.  There are many Canadian artisan cheeses that win international awards, the time is ripe to have the Canadian Cheese Awards,” shares Vanessa.

Neal's Yard Dairy: Mecca for cheese lovers. Photo: Julia Rogers.Georgs Kolesnikovs from CheeseLover.ca and the organizer of the Great Canadian Cheese Festival is the main man behind the scenes of this ground breaking competition.   While organizing the awards, Georgs called out to his cheese industry friends (including Vanessa) asking them for their top cheese picks of the year.  Here’s the Best Bites: Outstanding cheeses of 2013 as published on CheeseLover.ca.

Only one imported cheese – Taleggio – made the 2013 most memorable list, Julia Rogers offers this ‘shopping tip’, “As far as international picks go, I’d suggest that any cheese lover make a pilgrimage to Neil’s Yard Dairy in London (photo left ). The pleasures are too many to enumerate, but this is mecca, without a doubt. And, yes, I tasted virtually everything in this photo! – Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

 

Drumroll please…Outstanding cheese of 2013

The cheeses are listed in alphabetical order, so consider this as your ABC’s of artisan cheese!

Alfred Le Fermier (24 months), Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Alfred Le Fermier is a true, rustic, organic, raw cow’s milk farmstead cheese made in small batches, pressed and cooked, washed/turned by hand, as a way of life on the farm. It has a European style, but with local terroir, as a result of choosing closely the hay from their local Estrie region. Note heavy woodsy, herbal and mild floral aromas, with layers of milky, grassy and buttery complexity on the palette, more pronounced when aged for 24 months. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Beau’s Abbey Style Cheese, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
A delicious marriage of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese of Woodstock, Ontario, with Beau’s All Natural Brewing of Vankleek Hill, Ontario. This sumptuous semi-soft cheese is washed with a seasonal beer from Beau’s. Beer and cheese together, pure bliss! – Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Brebichon, Les Fromages du Verger
I simply adore Brebichon, a farmstead sheep milk cheese that is oh so creamy, delicate and lucious. This apple juice washed cheese is an absolute must buy on every stop I make at Fromagerie Atwater in Montréal. – Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

Chemin Hatley, Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Made with organic raw milk from a closed herd of fourth-generation family-farmed cows, this cheese readily fulfills its potential. Supple and fragrant, with yeasty and savoury aromas, and a long layered finish. – Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

Crottin à ma Manière, Fromagerie L’Atelier
The goat’s milk cheese Crottin à ma Manière from Simon Hamel at Fromagerie l’Atelier in the Bois-Francs region of Québec surpasses famed Chavignol of France, is much cheaper and it’s federally licensed. – Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Dragon’s Breath Blue, That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm
A rare find and 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalist, Dragon’s Breath Blue is a closely guarded family secret. Unique in shape and size, these small cylinders of blue cheese 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! – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Figaro from Glengarry Fine Cheese. Photo: Vanessa Simmons.

Figaro, Glengarry Fine Cheese (left)
I choose Figaro from Glengarry–not that I don’t love (and love the Global award!) for the Lankaaster Aged but I kind of forgot about the amazingly fresh and delicate qualities. And we found each other again this year–lucky for me. – Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail 

Fleur des Monts, La Moutonnière
Not as consistent as one might want, though still an ambitious and expressive farmstead cheese modeled loosely after Manchego, but more floral, bright and pungent. – Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture 

Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese
I’ve served the Grizzly Gouda from Sylvan Star many times at events or at home this year and it is outstanding in its complexity, looooong finish and “ability to wow” factor. – Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail 

La Sauvagine Réserve, La Maison Alexis de Portneuf
Somehow the cheesemakers at Alexis de Portneuf improved their already mouth-watering, soft, mixed rind La Sauvagine cheese. What did they do? Add cream to it, making it a triple crème. Grab some of this cheese while you can. A limited amount of this OMG mouth experience was created. – Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Laliberté, Fromagerie du Presbytère,
 I have to start with Laliberté from Fromagerie du Presbytere–the triple cream that I could not stop eating, and made from organic milk to boot. – Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail

Lankaaster Aged, Glengarry Fine Cheese
Supreme Global Champion at the 2013 Global Cheese Awards, this firm to hard cow’s milk cheeses comes shaped in a loaf or wheel, covered in a waxy rind, and is a Gouda-style after Dutch farmstead cheeses. It’s a rich, dense, chewy cheese with intense buttery, fruity, caramelized nutty flavors that linger forever. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Le Vlimeux, Fromagerie Le Mouton Blanc
It’s not hard to see how this multiple Caseus award-winning cheese is smokin’ hot! Vlimeux is a firm, pressed, uncooked raw sheep’s milk cheese, with a hard, waxy, glossy, caramel-hued rind. Smoke, salt and nut permeate the interior overlaying the cheese’s natural sweet milky flavors in a perfect complement. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Maple Cheddar, Black River Cheese
 What could be more Canadian than Black River’s Maple Cheddar? This cheese provides a bite that is perfectly balanced between sweet and savoury, and just —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
Okay, this is part of the cheese but my wife and I cannot resist adding small cubes of it into our soups, chili, tomato sauce and risotto. The dried rind softens in the broth, releasing its flavour and becomes chewable. We love it so much that we actually have to buy some from our local grocery store. – Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Pont Blanc, Fromagerie Au Grés Des Champs
Pont Blanc is a soft, lactic, surface ripened cow milk cheese. A rare find outside the farmstead retail store, the skin-like rind on this beauty reminds of intricate ivory lace, while the dense interior has the texture of a soft cream sandwich and moist piece of cheesecake. Note pronounced flavors and aromas of fresh sweet milk, and grass that linger and linger. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Ricotta, Quality Cheese
The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Grand Champion, the humble Ricotta from Quality Cheese reigned supreme, winning against more than 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first ever for both an Ontario cheese and a fresh category cheese. Fresh, creamy, melt in your mouth Ricotta (which means re-cooked in Italian, as it’s made from the leftover whey after making other cheese). Very light, but rich, and very versatile as a simple cheese to eat with a variety of garnishes/condiments or used in cooking. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company 

Taleggio, Northern Italy
Taleggio (1996 Italian DOP) has and will always be in my Top 10. It’s a semi-soft, washed rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that is named after Val Taleggio where it has been made since the 10th century. The cheese has a thin crust and a strong aroma, but its flavour is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang. – Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Water Buffalo Mozzarella, Old West Ranch

James Meservy deserves a medal for perseverance! He has faced many challenges in the last two years in his attempt to bring high quality Old West Ranch Water Buffalo Mozzarella to the artisan Canadian cheese market. When it is in its finest form, it is dense and velvety without being the least bit rubbery and sweetly milky with a tangy underpinning that keeps us reaching for more. – Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant

 

 

Flavoured cheeses

It is surprising, even to me, that two of my three faves of 2013 are flavoured cheeses, which to me is a testimony to high-quality cheesemaking. Flavours that meld with the cheese substrate where the cheese and the flavour counterpart do a sublime dance.  – Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant

Ruckles, Salt Spring Island Cheese Company David Wood knocks it out of the park, again. In a sea of so many pedestrian offerings of marinated goat cheese, Ruckles is in class all its own. Firm yet silkily textured cylinders of cheese are bathed in grapeseed oil which is speckled with a mix of thyme, rosemary, chives and garlic, in perfect proportion.

Chili Pecorino, The Cheesiry The Chili Pecorino is one of my favourite offerings from Rhonda Zuk Headon’s repertoire. The balance of chilis embedded in this toothsome cheese provides a gentle heat that lingers on the palate while the nutty, olive flavour of this sheep milk cheese still holds its own. Not an easy accomplishment but Rhonda pulls it off!

Cheese fondues

Cheese fondue, the melted-cheese dish popular some years ago, is making a comeback—but without the classic ingredients of Comté, Beaufort, Gruyere or Emmental.

Four new ready-to-eat Cheese Fondues arrived on the market in 2013. All amazing, with either Louis d’Or, 14 Arpents or Victor et Berthold or the one from Charlevoix with both 1608 and Hercule in the box!  – Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

One of my best bites was a fondue made from Victor et Berthold, a beautiful washed rind from Fromagerie Du Champ a la Meule in Québec. This cheese made one of the most delicious fondues of all time. It made me very happy. – Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

 

Spend a day with Vanessa & learn all about cheese!

Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese SommelierThis is every cheese lover’s dream – join us for a fun-filled day with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons. Nibble & nosh all day as Vanessa introduces you to cheeses from around the world, share stories about cheesemakers & show you the ‘whey’ as you learn cheese-y lingo, how artisan cheese is made, tips on buying cheese. . . and loads more!

To top it all off, your tastebuds will be put to the ‘test’ by sampling wines & craft beers to decide which really is the best pairing with cheese.

Date: Saturday March 22 – 10:30am to 4:30pm
Location: MUST Kitchen & Wine Bar – Ottawa
Savvy Special: $140 before March 15 (reg $155).  Includes everything as well as gourmet lunch

This Cheese ‘Class’ will sell out fast! > >

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Great Ontario wines, craft beers & ciders at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Posted by Debbie

Saturday, June 1st, 2013
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We are proud to be a returning sponsor for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.  It is a delicious weekend discovering that Canada makes more than just cheddar.  Nosh & nibble on artisan cheeses, gourmet foods and wines too!

Yummy cheeses are best served with a glass (or two of wine), we created for the festival Savvy Sip & Shop – a new service that enables you to order ANY combination of wines, ciders or craft beers featured at the festival to be shipped directly to your home or office – within a week!  Most of the wines, ciders & beers are not available at the LCBO, so this is the best way to always have your favorites on hand.

Mix & match ANY featured wines, ciders & craft beers

With over 20 wineries, breweries and a cider too, it is a fun way to discover new favorite wines, ciders & craft beers made in Prince Edward County & Niagara too.   Order from Savvy Sip & Shop any of your favorites from The Great Canadian Cheese Festival and they will be delivered to your home or office – within a week!  Or here`s an idea: order an assortment of wine for a friend. We will ship anywhere in Ontario.  Order 12 or more bottles and shipping by courier is FREE.

Need a wine tip? Call on our Savvy Sommeliers to help recommend wines 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us on cheers@savvycompany.ca

 

Featured wines, craft beers & ciders:

 

Black Prince Winery

2011 Riesling $15.95

2010 Chardonnay $17.95

2010 Cabernet Franc Reserve $18.95

2010 Merlot VQA Prince Edward County $19.95

 

Casa-Dea Winery

2011 Dea’s Cuvée Sparkling $18.95

2009 Chardonnay Reserve $24.95

2010 Pinot Gris $18.95

2010 Gamay $15.95

2009 Cabernet Franc $18.95

 

Exultet Winery

2012 Cru X White Light $25.00

2010 Cru X Pinot Noir $29.95

2012 Vidal Icewine $26.00

 

Harwood Estate Vineyards

2011 Chardonnay $32.00

2011 Pinot Gris $18.00

2010 St. Laurent $20.00

2010 Pinot Noir $29.00

2011 Marquesa $29.00

2009 Just Desserts $25.00

 

Huff Estates Winery

2010 Cuvée Janine $24.95

2011 Riesling Off Dry $17.95

2010 South Bay Chardonnay $29.95

2012 Pinot Gris $19.95

2011 Pinot Noir $24.95

2011 South Bay Merlot $29.95
Karlo Estates

2010 Riesling $22.00

2010 Chardonnay CHOA $25.00

2011 Frontenac Gris Rosé $16.00

2012 Pinot Gris $21

2010 Cabernet Franc $24.00

2010 Merlot $24.00

2010 Pinot Noir $29.00

2010 Quintus $35.00

2010 VanAlstine White Port $29.00

2009 VanAlstine Red Port $29.00

 

Keint-He Winery

2009 Chardonnay $20.00

2011 Voyageur Rosé $15.00

2010 Pinot2 $20.00

2008 Pineaux Sauvage $25.00

 

Lacey Estates Vineyard

2011 Gewürztraminer Reserve $25.00

2010 Chardonnay $27.00

2012 Pinot Gris Pink Off Dry $25.00

2010 Baco Noir $20.00

2010 Pinot Noir $29.00

 

Lighthall Vineyards

2012 Progression Sparkling $20.00

2009 Chardonnay $25.00

2010 Chardonnay $25.00

2011 Gewürztraminer $25.00

2010 Pinot Noir $25.00

 

Long Dog Winery

2008 Bella Riserva Chardonnay $18.00

2009 Bella Riserva Chardonnay $22.00

2009 Otto Pinot Noir $24.00

2007 Otto Pinot Noir $30.00

2008 Top Dog Pinot Noir $24.00

2009 Top Dog Pinot Noir $30.00

 

Palatine Hills

2010 – 1812 Chardonnay $12.00

2010 Neufeld Vineyard Chardonnay $22.95

2012 – 1812 Merlot Cabernet $13.00

2010 Neufeld Vineyard Cabernet Franc $19.95

 

Redtail Vineyard

2011 Riesling $17.95

2012 Chardonnay $27.95

2010 Pinot Noir $28.95

 

Rosehall Run Vineyards

2010 Cabernet Franc Cuvée County $24.95

 

Sandbanks Estate Winery

2012 Dunes $12.95

2011 Riesling $14.95

2011 Gewürztraminer $16.95

2012 Sauvignon Blanc $16.95

2012 Rosé $12.95

2012 Baco Noir $14.95

2012 Dunes Red $14.95

2012 Cabernet Franc $14.95

2010 Baco Noir Reserve $19.95

2010 French Kiss (Cabernet Merlot) $24.95

2011 LOVE Cassis Aperitivo $14.95

 

Stanners Vineyard

2010 Chardonnay $25.00

2011 Chardonnay $25.00

2009 Cabernet Franc $22.00

2010 Pinot Noir $30.00

 

The Grange of Prince Edward County

2011 Estate Chardonnay Unoaked $15.95

2011 GPE Fumé Blanc $24.95

2009 Select Gamay Noir $15.95

2007 Diana Block Pinot Noir $34.95

 

Barley Days Brewery
Loyalist Lager

Harvest Gold Pale Ale

Wine & Sail Dark Ale

Mixed 6 bottle pack (2 bottles of each) $13.25

Mixed 24 bottle pack (8 bottles of each) $45.95

 

County Cider Company

Waupoos Premium Cider (4 x 341ml) $13.35

County Cider (1L) $7.85

Waupoos Peach Cider (1L) $9.95

Waupoos Feral Cider (1L) $9.95

Prince Edward Ice Cider (375ml) $29.95

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