Posts Tagged ‘Canadian artisan cheeses’

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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Here’s the Best of the Fest!

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
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Savvy Cool Curds is all about celebrating Canadian artisan cheese and so it’s only fitting to pay homage to my favourite event of summer, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival (#TGCCF). The first weekend of June every year, thousands of die-hard cheese fans flock to Prince Edward County to partake in the largest cheesy party in Canada.

This month’s Savvy Cool Curds showcases a selection of hard to find cheeses sourced from the festival, ripe and ready for you to enjoy, best paired with fun in the sun summer activities.

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…TGCCF

… Very special and delicious artisan cheeses including:

– Fromagerie Montebello Rebellion 1837
– Du Champ a la Mule Victor et Berthold Reserve
– Stonetown’s Homecoming

And since the festival took place in Prince Edward County, we thought it was opportune to include some cheeses made in the area:

– Black River Cheddar with Honey
– Black River Maple Cheddar

 

savvy_coolcurds_ColourFlipping for more fabulous cheese festival flavours?
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…
Best of Fest 

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier


cheese manThe Great Canadian Cheese Festival, going into its 7th year, is the one place every summer the cheese industry and consumers alike come gather in a celebration of all things Canadian cheese. I’m proud of my good friend, founder and Festival Director, Georgs Kolesnikovs (aka the Big Cheese in photo below) has managed to stay true to the roots of it’s inception in showcasing the very best of Canadian artisan cheese by profiling only cheese producers who use 100% pure Canadian milk, and no additives or modified milk ingredients.

The festival is not only a food or cheese show, it’s hugely important as the glue that binds the Canadian artisan cheese industry, breaking down barriers between provinces, encouraging new relationships, and the inclusiveness of both larger and smaller producers as well as all milk types (cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo) in support of Canadian producers.

#TGCCF is a not-to-miss event on my summer list, having been a presenter, party host, judge, cheese cutter, media personality, MC, and overall go to cheese gal for whatever helping hands have been needed over the years.

 

A feeding frenzy…

Earlier this summer, June 4-5 in Picton, Prince Edward County, the quiet quaint Crystal Palace and Picton Fairgrounds turned into the wildest cheese party in Canada, as over 5300 cheese lovers gathered to make merry over Canadian cheese.

Cheesemakers love it because visitors are true cheese fans. Well educated on the merits of artisan cheese, they come armed with a list, detailed notes & rolling coolers to take home their treasures.  Attendees love it because they have a chance to meet makers and artisan producers and discover new favorites.

Over 130 exhibitors and vendors showcased their wares to taste and buy. 150 different types and styles of Canadian cheese from coast to coast were found: water buffalo aisago, a wide variety and ages of gouda, more ooey gooey soft cheeses than you can imagine, fabulous tasty cheddars and many beaudacious blues to name a few.

Hundreds of artisan food products that go with cheese were discovered: jams, jellies, chutneys, kimchi, pickled everything, charcuterie, cookies, chocolate, honey, salsas, local sodas, crackers, shortbread, olive oil, preserves, condiments of all kinds, and even ice syrup. Also things to add wow to your cheese presentation like live edge boards in a variety of woods, handcrafted boards, and unique serving utensils. And, not to mention the artisan wine, craft beer and cider selections!

 

So much to see and do!

From Jamie Kennedy’s farm to table dinner, the grilled cheese chowdown, St. Albert’s free cheese curd giveaways, water buffalo rides, profiled cheese award winners, the Saturday Raclette rave party, free Dairy Farmer’s of Canada seminars, tutored tastings, celebrity chef cook-off’s, dairy farm displays, food court and local tours there is much to see and do over the weekend as you explore Prince Edward County and take in the festivities.

Never been to the festival? Crack open this month’s Savvy Cool Curds grab your preferred summer sipping wine, beer or cider and settle into a lazy reading spot. My Best of the Fest blog post will whet your appetite and the Best of Show Guide with my top 10 notable noshes will make you wish that the 2017 festival was here already.

Save the date June 3-4, 2017. Any cheese lover worth their curd knows it’s THE place to be the first Saturday in June.  Savvy Cool Curds subscribers get VIP treatment.

See you there!

 – Cheese Tasting Notes –

 

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

 

Cheddar with honeyCheddar with Honey

“Canadiana” is a familiar term to all of us, referring to things related to the country of Canada. Black River Cheese (recently purchased by Gay Lea) gives a taste of Canadiana as one of the regions oldest farmer-owned dairy co-operatives with over 100 years of cheesemaking experience to their credit.

 Tasting Notes: Black River’s Honey Cheddar cheese is sunny medium cheddar that has been naturally aged (meaning it sits in an aging room for a length of time vs. fake additive flavoring that makes a cheese taste aged), accented with a splash of local honey to contrast a gentle sweetness against a mild salty finish.

 Suggested Pairing: Try it with sparkling summer bubbles or Rose. Shred on grilled veggies or grilled/roasted summer fruit (think plums, peaches, strawberries).

 

Maple CheddarMaple Cheddar

The idea for Black River Cheese Maple Cheddar was born in 2003 to coincide with local Prince Edward County festival “Maple in the County”.  Cheddar is naturally aged for 5-8 months, shredded, mixed with local Fosterholm Farms pure amber Maple Syrup and Maple Sugar, pressed into hoops & then cut into blocks and packaged.

 Tasting Notes: This pasteurized cow’s milk cheese is a great example of what good medium cheddar should be with a surprise flavor twist.  It has a nice, dense, smooth paste (not too dry, soft but still crumbly), milky aromas, clean slightly fruity taste & is accented with true Canadian maple flavor without being overly sweet

 Suggested Pairing: Enjoy with a local microbrew or cider. Add to a burger for a surprise flavor twist. Bake into dessert pastries.

  

HomecomingHomecoming

One of Ontario’s newest “cheeses on the scene”, Stonetown Cheese’s Homecoming is already making headlines as a finalist in the “Best New Cheese” category at the Canadian Cheese Awards. I love the quote on their website “Life is great, cheese makes it better”. We wholeheartedly agree!

 Tasting Notes: Homecoming is a semi-soft, washed rind, Swiss alpine style farmstead cheese. Made with fresh unpasteurized Holstein milk it has mild earthy flavor profile.

 Suggested Pairing: Great as a summer picnic snacking cheese, pair with an unoaked Chardonnay or Semillon.

 

french cheeseVictor et Berthold de Reservé

Fromagerie du Champ a la Meule, located in the south central region of Quebec, pays tribute to the founders who once ran the farm, with Victor et Berthold de Reservé; affiné (cheese speak for aged) an extra 40 days to intensify the flavor.

 Tasting Notes: Victor et Berthold de Reservé has a gorgeous light copper-hued washed rind and smooth, bone-colored paste. Flavors are a mix of milk, cream and butter with a noticeable meaty texture on the palate and slight bite on the finish.

 Suggested Pairing: Appreciate on a summer-grilled cheese with smoky bacon and freshly sliced beefsteak tomatoes. Pair with a light hoppy beer. Also works well with a dollop of Indian Chutney or stone fruit marmalade.

 

Rebellion

rebellion cheese

New blue on the block Rebellion 1837 is named for those who love bold blue cheeses, and those who are considered just that, a little rebellious, after Louis-Joseph Papineau who led as Chef of the Patriots during the famous Quebec rebellion of 1837-38.

Tasting Notes: Shaped into tall, cylindrical wheels Rebellion is a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese with rustic, slate blue veining that concentrates in the center of the wheel. The moist, creamy paste, with rich, velvety, texture gives mild floral & mushroom
y aromas with big ‘shroomy flavor and a light balance of salt.  Delish!

Suggested Pairing: Pair with a Canadian Ice Cider or Sparkling Ice Cider. Enjoy crumbled on fresh summer greens or atop a sizzling rib eye steak, right off the grill!

 

– Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses –

 

With Cheddar with Honey…

Cheddar Biscuits with Honey Butter

Recipe & Photo Credit: Cookingwithawallflower.com
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  15 minutes

Ingredientscheddar scones

Cheddar Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
1 stick of butter (4 ounces)
1-cup buttermilk
⅓ cup shredded Cheddar with Honey cheese
¼ cup Cheddar with Honey cheese for topping

Honey Butter

4 Tbsp. butter at room temperature
2½ tsp. honey
¼ tsp. powdered sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or with a silicone-baking mat.

In a large bowl, add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar. Mix these ingredients until they are well combined.

Next, add butter to the bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to break the butter apart. Mix the butter with the flour until they become pea size.

Fold in the cheddar cheese until they are well distributed in the dough. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until the ingredients are wet.

Use a ¼-measuring cup to scoop each serving of dough. Place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.

Sprinkle extra cheddar cheese over each biscuit before placing the baking sheet into the oven to bake for about 12-14 minutes or until the top of the biscuits are golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking, whisk the room temperature butter until it becomes smooth. Add honey and powdered sugar and whisk until the butter becomes smooth.

Once the biscuits are done, allow to cool for a few minutes before serving them with the honey butter.

With Maple Cheddar…                    

Hamburger with Double Cheddar Cheese, Grilled Vidalia Onion & Horseradish Mustard

Recipe & Photo Credit: Food Network Canada

Prep Time: 15minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

cheeseburgerIngredients

2 lb(s) freshly ground chuck
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices white Cheddar, sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 slices yellow Cheddar, sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 hamburger buns
Horseradish Mustard (recipe follows)
8 leaves Romaine lettuce
Grilled Vidalia Onions (recipe follows)
Dill pickles, sliced
Ketchup

Horseradish Mustard

½ cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish, drained

Grilled Vidalia Onions

2 Vidalia onions, sliced crosswise, 1/4-inch thick slices
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat grill or a cast iron skillet to high.

Divide the beef into 8 (4-ounce) burgers. Season on both sides with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill or cook in the skillet for 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare doneness. During last minutes of cooking add 2 slices of cheese to each burger, cover grill and let melt, approximately 1 minute. Place burger on bun and top with Horseradish Mustard, lettuce, Grilled Vidalia Onions, pickles and ketchup.

Horseradish Mustard

Whisk mustard and horseradish together in a small bowl.

Grilled Vidalia Onions

Brush olive oil on both sides of the onions and season with salt and pepper. Grill the onion slices for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

 

With Homecoming…

Cheese Pie

Recipe & Photo Credit: Stonetowncheese.com

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes

cheese pieIngredients

Pie Crust

2 ready-made puff pastry sheets 

Filling

300 ml whipping cream
2 eggs
100 g Wildwood, grated
100 g Grand Trunk, grated
100 g Homecoming, grated
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt,
Pepper, paprika, nutmeg to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 220 C / 425 F.

Use 2 ready-made puff pastry sheets and place in 8″ pie shell. Cut to size of pie shell and poke the base with a fork.

Put whipping cream and eggs into a bowl, mix well.

Add cheeses, cornstarch, salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg to bowl, stir.

Add cheese mixture to pie base, spread evenly. Bake: Approx. 25 minutes toward the bottom of the oven (preheated to 220 C/ 425 F). Remove from oven, place pan on wire rack and remove from pie shell and serve

With Victor et Berthold de Reservé…

Strawberry Bruschetta

Recipe & Photo Credit: Food Network Canada

Vanessa adapted this recipe by adding a slice of Victor et Berthold de Reservé for a bit of extra flair!

Prep Time:  6 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Strawberry BrushcettaIngredients

3 slices (1/2-inch-thick) rustic white bread
2 – 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 strawberries, sliced
3 – 5 tsp. sugar
3 slices Victor et Berthold de Reservé

Method

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the bread until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

Spread the butter over the toasts. Add a slice of Victor et Berthold de Reservé. Arrange the sliced strawberries over the cheese. Sprinkle the strawberries with the sugar. Broil until the sugar begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes 

With Rebellion…

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese

Recipe & Photo Credit: Food Network Canada
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes

 IngredientsROast pears

3 ripe but firm Anjou pears
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
3 oz. coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese, such as Stilton
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
½ cup apple cider
3 Tbsp. Port
⅓ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ cup good olive oil
6 oz. baby arugula
Kosher salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Peel the pears and slice them lengthwise into halves. With a small sharp paring knife and a melon baller, remove the core and seeds from each pear, leaving a round well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the rounded sides of each pear half so that they will sit in the baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them, core side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold the pears snugly.

Gently toss the crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it on top of the indentation.

In the same small bowl, combine the apple cider, port, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or at room temperature.

Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the basting liquid in a large bowl. Divide the arugula among 6 plates and top each with a pear half. Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.CoolCurds_mail-2

 

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

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

Posted by Vanessa

Monday, February 22nd, 2016
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cheese-board-slider

Savvy Cool Curds cheese of the month club
Featuring COWS Creamery
–  February 2016 –

 

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

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

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

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

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

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar 400g

Extra Old Cheddar 400g

Appletree Smoked Cheddar 250g

NEW! Cultured Butter 250g

Craving more COWS Creamery cheddars?

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

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing…
COWS Creamery

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

 

cows building

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

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

Ice cream & cheese & oysters, oh my!

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

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

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

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

True Terroir

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

One process – two contrasting cheeses

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

Proud Moments

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

Say Canadian cheese!

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

• Cheese Tasting Notes •

 

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

Extra Old Cheddar

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

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

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

 

Appletree Smoked Cheddar

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

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

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

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

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

 

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

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

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

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

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

 

NEW! Cultured Butter

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

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

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

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

 

Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With Extra Old Cheddar…

The Best Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese

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

Ingredients

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

Photo Credit: foodnetwork.ca

Method

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

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

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

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

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

 

With Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar…

Great-Grandma’s Sour Cream Apple Pie

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

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

From Anita Stewart…

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

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

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

Food Day Canada - Apple PieIngredients

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

Photo Credit: fooddaycanada.ca

Method

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

Sprinkle with cinnamon and reserved sugar.

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

 

With Appletree Smoked Cheddar…

Classic Cheddar Beer Fondue

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

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

Ingredients

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

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

Method

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

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

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

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

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Calling all cheese lovers: Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese arrives at your doorstep

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016
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Savvy Cool Curds cheese of the month club
Featuring Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
–  January 2016 –

 

To kick off 2016 with a bang, we are thrilled to launch Savvy Cool Curds – Canada’s only artisan cheese-of-the-month club, offering delivery right to your door from a different Canadian cheesemaker every month.

Gunn'sHillArtisanCheeseCheese lovers across the country – like you – are beginning their cheese ladened adventure with us starting with an assortment of delicious alpine-style cheeses from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese located in Woodstock, Ontario.

I can’t imagine a better “whey” to start a new year than with a resolution to enjoy more Canadian artisan cheese! Gunn’s Hill owner and cheesemaker Shep Ysselstein began dreaming about making cheese in 2003. He too is excited to share his hand made cheese in this month’s Savvy Cool Curds. The reality is that it took him eight years before he even got to the point of making cheese. Now that is ambition!

Shep’s face lights up when he talks about cheese. He’s proud of his heritage and of the fact that Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese is true farm to table. So break open your Savvy Cool Curds and peruse the following pages to get the inside scoop on this budding entrepreneur and passionate cheesemaker.

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

CoolCurds_mail-2…a kilogram of hard-to-find artisan cheese including wedges and wheels:

200g of Handeck

200g of Beau’s Abbey Cheese

200g of Five Brothers Reserve

200g of Brigid’s Brie

200g of Five Brothers


Gunn'sHillcheeseHave a hankering for Gunn’s Hill?

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…
Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Three years ago, I interviewed Shep Ysselstein for the first time about an hour before his bachelor party. Talk about a non-stop life! Fast-forward to today and he’s just as gracious, passionate about his craft and as driven as he was then, yet a little more seasoned.

cheesy-love-story-shep-and-colleen_BlogembedI caught up with Shep and his wife Colleen (in photo at left) at Gunn’s Hill just as they are completing renovations on their expanded plant as a result of funding awarded to them by the BDC in 2014.

Walking through the large, sterile, stark white, empty but soon-to-be-full aging rooms, Shep’s face glowed with joy as he described his plans for his growing business, each cheese in a new home and plenty more room to grow in order to meet consumer demand (they will easily triple their capacity).

When asked how things have changed over the past years “it’s been a crazy ride” Shep says. In the beginning it was a grind to get their name out there. And then Five Brothers won at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Not only did they get traction attached with a great reputation, the media coverage exploded. Retail sales skyrocketed, their phone rang off the hook with grocery stores looking to stock their award winning cheese &they were seeing repeat business because the quality of their cheeses.

A Family of farmers

LandscapeofFriesvaleFarmsGunn’s Hill is located in Oxford County, the heart of Canada’s dairy capital, on family land surrounded by neighbouring Friesdale Farms. Family heritage is apparent in every cheese that Gunn’s Hill makes. Shep’s father is the second generation running the family dairy farm established by Shep’s grandfather. Feed for the Holstein cows is grown on their land. And it is this herd produces the milk for Shep’s cheese.

Given the history of the area, once boasting nearly 100 cheese factories &having the largest regional milk production in Canada, locals are proud to support Shep &his enterprise. Almost half of their retail sales are local, with folks buying cheese or introducing visitors to the shop.

It’s all about the milk

FiveBrothersagingGood quality cheese starts with good quality milk. Shep boasts that the best milk in the land is from his father’s farm. With the expansion of the cheese production facility, Shep expects to be able to use all of the milk his father produces from his herd of 120 Holsteins. Every two days, fresh milk is delivered & cheese is made right away.

Shep explained that 30 wheels of Five Brothers can be produced from 1500 litres of milk. Seasonally, he needs to tweak the cheese recipes to reflect the milk. Interesting to note, at times when the cows are fed a lot of carrots, there are higher levels of beta carotene in the milk, adding a more golden hue. In winter they need to compensate for higher fat content in the milk, in order for the cheese to not be too soft. Cheesemaking is part art & part science.

What’s in a name?

HandeckDuring our visit, Shep explained that the naming process for his cheeses took a year – I equate to picking names for children! I love his philosophy that the names “Need to feel right.” You know it’s going to be good cheese when so much patience, thought & effort goes into choosing the name.

Sometimes tweaking the names is required. In your parcel you have a chunk of Handeck. It was originally spelled Handegg (after the town where Shep learned how to make traditional alpine style cheese). They got tired of so many people asked about “egg” in the cheese, that they changed the name to it’s phonetic spelling Handeck.

BOSShepHandeckbyVSIt’s a Gouda life!

If Shep could be a cheese he’d be an aged gouda because his background is Dutch. “I’m not that crazy & fairly even keeled, but not too boring”.

There is no doubt that Shep absolutely loves what he does. He recognizes he’s not in it alone & he’s not the only face of the business. He credits his wife Colleen for her immense contributions with marketing. “I’m a country boy & she’s a city girl. We’re vastly different but it’s a big part of what makes this partnership work”. When I turned to Colleen to ask what makes Shep a successful cheesemaker, she states, “his work ethic, his patience & his passion – in that order”.

 

 • Cheese Tasting Notes •

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

Brigid’s Brie

BrigidsBrieBrigid’s Brie has a special place in the hearts of the Gunn’s Hill family. While firm alpine style cheeses are their specialty, they’ve experimented with brie for a while and produce it in small batches.Now perfected, this cheese is not available outside of their own retail store at the factory because of the care it takes to ensure perfect ripening. Lucky for you, we have an “in” & were able to include this special cheese in your Savvy Cool Curds parcel.

This beautiful little wheel only received it’s name a few months ago & is memorable for a number of reasons: St. Brigid is the patron Saint of dairy farmers and milk maids. It is also a tribute to the memory of Shep’s mother-in-law (Colleen’s mother) who recently passed. I am certain that you’ll remember your very first bite of this fresh creamy cheese.

Tasting Notes: A soft surface-ripened cheese with a fresh, dewy, white bloomy rind, and pearlized cream color interior paste that leaves a feeling of luxury in texture. You’ll find this cheese perfectly “a point” (cheese speak: perfectly ripe) when it arrives at your door. Enjoy it’slight, refreshing flavors of sweet cream, butter and light salt with notes of freshly sliced mushrooms.Refrigerate until you serve, then bring to room temperature to experience all this cheese has to offer.

Suggested Pairing: Soft cheeses like this one are elegant enough to enjoy on their own, and in this case it’s important not to overpower the delicate flavors. Pair with sparkling wine or enjoy with a dollop of red pepper jelly or a drizzle of local honey.

Five Brothers

Gunns-Hill-Five-Brothers-by-Vanessa-Simmons-300x254Five Brothers is Gunn’s Hill’s flagship cheese. Shep is very proud of it’s accomplishment. A pressed, cooked, washed-rind, pasteurized cow’s milk farmstead cheese that is aged for 5-8 months and honors family as well as Shep’s 4 male siblings – John, Marc, Daniel and David. Take a look at the difference from when it’s right out of the vat (in photo at right)

Winner 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, Firm Cheese Category. Finalist 2014 Canadian Cheese Awards, Firm Cheese Category.

Tasting Notes: An amber-colored, weathered-looking exterior covers these robust wheels featuring a pale straw “open” (cheese speak: with small holes called eyes) interior paste with unique subtle texture & smooth, creamy richness. Flavors remind you of of Gouda (buttery) & Appenzeller (fruity) sweetness ending up almost Cheddar-like (lactic) without the sharpness or characteristic tang.

Suggested Pairing: Perfect for snacking during outdoor winter activities or enjoy with local craft beers during après ski! As Vanessa’s Mom would say, “this cheese goes with anything!”

Five Brothers Reserve

We are sooooo excited to have this cheese included in your Savvy Cool Curds.In fact, Shep set some wheels aside to make sure that it would be included in your assortment. Only a few wheels of this coveted 18-month cedar-plank aged gouda-style cheese are released in December every year.

If you like it….you and other cheese lovers in-the-know will need to wait another year to get more. Limited production & lengthy aging process makes this cheese a hard-to-find cheese. Enjoy every bite!

Compare it to Five Brothers, and notice the remarkable difference in the aged cheese…then taste the difference of the cheese side by side.

Tasting Notes: Ripened for an additional 10 months, Five Brothers Reserve becomes more rustic in appearance, with its rind developing shades of darker brown. The “eyes” in the paste are more pronounced and tiny crystals are present, a result of the aging process (this is a sign of a good cheese!). Enjoy it’s fruity and malty aroma on the nose. This cheese is complex while keeping its smooth and creamy texture and finishes with a subtle bite. Waves of scotchy, malty and caramel flavors ride over your palate and linger for a long time.

Suggested Pairing: Five Brothers Reserve makes me crave fireside drinking robust red wines (choose something full bodied like Cabernet, Zinfandel or oaked Chardonnay).A little nibble will go along way, try also sipping with an ice wine or even ice apple cider.Enjoy!

Beau’s Abbey Cheese

beausabbeyHello party favorite! Who doesn’t like cheese and beer? A match made in heaven combining Shep’s cheesemaking talent with Ontario craft beer maker Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.

Tasting Notes: Beau’s Abbey Cheese is styled after Swiss Mütchli cheese. Shep took his Oxford Harvest Cheese recipe – a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese – then washed it with Beau’s Tom Green Milk Stout which develops its rose to apricot coloured rind around a pale ivory interior and subtle buttery, toasted, hoppy notes.

Suggested Pairing: Our long-time friend & Savvy Fan, Chef Bruce Wood who is the resident chef at Beau’s Brewery suggests of an open faced Reuben sandwich with this cheese & pile on some of his “St. Luke’s Verse” Braised Brisket. Not to be outdone, I have provided my own favourite grilled cheese recipe too.

Handeck

Handeck_closeup1500 litres of milk goes into making only 6 wheels of this monster 25 kg cheese. Fashioned after Swiss alpine style cheese Berner Alpkäse and made with milk from the family farm, Handeck (named for the tiny Swiss village “Handegg” where he learned his craft) is Shep’s dream realized.

Category winner, Farmstead Cheese, 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.

Tasting Notes: Handeck is a rustic, washed-rind cow’s milk cheese with a brown spotted, scale-like rind and straw-like interior. Mild grassy notes tease, while fruit takes over, and a long toasty experience finishes.

Suggested Pairing: This would be great cheese on a charcuterie board to accompany cured meats by our friends at local artisan producers – Seed to Sausage, Meat Press or Dolce Lucano.

 

 • Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With Brigid’s Brie Cheese…

Scalloped Potatoes

The Ontario Table by Lynn Ogryzlo, pg. 207
Total Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

ScallopedPotatoesIngredients

2 lbs. (.90kg) white field potatoes, sliced (about 6 potatoes)
6 slices country bacon, diced
2 Tbsp (30ml) country fresh butter
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp (30ml) fresh thyme
1 cup (250ml) light cream
1 small wheel Ontario brie-style cheese (Gunn’s Hill Brigid’s Brie), cut into slices
salt

Method

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Place the sliced potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Cook over high heat until water is boiling. Boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and drain. Allow to steam dry.

In a small skillet, cook bacon until crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until onions are soft but not browned. Warm cream in a small saucepan for 2 minutes or until warmed thoroughly. Set aside.

Layer one third of the potatoes in a greased 8-inch ovenproof casserole dish. Season well and spread half the onions and bacon over top. Repeat layers. Finish with remaining potatoes. Pour warm cream over top, using the top of a knife to ease sauce between layers if necessary.

Return pork to the pan and add orange zest and juice, stock, water and black peppercorns and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking, covered, on low heat for 3 – 4 hours. Alternatively cook in slow cooker for 6 – 8 hours. Once cooked the meat will shred / pull apart very easily but keep in stock on low heat until ready to serve.

Place the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch the cream if it bubbles over. Cover and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and lay slices of brie on top and bake until cheese has melted and potatoes are lightly browned and tender, about 30 minutes longer. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

 

With Beau’s Abbey Cheese…

Quick N’ Easy Gourmet Grilled Cheese

From Vanessa’s kitchen to yours!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

oliviacuisine.comIngredients

8 slices of your favourite local artisan bread (I suggest Seed Bread from True Loaf Bread Co. or Art-Is-In Bakery’s Crazy Grain)

8 thick slices Beau’s Abbey Cheese

2 teaspoons grainy mustard
butter at room temperature
12 cooked slices of bacon
1 cup caramelized onions (1 large onion) fresh ripened tomato

Method

Cook bacon until desired tenderness (not to crispy).

Slice thinly and caramelize onions in a pan with olive oil & butter. The trick to perfecting this step is at http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/common-mistakes/article/caramelized-onions-common-mistakes

Cut 8 slices of artisan bread and lay them out side by side. On 4 slices of bread, spread butter on one side. On the other 4 slices, spread the mustard on one side of each (on 4 slices only) and top with a slice of Beau’s Abbey Cheese.

Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add the buttered bread (that side down), and top with a slice of cheese. As it melts, add 3 slices of bacon, 1 slice of tomato, and a tablespoon of caramelized onions. Top with another slice of bread, mustard & cheese side in. Butter the top slice before flipping.

Cook until bread begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn the sandwich over (use a spatula to hold it together) and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the cheese starts to ooze. Remove, cut in half and serve.

 

With Five Brothers & Handeck Cheese…

Alpler Macaroni & Cheese

Reprinted with permission from Shep Ysselstein as prepared for Chef Lynn Crawford’s Great Canadian Cookbook

This recipe has special meaning, learned from Shep’s time in Switzerland using traditional cheesemaking methods as it happened 500 years ago. Alpler is the name for those who milk cows and make cheese in the mountains, and the dish using cheeses they made, was usually eaten in the same hut they made it in and slept in.

ShepYsselsteinPrep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup (250 mL) macaroni
2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter
1 onion, clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) flour
1 cup (250 mL) (approx.) milk
1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream
1 cup (250 mL) (approx) Handeck cheese (18-month cow’s milk Swiss alpine-style cheese)
2 cups (500 mL) (approx) Five Brothers cow’s milk cheese or Appenzeller cheese
Pepper and nutmeg to taste

Method

In pot of boiling water, cook macaroni; drain.

Add butter to large pan; fry onion and garlic until soft. Add flour (to thicken and bind mixture). Add milk and cream. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is warmed throughout and just beginning to bubble.

Add Handeck and half of the Five Brothers cheese, 1 small handful at a time, stirring constantly, until cheese is completely melted. Do not boil. Allow to slightly simmer; add pepper and nutmeg. If mixture is too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more cheese. (You can never have too much cheese!)

In buttered baking dish, add half of the macaroni. Pour in half of the cheese mixture; sprinkle on remaining Five Brothers cheese. Add remaining half of macaroni; pour in remaining half of cheese mixture.

Bake, uncovered, in 400°F (200°C) oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

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 It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy

Posted by Debbie

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

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

Spend your time searching for good cheese

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

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

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

Meet Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons

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

What’s in the box?

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

Coming soon

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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