Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Cheese Awards’

Imagine 375 Canadian cheeses!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018
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It’s happening right now! Judging of 375 artisan cheeses for Canadian Cheese Awards under way at University of Guelph this week. Somebody’s got to do it–taste 375 cheeses over a day and a half!  Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons is returning again to be a judge.  

That’s precisely what 14 experts are doing this week in order to evaluate and score cheese entered in Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens 2018. This independent competition–with Loblaw Companies and Dairy Farmers of Canada as its lead sponsors–is the biggest cheese competition in Canada with 80 producers from Newfoundland to British Columbia submitting 375 cheeses for judging.

This intense judging takes place this week at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, headed by Dr. Arthur Hill, Chair and Professor in Food Science and an internationally recognized authority in cheese technology, who serves as Chief Judge.  Finalists in 32 categories will be announced March 5. Winners will be revealed during an Awards Ceremony, Reception and Tasting Gala on June 6 in Toronto at historic St. Lawrence Market, Temporary North Hall. The inaugural Canadian Cheese Expo trade show and the first-ever Artisan Cheese Night Market for the public will take place June 7.

This is the only cheese competition in Canada open to all milks used in cheesemaking – cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo-with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients. 

“We aim to honour and celebrate 100% pure natural cheese that has achieved technical excellence and exhibits the highest aesthetic qualities,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, Awards Chairman. 

Canadian Cheese Awards aims to recognize excellence in 18 main categories, nine special awards, five regional awards and the one very best cheese in Canada, the Grand Champion promoted as 2018 Canadian Cheese of the Year.  

They’ll be the judge! 

An extensive knowledge of cheese, on technical basis as well as aesthetic values, was the key factor in selection of the Jury, the judges who will evaluate and score entries following blind tasting of the cheese.

Debra Amrein-Boyes, Founder and co-owner, now retired, The Farm House Natural Cheeses, Agassiz, British Columbia

Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Cheese Partners, Calgary

Étienne BiotteauCheese technology advisor, Centre d’expertise fromagère du Québec, Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec

Nathalie FilionManager, Yannick Fromagerie, Québec City, the Laurentians and Montréal

Odysseas Gounalakis, Owner, Scheffler’s Delicatessen & Cheese, St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

Marla Krisko, Formerly co-owner, Cheese Education Guild, Toronto

Ghislain Paquet, Co-owner, Fromagerie De la Gare, Sherbrooke

Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Special Projects, Deli Cheese (Market Division), Loblaw Companies, and cheese educator and author

Heather Rankin, Co-owner, Obladee Wine Bar, Halifax

Geoff Rempel, Formerly Specialty Team Leader, Whole Foods Market, Square One, Mississauga

Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company, Ottawa **Yeah Vanessa!**

Egon Skovmose, Co-founder, Danlac Canada, Calgary, Alberta

Heather Thelwell, Cheese specialist, Guelph, Ontario

Nick Tsioros, Co-owner, Olympic Cheese Mart, Toronto.

Jackie Armet, Cheese Co-ordinator, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and formerly cheesemonger at Whole Foods Market in Yorkville, and Jeanne Rodier, Cheesemonger and Administrator, Yannick Fromagerie, serve as Awards Co-ordinators. Awards Registrar is Heather Robertson, retired cheesemaker and Ticketing Co-ordinator at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. Roxanne Renwick, cheese specialist and Liaison to artisan cheese producers. Nathalie Rollet Schofield, Liaison to artisan cheese producers in Quebec. Mary Ann Ferrer, Department of Food Science, University of Guelph.

Canadian Cheese Awards is produced by Cheese Lover Productions, Georgs Kolesnikovs, President (in photo) with the support of Loblaw Companies as Marquee Sponsor and Dairy Farmers of Canada as Principal Partner, Cow Milk Cheese.

 

Stay tuned! We’ll be posting the winners as soon as the awards are announced. 

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I’ve gone to cheese heaven!

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017
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We are in love!  In love with Canadian cheese that is!  We’re thrilled to highlight Fromagerie Nouvelle France from Racine, Quebec in this month’s Savvy Cool Curds.  The hardworking, passionate sister brother team of Marie-Chantal and Jean-Paul Houde make spectacular raw and pasteurized sheep milk cheeses, winning over 20 awards since their first cheese, Zacharie Cloutier was born, including top honours for Best Cheese in Quebec, twice.

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

… Very special and hard-to-find artisan cheeses including:

La Madelaine 150g
Frechette 140g
Zacharie Cloutier 200g
Zacharie Cloutier 12 month 200g
Le Pionnier 200

 


Looking for more fabulous Nouvelle France Cheese?

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

 

Cheers & Enjoy!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

Photos by Vanessa & Fromagerie Nouvelle France unless noted.

 

Introducing…

Fromagerie Nouvelle France
by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

I first met Marie-Chantal Houde (left in photo) during a special cheesemaking workshop I attended at my first ever cheese conference put on by the American Cheese Society, in Montreal in 2011. It’s an action packed week of learning and tastings, and networking with cheese gurus and legends in the industry, a not to miss event for cheese professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Marie-Chantal was demonstrating the making of her special Zacharie Cloutier cheese, which at that time, was brand new on the market. I was in awe of both the science and art of cheesemaking coming to life in front of my eyes as pure milk was transformed into something even greater than itself.

We take for granted the work involved in making artisan cheese, the level of skill, effort, luck and love to make such a quality product for the enjoyment of others. PH/acidity needs to be just so, a light touch or heavy hand is needed depending on the type of cheese being made. And timing is everything. As I watched Marie-Chantal she had not only the expertise, but the intuition as well which made the whole exercise look seamless, effortless and simple, and I fell in love with cheese, again. She was approachable and fun, answering my questions with interest, later inviting me to meet more of the Quebec cheesemaking crowd, and from there I was “in” as the girl from Ontario promoting Canadian cheese.

 

Committed to Local

Fromagerie Nouvelle France, located in the tiny village of Racine, Quebec, is a brother and sister enterprise founded in 2009. It’s the tale of family joining forces, passionate about sheep farming and raw milk and excellent quality production in the making of fine cheese.  Cheesemaker Marie-Chantal studied in France, and is a sought after consultant and technical expert and industry speaker, especially in the area of raw milk cheese production.  Jean-Paul Houde is the shepherd, tending to the 250-acre family farm where the siblings were born, with his expertise in animal husbandry and taking care of the land.

Over 300 East Freisian and Lacaune ewes enjoy their summers spent out in pasture among the rolling hills with beautiful vistas as their view. They are fed dry hay, which contributes to the high quality of the milk they provide, playing a huge factor in Marie-Chantal & Jean-Paul’s mission to create the best sheep’s milk cheeses in the region. The two are committed to their region; their little shop at the town’s farmer’s market promotes complimentary artisan products made in the area. They’re full of hospitality, ready to share knowledge on a farm tour, or cheesemaking stories over a glass of wine outside at the picnic table.  Cheese is made at the Fromagerie du Presbytère facilities in Warwick (who we featured in November), not far away, with which they have a special partnership, friendship and shared passion.

 

Award-winning Reputation

Since their launch, every one of the Fromagerie Nouvelle France cheeses have been winning awards regionally at the Canadian Cheese Awards, and Caseus, Quebec Cheese Awards for best cheese, best soft cheese, best raw milk cheese, best in show, in North America at the American Cheese Society in multiple categories, and on the world stage at the World Cheese Awards.

As you dig into your Savvy Cool Curds this month, you’ll taste the difference excellence makes and see why Fromagerie Nouvelle France has made a name for themselves as leaders in the artisan cheese industry in Canada.

Enjoy every bite!



 ~ 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!

 

Fréchette

Frechette is a named for a family from both sides of the Houde clan, and is like a chèvre only made with cow’s milk, lighter and more delicate than a cream cheese, making it a heavenly choice.  Another award winner for Fromagerie Nouvelle France, it took top honours in the Best Flavored Cheese category at the Canadian Cheese Awards in 2016.

Tasting Notes: This mild fresh cheese is fluffy and silky but flavourful on the palate with noticeable herb and garlic flavors.

Suggested Pairing:  The sky’s the limit with this versatile yummy cheese. Tuck dollops into phyllo triangles or purses with sautéed wild mushrooms and leeks. Quickly melt for a fast and easy veggie dip.  Spread on crostini and broil, topped with rosemary and honey.

 

 

La Madelaine

La Madelaine, another tribute to Marie-Chantal’s ancestry and heritage, is a crowd-pleasing favourite, consider it one of those little luxuries of life.  Soft, oozy and sinful, it’s perfectly ripe for to enjoy right now. 

Tasting Notes: La Madelaine is a soft, surface ripened sheep milk cheese with a dewy, delicate bloomy rind. Inside a runny pearly colored paste bursts with flavor of sweet grass, dry hay, and sweet milk, with light mushroomy aromas.

Suggested Pairing: Enjoy with Ontario Organized Crime Pinot Gris or a Quebec Sparkling Ice Cider. Pair with fermented berry fruit flavors, cassis, sour cherry or cranberry or a local hot red pepper jelly for a complimentary zing. 

 

 

Zacharie Cloutier

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.

Tasting Notes: Marie-Chantal’s love for her craft and talent transfers to her flagship cheese. Zacharie Cloutier is a 6-month semi-cooked, firm, raw sheep’s milk cheese with a very distinct exterior basket weave design attributed to a specially selected mold that gives the cheese and apricot rind its unique appearance.  Inside is a dense, meaty, bone-coloured paste that portrays a mix of complex aromas and flavors: salt, butter, hazelnut, caramel, and coconut, with a hint of ripe pineapple.

Suggested Pairing: Zacharie Cloutier is an awesome melting cheese and goes well with any stone-fruit-based jam or compote.  Pair with unoaked Chardonnay.

 

 

Zacharie Cloutier – 12 Month

This mature version of Zacharie Cloutier is a rare find out of the shop and took home third place honours at the 2015 Quebec cheese awards the first year it was launched. 

Tasting Notes:  With age it’s rind becomes a little drier and more mottled, while retaining the distinctive basket weave and the eyes (holes) are noticeably smaller due to loss of moisture. Flavors develop further into the sweeter and fruitier end of the spectrum. Small crystals are noticeable as a sign of quality.

Suggested Pairing:  Grate into anything for an extra savoury finish. Enjoy with a local Chardonnay or mildly hoppy craft beer.

 

 

Le Pionnier

I first tasted this cheese 6 years ago at the American Cheese Society conference in 2011 – “surprise” is what it was called. Pionnier (Pioneer) is what it is called now as a tribute to two of Quebec’s cutting-edge cheesemakers Marie Chantal-Houde and Jean Morin. 

Tasting Notes:  Pionnier is a 12 month 40kg firm, washed-rind, cooked, raw mixed cow and sheep’s milk cheese, a mix of Louis D’Or & Zacharie Cloutier, both award-winners in their own right. You’ll get everything in this cheese: butter, grass, brown sugar, complexity, tanginess and even fermented tropical fruit!

Suggested Pairing:  Use Pionnier as you would Parmesan.  A robust red wine, Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon will stand up to the complexity in this cheese. Experiment with Ice Cider.

 

 

~Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses ~

With Fréchette …

Herbed Root Vegetable Cobbler

Recipe & Photo Credit: Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
1lb. rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 medium carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. dried fines herbs, herbs de Provence, or Italian seasoning, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 oz. semi-soft cheese with garlic and herbs (Fréchette)
Herbed Cheese Dumplings

 

Herbed Cheese Dumplings

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. dried fine herbs, herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning, crushed
½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter
¼ cup finely shredded Zacharie Cloutier cheese, 12 month
2 lightly beaten eggs
⅓ cup milk

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In an ungreased 3-quart baking dish, combine potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, onion, and garlic.

In a small bowl, combine broth, fines herbs, salt, and pepper. Pour over vegetables, stirring to coat. Bake, covered, about 1 hour or until vegetables are nearly tender. Carefully uncover vegetables, stir in semisoft cheese.

Drop Herbed Parmesan Dumplings into 12 mounds on top of hot vegetables. Bake, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted in centers of dumplings comes out clean. Let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

 

Herbed Cheese Dumplings

In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, fine herbs, herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning, and salt. Using a pastry blender cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in Zacharie Cloutier cheese. In a small bowl, combine eggs and milk. Add all at once to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened

 

 

With La Madeleine…               

Grilled Vegetable and Cheese Panini

Recipe & Photo Credit: Yummly
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Asian eggplant (cut into 8 slices, each 4 inches long, ¼” thick)
2 zucchini (small, cut lengthwise into 8 slices, ¼” thick)
1 red bell pepper (small, seeded, cut into 8 slides, each ¼” thick)
Oil
3 tbsp. spring onions
1½ tsp. herbs de Provence
Freshly ground pepper
Salt
8 slides country bread
6 Tbsp. olive tapenade
7 ½ oz. soft sheep milk cheese (La Madeleine), thinly sliced

Method

Preheat an electric Panini press according to the manufacturers instructions.

In a bowl, stir together the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and the 3 tbsp. dipping oil, the herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables on the preheated Panini press, turning once, until tender, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Brush one side of each bread slice with dipping oil. Lay the slices, oiled side down, on a clean work surface. Spread each of 4 slices with 1 ½ tbsp. tapenade. Top with 2 slices of each vegetable. Arrange the cheese on top, dividing evenly. Top each with one of the remaining bread slices, oiled side up.

Place the sandwiches on the preheated Panini press and cook according to the manufacturers instructions until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut in half. Serve immediately.

 

 

With Zacharie Cloutier…

Cheddar, Leek & Mushroom Focaccia

Recipe & Photo Credit: Zeste.tv
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8hr 10 minutes

Ingredients

3.5 lbs. of Quebec lamb leg or shoulder
Olive oil
8 slices of multigrain organic bread
Butter
Old-style mustard
Mayonnaise
6 oz. of Zacharie Cloutier cheese
Fresh basil pesto

Method

Salt and pepper the leg of lamb. Cook over medium-high heat in a frying pan in olive oil, until it turns into a beautiful golden color. Transfer to slow cooker and bake for 8 hours at low heat.

Slice the leg and keep more or less 175 g. Butter each slice of bread and spread it on the inside with a bit of old-fashioned mustard on one side and mayonnaise on the other.

Add one slice of cheese. Top with shredded lamb and basil pesto.

Place the two slices in a skillet heated on medium heat, with a little olive oil. Cook until golden and fold together. 

  

 

With Zacharie Cloutier 12 month…

Beef Tartare

Recipe & Photo Credit: Curieux Begin TeleQuebec
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes

Ingredients

1 lb. of beef tenderloin, thinly sliced
2 French shallots, finely chopped
½ tsp. green olives, pitted and chopped
1 small garlic clove, pressed (or finely chopped)
¾ tsp. diced Zacharie Cloutier – 12 month
Tabasco (to taste)
¼ tsp. celery leaves, chopped
10 chives, chopped
1 handful of parsley, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method

Place beef, shallots, olives, garlic and cheese in a mixing bowl and mix well.

Add the herbs and the Tabasco salt and pepper and mix well, coating with oil to obtain a soft texture.

Serve immediately on grilled baguette croutons.

 

 

With Le Pionnier…

Cheese Fondue

Recipe & Photo Credit: Wikibouffe
Or enjoy Vanessa’s instructions found here and use Nouvelle France cheeses.
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes

Ingredients

175 g Zacharie Cloutier cheese
175 g of Louis D’Or cheese (substitute Pionnier)
175 ml of dry white wine, lager or dry apple cider
2 tsp. white flour
2 tsp. garlic clove
To taste pepper and nutmeg

Method

Cheese preparation: Zacharie Cloutier and Louis D’or (Pionnier) Cut the rind off the cheese and grate. Add the white flour to the cheese mixture. Mix well.

Add the wine or beer to the pot. Heat until the mixture is simmering. Add the garlic clove to the pot. Add the cheese gradually and stir continuously. Add pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Stir until smooth and smooth and serve with crusty bread and blanched vegetables.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

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Cheesin’s Greetings!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
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Celebrating with Canadian cheese is one of the simplest ways I know to entertain during hectic holidays. Cheese is low maintenance and requires no time or fuss to prepare. It always presents well, but best of all, when chosen with care, is guaranteed to be the highlight of party conversations and special memories for years to come.  This month’s holiday issue of Savvy Cool Curds spotlights a selection of cheeses for easy entertaining.

2016 was another busy year for Canadian cheesemakers. With more events, competitions and awards, producers and tasty cheeses on the scene than ever, deciding on only a few will be the hardest chore you’ll have on your “to do” list.  Read on for holiday tips with Canadian Cheese and last minute gift ideas!

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

…very special and hard-to-find artisan cheeses including:

Apprenti Sorcier 200g
Homecoming 200g
Milkhouse Tomme 200g
Muskoka Bliss 200g
Christmas Cheese Ball 200g


Looking for more awesome Canadian cheese for holiday entertaining?

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

  

Cheesin’s Greetings
by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Entertaining with Canadian artisan cheese is the easiest whey to add a cheesy element to your holiday plans this festive season. Give cheese as a hostess gift or for that hard to buy for name on your list, introduce a cheese course to your holiday meal either as a stunning appetizer to kick things off or as a lazy finish, or pull together a quick wine & cheese tasting as a cocktail party substitute.  Here are some of my quick tips:

Top Tips for Entertaining

1) Think of your audience

Who are you entertaining and for how long?  Will a meal or other snacks be served? When in doubt choose small soft wheels of cheese (buy a few to have on hand, they make wonderful hostess gifts too).

2) Be a Savvy shopper

Buy from a reputable cheese shop as close as possible to your celebration. Ask for a fresh cut wedge. In Ottawa, look for artisan cheeses at Serious Cheese, The Piggy Market, Thyme & Again, The Red Apron, Jacobson’s Gourmet Concepts, the Ottawa Bagelshop and throughout Ontario at fine grocery stores such as Farm Boy.

2) Mix & mingle

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

3) Serve with star treatment

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

4) Compliment your cheese

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

5) Add wine or craft beer

In general beers and white wines pair best and more often with a wider variety of cheeses. Remember balance is key. For help on selecting wines & craft beers give our experts a call 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)

6) Talk it up

What do you see, smell and taste?  Share your experience. Compare notes.  Conversations around the cheese board create lasting memories of your event.  Cheese has evolved from being solely an ingredient to the focal point of a party, as it’s the perfect food to bring people together.

7) Take time to enjoy every nibble

Slow down and savor each morsel.  The holidays are a special time of year to make merry with friends, family (and cheese!).  Take a break from hosting to enjoy yourself and the company of your guests.

 

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!

Apprenti Sorcier

Maggie Paradis of La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères is the wizard behind Apprenti Sorcier (translated as “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”), a soft, surface-ripened pasteurized mixed sheep and cow milk cheese sold in small wheels.

Tasting Notes: A thick, bright white bloomy rind and rich, runny, ivory paste produce wild mushroomy aromas mixed with buttery, finger-licking, salty flavours.

Suggested Pairing:  Have a loaf of crusty baguette on hand if your piece is ripe — you’ll need it to “mop up” until the cheese is all gone!  Top with chutneys, relishes, caramelized onions, cranberries, nuts, maple syrup or honey/rosemary for a quick appetizer.

Stonetown Cheese Homecoming

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 and first prize at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair recently. 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 snacking or grilled cheese, pair with unoaked Chardonnay or Semillon.

 

Milkhouse Tomme

The hardworking team of Cait and Kyle White from Smiths Falls makes Milkhouse Tomme lovingly from their own flock of British Milk Sheep. They are proud to have full traceability from animal to market of their milk and their cheese.

Tasting Notes: Milkhouse Tomme is a beautiful, rustic raw sheep milk cheese with a natural rind styled after French Tomme de Savoie.  It’s a tasty package of richness, with a dense interior texture and herbal and grassy notes on the nose and palate.

Suggested Pairing: Great paired with Sauvignon Blanc or oaky Chardonnay and dolloped with a stone fruit (peach, apricot) preserve.

 

Muskoka Bliss

Muskoka Bliss is a seasonal cow milk cheese from Stonetown Cheese in St. Mary’s, Ontario. Gorgeous on a cheese plate for holiday entertaining. 

Tasting Notes:  Muskoka Bliss comes in an attractive package of dark eggplant colored wax. On the inside find mild, buttery milky flavors with a hint of cranberry fruit. 

Suggested Pairing:  Pair with a light red (Gamay or Pinot Noir) and fruit/nut crackers.

 

Maggie’s Cheese Ball

Maggie Paradis of La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères makes these rare, seasonal cheese balls once a year. They’re a guaranteed sell out but we managed to secure some for our coveted Savvy Cool Curds subscribers.

Tasting Notes:  Maggie’s cheese ball is a combination of both local cow and goat’s milk mixed with a variety of ingredients to add zing and extra flavor such as lemon juice and scallions all rolled in crushed pecans for a gorgeous finish.

Suggested Pairing:  Enjoy on it’s own (even by yourself without sharing!) with a hearty sourdough bread or Parisian baguette.  Pair with a Cabernet Sauvignon or local brew for extra enjoyment.  Or, do as I do, eat it right off the spoon – it doesn’t last long in my house!

NOTE: you may see a crease of blue on the inside of the packaging…don’t despair, this is not mould, rather it is the extra pieces of CFAI approved cellophane (aka Saran Wrap) crunched tightly into the vacuumed pack bag!

Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses

With Apprenti Sorcier…

Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions
Recipe adapted & Photo Credit: Epicurious

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) butter
8 cups sliced onions (about 4 large)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. sugar
1 8-inch-diameter 32- to 36-ounce Brie
2 baguettes, sliced

Method

Melt butter in heavy very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, sauté until just tender, about 6 minutes. Add minced thyme, reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are golden, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Add garlic and sautée 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup wine; stir until almost all liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over onions and sauté until soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup wine; stir just until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Unwrap Brie and place on a shallow small round baking dish (for presentation). Cut away only top rind of cheese, leaving rind on sides and bottom intact. Return to dish, rind side down. Place dish on baking sheet. Top Brie evenly with onion mixture. Bake until cheese just melts, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a platter. Surround with baguette slices.

 

 

With Stonetown cheeses…

Cheese Fondue for Two
Recipe & Photo Credit: Stonetowncheese.com

Ingredients

a loaf of French Bread
1/2 clove of garlic
160 g Grand Trunk, grated
160 g Wildwood, grated
80 g Homecoming, grated
2 tsp. cornstarch

Method

Cut French bread into 1″ cubes and set the table before you start heading the fondue.

Rub the caquelon (fondue pan) with half a clove of garlic, cut into small pieces and leave in the caquelon (fondue pan).

Mix Grand Trunk, Wildwood and Homecoming with cornstarch in caquelon (fondue pan), add wine and lemon juice.

With constant stirring, heat up until the cheese is melted and creamy. Add kirsch brandy (optional), season with pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Place the caquelon (fondue pan) over a small spirit burner to keep the fondue at boiling point.

Dip the bite size, cubed French bread into the fondue using a long handled fork.

Stir the fondue every time you dunk a piece of break so the fondue does not burn to the bottom of the caquelon (fondue pan).

 

With Milkhouse Tomme…

Tartiflette
Recipe & Photo Credit: Laura Robin – The Ottawa Citizen

Ingredients

6 medium potatoes
2 large red onions
2 to 4 cloves garlic
Dash olive oil
½ lb. bacon or pancetta
Dash Sherry or white wine (optional)
5 to 8 oz. Milkhouse Tomme, cut into small cubes
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
1 cup 18% (half-and-half or light) cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Slice potatoes 1/4-inch (1-cm thick) and cook in boiling, salted water about 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, set aside.

Slice the red onions 1/4-inch (1-cm) thick, lengthwise, from the root to the tip, and fry with chopped garlic and a dash of olive oil over medium heat until soft.

Roughly chop bacon or pancetta and add to pan with onions and garlic. Add a dash of sherry or white wine and scrape to deglaze pan. Simmer until bacon is cooked and onions are caramelized.

Layer half the sliced potatoes in a buttered 9-by-13-inch (23-by-35-cm) glass baking dish. Sprinkle half of the bacon-and-onion mixture over. Repeat both layers. Sprinkle cubed Tomme on top.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour, mix, and cook briefly, then gradually stir in milk and cream. Cook, stirring, until mixtures thickens and almost boils. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over potatoes and cheese in dish.

Bake uncovered on the middle rack of oven for 25 minutes, or until cheese is puffy and slightly golden and sauce is bubbling.

 

With Muskoka Bliss…

Brie, Cranberry and Pancetta Phyllo Bites
Recipe & Photo Credit: Popsugar.com

Ingredients

Coconut oil spray
1/2 pound pancetta, finely diced
1 roll of phyllo sheets, defrosted
1-pint cranberries
1/4-cup water
1/3-cup sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
5 ounces brie (substitute Muskoka Bliss)

Method

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease three mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Cook pancetta until crisp.

Place one piece of phyllo dough on a flat surface. Spray with coconut oil. Place another sheet on top; repeat four more times for a total of six sheets. Spray top piece of dough with coconut oil. Using a pizza wheel, cut dough into 3-inch squares. Tuck into mini muffin tins. Repeat two more times until you have 36 shells.

Bake for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Reduce heat in oven down to 300°F.

For the cranberries: Place cranberries, water, sugar and pinch of cayenne in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the berries are reduced, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Divide cheese into 36 even pieces. Place in bottom of each shell. Top with a little bit of cranberry sauce. Pop into the oven for five minutes or until cheese has melted.

Sprinkle with crispy pancetta.

 

Last Minute Cheese-y Gifts…

With only a few sleeps until Christmas, here are some easy ways to take care of those last minute presents for the “nice” cheese lovers on your list dreaming of a cheesey Christmas!

Personal-sized Raclette or fondue for two

A gift card from a local cheese monger or fine food shop

A selection of hand crafted jams, chutneys, jellies, preserves or charcuterie

A chunk of natural honeycomb to enjoy with Canadian cheese

Canadian Cheese A Guide by Kathy Guidi

A subscription to Savvy Cool Curdsof course!

A gift certificate to a Savvy Event to discover craft beers, artisan wines and Canadian cheese

Tickets to the Great Canadian Cheese Festival, Picton, June 3 & 4th, 2017, Canada’s biggest cheese show

A set of cheese knives

A handmade cutting board or live edge boards for serving

A Cheese Sommelier hosted in-home cheese tasting experience – call us on 613-SAVVYCO to get started!

A “cheesemaker for a day” experience at a local producer

A cheese journal to track tasting notes and favourites

Cheese paper for storing Canadian cheese

Local craft beer, artisan wine to go with cheese

 

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

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Celebrate with Award Winning Canadian Cheeses!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, June 30th, 2016
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This month’s Savvy Cool Curds selection pays tribute to the Canadian Cheese Awards, and the best artisan cheeses in Canada. Launched in 2014 by Georgs Kolesnikovs, founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and staunch supporter of the Canadian artisan cheese industry, the Canadian Cheese Awards are the first of their kind, inclusive of all milk types and all provinces across our nation. AND Georgs is a Savvy Cool Curds subscriber too!

Judging for the Canadian Cheese Awards takes place every second year. Beyond many category winners there is one ultimate champion, named Cheese Of The Year. It was just announced that this year, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, from COWS Creamery in Prince Edward Island took home the of Cheese of The Year title. Our long time subscribers will remember Avonlea as we sent you 2 chunks of it in the Savvy Cool Curds February feature.

This month’s selection is from those cheesemakers who only have a few types of cheeses – not enough for a full feature in Savvy Cool Curds. The other award winners will be showcased in upcoming months. Stay tuned!

 In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

…hard-to-find and delicious award-winning artisan cheeses including:savvy_coolcurds_Colour

-Sabot de Blanchette (Natural)
-Le Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans
-Le Baluchon
-Old Growler
-Dragon’s Breath Blue

Crazy for more medal winning 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…
Canadian Cheese Award Winners

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Canada is home to over 1500 different varieties and types of cheeses. While not all of them are considered artisanal, about half make that grade. There are also a handful of cheese awards through a number of industry organizations, recognizing the crème de la crème of cheeses in various categories, however The Canadian Cheese Awards is the first and only cheese competition in this country that considers all milk types such as cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo from all provinces. This means cheeses are made with 100% natural Canadian milk, with no artificial colors, flavours, preservatives and no modified milk ingredients.

Earlier this year, on February 18 & 19th, 12 judges (myself included!) gathered at the University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, for a two-day cheese tasting experience like no other, presided over by Dr. Arthur Hill.

So many cheeses…

vanessaA whopping 301 entries were submitted by artisan cheesemakers from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island, and all the provinces in between. There is an official process for cheese submission, which remains anonymous to both judges and the general public. Cheesemongers and cheese industry professionals manage the reception and storage of cheese to ensure secrecy and that quality is maintained during the judging process. Judges are recognized in the industry for their deep expertise in artisan cheese.

Overall the goals of The Canadian Cheese Awards are to determine and promote the best cheeses in Canada for all milks, to provide honest and constructive feedback to cheesemakers on their cheeses and create a symbol of excellence in Canadian cheese that consumers and the industry alike will recognize.

A winning recipe

Judging happens in teams of two in each of 17 categories, one person evaluating aesthetics and one evaluating the technical aspects of each entry. Both consider aroma, appearance, texture and flavor. Marks are given by the aesthetic judge for superior qualities of those 4 areas. Marks are deducted by technical judges for any faults noticed in the cheese. Both strive to uncover nuances of terroir, character, flavor profile, and differences that make the cheese standout and unique, worth of being best in it’s class. Not just any old cheese makes the grade. This is very similar to how we decide which cheeses and cheesemakers make it to Savvy Cool Curds – we want to WOW you! At the end of two days of tasting over 301 cheeses, 78 finalists rose to the top, in 31 categories including contenders for Cheese of the Year.

The who’s who of the Canadian cheese industry gathered in April at the Time Supper Club in Montreal for the Awards Ceremony, naming all category winners and Cheese of the Year –Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, followed by a packed-house Awards Tasting Gala for the general public and media (we’ll make sure all Savvy Cool Curds subscribers get an invite for 2018!) and giant cheese tasting party!

CDN cheese awards

Put your tasting hat on!

We’re thrilled to bring you Fromagerie F.X. Pichet Le Baluchon (2014 Cheese of the Year winner) – born of a love story which dates back to when the owners Michel Pichet & Marie-Claude Harvey of Sainte-Anne-De-La-Pérade, Québec were high school sweethearts, and reunited later in life. Fromagerie La Suisse Normande’s Sabot de Blanchette (2016 Best Soft Cheese) is a stunning little goat milk pyramid from Lanaudière, Quebec (a quick stop off Hwy 40 on the way to Montreal). Old Growler and Dragon’s Breath Blue from That Dutchman’s Farm from Upper Economy, Nova Scotia are rare finds in Ontario. Le Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans, said to be the first cheese
produced in America, of Fromagerie de L’Isle D’Orléans, Quebec is a fun grilling cheese experience…it is no wonder it was awarded 2016 Best Grilling Cheese.


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!

Sabot de Blanchette

Sabot de BlanchetteBest Bloomy Rind Cheese 2016

Inspired by their European cultures (Swiss & French), this fromagerie’s products are a marriage made in heaven and leaving their mark in Québec.  Cheeses are made from goats raised on the farm, in true “fermier” (farmstead) fashion.

Tasting 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 & white, firm towards the center, & acidity and yeasty tang on the palate.

Suggested Pairing: Try with a crisp dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris. Enjoy spread on fruit & nut crackers, smeared with seasonal compote (rhubarb or strawberry).

 

Le Paillasson de l’Isle D’Orléans

Le Paillasson de l’Isle D’OrléansBest Grilling Cheese 2016

Paillasson is special cheese somewhat like an uncooked marshmallow, its unique character doesn’t fully shine until it’s fried or grilled, lending to its melty (but not melted) properties. Best always served warm.

Tasting Notes: This fresh, unripened semi-soft grilling cheese has milky aromas. When heated in a skillet or over a grill, flavors go from bland to boom becoming all melted butter and toasted nut, complete with the crispy bits we all love (just like your favorite grilled cheese without the bread!)

Suggested Pairing: Enjoy sliced wedges with spicy chorizo on a toothpick as a snack, wrap with prosciutto as an appetizer, serve as a side or centerpiece garnish to a local mixed green salad. 

 

Le Baluchon

Le Baluchon Best FarmsteadBest Farmstead Cheese 2016
Best Organic Cheese 2016
Cheese of the Year 2014

Le Baluchon is an example of organic products, created through systems and processes that are more sustainable and harmonious with their environments (soil, animals, people, and plants).  Generally lower tech operations and milk sourced from pasture-based farms (if not their own) is used where animals are free of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers or chemicals.

Tasting Notes: Le Baluchon is a farmstead, washed-rind, certified “Québec Vrai” organic raw cow’s milk cheese aged for 60 days.  Notice harvest colors of apricot/orange/terracotta in the rind with a thin white dusty layer that develops as the cheese ages. Inside, a bright golden yellow semi-firm creamy paste showing small holes glistens in sunlight.  Made OKA-style, it has similar characteristics: a gritty textured rind, toasted hazelnut flavors, and pungent barny aromas.

 Suggested Pairing: Melted as Raclette or enjoyed with an oaky Canadian Chardonnay.

 

Old Growler

Best Gouda Cheese 2016Old Growler

Old Growler is a more mature (and the most popular) of The Dutchman’s Goudas.  Born of a surplus of older cheeses, they decided to name it, and sell it at eighteen months.

 Tasting Notes: Traditional aged Gouda characteristics starting to show – more pale gold hued open paste with eyes (pinholes) and crystals forming, firm to hardening texture, malty aromas developing with much stronger & lingering caramel flavor over milk with a bit of bite.

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

  

Dragon’s Breath Blue

Best Blue Cheese 2016dragons breathe blue

A rare find and multi-award winner, Dragon’s Breath Blue is a closely guarded family secret.

 Tasting Notes: 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. Tip: Pop a small slice of the top off and leave it uncovered for 24-48 hrs. to develop more blue veining.

 Suggested Pairing: Pair with a Canadian Gamay or Pinot Noir. Melt wedges into phyllo pastry squares and garnish.

 

 

 Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses

 

With Sabot de Blanchette

Spring Salad with Honeyed Rhubarb and Goat Cheese

The Ottawa Citizen’s Laura Robin

IngredientsSpring Salad with Honeyed Rhubarb and Goat Cheese

¾ lb. (340 g) rhubarb (about 7 slender stalks),
cut into ¾-inch (2-cm) pieces
¼ cup (60 mL) honey
½ cup (125 mL) walnut halves
2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) white balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 bunches arugula (about 12 cups/3 L), tough stems removed
1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup (25 mL) goat cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp (45 mL) fresh snipped chives (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C) with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, toss rhubarb pieces with honey. Roast on upper rack until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, on another rimmed baking sheet, toast walnuts on lower rack until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Let rhubarb cool on pan. Cool walnuts, and then chop coarsely.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss arugula and fennel with the vinaigrette. Top the salad with the rhubarb, walnuts, goat cheese and chives.

 

With Le Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans…                    

Grilling Cheese with Cranberry & Pistachios

Dairy Goodness All You Need Is Cheese

IngredientsGrilling Cheese with Cranberry & Pistachios

1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted shelled pistachios
3 Tbsp (45 mL) sugar, divided
1/2 cup (125 mL) frozen cranberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) cranberry juice
8 oz. (250 g) Canadian grilling cheeseLe Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans

Method

In a small skillet, toast pistachios on medium heat with 2 tbsp. (30 mL) sugar. Cook until sugar becomes golden brown and sticks to pistachios.

Transfer to a parchment-lined plate. Once pistachios have cooled, coarsely chop.

In a small saucepan, mix cranberries, cranberry juice and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until cranberries are tender. Using an upright or hand blender, purée mixture until smooth.

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Grill cheeses for 3–4 minutes on each side. You can also place cheeses on a parchment-lined baking sheet and grill in the oven, preheated to 450°F (230°C), for 4–5 minutes on each side.

Serve hot on top of cranberry coulis, garnished with crispy pistachios.

 

With Le Baluchon…

Tartlets with Baluchon and Caramelized Onions

Les Producteurs de lait du Quebec – Our Cheeses

Tartlets with Baluchon and Caramelized Onions Ingredients

12 Tartlet Crusts (Store-bought)
250 ml (1 cup) Le Baluchon Cheese, rind removed, grated
2 eggs
250 ml (1 cup) of 15% cream
1 pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Caramelized Onions

45 ml (3 Tbsp) butter
250 ml (1 cup) pearl onions
30 ml (2 Tbsp) sugar
15 ml (1 Tbsp) balsamic vinegar
15 ml (1 Tbsp) fresh rosemary, chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).

Bake tartlets for 10 minutes or until crusts are golden.

Whisk cheese, eggs, cream and nutmeg in the food processor until the mixture is smooth. Add salt and pepper.

Fill tartlets with the cheese mixture.

Garnish with caramelized onions.

Bake for 10 more minutes or until the filling is golden.

 

Caramelized Onions

In a large frying pan, melt the butter and brown the onions for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar and the balsamic vinegar.

Continue cooking for 5 minutes until the onions are caramelized and add the rosemary.

 

With Old Growler

Gouda Asparagus Pesto

Dairy Goodness All You Need Is Cheese

IngredientsGouda Asparagus Pesto

¼ cup (60 mL) raw almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch of asparagus (about ¾ lb. – 350 g), cut into 1˝ (2.5 cm) pieces
1 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) Canadian Aged Gouda – Old Growler, finely grated

Method

In a food processor, chop almonds and garlic.

Add asparagus and process until finely chopped.

Continue to process while gradually pouring in oil.

Season generously with salt and pepper, and add cheese.

Transfer to a jar and seal with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

With Dragon’s Breath Blue

Marinated Hangar Steak with Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese

Recipes4EveryKitchen

 IngredientsMarinated Hangar Steak with Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese

Hangar steak (recipe works great with flank, skirt, tenderloin and any grilling beef you choose).

Marinade

½ cup red wine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp dried thyme or rosemary
2 tsp dried basil
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Salad

Romaine hearts, torn into bite sized chunks
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
1/2 English cucumber, chunked
Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese

Chef Craig Flinn’s Awesome Vinaigrette
3 anchovy fillets
1 shallot, very finely minced
1 clove garlic, minced to pulp
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Method

For the vinaigrette:

Smash anchovy fillets in a bowl with a fork and add the shallot and garlic.

Add the mustard, lemon juice & zest, vinegar, salt & pepper and whisk until smooth. Add the oil in a slow steady stream while whisking until the vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified. Makes ¾ cup and will keep refrigerated for a couple of weeks.

For the steak/salad

In a large Ziplock bag, combine all the marinade ingredients and blend well. Add the prepared hanger steak (or whatever other cut you choose), coat well with the marinade and massage. You can let the meat marinate on the counter for a couple of hours before grilling or refrigerate for up to 48 hours. If refrigerating, bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.

To grill with bbq/ grill pan/ electric grill/ broiler… whatever you have – heat to high and grill for 3-4 minutes, turn the meat, lower the temp a bit and continue to grill for 4 minutes for medium rare. That’s how long for flank steak, but hanger steak being thicker will require more time. Turn the heat down to medium so it will not char, and turn every 4 minutes until done to your liking.

Remove from the grill and place on a plate, flipping the hot side (closest to the grill) on top and refrigerate for 5 minutes. Then slice on the diagonal, across the grain to serve.

While the steaks are grilling, place the torn romaine hearts and chunks of red peppers & cucumbers into a large serving bowl. Toss with vinaigrette.

Once the steaks are sliced, place them on top of the salad and crumble the cheese over top.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

 

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No fooling around @ Back Forty Artisan Cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Friday, April 1st, 2016
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cheese-board-slider

Savvy Cool Curds cheese of the month club
Featuring Back Forty Artisan Cheese
–  March 2016 –

 

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

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

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

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

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

Bowled over by Back Forty Artisan Cheese?

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

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

  

Introducing…
Back Forty Artisan Cheese

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Back Forty shop

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

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

Crossing the Chasm

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

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

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

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

Creating Community

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

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

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

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


Coming soon!

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

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

Enjoy your Back Forty cheeses!

 

• Cheese Tasting Notes •

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

Flower Station

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

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

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

Madawaska

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

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

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

Bonnechere

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

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

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

Highland Blue

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

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

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

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

 

Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With Flower Station…

Beet and Feta Cheese Quiche

Recipe & Photo: Ricardocuisine.com

IngredientsBeet and Feta Quiche

2 yellow beets
2 red beets 

Crust

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

Filling

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

Method

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

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

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

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

Place the rack in the lowest position of the oven.

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

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

Delicious hot or warm.  Freezes well.

 

With Bonnechere and Madawaska…                     

Wild Onion and Wild Mushroom Tart

FoodNetwork.ca Great Canadian Cookbook

Courtesy of Alexander McNaughton, Tofino, British Columbia

IngredientsOnion and Wild Mushroom Tart

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

Method

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

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

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

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

 

With Highland Blue…

Barbequed Venison Salad with Raspberry Balsamic

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

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

IngredientsBBQed Venison

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

Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

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

Method

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

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

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

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

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


Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

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

Posted by Vanessa

Monday, February 22nd, 2016
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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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Riverview Cellars – a little winery making BIG wines

Posted by Erin

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

Savvy Selections wine of the month club 
Featuring Riverview Cellars

– June 2014 –

 

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

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

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

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

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

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

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

Where to find those hard-to-find wines…

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

Do you like Rosés?

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

Cheers & enjoy your Riverview wines!

Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing…

Riverview Cellars Estate Winery

Presented by Erin Bolling

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

A family Affair

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

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

The Little Winery that Could

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

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

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

The Elephant in the Room…..

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

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

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

Planning a Vacation?

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

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

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

Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

 

Reserve Gewürztraminer VQA 2012 $19.95

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

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

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

 

Salvatore’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2011$24.95

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

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

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

 

Salvatore’s Reserve Syrah VQA 2012 $29.95

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

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

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

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With Angelina’s Reserve Gewurztraminer VQA 2012…

Pad Thai
From Mike’s Kitchen

Ingredients

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

Method

Get large wok ready to a medium heat.

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

Boil noodles until soft and add to wok when ready.

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

Toss frequently and serve, enjoy!

 

With Salvatore’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2011…

Artisan Cheese Plate

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

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

 

Lankaaster Aged Glengarry Fine Cheese, Alexandria Ontario

Lankaaster from Glengarry Fine Cheese

 

2013 Global Cheese Awards – Supreme Global Champion 

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

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

Bonnechère Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Lanark, Ontario

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

Vanessa’s Notes: Bonnechère is one-of- a-kind artisan cheese.  It’s a semi-firm, double pressed and unique both inside and out.  A beautiful, chestnut patterned toasted rind covers the interior smooth ivory paste.  Hand torching gives Bonnechère smoky aromas and a very distinct caramel flavor.  As it ages, these characteristics amplify the tangy, sweet, and fruity body of the cheese.  Sour milk lingers with a slight amount of acidity. Produced in very small quantities with seasonal milk, it’s a hot commodity.

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

2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalist

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

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

Bleu D’Élizabeth Fromagerie de la Presbytere, Warwick Quebec

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

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

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

 

Building a Cheese Board with Pizazz

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

Mix it up

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

Holiday-Cheese-BoardServe cheese with star treatment

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

Compliment your cheese

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

Store cheese properly

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

Have a cheese tip for us?

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

 

With Riverview Salvatore’s Reserve Syrah VQA 2012…

Grilled Peppercorn Steak

From Foodnetwork.com
Serves 6

Ingredients

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

Method

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

Line large baking sheet or tray with waxed paper.

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

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

Transfer steaks to serving plates and serve at once.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

 

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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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Newsletter May 2014 – Cheese-y Road Trip to The County & BBQ wine tips

Posted by Debbie

Friday, May 23rd, 2014
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Spring has burst into summer & the Savvy Team has organized a road trip to Prince Edward County, top wine picks when you fire up the BBQ & insider tips on how to get involved in the wine, beer & spirits biz. Join us!

Did you know. . . today is Chardonnay Day? 

Corks will be flying around the world today celebrating this white wine grape & the upcoming International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (aka i4c) in Niagara that shines the spotlight on all wines made with Chardonnay.

Is it Chard’-o’clock yet??

Hop on the Savvy Bus – we’re going to Prince Edward County!

Last month’s Savvy Bus trip sold out so quickly . . .we’re going to The County again! Join us on Saturday June 7th bound for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival where hundreds of artisan cheeses are waiting to be enjoyed. Everyone will be there – cheesemakers, farmers, brewmasters, winemakers, chefs & artists too.

Be sure to take part in the Savvy Seminars too – including a Wine or Craft Beer – which is better with cheese? tasting by our own Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm. And be part of the People’s Choice Awards with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons to have your say in Canada’s top artisan cheese.

And any trip to The County is not complete without a visit to a winery or two. We’ll take a break from cheese to hit the country roads and discover some nearby wineries.

NEW: Makers+Mongers dinner under the stars!

We are delighted to be the sponsor of the new Makers+Mongers after-festival party! The Savvy Bus will return to Picton to take in the fun mixing & mingling with those involved in the cheese industry. The cheese laden menu will feature top winning cheeses from the Canadian Cheese Awards & a tasty BBQ.

Book your spot on the Savvy Bus $130 includes everything! (reg $150) > >

OR. . .go for a gourmet getaway!

 

Buy tickets to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival & join us for dinner at Makers+Mongers > >

Get the inside scoop on Importing Wine, Beer & Spirits

Thinking about becoming a wine, beer & spirits agent? Or already involved & looking for a competitive edge? Register for the popular Importing Wine, Craft Beer & Spirits for Pleasure & Profit seminar to learn from industry ‘guru’ Steven Trenholme. During this day long seminar he will explain how to bring wine back from your travels, how to start an agency & sell through the LCBO or SAQ.

Steven certainly knows the ins & outs. He has over 30 years experience working as manager of a national sales agency, brand manager of Mosel wines in Germany, consultant to Wines of South Africa & SABMiller. An invaluable seminar if you are wondering what it takes to be involved in ‘the biz’.

Toronto: Saturday June 7th

Only 6 seats left.

Register before it sells out > >

Firing up your BBQ? Here are 3 Savvy wine tips:

TIP #1 – Every 2 weeks, our Savvy Sommeliers blog If I only had $100, I would buy at Vintages’ – it’s a tried & tested shopping list of wines we highly recommend to buy at LCBO Vintages.

TIP #2 – What goes with BBQ? Malbec of course! We recently showcased renowned Canadian winemaker Ann Sperling who is a winemaker in Niagara, Okanagan & Argentina – all at once! Ann’s full bodied Versado Malbec 2012 WOWed the crowd. This BIG red is begging to be enjoyed with anything off the BBQ or lay down in your cellar. Treat yourself! Click to find this premium Malbec at your LCBO – you’ll thank us for this tip!

TIP #3Do you like Rosé wine? We’re about to make a first-of-its-kind announcement that will make you clink & drink pink. Email us cheers@savvycompany.ca to get the news first!

Happy Chardonnay Day!

Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

 

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Love cheese? Here’s a Festival for you!

Posted by Vanessa

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
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PRESS RELEASE: Come to the annual celebration of ‘all things cheese’ on June 7-8th at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. Award-winning artisan and farmstead cheese from coast to coast will be showcased at the biggest cheese show in Canada, held in Picton, Ontario.

Canadian Cheese of the Year – and the winner is…

Visitors to the festival will be able to taste and purchase more than 125 different cheeses including Le Baluchon, the Cheese of the Year made by Fromagerie F.X. Pichet of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec. 

Marie-Claude Harvey, who owns the fromagerie with her husband, Michel Pichet, will be the guest of honour at Makers+Mongers, the Festival’s Saturday evening function celebrating the men and women who make and sell artisan cheese and artisan foods.

Cheesemakers, artisan food producers, small-batch wineries and craft breweries and other exhibitors and vendors have reserved 125 booths in Crystal Palace, Prince Edward Curling Club, the new Artisan Foods Pavilion and Picton Fairgrounds making the event thecheese-of-the-year-1000-mar-19-copy biggest cheese show in Canada and one of the biggest artisan foods markets in Ontario.

New & improved in 2014

In addition to cheese and more cheese, artisan foods and beverages, the Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair on Saturday and Sunday, June 7 and 8, features:

New for 2014: Sales of VQA wines by the bottle or case by wineries as part of the pilot project initiated by the Ontario government to promote locally-grown wines. 

New for 2014: Rest and recover from all the sampling in the Festival’s new Presentation Pavilion while listening to local musicians. 

New topics: Seminars in the All you Need Is Cheese® Annex presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada as a bonus feature of the

Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair. Learn about the best in Canadian cheese at special presentations conducted by leading cheese educator Deborah Levy. 

The Festival’s own Cheese Dairy Farm featuring cows, goats, sheep and Yvette, the sweetest water buffalo you’ll ever meet. 

A Food Court featuring tasty eats prepared by Urban Herb, Picnic Food Truck and Seed to Sausage. 

Sunday, June 8, is Family Day at the Cheese Fair with children admitted free when accompanied by an adult. 

Cheese Fair adult admission includes

Access to all sponsors, exhibitors and vendors—with close to 200 products to sample

10 tasting tickets for cheese, artisan foods, wine and beer, valued at $10

Souvenir Festival insulated bag for your purchases, valued at $10

Glass for sampling wine, beer and cider

Admittance on first-come, first-served basis to cheese seminars presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada

Festival Dairy Farm, Food court and FREE parking. 

Tickets for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

The advance ticket price is $36. At the event, the price is $45. There is no fee charged on online ticket purchases. Youth and child tickets for the Cheese Fair are available. All other Festival events are age of majority only.

Cheeselovers sample award winning cheeses by Vanessa SimmonsSpecial Events & Presentations at the The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

The Tutored Tasting presentations include how to pair artisan cheese with wine, how to pair artisan cheese with beer and a three-hour marathon tasting billed as You Be The Judge: Taste and score the 16 best cheeses in the Canadian Cheese Awards to determine the People’s Choice for Canadian Cheese of the Year. Separate tickets required.

Special events like Gastronomy on the Farm with Jamie Kennedy and Cooking with Cheese Class are sold out already. Still available are tickets for Tutored Tastings, Cheese Tours—one in Prince Edward County, the other in Bay of Quinte Region—and Makers+Mongers.

Picton Fairgrounds is located in the heart of Prince Edward County, south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region. One hour from Kingston, two hours from Toronto, three hours from Ottawa and New York State, and less than four hours from Montreal.

Cheeseheads at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival by Vanessa SimmonsThe Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario. Dairy Farmers of Canada is Diamond Sponsor and Bay of Quinte Region is Gold Sponsor. Savvy Company is Presenting Partner.

Advance tickets are sold online at www.CheeseFestival.ca. In order to assure a high-quality experience for consumers and producers, ticket sales will be limited, so don’t delay. Save money and avoid the line-up at the door by purchasing tickets in advance.

Details for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival 

June 7-8, 2014, Picton, Ontario
1.866.865.2628
http://www.CheeseFestival.ca

 

 

 

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