Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Cheese Grand Prix’

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

Posted by Vanessa

Monday, February 22nd, 2016
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Savvy Cool Curds cheese of the month club
Featuring COWS Creamery
–  February 2016 –

 

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

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

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

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

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

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar 400g

Extra Old Cheddar 400g

Appletree Smoked Cheddar 250g

NEW! Cultured Butter 250g

Craving more COWS Creamery cheddars?

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

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing…
COWS Creamery

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

 

cows building

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

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

Ice cream & cheese & oysters, oh my!

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

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

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

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

True Terroir

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

One process – two contrasting cheeses

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

Proud Moments

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

Say Canadian cheese!

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

• Cheese Tasting Notes •

 

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

Extra Old Cheddar

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

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

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

 

Appletree Smoked Cheddar

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

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

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

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

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

 

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

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

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

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

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

 

NEW! Cultured Butter

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

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

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

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

 

Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With Extra Old Cheddar…

The Best Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese

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

Ingredients

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

Photo Credit: foodnetwork.ca

Method

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

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

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

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

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

 

With Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar…

Great-Grandma’s Sour Cream Apple Pie

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

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

From Anita Stewart…

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

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

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

Food Day Canada - Apple PieIngredients

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

Photo Credit: fooddaycanada.ca

Method

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

Sprinkle with cinnamon and reserved sugar.

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

 

With Appletree Smoked Cheddar…

Classic Cheddar Beer Fondue

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

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

Ingredients

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

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

Method

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

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

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

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

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

Posted by Vanessa

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

 

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

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

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

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

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

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

200g of Handeck

200g of Beau’s Abbey Cheese

200g of Five Brothers Reserve

200g of Brigid’s Brie

200g of Five Brothers


Gunn'sHillcheeseHave a hankering for Gunn’s Hill?

Would you like more cheese from this month’s Savvy Cool Curds? Just call our Savvy Team & we’ll arrange a special shipment for you (if it is still available that is!).

Put us on speed dial – Savvy Cool Curds Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

 

Introducing…
Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

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

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

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

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

A Family of farmers

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

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

It’s all about the milk

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

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

What’s in a name?

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

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

BOSShepHandeckbyVSIt’s a Gouda life!

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

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

 

 • Cheese Tasting Notes •

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

Brigid’s Brie

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

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

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

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

Five Brothers

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

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

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

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

Five Brothers Reserve

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

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

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

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

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

Beau’s Abbey Cheese

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

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

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

Handeck

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

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

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

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

 

 • Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With Brigid’s Brie Cheese…

Scalloped Potatoes

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

ScallopedPotatoesIngredients

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

Method

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

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

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

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

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

 

With Beau’s Abbey Cheese…

Quick N’ Easy Gourmet Grilled Cheese

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

oliviacuisine.comIngredients

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

8 thick slices Beau’s Abbey Cheese

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

Method

Cook bacon until desired tenderness (not to crispy).

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

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

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

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

 

With Five Brothers & Handeck Cheese…

Alpler Macaroni & Cheese

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Method

In pot of boiling water, cook macaroni; drain.

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

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Talking about Canadian artisan cheese on CBC!

Posted by Vanessa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the CBC Radio Canada interview >>

 

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

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

AM – Are there any good cheeses made in Ontario?

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

 AM – What is the evolution of Ontario cheese?

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

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

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


AM – What’s on your cheeseboard today?

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

Cheese #1 – Bella Casara

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

Cheese #2 – Bliss

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

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

Cheese #3 – Bonnechere

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

Cheese #4 – Gunn’s Hill 

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

Cheese #5 – Celtic Blue 

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

 

Here are some of Vanessa’s Cheese Tips:

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

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

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

Store cheese cold but serve at room temperature.

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

Cheese is a magical thing.

 

Calling all Cheese Lovers!

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

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

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

 

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Mighty Migneron cheese shines

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
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My cheese pick this week is the mighty Le Migneron de Charlevoix, one of Quebec’s original artisan cheeses, produced in partnership with Laiterie Charlevoix, and industry pioneer, Maison d’Affinage Maurice Dufour, of Baie-Saint-Paul.  Migneron is unique in that the cheese is made at the dairy, and then ripened in Dufour’s caves at another site, following European traditions of “affinage”, where some would say the true artistry of cheesemaking lies.

There’s a lot going on with this semi-firm, washed-rind, cow’s milk cheese. Le Migneron, with its sunny disposition, shines orange/tangerine/apricot hues from the thin rind outside of a soft, bone colored center.  Aromas and flavors are just as pleasant: mild and milky, lightly buttery, with a little bit of nut and cream all wrapped into a nice long unexpected finish that has you reaching for the next nibble before you know it.  I’m not surprised, that a decade after being crowned “the big cheese” or 2002 Grand Champion at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, Migneron remains a favorite in the hearts (and stomachs) of local caseophiles (cheese lovers), including mine.

 

FACTBOX:
Cheese: Le Migneron de Charlevoix
Producer: Maison d’Affinage Maurice Dufour
Interesting Fact: Washed rind cheeses age or ripen from the outside in, and the inside out, contributing to both the complexity of the aging process as well as the flavors and aromas of the cheese itself.

 

 
Enjoy! – Vanessa

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A winner across the board: Louis d’Or cow’s milk cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, September 8th, 2011
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The secret to exceptional cheesemaking is happy, healthy, animals, according to Jean Morin, owner of Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick. This week’s cheese pick, Louis d’Or, lets the secret out. The raw organic milk comes from neighboring Louis d’Or Farm. Jean is always excited to talk cheese with an incredible level of passion for his craft that translates directly to his products. Louis d’Or is making headlines as four-time winner at the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix for farmstead, organic, firm and overall competition Grand Champion and 3rd place award for Best In Show at the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference.

Made in monster-sized 40 kilogram wheels this washed-rind cow’s milk cheese is cooked, pressed and aged for nine to twenty-four months. Resulting is a smooth, rich-textured paste encased in an antique gold colored rind. Aromas range from butter to onion and ripe pineapple. A complex mix of sweet, salty, and dominant nutty, fruity flavors finish with a tingle that lingers thanks to raw milk.

 


FACTBOX:

Cheese: Louis d’Or

Producer: Fromagerie du Presbytère
Interesting Fact: Raw milk cheeses can be sold in Ontario if aged for a minimum 60 days; there are a few exceptions sold in Quebec, aged for less.

 

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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