Posts Tagged ‘cheese from Quebec’

Prolonging Summer with Local Cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Saturday, September 6th, 2014
Share

Want to know how to hold onto Summer a little bit longer?  Think local and think cheese…your dreams will come true!  It’s still summer you can’t deny it when you look around the farmers’ markets still showing off all the local produce while they can.

Summer entertaining

Vaness & Leanne talking local cheese on CTV Aug 22My latest  interview with Leanne Cusack on CTV News at Noon was just like A Cheese Game Show – with Michael O’Byrne claiming to be a ‘mozarella man’  which he might live to regret that as he had the chance to expand his horizons on the set that morning with so many cheeses to sample and so little time!

Watch the TV segment here – Part 1 & Part 2

My cheese story began at a Cordon Bleu cooking class when food prep was going on so we were boiling some milk in the morning and then in the afternoon we had a freshly-made feta cheese to crumble on our salad.  My AHA moment for sure.  That’s the beginning and the rest, as they say, is history. I’m now a Cheese Sommelier (in my spare time) or if you prefer ‘Maitre Fromagier‘, either term rolls off the tongue quite nicely…rather like cheese in fact.

Let’s Celebrate Canadian Cheese

The best part of my day is often all about cheese. Whenever possible I breathe, smell & eat cheese so I wanted to take you on a little journey to help extend these marvelous summer days. Walk with me along the scumptious Canadian cheese board that I prepared for this TV segment – all made locally – and you will see what I see. Great flavors made lovingly by true artisans of their craft.

Millhouse Tomme

Milkhouse Tomme (Aged)Based on a traditional French Recipe from a cheese Called Tomme de Savoie this is a cheese native to the French Alps. Traditionally a skimmed cow’s milk cheese, Milkhouse Tomme is made with a full cream Sheep’s Milk, leading to a richer flavour and creamy texture.  The cheese has an edible, natural rind which adds an earthy flavour.  Our interest in Tomme de Savoie grew out of the enjoyment of a now retired cheese maker’s take on the classic called “Tomme de Gaston.”

Here’s a story for you…did you know it takes 10L of milk to make 1lb of cheese and that one day when I visited Kyle & Kate the young couple who run the dairy, well we milked a couple of sheep. 14 that is! And those 14 sheep gave us 7L of milk.  So the long & short of it is even all the milk of those 14 sheep there isn’t enough to produce 1 lb of cheese.  Tough work making cheese, I say.

La Sorcière bien aimée

Inspired by her goat farming protégée and playing off popular TV series “Bewitched” Maggie Paradis’ says that La Sorcière Bien Aimée was born to add a brie type to the wonderful variety of other goat, cow and sheep’s milk cheeses produced by Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères. Not one to compromise quality or consistency, Maggie’s cheese must always be good or she won’t make it – pure and simple.

Handmade from whole natural milk, La Sorcière Bien Aimée has a good, clean goaty flavour with a hint of sweet grass and no bitterness, ammonia or aftertaste, even if a little overripe.   The paste is thick, smooth, creamy and silky, wild with mushroom aromas and a salty finish.  Specific cultures and a cheesemaker’s patience and care give these excellent results — not rushing is crucial. I love Maggie’s cheeky attitude as she describes the aging of La Sorcière… “the cheese pouts at first, then it will cry, becoming a weepy mess…”.  My sentiments exactly, only they’re tears of joy in this case.

Bonnechère

Bonnechere

One of my earliest & fondest cheese tasting memories is my cheese pick this week, Bonnechere, from local Back Forty Artisan Cheese, hailing from Ottawa Valley’s own Lanark Highlands.  I was a young, unripened cheese enthusiast when I discovered Back Forty cheeses years ago, made from raw sheep’s milk & hand-crafted in the kitchen of owner Jim Keith.  This special find is named after the rugged Bonnechere River & mysterious cave landmarks of our region.

Bonnechere 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 Bonnecheresmoky 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.  If you see this cheese, don’t blink, don’t hesitate, snap it up immediately.  I suggest The Piggy Market or Serious Cheese as a starting point.  Make these cheesemongers your best friend and you’ll never miss out.

Honey Cheddar

Black River honey cheddarOne of Canada’s oldest cheese makers, Black River Cheese has been firmly rooted in Prince Edward County, Ontario, since 1901.

Situated along the banks of the picturesque Black River, Black River Cheese remains dedicated to preserving more than a century old tradition of producing real cheese; superior tasting and handcrafted, using only 100% pure fluid milk from Price Edward County dairy farms, and no modified milk ingredients, artificial preservatives or animal rennet.

This amazing bit of sweetness in your cheese will see you through summer for sure! Made by one of Prince Edward County’s two main cheese makers, Black River Cheese, this cow’s milk cheese is a great combo of sweet & salty.

Lindsay Bandaged Goats Milk Cheddar

Lindsay Bandaged Goats Milk CheddarThis multi-award-winning cheese from Mariposa Dairy in Lindsay, ON,  is preserved  in wax to hold all the flavour. Each piece is aged a minimum of 9 months and up to two years. Mariposa waxed goat cheddar will inspire your taste buds to enjoy the nuances of a great cheese and make any occasion memorable. 

So many great Canadian cheeses…how to taste them all?

 

Where to buy Canadian cheese in Ottawa?

Farmers Markets

In Ottawa, there is so much great local produce that we should take the time and the trouble to enjoy it – take a break from the daily grind and go to farmers markets on the weekend to seek out the freshest produce. That’s where you can meet the people who grow the peaches, talk to the cheesemongers who make the cheese and hear first hand about the bread that is baked fresh that morning.

While the weather is still warm & sunny, visit any number of Ottawa’s Farmers markets which showcase only local produce on Saturdays & Sundays until Thanksgiving.  Try each of these, you will probably discover something about each market that will keep you coming back!  Parkdale Market, Main Street Market, Brewer Park Market, Westboro Market.

Specialty shops

For those of you not in the know, Ottawa has some great specialty shops where you can buy local cheese.  Here are just a few of them:  Jacobsons at 141 Beechwood in the Rockcliffe/Manor Park area; Serious Cheese at 442 Hazledean in Kanata and Piggy Market at 400 Winston Avenue in Westboro.

Summer Recipe for Peach & Beet Salad

From Vanessa’s Kitchen
Watch it live on CTV News Ottawa

Ingredients

6 Local peaches
6 Beets
Olive oil to toss fruits in
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup local wild blueberries
1/4 cup toasted nuts or seeds of your choice
handful of microgreens
200g fresh chèvre or fresh local feta
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Peach beet & chevre saladPeel and par-boil local beets, then slice and toss with some oilve oil, salt & pepper to taste.

Slice peaches (skin on) and combine with partially cooked beets. Roast at 400F-425F  for about 30 mins.

Let cool then toss together with Upper Canada dried cranberries, local wild blueberries, toasted nuts or seeds.

Put fruits & nut mixture over bed of microgreens and add fresh chèvre (such as Crosswind Farms cranberry organge chevre available at Piggy Market). And voila!

Thanks to my sous-chef Leanne for all her help in producing this summer salad.

Bon appetit & here’s to holding onto summer!

Vanessa

 

 

Share

Love cheese? Here’s a Festival for you!

Posted by Vanessa

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
Share

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

 

 

 

Share

Wheying in on Quebec’s top cheeses

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
Share

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

Vanessa Simmons is openly fanatical about artisan cheeses

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

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

Tasting – REALLY tasting – your cheese

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

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

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

Fromagerie Médard: Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean Region

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

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

Fromagerie du Presbytère: centre-du-Québec Region

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fromagerie Nouvelle France: Eastern Townships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan your route of Quebec cheeses from east to west

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

Ontario cheese tasting trails

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

 

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

Share