Posts Tagged ‘Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons’

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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Fondue Frenzie!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
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Cheese fondue is quick and easy meal to make, especially if you have a bunch of different cheeses in your fridge.  It is truly a melting pot! Fondue is a signature dish from Switzerland, so do as the Swiss do – use firm alpine style cheeses such as Swiss & Gruyere.

Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa has Canadian-ized this classic fondue recipe with suggestions of Canadian cheeses that will make a great combo.   Remove the rind…and get shredding!

 

Ingredients

1 pound of shredded firm cheeses
Vanessa’s TIP: Use any combo of these stunning firm Canadian cheeses:  La Nouvelle France Zacharie Cloutier, Fromagerie du Presbytere Louis d’Or, Gunn’s Hill Handeck or St Albert’s 1894

2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon kirsch aka cherry brandy (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch nutmeg

Assorted items to dip into the fondue.  Grainy baguette slices, apple & pear slices, grilled sausages, cubes of cooked ham or peameal bacon, blanched pea pods & green beans, chunks of red & green peppers…anything goes!

 

Method

In a small bowl, toss the shredded cheeses with cornstarch and set aside.

With the garlic clove, vigorously rub the inside of the ceramic fondue pot with the garlic.  Throw away the garlic afterwards…and wash your hands – garlicy fingers are not that sexy!

In a medium saucepan add the wine and lemon juice.  Heat on medium & bring to a gentle simmer. Stir the cheese a handful at a time into the simmering hot liquid. This will gradually melt the cheese to create a smooth fondue.

Once the fondue looks ready, stir in kirsch (optional), mustard and nutmeg. Stir again.

Remove from heat and pour cheese into the garlic ladened fondue pot.

Place on fondue apparatus with a votive or fondue burner underneath in order to keep the cheese warm.

Go nuts & enjoy!

 

What wines to serve with this fondue?  

Canadian of course! A fondue full of Canadian cheese would be best with Canadian wines.

Our Sommeliers recommend that the wine should enhance the melted cheese combo rather than overpower it.  If white wine is your preference, look for a lightly oaked Chardonnay, Viognier or Pinot Gris.  For red wines, a light to medium bodied wine would be ideal.

As for red wines, Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir or a blend with Cabernet Franc & Merlot.

Rose wine would work too!

 

 

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Make my Cheese Canadian – please!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018
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Warning: if you love artisan cheese, you’ll be drooling over this article.

Grocery stores and farmers markets are overflowing with artisan cheese – the good news is that the rise of local cheesemakers is not stopping anytime soon.  There is no need to venture to the European section of the cheese counter to find a wedge that will WOW.  Impressive cheese is made in our backyard.  In fact, being in Ottawa we are treated to cheesemakers on both sides of the border – Quebec and Ontario.

And we are talking about more than just cheddar! Locally made cheeses span the gamut of tastes and styles.  Best of all, Canadian cheeses are rivaling the European equivalent at international competitions.

One of Canada’s renown judges at these competitions is Vanessa Simmons  – Cheese Sommelier and curator of Savvy Cool Curds – the only artisan cheese of the month club that exclusively features Canadian cheeses. Vanessa knows everything there is about cheeses and she travels coast to coast visiting cheesemakers and farmers to learn the ‘whey’ they make Canadian cheeses.  “Often a recipe that has been passed through a family for generations is the starting point,” explains Vanessa.

This is exactly the case with Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese located in Woodstock – Canada’s dairy capital.  “We make alpine style cheese like they do in Holland”, explains Shep Ysselstein (in photo) who weaves his family Dutch roots into his rapidly growing cheese business. “All of my cheese is made with the milk of my father’s herd of 120 Holstein cows.  Every two days, fresh milk is delivered from the farm across the street to my cheese production facility.  I use every last drop.”  Gouda, washed rind cheeses and brie are Shep’s signature creations. If you have enjoyed the Beau’s cheese – washed with Lugtread Beer – the cheese is in fact made at Gunn’s Hill.

Sheep, goat and cow milks are the main ingredient that the cheesemaker starts with.  Seasonally, the cheesemakers need to tweak their recipes to reflect the make up of the milk. In the winter, they need to compensate for higher fat content in the milk, in order for the cheese to not be too soft.  During times of the year when the animals are fed a lot of carrots, there are higher levels of beta carotene in the milk, resulting in a cheese with a more golden hue. Whether the recipe is a family secret or not, cheesemaking is part art & part science.

 

So many cheeses, so little time!

In France, they boast that there are over 365 different types of chévre (goat cheese), equating to one to enjoy each day.  While this sounds devine, the idea of constantly trying different cheeses is definitely appealing.  Where to start?

 

Vanessa offers these tips:

Check out the Best Before Date – Pick a cheese that is closest to best before date to enjoy right away.  This might actually mean that the price of the cheese is discounted for quick sale!  “Often cheese is sold into grocery stores young. You want a cheese that has been ripening.”  The exception to this rule: Fresh Cheese or Cheese Curds.

Soft rounds of cheese – Buy small! Give them a squeeze on the sides.  Notice if they are firm or ‘squishy’.  What you want is a round where the edges are soft to indicate that the cheese is ripe n’ ready.

It’s OK to eat the rind – The rind is often washed with wine, beer or a special concoction that is intended to help the aging process while the cheese is in the caves.  The effect is a hardened outside to the cheese that is fine – not to mention delicious – to eat.  The exception to this rule: watch out for rind that is wax.  This is not intended to be eaten!

Like your curds squeaky? – As soon as you put curds in the fresh, the squeak disappears. The cheese is fine on the counter for a few days.

 

Building a Canadian Cheese Board 101

With these tips, Vanessa makes it easy to create a cheese board to serve instead of slaving hours to make hors d’oeuvres or a fancy dessert. Use Vanessa tried & true tips and you’ll be guaranteed to get Oooohs and aaahs reviews for your cheese selection.

Vanessa’s Buying Tips: 

Milk type – cow, sheep, goat, buffalo (when in season).  Buy at least one of each

Style of cheese – Select different styles: fresh, soft, semi-soft, washed, firm, hard…and always make sure there is a blue cheese!

Age of Cheese – have a variety of young & old cheeses

Visual Variety – select cheeses that have visual appeal.  Rounds, wedges, chunks, even in pyramid shape – in combination will create WOW factor.

How much? – 5-10gms of each cheese/person is a good rule of thumb.

Vanessa’s Serving Tips:

Take them out of the fridge – make sure the cheeses are at room temperature – arrange on the cheese board atleast 1 hour beforehand.  This will allow the flavours and texture to shine their finest

One knife please – place one knife per cheese on the board.

To cut or not to cut – Don’t cut up small pieces in advance.

Wood, plate or slate – Use an interesting wooden board, cross cut log, antique plate, slate or marble tiles or tiered trays for visual appeal.

Plain Jane – Serve specialty breads and plain crackers.  Crackers dressed with herbs or spices will conflict with the taste of the cheese.

Add ons – sprinkle onto the board fresh berries, dried fruits, toasted nuts, olives, caramelized or pickled onions or milder charcuterie items as accompaniments.

 

This is part of an article written by Debbie Trenholm that will appear in the January/February 2018 issue of Ottawa Life Magazine

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11 Practical Tips for Cheese Pairings

Posted by Vanessa

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

 

Tip #1 – What to look for…

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

 

Tip #2 – Consider intensity…

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

 

Tip #3 – How much cheese should you buy?

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

 

Tip #4 – What temperature should it be?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Tip #8 – What order do you go in?

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

 

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

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

 

Tip #10 – When do you eat the rind?

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

 

Tip #11 – How should you wrap leftovers?

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

 

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

Click read the online version on Postmedia web site 

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Fabulous Fromages from Quebec

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017
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This month’s Savvy Cool Curds, the only cheese-of- the-month club in the country dedicated to featuring hard-to-come- by lovingly handcrafted Canadian artisan and farmstead cheeses celebrates SUMMER with Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde. For backyard BBQs, cottage country, lake living, patio parties, regional road trips or lazy hazy beach days, #CdnCheese is the easiest, effortless, “whey” to snack, feast or entertain this summer. Grab some good friends, pick a place, crack open a local craft brew, artisan wine or cider and kick back with your Savvy Cool Curds. As temperatures soar, who wants to work any harder than that?

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

… Very special and hard-to- find artisan cheeses including:
La Galette de La Table Ronde 250g
Le Fou du Roy 200g
Le Ménestrel 200g
Fleuron 200g
…and a box of savoury treats from Sprucewood Handmade Cookie Co.

 

Looking for more fabulous Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde 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!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing…

Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde
by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

A road trip almost ten years ago lead me to Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde in the Laurentians of Quebec, while I was exploring the famous Routes des Fromages fins du Quebec. All this time later, I return regularly as one of my must stops along the way to Montreal, along with a few neighbouring cheesemakers because of the awesome cheese, and the warm hospitality I always receive from owners France Dion and Ronald Alary (in photo below).

It’s an all out family business at the Fromagerie, as a 4 th generation dairy farm, dating back pre-1950’s, with Holstein (and a few Jersey) cows and in 2003, the cheese factory. And today they have an abundance of popular products that can be found across Quebec and in Ontario, while others are only available locally at the shop. If you visit, the fragrant aroma of fresh cheese and milk will immediately strike you as you walk in the door. I highly recommend soft cheeses Le Nymph and La Courtisan and, of course, their flagship all mushroomy all the time Rassembleu. France and Ronald have a special touch with soft and semi-soft cheeses.

All For One

The name Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde (the cheesemakers of the round table) stems from a family gathering, akin to that back in medieval times of the Knights of the Round Table. The Alarys were seated at a big round family table and discussing ways to viably keep their children involved in the farm and family business (and making money) and thus a Fromagerie where fine organic cheeses could be made was born.  All of the cheese names since relate back to that theme.

Rassembleu is the idea of gathering around a table and the others are for key roles held at court way back when. All of them are quirky but fitting, given the cheese, and the history of their makers. All the cheese production and aging happens on the property. One aging room houses over $100,000 worth of cheese at any given time! Ronald also has a partnership with neighbouring cheese house Fromagerie Fuoco for production of their mouth-watering buffalo milk products.

Committed to Organic

Long before cheesemaking the Alary family had been committed to organic as dairy farmers. Certified organic as of 1999, the same holds true today. Only the fresh, organic milk from their farm is used in their cheesemaking. A traditional process combined with modern day technology allows them to meet the rigorous standards of Quebec Vrai official certification, while producing their fine cheese and being committed to local. “Canadians want Canadian cheese” says Ronald. “They want to know where their food comes from and they will seek it out”. No pesticides or chemicals are used on the property, animals are hormone-free and a special ten-metre barrier separates their farm from neighbouring acreage.

Ronald and family are expanding their horizons, always experimenting. They expect growth in the cheese factory with some renovations over the coming years and a perhaps a new cheese on the block in the future, something much more bold and incredibly robust than any of their current products but we can’t say more than that! Stay tuned for more, or visit them this summer and ask about the secret! Savvy Cool Curds subscribers are always welcome for a tour!

 

~ 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!

La Galette de la Table Ronde

La Galette de la Table Ronde is an award-winning fan favourite from this cheesemaker. Aged less than a month before distribution, these small, beautiful wheels are enjoyed best at 4-6 weeks as they begin to relax & become ripe/runny.

Tasting Notes: Galette is a pasteurized organic cow’s milk cheese with a delicate soft, bloomy washed rind. Find it rich and creamy, sexy and sinful, especially if you keep it for an extra week! Enjoy lots of mushroomy with a little tang on the finish.

Suggested Pairing: Perfect for two to enjoy on your next picnic with fresh raspberries/blueberries/figs, local honey, topped with fresh market jam or hot pepper jelly on baguette or seed crackers. Pop the cork on a chilled Viognier or Pinot Gris and you’ll be sure to impress!

 

Le Fou du Roy

Keeping along the theme of ancient times, Le Fou du Roy (translated to the King’s Jester) is finalist in a
number of cheese awards and one of La Table Ronde’s most consistently perfect cheeses.

Tasting Notes: Le Fou du Roy is a semi-soft, washed-rind, farmstead, organic cow’s milk and truly a “stinky cheese”. It’s a gorgeous little wheel of just more than a kilo, with a perfect, apricot rind and golden paste interior. Aromas and flavors abound of butter, fresh hay, roasted nuts, and toast.

Suggested Pairing: Grilled artisan sausages (like Seed to Sausage Apple Sage, Caramelized Onion/Peppers or Maple Walnut) come to mind as a perfect partner for Le Fou du Roy. When almost cooked, split down the middle, line with Le Fou du Roy & your fave fixings & crack open a local seasonal microbrew, something hoppy, toasty or nutty.

 

Le Ménestrel

Ménestrel is one of La Table Ronde’s newest cheeses, named after medieval singing musicians. It’s made only occasionally during winter and spring months and ramp up production into end of summer/fall for the following winter/spring. Each wheel is an approximate 6-7 kg of cheesy goodness, aged for 9 months or more. Watch for special releases at Christmas time of reserved 1 or 2-year wheels at the cheese factory. A must for the cheese lover on your list as flavors become more intense over
time. Caseus D’Or (Gold) winner in 2015; this means out of all the cheeses judged, in all the categories it took top prize

Tasting Notes: Ménestrel is a washed rind cheese that has been pressed and cooked, made with pasteurized organic milk from Holstein cows. It has a pale straw to copper colour rind with a smooth paste, which tastes of butter, cream, nut and dried grass.

Suggested Pairing: Ménestrel is a great snacking cheese, perfect for picnics & shared with great company. Enjoy with a local IPA or medium red wine. Pair with nuts, fruit, and locally sliced charcuterie for an easy peasy cheese board!

 

Fleuron

More intense that its sister cheese, Rassembleu, Fleuron is a unique true Quebec bleu cheese as named for its origin region and made artisan-style, aged two to four months. Named a finalist in the Blue Cheese category at this year’s Caseus Quebec Cheese Awards.

Tasting Notes:  A natural grey/white rustic rind covers this tall cylindrical elegant organic cow’s milk blue cheese, hiding a pale ivory paste with slate-grey veining, concentrated closer to the center of the cheese. Earthy, woody & fungal aromas blend nicely with vegetal, creamy & slight salty flavors.

Suggested Pairing: Fleuron is soft and oozy, for summer enjoy with fresh ripe strawberries or cantaloupe drizzled with local honey, or as a surprise stuffing centre to home made burgers. Pair with bubbles such as Lighthall Progression or a Prince Edward County cider, such as Clafeld Smashed Apple Cider.

~ Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses ~

With La Galette de la Table Ronde…
La Galette de la Table Ronde Smoked Salmon Bites

Adopted Recipe & Photo Credit: recettesdici.com
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 x 225 g (8 oz.) cheese – La Galette de la Table Ronde
24 rice crackers
4 ¼ oz. smoked salmon
2 tsp. mixture of roasted plain and black sesame seeds
1 tbsp. honey

Method

Cut the cheese into 24 small wedges.
Sprinkle sesame seeds one side of each wedge.
Place the rice crackers on a serving tray.
Spread the smoked salmon on the crackers. Add a wedge of cheese, seed side up.
Sprinkle all with more sesame seeds and drizzle honey over the entire plate.

With Le Fou du Roy…
Fou du Roy Bread

Recipe & Photo Credit: fromagiersdelatableronde.com
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

2 eggs
125 mL (½ cup) milk
30 ml (2 tbsp.) olive oil
180 g (¾ cup) flour
5 mL (1 tsp.) baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste
200 g (7 oz.) Le Fou du Roy cheese, shredded
90 g (cup) smoked turkey, chopped

Method

Beat the eggs, milk and olive oil.
Add flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and cheese. The mixture should be as homogeneous as possible.
Crumble in the smoked turkey.
Preheat oven to 200 ° C (400 ° F).
Butter a bread pan and pour in the mixture. Cook for 40 minutes.

 

With Le Ménestrel…
Eggs Benedictine a Le Ménestrel

Recipe & Photo Credit: fromagiersdelatableronde.com
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

15 ml (1 tablespoon) white vinegar
1 pinch of salt
4 eggs
2 English muffins, halved
4 small slices of cooked ham
water for boiling eggs

Cheese sauce:
30 ml (2 tbsp.) butter
30 ml (2 tbsp.) flour
300 ml (1 ¼ cup) warm milk
Salt and pepper
80 ml (cup) Le Ménestrel cheese

Method

Sauce:
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Combine flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring, over medium heat. Add hot
milk, salt and pepper, whisking. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring. Stir in cheese and cook for 2 to 3
minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

In a saucepan, bring to the boil water, vinegar and salt. Lower the heat and simmer.

In a small container, break the eggs and put them gently, one by one, in hot water. Cook for 3 to 4
minutes. Remove the eggs with a holed spatula. Set aside/keep warm.

Roast the English half-muffins and arrange them in two plates. Cover with a little cheese sauce.

Spread a slice of ham and a poached egg on each half-muffin. Cover with sauce. Serve with fresh fruit or small roasted potatoes.

 

With Fleuron…
Blue Cheese Apple Salad

Recipe & Photo Credit: Plaisirs Gourmets
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes

Ingredients

2 large apples cut into bite-size pieces
2 large handfuls of toasted nuts – hazelnuts or walnuts
1 tsp. mayonnaise & 1 tsp. yogurt, mixed
1 piece of Rassembleu (substitute Fleuron)
cut into small dice (approximately 75 g)

Method

Mix just before serving.

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

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Announcing… In-Cider Picks Ontario craft cider…delivered

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, July 13th, 2017
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Summer just got cooler for craft cider fans. The Savvy Team is excited to announce that we are making plenty of room in our fridge for ciders made at boutique cideries across Ontario. The craft cider scene is exploding with new flavour combos being released every day – so many that it is hard to keep up.

You asked…we’re going to deliver!

This summer we are working with cidermakers to create Savvy In-Cider Picks to deliver crisp ciders to you – at home, work or your cottage. Each month is a different assortment of refreshing, dry & delicious ciders that are guaranteed to quench your thirst.

Order by July 20th & shipping is FREE

That’s right – deadline to order the July In-Cider Picks is Wednesday July 20th
Get them apples! Order yours now >>

 

What’s our July picks?

From County Cider Company (Prince Edward County)…

County Premium Cider
Blood Orange Cider
Pear Cider
Tortured Path Cider
2 bottles (500mL) of each will be sent

From Tawse Winery (Niagara)…

Sparkling Cider – just released last week!
2 bottles (750mL) will be sent

Mark. Our. Words. These craft ciders are hard-to-come-by & quickly sell out. You won’t find them at the LCBO.

 

Order one bunch OR get deliveries all summer!

What is the cost?

Each month is a slightly different price based on the ciders we picked. For July, the total price of this bushel is $82.00. Shipping is FREE to addresses in major cities in Ontario.

One month or two?

Order just the July In-Cider Picks OR have both July & August assortments delivered to you.

You don’t have to get out of your deck chair.
Order Now >>

 

…and we have Cheese too!

Our Savvy Cool Curds artisan cheese-o-month club has become WILDLY popular! It’s the new whey to discover hard-to-find cheese made across Canada. Each month, we will deliver 4 to 5 outstanding cheeses – hard, soft, fresh or aged – made with various milks – cow, goat, sheep…even buffalo!

These artisan cheeses are perfect for picnics, in summer salads or melted on top of your BBQed burger.

In July we will send you ‘The Best of the Fest’. This is an extra special assortment of 5 different artisan cheeses that wowed our Cheese Sommelier at this year’s Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

 

Try it once…or subscribe!

Exclusively for July you can order Savvy Cool Curds for a one-time price of $60 OR subscribe for 4 or 6 months for $55 per month. Shipping + HST is extra.

It is easy to be cheese-y!
Order up your Savvy Cool Curds >>

 

Cheers & Keep cool,
Debbie & the Savvy Team

Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO
 (728-8926)
cheers@savvycompany.ca
www.savvycompany.ca

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No black sheep here! 100% creamy sheep milk cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017
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Spring has sprung …and hopefully you will feel the same sunny vibe when you open this month’s parcel of Savvy Cool Curds.  Bright colour cheeses & bundles of delicious-ness are there, waiting to be enjoyed.  This month, we shine the spotlight (or should I say ray of sunshine) on Best BAA Diary located in the small town of Fergus, Ontario.

Best Baa Dairy is a family run business that makes stunning cheese with local sheep milk. Not only do they make artisan cheese, their yogurt and ice cream is fantastic too…and it’s 100% sheep’s milk!  “The days are long but this tremendous family effort is rewarded by happy consumers of our delicious sheep milk products”, says Nicole Bzikot, the dairy’s second-generation owner.

 

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

… these rare artisan cheese beauties:

Feta
Eweda Cru
Sheep in the Meadow
Ramembert
Mouton Rouge

 

Nicole and Peter – like Elisabeth and Eric before them – fundamentally believe that the viability, as well as sustainability, of the family farm is the backbone of rural communities.  Nicole and Peter continue the family mantra and are committed to the Five Freedoms of farming practiced by farming communities in the UK:

Freedom from hunger and thirst.
Freedom from fear and disease.
Freedom from discomfort.
Freedom from pain and injury.
Freedom to express natural, normal behaviour.

By providing the herd with these five freedoms, they tend to be healthier and the need for medication rare.

 

Special gift from us!

In your package this month you’ll find a little something extra from Savvy Company.  Our marketing wizard, Karen, let me in on a wonderful product she recently discovered; an all natural and reusable food wrap made from beeswax!  This Canadian invention keeps cheese much fresher and longer than plastic wrap can.  Give it a try and let us know what you think!  Learn how to use and care for the wrap at abeego.com.

Enjoy your cheese!

Would you like more cheese from this month’s Savvy Cool Curds?  If we have extra chunks of cheese, you are welcome to it. Just call our Savvy Team & we’ll arrange a special shipment for you.  Put us on speed dial – Savvy Cool Curds Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

 

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

 

Introducing….
20 Questions with Nicole Bzikot

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

We’ve finally left winter behind, and we are ‘lighten-ing’ it up on these pages too.  Time to try something different to keep things fun & to dig a bit deeper and get some interesting ‘dirt’ (sorry for that corny pun) on the dynamic people behind the cheeses that we send you.   Not only are they great cheesemakers, they are incredibly interesting people with neat stories to tell about how they got into cheese biz!

So,  let’s pose some questions and put Nicole on the “Savvy Hot Seat”, shall we?

Current Job:
My husband Peter and I are the owner operators.  Peter’s parents started the biz & in January they retired. Honestly though, everyone does a bit of everything!

It’s Wine O’clock. What wine & cheese combo would you like right this minute?
My go-to is the Mouton Rouge, yet it needs a robust red to go with it and with the sun pouring into the cheese shop, I am thinking more along the lines of Rose wine right now.  So that definitely would be best with the Ramembert.

When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The funny thing is that my background is in textile art.  I met Peter when I bought cheese at the St Laurence Market.  Interestingly, I was selling art supplies and hand made craft items at the time. I never EVER dreamed that I would be living on a farm. The craft part of me stays true as we are crafting cheese here.

What is in a name?
Around here, product names are often highly debated. We take the approach of using silly Sheep-related puns to make memorable.

What is it about cheese that got you hooked?
Cheese can be political, romantic, and when you travel there is always different types to try.

What lead you down the path to becoming the cheesemaker you are today:
Cheesemaker wasn’t my dream job, but now I realize that I love eating cheese and it is such meaningful work .  It is definitely physical work, I use my hands to create.  The best part is that our customers write regularly to thank you for the products we make.  That fills my soul.

Is there music playing in the cheesemaking facility right now?
Absolutely.  We mix it up all the time.  We have satellite radio and usually we listen to the channel called Spectrum.  It plays a mix of the 70s-80s-90s.

Favorite thing about the local cheese industry:
I love the fact that we know the people & family behind the milk we purchase.  It provides a significant income that allows them to stay on their family farm.

Favorite thing about making cheese:
By the end of the day you have a product that people need & want to keep them healthy. Something tangible.

What is the unglamorous thing about cheesemaking?
I find it funny that anyone thinks this is glamourous. Everyday we wear something just short of being called PJs & a hairnet.

Why did you choose yellow and green wax for your cheeses?
They are happy colours. Green = grass. Yellow = sunshine.

Industry Mentors:
We are humbled by what the cheese that is coming out of Quebec. While we grow, we are always trying to raise our own standards.

What wine region do you want to visit next?
Italy. But honestly, it is hard to get away.

One surprising thing that I’m really good at:
I have always enjoyed leadership through comraderie.  In addition to Peter and I, there are 8 people on staff.  They are all local (not relatives!).  The interesting thing is that we are all friends outside of work too.

When is your birthday (no year required!):
March 22 – and wouldn’t you know it…my Zodiac symbol is a ram!   

My Birthday “Favorite Meal”
That is easy….spaghetti.  Or fresh lobster, but that is hard to come by here in Fergus.

A funny moment you remember about visitors coming to the cheese shop:
People are shocked when they meet me after chatting on the phone or online.  I am 6 feet tall & have a young face.  I usually get “you can’t possibly be the owner….you are too young!”

What does you daughter think?
She is 9 years old and is very proud of what we do.  She stamps the bags or is on the front line ready to offer samples at Farmers Market. I think she might like to be a shepherdess, like her grandmother.

 

 

~ Cheese Tasting Notes ~

Typically, Vanessa offers her tasting notes…but for this issue we are mixing it up a bit and have asked Nicole to share her thoughts on the special cheeses in this month’s Savvy Cool Curds.

 

Feta

This traditional Greek style feta is made from pasteurized and raw sheep milk.  The flavour in both versions is tangy and full, with hints of lemon.  The flavour is more abundant in the raw milk version with greater nutritional value preserved (cheese speak: flavour loss through pasteurization).

It takes upwards of 3 weeks to make this feta, then it is packaged in brine made from the whey.  This delicious cheese can stand on its own or enhance your favourite dish.

 

Eweda Cru

Beginning with a traditional gouda recipe, this raw milk cheese is aged for a minimum of 9 months.  Each wheel is marked with information pertaining to the producer of the milk used.

Each round of this semi-hard cheese weighs approx. 3 kgs.  Why is the wax green?  To represent the grass.  Cut inside and you will find the paste (cheese speak: the cheese) is pale yellow with many small holes.  The texture is slightly crumbly yet smooth on the tongue.  Its rich, earthy aroma leads beautifully towards an explosive, complex flavour.

When savoured, Eweda Cru is nutty at first, then grassy with a lingering finale of creamy freshness.

 

Mouton Rouge

It’s playful name; this firm cheese is mild yet pleasing, and full of surprises.

The reddish tinged rind encases a pale, creamy yellow paste, dotted with small holes.  The aroma is fresh and grassy.  The nutty rind contrasts beautifully with the mild, slightly buttery inner paste.  A lingering creaminess remains on the palette.  Made in rounds of 1 to 3 kgs that have aged for upwards of 60 days.

 

Ramembert

Get it?  This cheese is Best BAA’s version of Camembert.  “We love using puns for our product names…it makes you remember them better” says Nicole, laughing at her own joke.

This small, bloom ripened cheese, has an exterior that is fluffy and white, concealing an ivory white interior.  The paste is creamy and smooth with an earthy, mushroomy aroma.  The cheese is at its best when the sides yield easily to pressure.  Then the cheese oozes goodness!  Store in the fridge when ripe and serve with a crisp baguette, a few grapes and any bold red wine.

 

Sheep in the Meadow

This lactic cheese has a bloomy rind sprinkled with Herbes de Provence from France. Rosemary and thyme dominate the aroma while mushroomy undertones also are noticed.  Close to the rind, the texture is creamy, and you will find it increasingly firm towards the centre.  Luxuriously smooth, the creamy paste is imbued by the herbs.

It is a versatile cheese that can be enjoyed in its early, fresh cheese stage or in its later ripened state.  Savour it your way!

Photo credits: GuelphToday.com

 

 

 ~ Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses ~

Asparagus Eweda Tart

from Martha Stewart’s kitchen

 

Ingredients

Flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Eweda cheese, shredded
1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

 

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet.

With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with cheese. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

 

 

Lamb and Feta Chili

From Nicole & Peter’s Kitchen – Best Baa Dairy
TIP: This makes a BIG batch to feed a hungry crowd or to store in your freezer for a quick an easy meal later!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
250 grams of fresh Feta cheese
1 medium yellow pepper
1 medium red pepper
1 kg of ground lamb
3  16 oz. cans of tomato sauce
3 tablespoons of chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

Brown the ground lamb in a large pot.  Salt and pepper the meat while it is cooking.  Drain the lamb and set it aside in a second, medium size pot.  Saute the onions, garlic and peppers in the same pot used for browning the meat (without cleaning it!)  If there isn’t sufficient fat left in the pot, you may want to use a little olive oil.

Return the lamb to the large pot.  Add the tomato sauce and chili powder.  Cook on medium heat for approximately one and a half hours.

Serve up the chili in your favourite bowls and garnish with a few spoonfuls of the fresh sheep milk cheese curd or sheep milk creme fraiche.

Enjoy!

 

 

Curry Potato and Cheese Patties

From Nicole & Peter’s Kitchen- Best Baa Dairy

Ingredients

8 medium potatoes, peeled
1 cup of Eweda Cru cheese, grated
1 egg
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons of curry powder
½ cup of flour

 

Directions

Boil potatoes till tender.  Mash and cool.  Add egg, cheese, onion and salt. Form mixture into golf ball sized balls.

In separate bowl, mix flour and curry powder.  Roll potato balls in flour mixture.

Over medium heat, press in frying pan with olive oil and fry until lightly browned.  Add more grated cheese on top if desired and serve!

 

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Happy Birthday to Savvy Cool Curds!

Posted by Vanessa

Monday, January 30th, 2017
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Happy Birthday to us!  January 2017 marks the first anniversary of Savvy Cool Curds, the only cheese-of-the-month club in the country dedicated to featuring hard-to-come-by lovingly handcrafted Canadian artisan and farmstead cheeses.  From all of us at Savvy Company, we’d like to send a special shout out to the hardworking Canadian cheesemakers who we proudly showcase each month in our Curd on the Street Magazine. And to you, Canadian cheese lover, we send an extra big thanks for supporting local and choosing #CdnCheese.

It doesn’t get more local than our profile this month of Empire Cheese Co-op, one of the regions oldest producers in the heart of Northumberland County, in the business of making delicious cheddars, butter and specialty cheeses for over a century.

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

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

Hot Whiskey Mustard Cheddar 230g
Extra Old White Cheddar 230g
Supreme 3 Year Old Orange Cheddar 230g
Supreme 5 Year Old White Cheddar 230g

Looking for more excellent Empire 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!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

PS – All photos in this issue of Curd on the Street Magazine are taken by Vanessa unless noted.

 

Introducing…

Empire Cheddar & Butter Co-op
by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Empire Cheese Co-op located in Campbellford Ontario, represents over 135 years of Canadian cheesemaking traditions. More than a century ago, the first cheese factory was built (in 1870) on the farmland of the original cheesemaker. Today, good old-fashioned cheesemaking continues, as current cheesemaker Mark Erwin carries the torch for Empire Cheese.  Mark is what you’d call a veteran, having made cheese for over 30 years of his career. There’s an exactness to his cheesemaking process which allows for consistency in the quality and flavour of the cheese.  “It’s the skill and know how that make the difference” Mark explains.

The co-op business model remains to this day with less than a dozen local dairy farmers and their families as owners (down from the original forty-four families ages ago).  A board of directors is elected every year to run the operation.

Cheese is made traditionally  – by hand, following old school methods – in open vats using 100% all natural Canadian cow milk from local farmers, ensuring high quality. Fat (aka fresh cream) is kept in the milk and not separated, which contributes to the extra creamy texture of their cheddars. There are no extra additives or artificial flavors in these cheeses.  This is perhaps one of the reasons or secrets to why Empire Cheese is well known for their award winning products, particularly at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

A Local Following

Empire Cheese have a huge following, committed to shopping local at their factory outlet store. There is something for everyone. Die-hard fans visit religiously for fresh curds, made daily which come in white, orange and flavored (garlic) varieties. Various other cheeses can be found on hand, with cheddars ranging from mild (fresh to 3 months of age), medium, old, extra old with the oldest topping 10 years. The fridge is also packed with mozzarella, Swiss, and experimental flavored cheeses are plentiful such as smoked and beer infused cheddar. Keep in mind that if you need a unique fundraising idea Empire can set you up with your own cheese.

The Difference Quality Makes

Cheddar is made in the wee hours of the morning and follows a particular process and recipe, which is specific to this type/variety of cheese that can be classified as semi-soft to semi-firm to firm depending on the age and maker. Once the curd is set it’s cut to encourage drainage of the whey and then arranged/piled/packed by hand into long sheets, which are then hand cut into blocks and stacked and flipped to promote further draining, where the curds mat or knit together. This process is called “Cheddaring”.  Large strips are then cut and milled (cut into small pieces, which are the small strips or pieces of fresh curds one sees on poutine as a topping or sold in bags at the cheesemaker for immediate consumption, note the squeak). Milled curds are then formed into 40lb blocks, vacuum packed and sealed to sit and age on a shelf until ready for cutting and repacking for sale at a variety of ages.

Quality cheddars have very particular characteristics: closed and dense texture with no pinholes, smooth to crumbly but slight veining of curds when broken (not rubbery); uniform in color, not mottled; clean milky flavors through and through, not overly fruity, noticeable sharpness with age. Seem what I mean when you look at the cheddars in your Savvy Cool Curds.

A variety of cheddars are in your Savvy Cool Curds assortment this month. Grab a few friends, some local brews and conduct your own vertical tasting, comparing each of the Empire cheddars we’ve selected.

 

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!

Hot Whiskey Mustard Cheddar

Empire’s Hot Whiskey Mustard is one of the most unique flavoured cheddars I’ve encountered over the years.  One of the secrets to an excellent flavored cheese is to start with a tasty and well-made cheese as a base (too often flavors are added to mask cheese that isn’t great). The cheddar is aged for one year, and has Mrs. McGarrigle’s (Merrickville) Hot Whiskey Mustard mixed in.  It’s a total local experience, a-three “whey” collaboration with the cheese, mustard, and even the whiskey (Forty Creek Whisky, Grimsby) used in the mustard all produced in Ontario.

Tasting Notes: This cheddar has a fudge-like texture and is dense to the tooth. Enjoy milky flavor with a hint of mustard, apricot fruit and spice, which elevates the cheese, while not overpowering. The cheese’s age adds a bit of “bite” to stand up to the mustard and balance out the two.

Suggested Pairing:  Hot Whiskey Mustard Cheddar screams to be melted with Seed to Sausage house cured ham or Pastrami on crusty bread. Add grilled tomatoes, arugula as garnish. Melt for a quick and easy sauce to slather over roasted cauliflower.

Extra Old White Cheddar

Empire’s award winning Extra Old Cheddar took first place at the Royal Winter Fair in 2013. In Canada, a cheese is extra old if it’s over 12 months; in this case this white cheddar is aged naturally for two years.

Tasting Notes: Empire’s Extra Old 2 year cheddar is smooth on the palate and has chewy texture, with mild fruity aroma. Enjoyable flavors of cooked milk with toasty notes are prominent up front, as expected in a quality aged cheddar, with a lingering tangy finish.

Suggested Pairing: Use as a versatile staple in your kitchen, grated on Mac n Cheese, sliced as a snack, crumbled onto fruity desserts as a garnish. Pairs easily with a medium bodied red wine – local Merlot or Gamay.

3 Year Supreme Cheddar

Empire Supreme 3 Year Cheddar, is aged naturally for that amount of time, in aging rooms onsite. Cheesemaker Mark Erwin has referenced this as a great point of satisfaction of his trade, being able to see the fruit of one’s labour over time. Supreme 3 Year is either white or orange cheddar, where the orange hue color typically comes from annatto, a flavourless seed. Try white or coloured (orange) cheddars of the same age and maker, and there will be no difference in taste, it’s an interesting experiment.

Tasting Notes: This cheddar is bright pumpkin orange and within the smooth, creamy body, you can see outline of the curds that have been fused together over time. Flavors are clean, milk and toasted nut, with a little bite, classic cheddar tang and gentle fruity aroma.

Suggested Pairing: Everything about this cheddar says I’m a potato’s best friend, grated into smashed potatoes or on roasted sweet potatoes, or melted into hash browns, or mixed with cracked black pepper into potatoes to form the savory center of homemade pierogies.

5 Year Supreme Cheddar

Empire Supreme 5 Year Cheddar is what I’d consider as one of life’s little luxuries and worth the wait as it develops it’s unique flavor profile.

Tasting Notes:  This cheese is aged naturally for 5 years and has a drier and more crumbly texture than its younger sister cheeses. Tiny little white Tyrocene (flavour) crystals are apparent in the pale straw-coloured paste, an indication of quality cheddar.

Enjoy a robust milky flavor, fruity tang, and sharp bite followed by a mellow caramelized finish.

Suggested Pairing:  Grate on hearty savoury winter soups as garnish. Chunk as a snack as a little pick me up during an outdoor ski or activity break. Broil over toast with caramelized onion & sautéed buttery mushrooms.

• Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

With Hot Whiskey Mustard Cheddar …

Hot Whiskey Mustard Cheddar Lamb Burger

Recipe & Photo Credit: DairyGoodness.ca
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 2/3 lb. ground lamb
2 – 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 oz. Hot Whiskey Mustard Cheddar, sliced
4 hamburger buns
1 small red onion, sliced
2 cups kale sprouts

Method

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

In a bowl, mix lamb, garlic and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide mixture into 4 portions and shape into patties. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15–20 min, depending on thickness of the patties.

Top patties with cheese and heat buns.

Place patties on bottom buns, add onions and kale sprouts, cover with top buns and serve.

 

With Extra Old Cheddar…                     

Cream of Celeriac With Cheddar & Onion Soup

Recipe & Photo Credit: Dairygoodness.ca

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. (15 mL) butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups (1.5 L) celeriac, peeled and diced
3 cups (750 mL) chicken or vegetable broth, no salt added
1 cup (250 mL) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
12 slices of baguette
4 oz. (120 g) Empire Extra Old Cheddar, grated

Method

In a large saucepan, melt butter and cook onions for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, or until browned. Set half the onions aside.

Add garlic and celeriac to saucepan and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth, milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Puree using a hand or upright blender.

Preheat oven to broil. Place bread slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and top with cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.

Pour soup into bowls and add bread slices, top with reserved onions and serve.

 

With Supreme 3 Year Cheddar…

Cheddar, Leek & Mushroom Focaccia

Recipe & Photo Credit: Dairygoodness.ca

Prep Time:  60 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes

Ingredients

1 homemade milk pizza dough or 1 package (19 oz.) store-bought pizza dough
1 Tbsp. butter
2 leeks cut into ½˝ lengths
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, halved
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. dried wild mushrooms (chanterelle, cep, shiitake, etc.)
7 oz. Empire Supreme 3 Year Cheddar, grated

Milk pizza dough:

1-cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. instant yeast (quick-rising)

Method

Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Cut parchment paper to fit a 9˝ x 12˝ baking sheet. Using a rolling pin roll out pizza dough on the parchment paper. Transfer to baking sheet and let rise for 30–45 minutes.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and cook leeks and mushrooms for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. In a mini food processor, grind dried mushrooms until fine and powdery.

Sprinkle pizza dough with a quarter of grated cheese, add leek and mushroom mixture and top with remaining cheese and dried mushroom powder. Cook on top rack of the oven for 12 minutes.

Milk pizza dough

In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add butter and let melt.

In a bowl, mix flour with sugar, salt and yeast. Pour in warm milk and butter; stir with a wooden spoon. Knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes.

Shape dough as needed and let rise for 30–45 minutes.

 

With Supreme 5 Year Cheddar…

Welsh Rarebit

Recipe & Photo Credit: Sue Riedl – Cheese and Toast
TIP: Sue has an excellent step by step walk through on her site!

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ cup Guinness beer
¾ cup cream  (less for a thicker sauce)
1 ½ cups shredded cheese (sub. Supreme 5-Year Cheddar)
Salt  (adjust to taste, some cheeses are saltier than others)
Fresh ground pepper
8 slices toasted sourdough or rye

Method

In a medium pot over low heat, melt the butter until foaming subsides. Add the flour and whisk it in until you form a smooth past (a roux).  You do not want the roux to brown at all.

Take the roux off the burner and cool slightly (so will not splatter) when you add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce.  Whisk until smooth and then back on medium-low heat add the beer.

Now add the cream and whisk until the sauce thickens, this will take a couple minutes.  You don’t want this to boil, if it does just lower the heat.

Pull the sauce off the heat and slowly add the cheese.  It should melt easily, (if you need to you can throw the sauce back on the heat for a minute as you stir).  Set aside, keep warm. Season to taste.

Turn on your broiler or preheat the oven to 500°F (260° C). Toast the bread until crisp (to avoid sogginess once cheese is added). Put the bread on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Pour the sauce over each piece.  Broil until browning slightly (1-2 minutes). Allow to cool slightly -so it can be handled- and serve to salivating dinner companions.

Don’t forget to drink the remaining beer 😉


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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Savvy gifts guaranteed to WOW!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016
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Santa’s elves & the Savvy Team are working around the clock arranging subscriptions to our of-the-month clubs & gift certificates for wine, craft beer & cheese lovers across the country! Our Holiday Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) is ringing off the hook & our web site is buzzing with last minute shopping.

Here’s our Top 3 Savvy Gifts….you can order with just one click!

 

CRAZY for Cheese!

Savvy Cool Curds is the new ‘whey’ to discover hard-to-find Canadian artisan cheeses. Each month, we deliver 4 to 5 wedges or rounds of ready-to-eat cheese from a featured cheesemaker. The assortment is always different – hard, soft, fresh & aged cheeses made using various milks – cow, goat, sheep….even buffalo!

Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa introduces you to the cheesemaker in each issues of Curd on the Street Magazine along with cheese tasting 101 tips & cheese ladened recipes.

The 3 delicious wheys to order:
#1 – One time purchase: $60 + shipping
#2 – Subscribe for deliveries EVERY month: $55/month + shipping
#3 – Subscribe for deliveries EVERY OTHER month: $55/month + shipping

Special Subscription Promo
$55 per month (usually $60) & shipping>>

We’ll ship across Canada

 

PERFECT for craft beer fans

Give a subscription to our Savvy Hip Hops craft beer-o-month club featuring hard-to-find craft beers made across Ontario. Along with the beers, our Beer Backstory Magazine, will give you the skinny on the brewmaster, tasting tips & recipes with the featured beers.

There are 2 sizes of packages:
#1 – Quick Picks – a small assortment each month
#2 – Taste Case – the full selection from the featured brewery.

 

NEW! In addition to featuring a different brewery each month, we are including a Special Savvy Summer 2-4 in June & July AND back by popular demand our Hoppy Holidays Craft Beer Advent Calendar in Nov & Dec.

Wrap up a SUDS-cription for 4, 6 or 12 months>>

 

Wine lovers will LOVE this!

Our Savvy Selections wine-o-month club features an assortment of 3 Ontario wines that you won’t find at the LCBO – each handpicked by our Savvy Sommeliers.

Check out the 2017 line up of wineries we’re featuring >>

To further your enjoyment of the wines, you’ll receive our monthly online magazine with the inside scoop on the winery, neat stories about the people who make the wine, our Sommelier tasting notes & recipes paired with each wine.

Special Holiday Promo
Give a 3 month subscription>>

(regularly 4 month minimum)

 

Still can’t decide?

Here’s FREE Money!

You read that right! Buy a Savvy Gift Certificate to redeem for tickets to an upcoming Savvy Event & we’ll give you 25% more.

Order a $100 gift certificate & we’ll top it up to $125. Order $150, we’ll make it $190…you get the idea.

Give this gift >>

 

Savvy Elves are standing by…

The Savvy Team…errr…elves are at the ready to help you make your Christmas shopping a breeze. Call us each day leading up to Christmas on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email cheers@savvycompany.ca

 

Ho-Ho-Ho & have a wonderful holiday.
Debbie & the Savvy Team

Debbie Trenholm
Sommelier & Founder
Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)
cheers@savvycompany.ca
www.savvycompany.ca

Keep in touch with us…
@SavvyDebbie
@SavvyCompany
@SavvyWines
@SavvyHipHops
www.facebook.com/SavvyCompany
Now on Instagram too! instagram.com/savvycompanyinc

We’ll be enjoying the holidays to the fullest. Savvy Company will be closed from December 25 to January 11 all set & ready for an exciting 2017.

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