Posts Tagged ‘Glengarry Fine Cheese’

Where Vanessa fell in love with artisan cheese….

Posted by Vanessa

Monday, November 28th, 2016
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This month’s Savvy Cool Curds pays homage to my longtime cheesy friend, advisor and “mentor” Margaret Peters Morris, owner and cheesemaker of Glengarry Fine Cheese.  Located North of the 401 near Cornwall, Margaret & her team are a well-oiled machine, making delicious cheeses from the fresh milk of their Holsteins raised on the family farm across the street. Margaret is famous in North America, not only for her award-winning cheeses but also as an advisor to many budding cheesemakers, as well as an industry “go to” for cheesemaking equipment and supplies.

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

… Very special and hard-to-find artisan cheeses including:
-Goat Gouda 200g
-Fleur en Lait 200g
-Lankaaster 200gglengarry-logo
-Nevis 250g
-Celtic Blue Reserve 200g 

Looking for more great Glengarry Fine 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

Photos by Vanessa or Glengarry Fine Cheese unless noted. 

 

Introducing…
Glengarry Fine Cheese
by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

 

Margaret Peters Morris was one of the first cheesemakers I met as I discovered the awesome world of Canadian cheese nearly ten years ago. Glengarry held one of the only short cheesemaking courses in the area at a time when I was full of cheesy questions, eager to learn and anxious to get my hands on anything curd related! Her class was an eye opener and put to practice many of the concepts I had read & learned about (adding culture, cutting curd, draining whey) in my Canadian Artisan Cheese class at the time.

Margaret & fellow cheesemaker Wilma Klein-Swormink are well respected and truly lead what is an industry still in a young stage, especially in Ontario.  Canada needs more cheesemakers like Margaret who are vocal about competing on a world stage with our artisan cheese industry in a fragile state as the recent tabling of the EU free trade agreement that allows full & free access for the flood of European cheeses into the Canadian market.  Margaret has always pioneered the industry and rallied others, sharing her insights, thoughts & strategies on marketing and quality cheese production for how Canadian artisan cheesemakers can ensure success despite the challenging times that lay ahead.

 

An Award-Winning Legacy

Glengarry’s cheeses are a showcase provincial offering performing, competing, winning & being recognized on the world cheese stage at prestigious competitions such as the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, the Canadian Cheese Awards, The American Cheese Society Competition, the Royal Winter Fair, and the Global Cheese Awards.

Margaret is a leader, literally leading and paving the “whey” for new ideas, processes, production methods & products.  She’s innovating and experimenting with new styles of cheese, or cheeses of varying milk types, pushing the envelope and constantly striving to improve, working towards the perfect product of best flavour, consistency and quality, to delight the consumer and her many fans.

 

Standing Out Among The Crowd

Canada alone has hundreds of cheeses.  Few stand out from the crowd, but each and every cheese from Glengarry has its own distinct character.

For example Celtic Blue (you have a piece in your parcel) is a made for the masses that either love, or want to ventureglengarry-team-picture to try a blue cheese.  It’s creamy goodness, with gaining boldness with age. As an educator, I am constantly striving to raise the awareness of our local artisan cheeses.  Celtic Blue is consistently my “go to” cheese when teaching about blues…. and has the highest rate of conversion in turning a non blue-cheese lover into a forever blue-cheese fan!

Lankaaster & Lankaaster Aged count among my top picks, personally and professionally. While many gouda-style cheeses are made, few are memorable & have a following like the Lankaaster cheeses for their buttery goodness as both a great snacking and cooking cheeses for all ages. For the first time ever, an Ontario cheese, Lankaaster Aged, took home best cheese in the world at the Global Cheese Awards, proving Canada has artisan products that rival and stack up to, and surpass any in Europe or worldwide.

With plans to double the current forty tonne of amazing Canadian cheese they make over the next few years, cheese lovers need not ever worry of a shortage of Glengarry Fine Cheese. If you’ve never tried them, dive into your Savvy Cool Curds immediately and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

 

 

-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!

 

goat-goudaGoat Gouda

Lovingly cared for, combined with the talent of Glengarry Fine Cheese’s team of expert cheesemakers – Gouda from goat’s milk gives a surprising twist on this cheese classic. Small wedges are perfect for your holiday entertaining! Can you say grilled cheese?

 Tasting Notes: Firm & moist when young, drying with age this Gouda shows ivory white paste protected by a wax exterior.  The paste is opaque with small pinholes & chalky texture, pleasant aromas, and a savory, yet clean flavor finishing with a tang. You can taste the difference quality milk makes.

Suggested Pairing: Cranberries come to mind as the perfect pair to Goat Gouda, spicy cranberry jam or dried cranberries in grilled cheese as a sweet surprise. Enjoy with an Ontario Pinot Gris.

Fleur en Lait

fleur-de-lait

Fleur en Lait is produced from milk from Ayershire cows that graze on the cheese factory site grounds and is styled after popular Trappist St. Paulin cheese, aged for 3-4 months.

 Tasting Notes: An apricot-hued washed-rind covers Fleur en Lait’s pale gold smooth, silky, semi-firm open interior paste (cheesespeak for the inside of the cheese with small holes throughout). Aromas are pungent & wildly grassy as if you’re standing in the middle of a farmer’s field with the sun shining on your face.  Complimentary rich flavors are an expression of summer milk, with nut, fruity, and grassy characteristics layered over a slathering of butter.

 Suggested Pairing: I love Fleur en Lait as a grating cheese for anything – in omelettes, any type of potato recipe, to top savoury soups. A dollop of peach jam or apricot chutney on buttery crackers makes for bold bites.

 

lankasterrLankaaster

The town of Lancaster, ON crossed with “kaas”, the Dutch word for cheese were the inspiration for this crowd-pleasing Gouda-style cheese. Available in traditional (pictured), aged, extra aged, tasty herb flavors (Italian Blend, Chive, Cumin, Peppercorn). Multi-award winner recognized yearly by The Royal Winter Fair, British Empire Cheese show, Canadian Cheese Grand Prix and Global Cheese Awards.

Tasting Notes: This firm to hard cow’s milk cheeses comes shaped in a loaf, covered in a waxy rind is a Gouda-style after Dutch farmstead cheese.  Lankaaster is a rich, dense cheese, with barny aromas, buttery & slightly nutty flavor with a mild fruity tang & more crumbly texture, deeper butterscotch coloring and enhanced robust flavor as it ages.

Suggested Pairing: Great melted on open-faced sandwiches, or to finish off your favorite pasta dish under the broiler. Perfect as a lunchbox snack, or pre-meal nibble with a toasty, oaky Ontario Chardonnay.

nevisNevis

Nevis as one of the newer cheeses offered by Glengarry Fine Cheese, has already made a name for itself as a finalist in the washed rind cheese category at the first Canadian Cheese Awards in 2014.

 Tasting Notes:  Nevis comes in a larger format wheel as a washed rind cow milk cheese. A dark gold basket weave exterior compliments a golden straw interior which cheddar-like in texture. Nevis is all buttery goodness with a tangy finish.

 Suggested Pairing: Enjoy with a robust red wine: a Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc and a roaring fire.


celtic-blue-reserveCeltic Blue Reserve

Not your average blue! Celtic Blue Reserve won highest accolades at The American Cheese Society Awards, winning Best of Show over 1700 other cheeses in 2015.

Tasting Notes:  A soft, creamy, approachable cow’s milk blue cheese with a grooved hand brushed natural rind. Inside a pretty pale ivory paste shows delicate greenish/blue veining running vertically closer to the center of the cheese. Notice grassy, milky, and buttery aromas with a slight saltiness & milder piquant taste. A good choice for those not all that crazy about blue cheese! Celtic Blue Reserve has extra cream & butterfat giving it a extra sinful richness.

 Suggested Pairing: As the temperature drops I think of classic pairings of Canadian Port with this blue, yet the salty yet creamy texture mingles well with Ice Cider or Sparkling Ice Cider for easy holiday entertaining.

 

 –Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses- 

 

with-fleur-en-lait-caramelized-onion-mushroom-and-bacon-soup

With Fleur en Lait …

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom & Bacon Soup

Recipe & Photo Credit: CBC.ca – Sheila Whyte Thyme & Again
Ingredients

 2 medium-sized onions (sliced thin) from Acorn Creek Garden Farm in Carp, Ont.
2 cloves garlic (sliced thin)
1 litre canned diced tomato
8 large mushrooms (sliced) from Champignons Le Coprin in Farrellton, QC
1 oz. brandy
2 tsp. chopped thyme
2 tsp. chopped parsley
1/4 cup shredded cheese from Glengarry Fleur en Lait & Goat Cheddar (or substitute Glengarry Goat Gouda)
1 cup croutons
6 slices cooked bacon (crumbled) from Seed to Sausage in Tichborne, ON
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp. crushed chili flakes
4 L water or vegetable stock

Method

Caramelize onions in large sauce pot with thyme, chili flakes and a pinch of salt.

Add garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms are soft.

Add brandy and cook until liquid is reduced.

Add water/stock and tomatoes, bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for up to an hour.

Season with salt and pepper and then add parsley.

Serve in bowl and garnish with croutons, bacon and cheese.

 

With Goat Gouda…                    

Grilled Ham, Cheese and Pickle Sandwiches

Recipe & Photo Credit: Epicurious.com

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

with-goat-gouda-grilled-ham-cheese-and-pickle-sandwiches

8 slices sourdough or white bread
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (substitute Nevis)
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère (substitute Lankaaster)
1/2 cup grated aged goat cheese (such as Glengarry Goat Gouda)
3/4 cup Bread-and-Butter Pickles
3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Method

Smear both sides of bread slices with mayonnaise. Combine cheeses in a bowl.

Sprinkle 4 slices bread with half of cheese mixture, dividing equally. Top each with 3-4 pickles. Divide prosciutto among sandwiches; top with remaining cheese. Cover with remaining bread.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in each of 2 large heavy skillets over medium-low heat. Add 2 sandwiches to each skillet and cook until bread is golden, 9-10 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to each skillet, flip sandwiches, and cook until bread is golden and cheese is melted, 9-10 minutes longer.

 

With Lankaaster…

Canadian Gouda & Leek Potage

Recipe & Photo Credit: Allyouneedischeese

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes

Ingredients

with-lankaaster-canadian-gouda-and-leek-potage

1/4-cup butter
2 cups thinly sliced leeks, (white part only)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, halved, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups chicken broth or beef broth
2 1/2 cups water
6 slices rye bread, toasted, cut in thirds
2 cups grated Canadian Gouda* (Lankaaster) cheese

Method

Melt butter in large saucepan; sautée leeks, mushrooms, onions and garlic over medium-high heat, 5 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat; blend in flour.

Gradually stir in broth and water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Transfer soup, in batches, to blender or food processor; puree until vegetables are finely chopped. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into 6 ovenproof soup bowls. Top each with three pieces of toast and about 1/3 cup (80 mL) Canadian Gouda cheese.

Broil until cheese is melted and slightly browned, about 4 minutes.

With Nevis…

Herb & Cheese Waffles 

Recipe & Photo Credit: Thegreatwaterway.com

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  5 minutes

Ingredients

with-nevis-herb-and-cheese-waffles-with-glengarry-fine-cheese

1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup of grated cheese (use Glengarry Fine Cheeses – Lancaster, Nevis and Fleur en Lait)
1/2 cup of chopped herbs such as parsley and/or basil

 

Method

Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s directions.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk milk and eggs; pour over flour mixture and stir gently to combine. Gently whisk in butter and stir in herbs and grated cheese. Don’t over mix.

Following manufacturer’s directions, cook the waffles until deep brown and crisp.

For standard waffle irons, pour 1/2 – 1 cup of batter into the center of the iron, allowing the batter to spread evenly across the iron. Waffle will cook in about 5 minutes or until steam stops escaping. Make sure waffles are crispy. 

 

With Celtic Blue Reserve …

Holiday Salad with Blue Cheese Truffles

Recipe & Photo Credit: Allyouneedischeese

Prep Time:  25 minutes
Cook Time:  0 minutes

Ingredients

with-celtic-blue-reserve-holiday-salad-with-blue-cheese-truffles

3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. apple juice
2 Tbsp. walnut oil or olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
A pinch of sugar
6 oz. Canadian Blue cheese (Celtic Blue Reserve, rind removed)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped toasted walnuts
2 medium tart green apples
10 cups cut-up salad greens
Sweetened dried cranberries (optional)

Method

Combine vinegar, apple juice and oil in a small bowl. Whisk together thoroughly. Add salt, pepper and a little sugar to taste. Set dressing aside.

 

Cheese Truffles

Crumble Canadian Blue cheese into a medium bowl. Shape into 18 balls, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Roll balls in chopped walnuts to form truffles. Thread 3 balls onto each of 6 wooden skewers.

Core and thinly slice apples. Combine with salad greens in a large bowl and toss with dressing.

Divide salad among 6 chilled plates, top with a skewer of Cheese truffles and garnish with sweetened dried cranberries, if desired.

 

Variation: Replace walnuts with finely chopped toasted pecans and apples with firm ripe pears.

Tip: To serve Cheese Truffles as a hors-d’oeuvre, place each one in a small fluted paper cup. Garnish with sweet pepper or fresh herbs and place on a cheese tray. Cheese Truffles can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before serving. Remove from the fridge 1/2 hour before serving and roll in chopped nuts.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

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 It Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy

Posted by Debbie

Friday, January 8th, 2016
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cheese-board-slider

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

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

Spend your time searching for good cheese

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

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

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

Meet Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons

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

What’s in the box?

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

Coming soon

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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12 Outstanding Cheeses of 2014

Posted by Vanessa

Friday, January 16th, 2015
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Love cheese?  You’ll love this shopping list!  Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons compiled this list of her ‘top cheeses of 2014’ for www.cheeselover.ca.  It is so delicious that we’re sharing it with you!

Keep this handy for your next visit to one of these artisan artisan cheese shops.

Celtic Blue Reserve

Glengarry Celtic Blue Reserve

Glengarry Fine Cheese has made another winner!  Located in Eastern Ontario just north of the village of Lancaster, they specializing in fine artisan style cheeses from cow & goat milk. This results in delicious, fine cheese that is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted!

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: This reserve blue cheese is even more robust, buttery than the regular Celtic Blue we know and love from Glengarry Fine Cheese

Taliah

Taliah is a finished cotton cheddar aged 1 year, manufactured by Olivier Ducharme of Fromagerie Du Charme in St-Rémi-de-Tingwick, Québec

Taliah

Taliah has a welcoming aroma that is clean and earthy. Made from unpasteurized milk (not raw but thermized, meaning it undergoes heat treatment but not at high temperatures as in the pasteurization process). The wheel is aged 10 months to a year. There is a smooth richness in each bite, with the added bonus of those crunchy tyrosine crystals one finds in a the classic Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Sweet, clean milk notes woven with a gentle tanginess and a good balance of salt. The finish mirrored what I love in a good, aged sheep’s-milk cheese – mellow, creamy notes that have complexity and length. The texture clinched the deal, crumbly but not dry.

Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar

Lenberg Classic ReserveA special creation from Mariposa Dairy located near Lindsay, Ontario in the City of Kawartha Lakes. This award winning cheese is handcrafted in small batches using premium Ontario goat’s milk, resulting in a unique and delightful cheese. Once the wheel has been crafted, it is carefully wrapped in its bandage to preserve freshness and flavor. After aging in a humidity controlled room for 12 months, the cheese is ready to enjoy.

Perfectly creamy and buttery, with the slight tang of goat’s milk and a hard, crumbly texture, this cheese is a perfect alternative to cow’s milk cheddars.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Continues to wow me year after year. Tangy, fruity, yet clean.

Bonnechere

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe signature cheese from Back Forty Artisan Cheese  – a small farm nestled in the heart of the Lanark Highlands.  Cheesemaker Jeff Fenwick and his original raw ewe milk cheeses have grown to become favorites of top chefs and cheese lovers alike.

A distinct feature of Bonnechere cheese is the rind that is toasted over an open flame before aging. This painstaking process, traditional for certain Basque cheeses, imparts a delicious caramel essence which permeates the body of the cheeses as it ages, and provides a delicious contrast to the tangy and fruity body of the cheese.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: One-of-a-kind and very rare to find aged. Packs a punch of flavour with awesome bite on the finish.

Magie De Madawaska

Produced by Fromagerie le Détour in Témiscouate-sur-le-lac in Québec

Magie de MadawaskaThis soft, washed-rind cheese is made with pasteurized whole milk that comes exclusively from Jersey cows from the Témiscouata region. Its orange rind is shiny, soft and sticky, sometimes displaying white moss spots. Like the rind, the ivory-coloured interior is sticky. It is chalkier at the centre and smoother towards the exterior. Its texture is supple even when the cheese is young, but as it ages, its chalky part fades and the interior becomes smooth and runny.

When it is older, it becomes so runny that it might call for a spoon. Magie de Madawaska has a mild, lactic, woody and earthy aroma that becomes more pronounced with age. Its taste varies from mild to strong, with an earthy, roasted hazelnut and lactic (melted butter) flavour.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Runny, lucious, creamy, buttery, nutty and ooey-gooey good when perfectly à point (cheese-speak: fully ripened).

Bella Casara Mascarpone

Canadian Cheese AwardsCrafted by Quality Cheese who specialize in fine soft cheeses – Boccancini, Borgonzola, Mozarella, Riccotta as well as select semi-soft & hard cheeses.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Rich, and oh so sinful, with flavors of butter, cream and a hint of sweet dulce de leche (to quote myself!). Hard not to eat right from the spoon.

 

Quality Cheese burrataQuality Cheese Hand-Pulled Burrata

Another winner by Quality Cheese.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Heaven. Pure indulgence. Need I say more?

 

Sylvan Star Natural Smoked Gouda

Sylvan Star Farms smoked goudaSylvan Star Cheese Farm, of Red Deer Alberta, makes their cheese from heat-treated milk which contains no additives, no antibiotics and is lactose free. They produce Gouda, Edam, sheep Manchego & Gruyere cheese at their farm.  They smoke their Goudas to perfection in their own smokehouse – mild or medium, take your pick.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Surprising! Hints of bacon, maple and smoke, with an overlay of butter and nut rounding out its smooth and supple texture.

Chever a ma maniereChèvre a Ma Maniere

Made by Fromagerie L’Atelier is located in central Quebec and specializing in goat and cow milk cheese.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Elegant, delicate, tender, yeasty, gorgeous!

 La Madeleine

La madelaine cheeseIn 2009, Jean-Paul and Marie-Chantal Houde (brother and sister) decided to join forces to develop a dairy barn project and cheese that is structured and rewarding for the family farm, Fromagerie Nouvelle FranceSince opening in 2010, Fromagerie Nouvelle France has won more than 18 awards in various competitions, including the Best Cheese From Québec in 2011 and 2014 for their signature Zacharie Cloutier.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Soft and sweet, with a hint of sour finish.

Pont Blanc

Au Gres des ChampsProduced by Au Gré des Champs in Québec, is a farmstead artisan-made cheese that is ladled into a mold. It is a month the first raw milk cheeses aged under 60 to be made in Canada.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Texture of soft ice cream sandwich with flavours and aromas of fresh sweet milk and grass that lingers and lingers.

Laliberté

laliberteIn 2005 the old presbytery at Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick was transformed into a cheese production site, Fromagerie du Presbytere…making outstanding artisanal cheeses. The milk from the farm only has to cross the road to get to the fromagerie, which operates 7 days/week.

Laliberté is a triple cream cheese, made with whole milk. Its wonderful bloomy rind surrounds a melting paste with an exquisite creamy mushroom flavour & its name comes from the name of the sculptor, Alfred Laliberté.

Vanessa’s tasting Notes: Cheesecake-like luxury, silky, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

 

Pace yourself this is a cheese smorgasbord for anyone.
Bon appetite!

 

Photo credits: Thanks to Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons, CheeseLover.ca as well as the cheese producers for these photos.

 

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These Canadian cheeses are medal worthy!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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This week our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons is one of 10 judges in the first Canadian Cheese Awards Surrounded by over 250 wedges of cheeses & sampling all day long is hard job. . .  but Vanessa is happy to do it!

“I am delighted & honoured to be a judge for this brand new competition of Canadian cheeses.  There are many Canadian artisan cheeses that win international awards, the time is ripe to have the Canadian Cheese Awards,” shares Vanessa.

Neal's Yard Dairy: Mecca for cheese lovers. Photo: Julia Rogers.Georgs Kolesnikovs from CheeseLover.ca and the organizer of the Great Canadian Cheese Festival is the main man behind the scenes of this ground breaking competition.   While organizing the awards, Georgs called out to his cheese industry friends (including Vanessa) asking them for their top cheese picks of the year.  Here’s the Best Bites: Outstanding cheeses of 2013 as published on CheeseLover.ca.

Only one imported cheese – Taleggio – made the 2013 most memorable list, Julia Rogers offers this ‘shopping tip’, “As far as international picks go, I’d suggest that any cheese lover make a pilgrimage to Neil’s Yard Dairy in London (photo left ). The pleasures are too many to enumerate, but this is mecca, without a doubt. And, yes, I tasted virtually everything in this photo! – Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

 

Drumroll please…Outstanding cheese of 2013

The cheeses are listed in alphabetical order, so consider this as your ABC’s of artisan cheese!

Alfred Le Fermier (24 months), Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Alfred Le Fermier is a true, rustic, organic, raw cow’s milk farmstead cheese made in small batches, pressed and cooked, washed/turned by hand, as a way of life on the farm. It has a European style, but with local terroir, as a result of choosing closely the hay from their local Estrie region. Note heavy woodsy, herbal and mild floral aromas, with layers of milky, grassy and buttery complexity on the palette, more pronounced when aged for 24 months. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Beau’s Abbey Style Cheese, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
A delicious marriage of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese of Woodstock, Ontario, with Beau’s All Natural Brewing of Vankleek Hill, Ontario. This sumptuous semi-soft cheese is washed with a seasonal beer from Beau’s. Beer and cheese together, pure bliss! – Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Brebichon, Les Fromages du Verger
I simply adore Brebichon, a farmstead sheep milk cheese that is oh so creamy, delicate and lucious. This apple juice washed cheese is an absolute must buy on every stop I make at Fromagerie Atwater in Montréal. – Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

Chemin Hatley, Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Made with organic raw milk from a closed herd of fourth-generation family-farmed cows, this cheese readily fulfills its potential. Supple and fragrant, with yeasty and savoury aromas, and a long layered finish. – Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

Crottin à ma Manière, Fromagerie L’Atelier
The goat’s milk cheese Crottin à ma Manière from Simon Hamel at Fromagerie l’Atelier in the Bois-Francs region of Québec surpasses famed Chavignol of France, is much cheaper and it’s federally licensed. – Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Dragon’s Breath Blue, That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm
A rare find and 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalist, Dragon’s Breath Blue is a closely guarded family secret. Unique in shape and size, these small cylinders of blue cheese are aged only a few weeks then coated with wax for ripening another 2-6 months. The flavor and texture varies by season, more buttery/creamy in the summer months with higher fat content in the milk. Note sharp blue flavor, moist texture with fruity notes, and little blue veining depending on exposure to air. More than worth the shipping charges! – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Figaro from Glengarry Fine Cheese. Photo: Vanessa Simmons.

Figaro, Glengarry Fine Cheese (left)
I choose Figaro from Glengarry–not that I don’t love (and love the Global award!) for the Lankaaster Aged but I kind of forgot about the amazingly fresh and delicate qualities. And we found each other again this year–lucky for me. – Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail 

Fleur des Monts, La Moutonnière
Not as consistent as one might want, though still an ambitious and expressive farmstead cheese modeled loosely after Manchego, but more floral, bright and pungent. – Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture 

Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese
I’ve served the Grizzly Gouda from Sylvan Star many times at events or at home this year and it is outstanding in its complexity, looooong finish and “ability to wow” factor. – Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail 

La Sauvagine Réserve, La Maison Alexis de Portneuf
Somehow the cheesemakers at Alexis de Portneuf improved their already mouth-watering, soft, mixed rind La Sauvagine cheese. What did they do? Add cream to it, making it a triple crème. Grab some of this cheese while you can. A limited amount of this OMG mouth experience was created. – Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Laliberté, Fromagerie du Presbytère,
 I have to start with Laliberté from Fromagerie du Presbytere–the triple cream that I could not stop eating, and made from organic milk to boot. – Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail

Lankaaster Aged, Glengarry Fine Cheese
Supreme Global Champion at the 2013 Global Cheese Awards, this firm to hard cow’s milk cheeses comes shaped in a loaf or wheel, covered in a waxy rind, and is a Gouda-style after Dutch farmstead cheeses. It’s a rich, dense, chewy cheese with intense buttery, fruity, caramelized nutty flavors that linger forever. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Le Vlimeux, Fromagerie Le Mouton Blanc
It’s not hard to see how this multiple Caseus award-winning cheese is smokin’ hot! Vlimeux is a firm, pressed, uncooked raw sheep’s milk cheese, with a hard, waxy, glossy, caramel-hued rind. Smoke, salt and nut permeate the interior overlaying the cheese’s natural sweet milky flavors in a perfect complement. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Maple Cheddar, Black River Cheese
 What could be more Canadian than Black River’s Maple Cheddar? This cheese provides a bite that is perfectly balanced between sweet and savoury, and just —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
Okay, this is part of the cheese but my wife and I cannot resist adding small cubes of it into our soups, chili, tomato sauce and risotto. The dried rind softens in the broth, releasing its flavour and becomes chewable. We love it so much that we actually have to buy some from our local grocery store. – Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Pont Blanc, Fromagerie Au Grés Des Champs
Pont Blanc is a soft, lactic, surface ripened cow milk cheese. A rare find outside the farmstead retail store, the skin-like rind on this beauty reminds of intricate ivory lace, while the dense interior has the texture of a soft cream sandwich and moist piece of cheesecake. Note pronounced flavors and aromas of fresh sweet milk, and grass that linger and linger. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Ricotta, Quality Cheese
The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Grand Champion, the humble Ricotta from Quality Cheese reigned supreme, winning against more than 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first ever for both an Ontario cheese and a fresh category cheese. Fresh, creamy, melt in your mouth Ricotta (which means re-cooked in Italian, as it’s made from the leftover whey after making other cheese). Very light, but rich, and very versatile as a simple cheese to eat with a variety of garnishes/condiments or used in cooking. – Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company 

Taleggio, Northern Italy
Taleggio (1996 Italian DOP) has and will always be in my Top 10. It’s a semi-soft, washed rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that is named after Val Taleggio where it has been made since the 10th century. The cheese has a thin crust and a strong aroma, but its flavour is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang. – Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Water Buffalo Mozzarella, Old West Ranch

James Meservy deserves a medal for perseverance! He has faced many challenges in the last two years in his attempt to bring high quality Old West Ranch Water Buffalo Mozzarella to the artisan Canadian cheese market. When it is in its finest form, it is dense and velvety without being the least bit rubbery and sweetly milky with a tangy underpinning that keeps us reaching for more. – Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant

 

 

Flavoured cheeses

It is surprising, even to me, that two of my three faves of 2013 are flavoured cheeses, which to me is a testimony to high-quality cheesemaking. Flavours that meld with the cheese substrate where the cheese and the flavour counterpart do a sublime dance.  – Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant

Ruckles, Salt Spring Island Cheese Company David Wood knocks it out of the park, again. In a sea of so many pedestrian offerings of marinated goat cheese, Ruckles is in class all its own. Firm yet silkily textured cylinders of cheese are bathed in grapeseed oil which is speckled with a mix of thyme, rosemary, chives and garlic, in perfect proportion.

Chili Pecorino, The Cheesiry The Chili Pecorino is one of my favourite offerings from Rhonda Zuk Headon’s repertoire. The balance of chilis embedded in this toothsome cheese provides a gentle heat that lingers on the palate while the nutty, olive flavour of this sheep milk cheese still holds its own. Not an easy accomplishment but Rhonda pulls it off!

Cheese fondues

Cheese fondue, the melted-cheese dish popular some years ago, is making a comeback—but without the classic ingredients of Comté, Beaufort, Gruyere or Emmental.

Four new ready-to-eat Cheese Fondues arrived on the market in 2013. All amazing, with either Louis d’Or, 14 Arpents or Victor et Berthold or the one from Charlevoix with both 1608 and Hercule in the box!  – Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

One of my best bites was a fondue made from Victor et Berthold, a beautiful washed rind from Fromagerie Du Champ a la Meule in Québec. This cheese made one of the most delicious fondues of all time. It made me very happy. – Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

 

Spend a day with Vanessa & learn all about cheese!

Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese SommelierThis is every cheese lover’s dream – join us for a fun-filled day with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons. Nibble & nosh all day as Vanessa introduces you to cheeses from around the world, share stories about cheesemakers & show you the ‘whey’ as you learn cheese-y lingo, how artisan cheese is made, tips on buying cheese. . . and loads more!

To top it all off, your tastebuds will be put to the ‘test’ by sampling wines & craft beers to decide which really is the best pairing with cheese.

Date: Saturday March 22 – 10:30am to 4:30pm
Location: MUST Kitchen & Wine Bar – Ottawa
Savvy Special: $140 before March 15 (reg $155).  Includes everything as well as gourmet lunch

This Cheese ‘Class’ will sell out fast! > >

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Talking about Canadian artisan cheese on CBC!

Posted by Vanessa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the CBC Radio Canada interview >>

 

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

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

AM – Are there any good cheeses made in Ontario?

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

 AM – What is the evolution of Ontario cheese?

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

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

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


AM – What’s on your cheeseboard today?

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

Cheese #1 – Bella Casara

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

Cheese #2 – Bliss

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

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

Cheese #3 – Bonnechere

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

Cheese #4 – Gunn’s Hill 

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

Cheese #5 – Celtic Blue 

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

 

Here are some of Vanessa’s Cheese Tips:

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

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

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

Store cheese cold but serve at room temperature.

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

Cheese is a magical thing.

 

Calling all Cheese Lovers!

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

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

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

 

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Vanessa’s Cheese-y Top 10 To Do’s this year

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, January 10th, 2013
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All too often, the beginning of a new year we jot down things ‘to do’ differently.  Well, that is exactly what our Cheese Sommelier – Vanessa – has done for you as she shares with you cheese-y tips to get your 2013 off to a tasty start.  Drum roll please….

1. Check out Milkhouse Dairy

Ottawa region’s newest raw sheep’s milk producers Cait & Kyle from Smiths Falls.  Sheep Tomme & fresh feta won’t be ready until summer 2013 but well worth the wait.  I’ve met & milked one of their star players sheep Brigitte – you’re in for a treat.

2. Take a road trip to ‘La Belle Province’

From Ottawa, a road trip to Montreal and back in a day with about 5-7 cheese stops along the way is easy.  Must visits include Le Troupeau Bénit, Fromagerie de la Table Ronde (think Fleuron), Fromagerie de la Suisse Normandie, and Fromagerie Montebello to name a few.

3. Try these exotic and unique cheese boards

Bored with your boards?  On one of my recent trips to the Ottawa Farmer’s Market (where I buy a lot of my artisan cheese), I found these exquisite cheese boards handcrafted by Joseph Henri.  Without a doubt, they are the hottest cheese boards – made here in Ottawa!

4. Go on a shopping spree at Glengarry Fine Cheese

A quick drive to Lancaster (Ontario) makes for a fun shopping trip…for cheese that is.  Be on the look out for their newest addition of stellar artisan cow’s milk cheeses – Nevis will be making its debut around March – stay tuned!

5. Visit the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Prince Edward County, June 1-3 2013


2013 marks the 3rd year for this weekend long festival held in Prince Edward County.  It is a tasty weekend that will fill your head with lots info about artisan cheeses & fill your belly with delicious cheeses from across Canada.  Read my blog highlighting the 2012 festival.  This year, Savvy Company returns as a sponsor & I will be hosting a cheese tasting.

6. Become a cheesemaker for a day!

Glengarry Fine Cheese hosts a full day workshop.  The hands on experience will definitely increase your appreciation for the stunning cheeses we make in Canada.  And never again will you be the one asking why artisan cheese is more expensive.

7. Get over yourself & try a bite of blue cheese.

All you non-believers out there don’t know what you’re missing (close your eyes, it helps!).   Start with “beginner blues” such as Celtic Blue, St. Laurent Blue & Bleu D’Élizabeth & Geai Bleu as they are surprising soft flavours – far from the off putting pungent flavours & aromas that often come to mind when someone says ‘blue cheese’.

 

 

8. Join me for the Great Canadian Cheese Discovery

It’s a tasty way to spend an evening sampling a variety of cheeses while I show you the “whey”.  Each evening features a selection of cheeses from a different province (January – Ontario, February – Quebec, March – BC, PEI & NS).  With a glass of Canadian wine in hand you will learn the fun-damentals of artisan cheese with each bite. Advance tickets only… these tastings sell out fast!

9. Head to Prince Edward County for wine…and cheese too!

With over 25 wineries awaiting your discovery, there are cheese makers too.  My must visis include Black River Cheese (definitely try their yummy Maple Cheddar) & the new County Cheese Company (located in the Waupoos Marina).  Stop for lunch or dinner at the Agrarian Cheese Market for the best gourmet grilled cheese sandwich around!

10. Spread the curd

Remember to support our 6 local artisan cheese producers Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Clarmell Farms, Canreg Station & Pasture Dairy, Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères, Glengarry Fine Cheese & Milkhouse Dairy.  Most of them are members of Savour Ottawa & can be found during the summer months at farmers markets all over the city & surrounding regions.  Let’s keep Ontario’s budding cheese industry alive!
 

 

 

 

 

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Say ‘cheese’ for a super summer snack

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, August 9th, 2012
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My cheese pick this week is one of my “go to” cheeses of summer, The Fleur-en-Lait from Glengarry Fine Cheese.  A short jaunt from Ottawa you can find them on Highway 34 just North of Lancaster, and South of Alexandria.  The Fleur-en-Lait is produced from milk from Ayershire cows that graze on the cheese factory site grounds and is styled after popular Trappist St. Paulin cheese, aged for 4-5 months.

An apricot-hued washed-rind covers The Fleur-en-Lait’s pale gold smooth, silky, semi-firm open interior paste (cheese-speak for the inside of the cheese with small holes throughout). Aromas are pungent & wildly grassy as if you’re standing in the middle of a farmer’s field with the sun shining on your face. Complimentary rich flavors are an expression of summer milk, with nut, fruity, and grassy characteristics layered over a slathering of butter.

Unwind on the deck with a a slice (or three) of this cheese and glass of wine – in particular, Ladies who Shoot their Lunch Shiraz or Tahbilk Viognier featured recently at Savvy Company’s “Let’s go to Australia” Sommelier led wine tasting.  Or, if you happen to be in the neighborhood, why not make a quick pit stop at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. in Vankleek Hill and match with their sensational seasonal Festivale beer.

 

FACTBOX:
CheeseThe Fleur-en-Lait
ProducerGlengarry Fine Cheese
Interesting Fact:  Cheesemaking is one of the main sources of income for many monasteries where monks follow the Rule of St. Benedict, stating “for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands”.

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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The Best of the Fest …Cheese Festival that is!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, June 14th, 2012
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I laughed, I cried (they were tears of joy for the abundance of cheese), and ate a heck of a lot of cheese. Close to 4000 cheeselovers assembled in Picton, (aka Prince Edward County) June 1st to 3rd to celebrate their love for curd at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. A plethora of over 125 different types of cheese showcasing our nation’s best from PEI to Vancouver Island were ripe and ready – soft cheese, hard cheese, blue cheese, stinky cheese, pungent cheese, young and old cheese, rustic cheese, raw cheese, and sheep, cow, goat and even buffalo milk cheese.  Joining them in the Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair were all the best compliments to cheese — artisan foods of crackers, breads, charcuterie, jams, chutneys, jellies, honey, and fine wines, ciders, and craft beer.

I was adamant to not miss a single second of my cheesey weekend, and so planned to leave on Thursday early evening.  After packing the car to the hilt with event supplies, my large electric cooler, and other cheesey bits and pieces for my tutored tasting I was on the road again, although much later than expected, but happy my destination yet again involved cheese.  Of course, I had to fit in a last minute stop/cheese pick up at Clarmell Farms on the way, for chèvre & goat gouda cheese as a special treat for the Cooks & Curds Gala chefs on Saturday night.  Big hugs and thanks to Paul & Grace Mussell for the snack & extra coffee to keep me awake as I hit the road.

Rain, rain go away!  Friday began ducking raindrops during quick wine stops at Rosehall Run & Huff Estates before heading to the Crystal Palace to check out the site and check in for volunteer duties.  Despite crappy weather, the show must go on – dedicated volunteers diligently worked to set up the site, get exhibitors moved in, assemble registration packages, complete guest cooler bags, get volunteers oriented, cut & organize cheese, direct trucks/rentals arriving, set up special event facilities, and decorate, among many other logistical tasks. Amid very organized chaos, everyone silently prayed as one mind to the cheese gods for beautiful weather Saturday and Sunday (thank you, cheese gods).  Friday ended with a casual meet & greet of the stellar lineup of chefs featured at Saturday’s Cooks & Curds Gala, courtesy of Swallow’s Ivy Knight, chef wrangler extraordinaire, Ottawa’s own Michael Blackie  – Executive Chef of the National Arts Centre – among them.

Saturday started peacefully with more prayers (thank you, cheese gods) and quickly turned to cheese frenzy with tutored tastings on cheddar & cheese 101, ongoing demos, sampling of all kinds, a cheese food court, Food Network celebrity Bob Blumer’s grilling artisan cheese pizza, and me taking it all in from behind the scenes helping cheesemakers, selling cheese, and organizing hospitality for the chefs, post-gala.  Congrats to Chef Michael Blackie for top honors for the second year in a row, recognized by the People’s Choice Award he shared with Montreal’s Francois Gagnon at Cooks & Curds for his delicious Highland Blue Cubic Melt.   An outstanding 400 guests took part in the strolling dinner.

Family day Sunday arrived too early after a late night, but provided more of an opportunity to chill & chat with the Quebec cheesemakers featured in my “Taste of Quebec” tutored session and sample my picks one last time.  I wandered at a more leisurely pace to nibble on yet more cheese, take in the milking demo, photograph Yvette the water buffalo in the dairy farm before showcasing the best of La Belle Provence. I was pleasantly surprised to see friend & Ottawa cheesemonger Peter Fiander volunteering with the prep team in the kitchen under the guidance of newly certified Cheese Sommelier and festival cheesemonger Jackie Armet.  Thanks to Savour Ottawa member Maggie Paradis, of Fromagerie les Folies Bergères for the spotlight goat milk cheese on my plate – soft, surface-ripened La Sorcière Bien Aimée.  Made on April 24, our advanced planning made sure it was perfectly “à point”.  Jackie’s daughter Clare can certainly attest – she enjoyed every finger lickin’ moment of it.

Volunteering is a great way to get closer to cheese, meet cheesemakers and increase your cheese IQ.  Consider joining the cheese team for 2013.

All in all it was a whirlwind, but super cheesey weekend.  Here’s my roundup of “Best of the Fest” and here’s a look at the photos I took too!  Just looking at them will make you hungry!

–  Monforte Dairy launching a new Spanish-styled, dry, crumbly, pasteurized sheep’s milk blue – rustic, powerful – and in need of a name – tweet @monfortedairy  if you have ideas for Ruth.  The Piggy Market carry Monforte products locally.  My tasting notes for Black Sheep can be found here

–  Glengarry Fine Cheese expanding their horizons with a new artisan buffalo milk blue and goat gouda made with milk from Clarmell Farms. Often found at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market, Thyme & Again Creative Catering, Farm Boy, Sobey’s, The Piggy Market, and Serious Cheese

– Tosano sheep’s milk cheese from Mariposa DairyI was thrilled to again try my outstanding cheese bite for 2011, Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar which is rarely available anywhere – if you see it, snap it up without hesitation.

–  New friends at Seed to Sausage – best pairing of charcuterie for cheese around (also great party pals).  Available at The Ottawa Bagel Shop & The Piggy Market locally as well as being featured at Play Food & Wine, Beckta Dining & Wine, Murray Street Kitchen, and Town, among others. The venison and fennel salami was a fave.  Thanks again for your support!

–  Shout out to budding cheesemakers at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese – in business for a mere 6 months now, and new on the Ontario cheesemaking scene with Gouda & Swiss style soft, firm and hard farmstead cow’s milk cheeses.

–  BackForty Artisan Cheese, even with a change of ownership to Jeff & Jenna Fenwick still continues to shine with Madawaska, Bonnechere, and beautiful rustic wheels of Highland Blue.  We look forward to tasting Jeff’s own creations in 2013 (or sooner in Ottawa!).  Look for them at the Carp Farmer’s market on Saturdays.

–  Cheesewerksthrilled to see my old cheesey classmate Kevin’s dream turned into reality – well done on the branding and delivering on the promise of superb artisan grilled cheese, as the festival’s Official Grilled Cheese.

–   Michael’s Dolce – with new Rhubarb & Black Pepper Jam (pair with Coulée Douce, Laliberté, Riopelle, Bliss or Figaro) & unbelievable Citrus Ginger Chutney (fresh chèvre, Sorcière Bien Aimée).  Peach Cardamom Jam is my pick for his most versatile, goes with every cheese flavor.  I had fun making pairing recommendations on the fly as we chatted with visitors at the Taste of Ottawa booth.

–   Thanks to friends of cheese – wine & craft beer makers Karlo Estates, Rosehall Run, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company & Barley Days Brewery for the donations to keep our Cooks & Curds Gala chefs happy (very important to keep the chefs happy, so huge thank you!)

–  Hats off to The Ontario Waterbuffalo Company/Quality Cheese for their first ever cheddar made from waterbuffalo milk.  Mild, creamy & a great snack.

–  Always great to see friends Vicki from Empire Cheese (very creative, your new cheddars flavored with Mrs. McGarrigle’s Mustards), Black River Cheese (love Maple Cheddar), Best Baa Dairy (wouldn’t be a cheese fest without you, Eweda, Mouton Rouge & Ramembert), and the team from Glen Echo – featuring Cow’s Creamery Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from PEI, Salt Spring Island Cheese (oh, Juliette!) & Kootenay Alpine Cheeses (Alpindon made its way into Bob Blumer’s blue cheese cappuccino)

Sightings of cheeseheads young and old sparks  an idea for 2013 – think there should be a cheesehead fashion show next year Georgs? King & Queen Curd perhaps?

–   Lise Morrisette & Plaisirs Gourmets who brought Quebec to Ontario including the talented Marie-Chantal Houde Fromagerie Nouvelle France maker of multi award-winning Zacharie Clouthier, her raw sheep’s milk cheese.  And, Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère  – his cheeses were an easy sell – they speak for themselves – Brie Paysan showing especially ripe & ready with rustic vegetal aromas & flavors, and renowned Bleu D’Elizabeth & Louis D’or , 9 month & rare 2 year.  If you see Jean at an event, ask him for the good stuff – he usually has it along with him hiding under the counter somewhere.

–  New from Niagara – Upper Canada Cheese’s Nosey Goat Camelot alongside classic Niagara Gold – a bit reminiscent of Cape Vessey – coming along nicely as a cheese, much further developed, soft, subtle than when first released.

–   Mad Mexican’s Jose Hadad provided my snack for the drive home to Ottawa. Amazing I didn’t end up with more of his salsa, roasted tomatillo/avocado and salsa verde in my lap.

–   Lastly stunning craft beer & cider matches in Beau’s Beaver River, Mill Street Brewery’s Wit & County Cider Company’s County Cider paired with robust cheeses from my Taste of Quebec session – best with Petits Vieux (Fromagerie Médard), Zacharie Clouthier, Fleuron (Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde – it’s a beautiful thing), & Fromagerie F.X. Pichet’s organic Baluchon among others.

Hats (or cheeseheads) off to all the hardworking staff, volunteers, cheesemakers, artisan food producers, winemakers, presenters, chefs, celebrities, sponsors, speakers, supporters, mother nature and in particular, all you cheese lovers who attended for making this best celebration of Canadian curd yet.  If you didn’t make it, grab a pen and book the June 1st weekend in your calendar right now for the third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival in 2013.

My photo album of The Cheese Festival is on Savvy Company’s Facebook page – enjoy!

-Vanessa

 

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Lankaaster: Local Glengarry Cheese Grand Prix Pick of Canadian Cheeses

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, August 11th, 2011
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My cheese choice this week was an easy one, shining the spotlight on a local winner from the “academy awards” of cheese competitions, The 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Named for a combination of the town of Lancaster, outside of Alexandria (East of Ottawa off Highway 34) & and “kaas”, the Dutch word for cheese, is Lankaaster, winner in the semi-soft category. Accolades go to Glengarry Fine Cheese and gourmet artisan cheesemaker Margaret Morris.

Lankaaster is a semi-soft to hard cheese, made from the milk of local Brown Swiss cows shaped in a loaf and coated in a colorful waxy rind. You’ll find it rich, dense, a little chewy, with barny aromas, butter and nutty flavors, and a mild fruity tang. The overall texture becomes dry and crumbly with age, and the cheese more intense. Yummy! Both Lankaaster Aged and Lankaaster are best mixed in, and used to top your favourite pasta dish under the broiler. Also available in a wide variety of flavours: Chive, Cumin, Peppercorn and Italian (Ladies take note – it’s a favourite among guys.)

 

FACTBOX:
Cheese: Lankaaster
Producer:
Glengarry Fine Cheese
Interesting Fact:
Lankaaster is a Gouda (pronounced “How-da”)-style cheese, sharing the same characteristics as the international favorite Dutch farmstead cheese.

 

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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Curd on the Street Gets Fresh

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, June 30th, 2011
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Fresh Chèvre from Clarmell Farms is the closest reflection you can get of the goat’s milk from which it’s made – in partnership between Paul and Grace Mussell (5th generation Mussell family farmers) and Glengarry Fine Cheese. An elegant chèvre – it’s truly an expression of artisan cheesemaking mastery, and as Ottawa’s most “local” cheese, well worth a farm visit down River Road to Manotick.

This soft, unripened goat’s milk cheese, with its rich, snow white, “fluffy” textured paste gives a creamy, clean, fresh, tangy, taste with mild citrus flavours that linger long after you’ve savoured the first bite. Perfect for spreading (on anything!), crumbled on seasonal salads or melted over grilled vegetables/BBQ’d kabobs as a finishing touch. Clarmell’s chèvre is best enjoyed on a patio or picnic blanket with friends and your favourite summer white wine in hand.


FACTBOX:
Cheese: Fresh Chèvre
Producer:
Clarmell Farms
Where To Buy:
The Piggy Market (Westboro), Ottawa Farmers’ Market (Lansdowne), Clarmell Farms (Manotick), Glengarry Fine Cheese (Lancaster)
Interesting Fact:
This chèvre is classified as a “fresh” cheese due to its high moisture content and the fact it is unripened (not aged).

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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