Posts Tagged ‘Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese’

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

Posted by Vanessa

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

 

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

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

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

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

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

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

200g of Handeck

200g of Beau’s Abbey Cheese

200g of Five Brothers Reserve

200g of Brigid’s Brie

200g of Five Brothers


Gunn'sHillcheeseHave a hankering for Gunn’s Hill?

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

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

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

 

Introducing…
Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

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

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

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

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

A Family of farmers

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

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

It’s all about the milk

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

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

What’s in a name?

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

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

BOSShepHandeckbyVSIt’s a Gouda life!

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

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

 

 • Cheese Tasting Notes •

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

Brigid’s Brie

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

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

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

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

Five Brothers

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

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

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

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

Five Brothers Reserve

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

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

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

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

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

Beau’s Abbey Cheese

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

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

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

Handeck

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

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

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

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

 

 • Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses •

 

With Brigid’s Brie Cheese…

Scalloped Potatoes

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

ScallopedPotatoesIngredients

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

Method

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

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

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

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

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

 

With Beau’s Abbey Cheese…

Quick N’ Easy Gourmet Grilled Cheese

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

oliviacuisine.comIngredients

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

8 thick slices Beau’s Abbey Cheese

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

Method

Cook bacon until desired tenderness (not to crispy).

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

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

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

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

 

With Five Brothers & Handeck Cheese…

Alpler Macaroni & Cheese

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Method

In pot of boiling water, cook macaroni; drain.

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

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Our BIG CHEESE News!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
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ANNOUNCING: New cheese-of-the-month club delivers hard-to-come-by Canadian artisan cheeses Savvy Company launches ‘Savvy Cool Curds’.

Ottawa-based Savvy Company just made it easier for cheese lovers to enjoy the growing number of artisan cheeses being produced across Canada. Today Savvy Company has launched Canada’s first cheese-of-the-month club that hand delivers ready-to-enjoy Canadian artisan cheeses to your doorstep. Known for its wine & craft beer expertise and innovative Taste and Buy events, Savvy Company has expanded its business to work with cheesemakers, creating yet another innovative way of connecting consumers with producers with this new service.  Well-known Savvy Company Cheese Sommelier, Vanessa Simmons, will curate Savvy Cool Curds.

CoolCurds_mail-2“The artisan cheese industry in Canada is growing tremendously and making an incredible impression on the world stage.  Just last week at the World Cheese Awards, Prince Edward Island’s Cow’s Creamery won SuperGold in the Vintage Cheddar category for its Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar and it was named one of the top 16 cheeses in the world! In August, Ontario’s Glengarry Fine Cheese was awarded Best of Show for its Celtic Blue Reserve at the 2015 American Cheese Society Awards,” says Savvy Company president and sommelier Debbie Trenholm.

“Artisan cheese is a perfect pairing with wine or craft beer.  We offer Savvy Selections wine-of-the-month club and Savvy Hip Hops craft beer-of-the-month club which have both become the largest in Ontario.  Launching Savvy Cool Curds was a natural progression, seizing yet another opportunity to wave the Canadian flag.”

savvy_coolcurds_ColourEvery month Savvy Cool Curds subscribers will receive a parcel hand-delivered on the Wednesday closest to the 15th of the month.  A delivery of Savvy Cool Curds will contain 4 to 5 different wedges and rounds between 200 to 250 grams each.  A variety of farmstead and artisan cheeses have been hand-selected by Simmons and the month’s featured cheesemaker to ensure seasonality and peak ripeness for immediate enjoyment.  From fresh to washed or aged and made using various milks – cow, goat, sheep and on occasion – buffalo; all told, the parcel will be approximately 1 kilogram of delicious Canadian artisan cheese.

To further the enjoyment & discovery of the featured cheeses, subscribers will receive the Curd on the Street eZine – a monthly mini magazine with the insider scoop, Cheese Sommelier’s tasting notes, tips & tricks along with cheese-laden recipes.

“Savvy Cool Curds is hands-down a great idea. There is no one better suited than Vanessa Simmons to select the best in Canadian cheese to discover each month. I’m sure the cheese-of-the-month club will succeed because consumers want local…they want Canadian,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, Founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival held annually in Picton, Ontario.

“The team at Savvy Company is great & having this opportunity to be featured in Savvy Cool Curds is exciting for us. Anyone who has met Vanessa Simmons quickly sees that she is passionate about Canadian cheese. She has developed strong ties to the cheesemakers & has made countless contributions to promoting local, regional, provincial & national cheesemakers.  Subscribers to Savvy Cool Curds will benefit from her personal connections…the best part is that all of the cheese discoveries will be Canadian,” glows Maggie Paradis, owner & cheesemaker, Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères in Quèbec.

The feature cheesemakers to date for 2016 include:Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese Sommelier

January Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, Woodstock (ON)
FebruaryCow’s Creamery, Charlottetown (PEI)
MarchBack Forty Artisan Cheese, Lanark (ON)
April Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères, St-Sixte, (QC)
May Lighthall Vineyards & Dairy, Prince Edward County (ON)

To subscribe for four, six, 12 months or longer, visit www.savvycoolcurds.ca.
Holiday Promo – subscribe for 6 or 12 months before December 30th & the subscription cost will be $55 per month (regular $60).

“As soon as Debbie told me about Savvy Cool Curds, I wanted to be featured. In fact, a cheese-of-the-month club is so incredible, that I am going to subscribe!” supports Glenn Symons, owner, winemaker & assistant cheesemaker, Lighthall Vineyards & Dairy.

“Consumers have fallen in love with artisan cheese. It is amazing. We have people who have subscribed to both our wine & craft beer of-the-month-clubs.  Now, their fridge will be full!’ exclaims Trenholm.

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More about Savvy Company

Savvy Company specializes in creative social experiences – whether making the enjoyment of wine accessible to all, exploring the worlds of craft beer or discovering artisan cheeses. Their team of accredited Sommeliers delight in designing wine, beer and artisan events, shining the spotlight on the people who make them.  Their Savvy Selections wine-of-the-month club is Ontario’s largest featuring Ontario wines not available in the LCBO, while Savvy Hip Hops has rapidly grown to be Ontario’s largest craft beer-of-the-month club.  Recently Savvy Company launched Savvy Cool Curds – Canada’s first artisan cheese-of-the-month club. Visit www.savvycompany.ca, follow @SavvyCompany or @SavvyVanessa on Twitter.

 

Media Contact:
Debbie Trenholm
Founder & Sommelier
Savvy Company
debbie@savvycompany.ca
@savvydebbie
613.SAVVYCO (613.728.8926)
cell: 613-851-1785

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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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Five Brothers by Gunn’s Hill

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
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This week I’m thrilled to introduce Ontario’s new “cheese on the block”, debuting in Ottawa at Jacobson’s Gourmet ConceptsFive Brothers from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese in Woodstock, Ontario. Passion is a common theme among cheesemakers and Shep Ysselstein, who I first met at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, is no exception. He just named their three Swiss style cheeses, a process that took a year that I equate to picking names for children. I love his philosophy that the names “need to feel right”. You know it’s going to be good cheese when so much patience, thought and effort goes into choosing the name!

Five Brothers, named for Shep’s siblings, is a pressed, cooked, washed-rind, farmstead cow’s milk cheese.  An amber-colored, weathered-looking exterior covers these robust wheels featuring a pale straw open interior paste with unique subtle texture and smooth richness. Flavours hint of Gouda (buttery) & Appenzeller (fruity) sweetness ending up almost Cheddar-like (lactic) without the sharpness or characteristic tang.  A very tasty addition to round out your end- of- summer entertaining cheese board.

 

FACTBOX:
Cheese: Five Brothers (Gunn’s Hill Semi-Hard)
Producer: Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
Interesting Fact: Oxford County boasts some of the most abundant and fertile soils in Canada earning it the title “Dairy Capital of Canada”.

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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