Posts Tagged ‘learn about cheese’

Finding your Whey with local artisan cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
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Hot off the press!  This cheese-y article appeared in the latest issue of Grapevine Magazine loaded with our Cheese Sommelier – Vanessa SimmonsTop 10 Tips on where to find, how to buy & tasting tips on enjoying artisan cheeses.

Navigating the world of artisan cheese is something like dating.  You never truly know what you’re getting into until you spend the time, experiment and have several encounters, noticing the person’s character traits, appearance and mannerisms in a variety of situations.  Only then do you discover the true personality of an individual or, in this case…a piece of cheese.

Here are 10 ways to really get to know your cheese better:

Vanessa Simmons - Savvy Company Cheese SommelierSpend time at your local farmer’s market

Chances are you’ll find a cheesemaker at most Ontario farmer’s markets.  Visit often, ask a lot of questions and taste something new each time.  Seek out jams, jellies, chutneys, honey, charcuterie, pates, artisan breads and crackers as well as ripe, in season produce to complement your cheese.  Inquire whether there might be a wheel specially aged or a new cheese in development to test. Experiment.

Visit a local cheesemaker at their production facility

Call first to introduce yourself and confirm availability. If it’s your lucky day, you’ll be able to actually see cheese being made and perhaps participate.  One of my earliest and most memorable WOW cheese moments was scooping warm, fresh, soft, moist, silky cheese curds right out of the vat with my bare hands and slurping them up.  Pure heaven.  To this day I remember the cheesemaking experience at Fifth Town Cheese in Prince Edward County that gave me a true appreciation for the work that goes into producing artisan cheese.

Try a variety of milk types and categories of cheese

Fresh cheeses taste most like the real milk flavor of cow, sheep, goat or even water buffalo milk.  Cheeses that are aged longer are more complex with developed flavors that give character.  In Canada alone there are over 2000 types of cheese ranging from fresh, soft and un-ripened, soft and ripened to semi-soft, firm, washed rind, cheddar, hard and blue cheeses.  Be sure to nibble on them all (even the blues).  If you don’t like the cheese’s appearance, close your eyes and taste.

Compare “grocery store” generic brand cheese with artisan cheese

Upper Canada Cheese Co Niagara Gold by Vanessa Simmons largeCheck the same category of cheese you would buy at the grocery store with what an artisan cheesemaker produces.  Note the flavors, texture and characteristics, or more commonly, lack thereof.  Read labels to confirm the cheese is made with 100% natural Canadian milk and doesn’t contain modified milk ingredients.  You’ll quickly realize the differences and merit of choosing local artisan cheese.

Buy the same cheese from various sources

cheese-of-the-year-1000-mar-19-copyThere are so many opportunities to buy cheese…at the market, cheesemongers, or direct from the manufacturer, to get a sense of what is normal for a particular cheese.  Not all cheeses are handled properly through the supply chain and even cheese has a bad or off day every once and a while that will affect flavor, aroma, texture and appearance.  My experience judging the Canadian Cheese Awards was a good example of this – some submissions weren’t truly at their best.  Buying direct from the cheesemaker will give you a good benchmark to measure against over time.

Track your tastings and do some research

Keep a cheese journal.  Note date purchased, date made/age (ask), where you bought it, price, amount, and your thoughts.  Record what you see, smell, feel and savor over time (size, colors, texture, distinguishing features, ripeness).  List words you use as descriptors such as mushroomy, velvety, creamy, buttery, grassy, vegetal, barny, oozy, gritty, pasty, chalky, smooth, sweet and fruity.  Not sure how to describe?  Close your eyes and picture yourself in a farmer’s field with the sun shining and see what comes to mind.  Check websites and reviews (but be cautious, much of what is published can be re-postings of the content of others).  In some cases reviewers are writing about cheeses and pairings they’ve never tasted themselves.

Pair with wine (don’t forget bubbly & rosé), local beer & even cider!

beercheeseGather friends, fabulous fromage and your favorite local wine, craft beers and ciders.  Conduct a tasting of the cheeses first then mix n’ match with your bevvies and let the games begin.  Note popular pairings and throw standard pairing rules out the window.

Sample the same cheese over time

Taste at the beginning of summer, middle/end of summer and over the winter months.  Do you notice a difference in flavor, complexity or terroir (reflection of the milk by region)?  Record your findings.

Hang out with cheesy peoplecheese festival logo

If you’re really passionate about Canadian cheese get your curd loving self to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival June 7/8 in Prince Edward County.  Canada’s largest gathering of artisan cheese producers offers the best chance to do some serious experimentation with 4000+ cheesy friends.  I’ll be there with the Savvy Company team. Track down Canadian Cheese Award winners. While in town visit Black River Cheese, Ontario’s oldest diary co-op.  Sample their new-on-the-market honey and wine-soaked cheddars, and popular maple cheddar.  Also make it a point to drop by Fifth Town Cheese, who are now under new management and warrant a stop for local products.

Taste, taste, taste!

Celtic blueOf all ten tips, this is the most important in truly getting to know your artisan cheese. Pick a handful of your favorite cheeses and make it a priority to really be mindful and fully aware (like yoga for cheese) of your experience with that cheese over a period of one-year minimum.

How do you know you’ve found “the one”? Keep trying until a cheese gives you an OMG reaction where your eyes pop out of your head, your heart sings, and you experience that oh-so-orgasmic feeling on your palate right down to the tips of your toes.  Then repeat & share with friends.

At the end of all of that hard work, you’ll have discovered the cheese love of your life and can continue your journey to explore new artisan cheeses.

 

This article has been reposted with the permission of Grapevine Magazine.

More about Vanessa Simmons – our Savvy Cheese Sommelier 

Vanessa Simmons is the cheese sommelier at Savvy Company in Ottawa, spending countless hours with regional cheese mongers and cheesemakers.  Vanessa has studied with Cheese Education Guild (Level 2), Toronto, and Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute, Basic Cuisine Certificate, Ottawa; has worked as a chef and her popular tasting seminars & speaking events throughout Ontario make for a delicious discovery of Canadian artisan cheeses.

She’s been seen & heard on Rogers TV Daytime, CTV Morning Live, CBC Radio & Radio Canada, RubyTV, has been a keynote presenter at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival year over year, a judge at the 2013 Selection Caseus – Le Concours de Fromages Fins de Quebec & inaugural 2014 Canadian Cheese Awards and it’s been noted by The Toronto Star that she is “openly fanatical about artisan cheese”. Follow Vanessa @savvyvanessa or read her popular “Curd On the Street” blog posts.

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Newsletter March 2014 – Don’t miss our BC, Nova Scotia & Argentina wine event & Cheese Class

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
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We’re having 2 special Savvy Events this week . . . and we don’t want you to miss them!

Join us for Taste 3 Remarkable Terroirs – a Taste & Buy event that will showcase the dynamic husband & wife winemaking duo – Peter Gamble & Ann Sperling. They will be serving award wines they’ve created in British Columbia, Nova Scotia & Argentina (yes, you read that right!).

British Columbia: Sperling Vineyards – a boutique winery from the heart of the Okanagan Valley
Nova Scotia: Benjamin Bridge – one of the finest wineries in the Gaspereau Valley
Argentina: Versado – an amazing Malbec vineyard planted nearly 100 years ago

At this Taste & Buy event, you’ll discover world class sparkling wines & soon-to-be-released white wines. You’ll be the first to try Sperling’s Rose released just last week & you’ll be blown away by the stunning red wines including Old Vine Malbecs.

Enjoy & order a variety of wines you won’t find at the LCBO.

Advance Tickets Only: $25

DATE & TIME: Thursday March 20, drop in between 5 to 9pm

LOCATION: Britannia Yacht Club, Ottawa (ample free parking)

Don’t miss this first time event! Buy your tickets now > >

 

Want to be ‘Cheesy’?

Cheese FUN-damentals ‘Class’ with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons. Nibble & nosh as Vanessa introduces you to a wide assortment of Canadian cheeses. She’ll show you the ‘whey’ as you learn cheese-y lingo, how artisan cheese is made, tips on buying & storing cheese . . . and more!

Advance Tickets only: $155– includes everything (as well as a gourmet lunch!)

 

DATE & TIME: Saturday March 22 – 10:30am to 4:30pm

LOCATION: MUST Kitchen & Wine Bar – in Ottawa’s Byward Market

A few spots left! Book your place in this fun ‘class’ > >

 

April is around the corner. . .

They’re ba-a-a-a-ack! Ottawa welcomes Prince Edward County on Thursday April 10th for the 3rd annual County in the City. Join us for this fun evening to meet the cool people involved in growing ‘The County’. Get the inside scoop on ‘must visit’ places for your next County getaway and the upcoming Terroir – A County Celebration.

At this Taste & Buy event, stock up on all of your favorite wines, beers & ciders that you won’t find at the LCBO. Order any combination of 12 or more bottles & shipping is FREE!

Advance Tickets Only: $55 before April 4 (regularly $65). $200 for a group of 4

DATE & TIME: Thursday April 10 @ 7pm

LOCATION: Canada Agriculture & Food Museum on Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm

This annual event always sells out! Buy your tickets now > >

 

Can’t make it to our Taste & Buy events. . .

but want to place an order?

Simply call us on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email cheers@savvycompany.ca anytime to arrange a special order.

See you soon at these Savvy Eventsdon’t miss out!

Cheers,
Debbie & the Savvy Team

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Newsletter February – Win GOLD with these Valentine’s Day gifts

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
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Looking for THE perfect way to say ‘I love you’? or ‘Will you be my Valentine’? or ‘I’m falling head over heels for you’?If your love is crazy about craft beer, wine or artisan cheese, look no further – these gifts are golden!

Pssst: single gals & guys. . .why not treat yourself with a Savvy gift just for YOU?

 

For the Craft Beer Lover . . .

Savvy Hip Hops beer of the month clubA one-of-a-kind gift! Launched just 10 days ago, Savvy Hip Hops is Ontario’s first Craft Beer of the Month ‘Club’ featuring award winning breweries across Ontario.

Each month, our Savvy Brew Crew collaborates with the featured brewmaster to create a unique Savvy Hip Hops Taste Case – an assortment of what’s on tap & in tank. It’s every beer lover’s dream.

The first delivery will be Friday February 28th featuring a 12 bottle pack from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co featuring one of each of their special FeBREWary beers as well as some other hard to find Beau’s brews.

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

 

For the Wine Lover . . .

Savvy Selections iconScratch ‘Buy Wine’ off the Honey-Do list! Give your Valentine a subscription to Savvy Selections – Ontario’s largest Wine of the Month Club.

Each month we feature an Ontario winery & send you 3 different wines that you won’t find at the LCBO. Check out the line-up of award winning wineries we’ll be featuring in the upcoming months.

And that is not all! When you uncork a bottle of the wine that our Savvy Sommeliers have hand-picked for you, unwind by reading our monthly Savvy eZine to learn about the people who make the wine you are enjoying, the recipes we’ve paired with each bottle & tasting notes as well as tips on cellaring the wines.

Give a subscription to Savvy Selections & we’ll arrange for a February delivery of incredible wines (1 white & 2 BIG reds) from the highly acclaimed Stratus Vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

WOW your Valentine with a 4, 6 or 12 month subscription > >

 

For the Cheese Lover. . .

Vanessa SimmonsThis is every cheese lover’s dream – join us for a fun-filled day with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons on Saturday March 22 for Cheese FUN-damentals 101 ‘Class’. 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!

And 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 – in Ottawa’s Byward Market

Savvy Special: $140 before March 15 (reg $155). Includes everything as well as gourmet lunch

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

We’re in LOVE with this Red & White wine duo!

We’ve got an amazing combo of red & white wines at amazing prices only available from Savvy Bin Ends.

The secretive Syrah is $19.95 – it’s a secret as it hasn’t been released yet – and the remarkable Reserve Riesling is $15.95 (reg 17.95) both from Kacaba Vineyards in Niagara. Mix & match any combo of 6 or 12 bottles of reds & whites for your Valentine. Be ready for lots of oooohs and aaaahs with every sip of these wines!

HOT Tip: shipping is FREE when you order a total of 12 or more bottles.

Order & it’ll be delivered in 2 days! > >

Planning an extra special dinner for your Valentine?

We’ve got you covered – for wine that is! Our ever popular Dinner Party Pack of 6 different bottles of dyn-o-mite wines from Fielding Winery that will make it easy to entertain. Start by popping the cork on the hard-to-find bubbly, then 2 show-stopper white wines & 3 heart-thumping red wines – you won’t find any of these at the LCBO.

Specially priced at $149 – including delivery to your home or office.

We have recipes to pair with the wines to make a delicious Valentine’s Day dinner:

A Sizzling Starter: Grilled Sea Scallops with Honeydew & Soy Glaze
The Main Attractions: Bacon Wrapped Veal Tenderloin with Leeks & Mushrooms or Beef Tenderloin with Port, Mushroom & Stilton Sauce
A Delectable Dessert: Ken Fielding’s Apple Pie – with WOW factor

Order your Dinner Party Pack > >

Mark these dates in your calendar!

Next Thursday (February 20)Debbie is hitting the airwaves to co-host for the day with Derick Fage on Daytime Ottawa on Rogers TV – schedule your PVR!

Thursday March 6 – Calling all Western University Alumni – we’re hosting a fun wine tasting to celebrate UWO’s 136th anniversary. Be purple & proud . . . bring a friend!

Thursday March 20 – Our first ever Taste & Buy featuring 3 wineries – from British Columbia & Nova Scotia. Full details to be announced soon. Can’t wait? Be the first to receive an invitation by emailing cheers@savvycompany.ca

Valentine’s Day can’t overshadow the record-breaking feats of our Canadian athletes at the Olympics. Raise a glass of Canadian wine or craft beer to them. Here’s to making us proud to wave the Canadian flag.

 

GO Canada GO!

Debbie & the Savvy Team

PS – gift enclosures for any of these special gifts are available – just ask us!

PPS – Show us a bit of your LOVE by ‘Liking Us’ on Facebook! Savvy Company or Savvy Selections and our brand new Savvy Hip Hops

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Newsletter Jan 2014 – Happy SAVVY New Year! Don’t miss our Wine & Cheese ‘classes’

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
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Do you want to learn more about wine, artisan cheese & craft beer this year?  Resolutions like this make our team of Savvy Sommeliers smile – BIG time. Like all resolutions, the hardest part (if there is a hard part!) is starting. Don’t despair because we have made it easy to keep your 2014 resolutions and to begin as soon as this month!

Join us for these all day ‘classes’ with a Savvy Sommelier:

Book your spot at either the wine or the artisan cheese class . . . or come to BOTH!

These ‘classes’ will take place in Ottawa’s coolest wine venue: MUST Kitchen & Wine Bar in the Byward Market. No need to bring a lunch – the chef will be whipping up a gourmet meal.

These are fun ‘classes’ & you will definitely WANTto do the homework!

Wine Appreciation 101 ‘Class’

Back by popular demand! Join me for my annual Wine Appreciation 101 ‘Class’ on Saturday January 18. It is a fun-filled day enjoying wines from around the world that you may have never tried, learning wine lingo, tasting the difference glassware makes & deciphering a restaurant wine list. And because I absolutely LOVE wine, I will share all kinds of tips & tricks . . . even show you how easy it is to sabre (yes, with a sword) a bottle of bubbly!

Everyone, regardless of your wine knowledge . . . is sure to have fun learning more about the world of wine & have a shopping list of new favorite wines.

Book your spot & SAVE $15 – use promo code ILOVEWINE

Psst . . . Did you see my 5 minute wine ‘class’ on CTV Ottawa Morning last week? Watch it on online or Savvy Company’s Facebook page.

Cheese FUN-damentals ‘Class’

NEW! On Saturday January 25th, come in from the cold & learn about fabulous fromages with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons. She will introduce you to cheeses from around the world, share stories about cheesemakers while you learn the ‘whey’ to buy cheese, make a delicious cheese board & talk the talk like a ‘BIG Cheese’!

And there’ll be a pop quiz . . . is artisan cheese better with wine or craft beer? Think you know the answer? Your tastebuds may be in for a surprise!

Book this week & SAVE $15 > >

Set your PVR or tune in to CTV Ottawa Morning this Thursday January 16th at 8:45am. Vanessa will be sharing tips on how to create a delicious cheese board.

 

Want to learn about wine AND cheese?

Your resolution to go on a diet can wait! Join us for a Wine AND Cheese Extravaganza by registering for both classes. Book now & save BIG time! > >

Looking for a craft beer ‘class’?

We are working on it…and we have another announcement ‘brewing’ too! Email us to be the first to get the brew news.

 

Hibernate with these GREAT DEALS on Ontario wines

Our Savvy Bin Ends is a great way to enjoy hard to find wines at super discounts! Our Sommeliers definitely give these wines ‘2 thumbs up’:

AND save even more when you order a case (12 bottles) of these wines – shipping is FREE.

 

Hosting a dinner party?

Relax. . . our Savvy Sommeliers have selected 6 bottles of outstanding wines from Niagara’s Fielding Estates Winery that will WOW your guests. This Special Dinner Party Pack includes a bottle of sparkling wine to start the evening, then 2 whites & 3 red wines to enjoy with dinner. . . and we’ll give you easy-to-make recipes too!

Special price only from Savvy Company: $149 total (shipping by courier is free)

Now, all you have to do is invite your guests & set the table.

Mark my words, 2014 will be an absolutely DELICIOUS year!

 

Cheers,
Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

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