Posts Tagged ‘The Piggy Market’

Cheesin’s Greetings!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016
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Celebrating with Canadian cheese is one of the simplest ways I know to entertain during hectic holidays. Cheese is low maintenance and requires no time or fuss to prepare. It always presents well, but best of all, when chosen with care, is guaranteed to be the highlight of party conversations and special memories for years to come.  This month’s holiday issue of Savvy Cool Curds spotlights a selection of cheeses for easy entertaining.

2016 was another busy year for Canadian cheesemakers. With more events, competitions and awards, producers and tasty cheeses on the scene than ever, deciding on only a few will be the hardest chore you’ll have on your “to do” list.  Read on for holiday tips with Canadian Cheese and last minute gift ideas!

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

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

Apprenti Sorcier 200g
Homecoming 200g
Milkhouse Tomme 200g
Muskoka Bliss 200g
Christmas Cheese Ball 200g


Looking for more awesome Canadian cheese for holiday entertaining?

Would you like more cheese from this month’s Savvy Cool Curds? Just call our Savvy Team & we’ll arrange a special shipment for you (if it is still available that is!).  Put us on speed dial – Savvy Cool Curds Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

  

Cheesin’s Greetings
by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Entertaining with Canadian artisan cheese is the easiest whey to add a cheesy element to your holiday plans this festive season. Give cheese as a hostess gift or for that hard to buy for name on your list, introduce a cheese course to your holiday meal either as a stunning appetizer to kick things off or as a lazy finish, or pull together a quick wine & cheese tasting as a cocktail party substitute.  Here are some of my quick tips:

Top Tips for Entertaining

1) Think of your audience

Who are you entertaining and for how long?  Will a meal or other snacks be served? When in doubt choose small soft wheels of cheese (buy a few to have on hand, they make wonderful hostess gifts too).

2) Be a Savvy shopper

Buy from a reputable cheese shop as close as possible to your celebration. Ask for a fresh cut wedge. In Ottawa, look for artisan cheeses at Serious Cheese, The Piggy Market, Thyme & Again, The Red Apron, Jacobson’s Gourmet Concepts, the Ottawa Bagelshop and throughout Ontario at fine grocery stores such as Farm Boy.

2) Mix & mingle

Consider taste, style and texture or region, milk type (cow, sheep, goat, buffalo) or category  (fresh, soft, semi-soft, washed, firm, hard, blue).  3 to 5 cheeses display well on a board or serve one stellar cheese as an appetizer or dessert. Buying cheeses that look different offers visual appeal.  5-10gms/cheese/person is a good rule of thumb.

3) Serve with star treatment

Serve at room temperature.  Offer one knife per cheese. Don’t cut up small pieces in advance.  Use an interesting wooden board, cross cut log, plate, slate or marble tiles or tiered trays for visual appeal.  Keep it simple so the cheese will shine.

4) Compliment your cheese

Serve specialty breads, gourmet crackers, fresh seasonal or dried fruits, figs, dates, raw or toasted nuts, olives, caramelized or pickled onions or milder charcuterie items as accompaniments.

5) Add wine or craft beer

In general beers and white wines pair best and more often with a wider variety of cheeses. Remember balance is key. For help on selecting wines & craft beers give our experts a call 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)

6) Talk it up

What do you see, smell and taste?  Share your experience. Compare notes.  Conversations around the cheese board create lasting memories of your event.  Cheese has evolved from being solely an ingredient to the focal point of a party, as it’s the perfect food to bring people together.

7) Take time to enjoy every nibble

Slow down and savor each morsel.  The holidays are a special time of year to make merry with friends, family (and cheese!).  Take a break from hosting to enjoy yourself and the company of your guests.

 

Cheese Tasting Notes

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

Apprenti Sorcier

Maggie Paradis of La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères is the wizard behind Apprenti Sorcier (translated as “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”), a soft, surface-ripened pasteurized mixed sheep and cow milk cheese sold in small wheels.

Tasting Notes: A thick, bright white bloomy rind and rich, runny, ivory paste produce wild mushroomy aromas mixed with buttery, finger-licking, salty flavours.

Suggested Pairing:  Have a loaf of crusty baguette on hand if your piece is ripe — you’ll need it to “mop up” until the cheese is all gone!  Top with chutneys, relishes, caramelized onions, cranberries, nuts, maple syrup or honey/rosemary for a quick appetizer.

Stonetown Cheese Homecoming

One of Ontario’s newest “cheeses on the scene”, Stonetown Cheese’s Homecoming is already making headlines as a finalist in the “Best New Cheese” category at the Canadian Cheese Awards and first prize at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair recently. I love the quote on their website “Life is great, cheese makes it better”. We wholeheartedly agree!

Tasting Notes: Homecoming is a semi-soft, washed rind, Swiss alpine style farmstead cheese. Made with fresh unpasteurized Holstein milk it has mild earthy flavor profile.

Suggested Pairing: Great as snacking or grilled cheese, pair with unoaked Chardonnay or Semillon.

 

Milkhouse Tomme

The hardworking team of Cait and Kyle White from Smiths Falls makes Milkhouse Tomme lovingly from their own flock of British Milk Sheep. They are proud to have full traceability from animal to market of their milk and their cheese.

Tasting Notes: Milkhouse Tomme is a beautiful, rustic raw sheep milk cheese with a natural rind styled after French Tomme de Savoie.  It’s a tasty package of richness, with a dense interior texture and herbal and grassy notes on the nose and palate.

Suggested Pairing: Great paired with Sauvignon Blanc or oaky Chardonnay and dolloped with a stone fruit (peach, apricot) preserve.

 

Muskoka Bliss

Muskoka Bliss is a seasonal cow milk cheese from Stonetown Cheese in St. Mary’s, Ontario. Gorgeous on a cheese plate for holiday entertaining. 

Tasting Notes:  Muskoka Bliss comes in an attractive package of dark eggplant colored wax. On the inside find mild, buttery milky flavors with a hint of cranberry fruit. 

Suggested Pairing:  Pair with a light red (Gamay or Pinot Noir) and fruit/nut crackers.

 

Maggie’s Cheese Ball

Maggie Paradis of La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères makes these rare, seasonal cheese balls once a year. They’re a guaranteed sell out but we managed to secure some for our coveted Savvy Cool Curds subscribers.

Tasting Notes:  Maggie’s cheese ball is a combination of both local cow and goat’s milk mixed with a variety of ingredients to add zing and extra flavor such as lemon juice and scallions all rolled in crushed pecans for a gorgeous finish.

Suggested Pairing:  Enjoy on it’s own (even by yourself without sharing!) with a hearty sourdough bread or Parisian baguette.  Pair with a Cabernet Sauvignon or local brew for extra enjoyment.  Or, do as I do, eat it right off the spoon – it doesn’t last long in my house!

NOTE: you may see a crease of blue on the inside of the packaging…don’t despair, this is not mould, rather it is the extra pieces of CFAI approved cellophane (aka Saran Wrap) crunched tightly into the vacuumed pack bag!

Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses

With Apprenti Sorcier…

Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions
Recipe adapted & Photo Credit: Epicurious

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) butter
8 cups sliced onions (about 4 large)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. sugar
1 8-inch-diameter 32- to 36-ounce Brie
2 baguettes, sliced

Method

Melt butter in heavy very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, sauté until just tender, about 6 minutes. Add minced thyme, reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are golden, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Add garlic and sautée 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup wine; stir until almost all liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over onions and sauté until soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup wine; stir just until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Unwrap Brie and place on a shallow small round baking dish (for presentation). Cut away only top rind of cheese, leaving rind on sides and bottom intact. Return to dish, rind side down. Place dish on baking sheet. Top Brie evenly with onion mixture. Bake until cheese just melts, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a platter. Surround with baguette slices.

 

 

With Stonetown cheeses…

Cheese Fondue for Two
Recipe & Photo Credit: Stonetowncheese.com

Ingredients

a loaf of French Bread
1/2 clove of garlic
160 g Grand Trunk, grated
160 g Wildwood, grated
80 g Homecoming, grated
2 tsp. cornstarch

Method

Cut French bread into 1″ cubes and set the table before you start heading the fondue.

Rub the caquelon (fondue pan) with half a clove of garlic, cut into small pieces and leave in the caquelon (fondue pan).

Mix Grand Trunk, Wildwood and Homecoming with cornstarch in caquelon (fondue pan), add wine and lemon juice.

With constant stirring, heat up until the cheese is melted and creamy. Add kirsch brandy (optional), season with pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Place the caquelon (fondue pan) over a small spirit burner to keep the fondue at boiling point.

Dip the bite size, cubed French bread into the fondue using a long handled fork.

Stir the fondue every time you dunk a piece of break so the fondue does not burn to the bottom of the caquelon (fondue pan).

 

With Milkhouse Tomme…

Tartiflette
Recipe & Photo Credit: Laura Robin – The Ottawa Citizen

Ingredients

6 medium potatoes
2 large red onions
2 to 4 cloves garlic
Dash olive oil
½ lb. bacon or pancetta
Dash Sherry or white wine (optional)
5 to 8 oz. Milkhouse Tomme, cut into small cubes
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
1 cup 18% (half-and-half or light) cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Slice potatoes 1/4-inch (1-cm thick) and cook in boiling, salted water about 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, set aside.

Slice the red onions 1/4-inch (1-cm) thick, lengthwise, from the root to the tip, and fry with chopped garlic and a dash of olive oil over medium heat until soft.

Roughly chop bacon or pancetta and add to pan with onions and garlic. Add a dash of sherry or white wine and scrape to deglaze pan. Simmer until bacon is cooked and onions are caramelized.

Layer half the sliced potatoes in a buttered 9-by-13-inch (23-by-35-cm) glass baking dish. Sprinkle half of the bacon-and-onion mixture over. Repeat both layers. Sprinkle cubed Tomme on top.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour, mix, and cook briefly, then gradually stir in milk and cream. Cook, stirring, until mixtures thickens and almost boils. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over potatoes and cheese in dish.

Bake uncovered on the middle rack of oven for 25 minutes, or until cheese is puffy and slightly golden and sauce is bubbling.

 

With Muskoka Bliss…

Brie, Cranberry and Pancetta Phyllo Bites
Recipe & Photo Credit: Popsugar.com

Ingredients

Coconut oil spray
1/2 pound pancetta, finely diced
1 roll of phyllo sheets, defrosted
1-pint cranberries
1/4-cup water
1/3-cup sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
5 ounces brie (substitute Muskoka Bliss)

Method

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease three mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Cook pancetta until crisp.

Place one piece of phyllo dough on a flat surface. Spray with coconut oil. Place another sheet on top; repeat four more times for a total of six sheets. Spray top piece of dough with coconut oil. Using a pizza wheel, cut dough into 3-inch squares. Tuck into mini muffin tins. Repeat two more times until you have 36 shells.

Bake for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Reduce heat in oven down to 300°F.

For the cranberries: Place cranberries, water, sugar and pinch of cayenne in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the berries are reduced, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Divide cheese into 36 even pieces. Place in bottom of each shell. Top with a little bit of cranberry sauce. Pop into the oven for five minutes or until cheese has melted.

Sprinkle with crispy pancetta.

 

Last Minute Cheese-y Gifts…

With only a few sleeps until Christmas, here are some easy ways to take care of those last minute presents for the “nice” cheese lovers on your list dreaming of a cheesey Christmas!

Personal-sized Raclette or fondue for two

A gift card from a local cheese monger or fine food shop

A selection of hand crafted jams, chutneys, jellies, preserves or charcuterie

A chunk of natural honeycomb to enjoy with Canadian cheese

Canadian Cheese A Guide by Kathy Guidi

A subscription to Savvy Cool Curdsof course!

A gift certificate to a Savvy Event to discover craft beers, artisan wines and Canadian cheese

Tickets to the Great Canadian Cheese Festival, Picton, June 3 & 4th, 2017, Canada’s biggest cheese show

A set of cheese knives

A handmade cutting board or live edge boards for serving

A Cheese Sommelier hosted in-home cheese tasting experience – call us on 613-SAVVYCO to get started!

A “cheesemaker for a day” experience at a local producer

A cheese journal to track tasting notes and favourites

Cheese paper for storing Canadian cheese

Local craft beer, artisan wine to go with cheese

 

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

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 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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Prolonging Summer with Local Cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Saturday, September 6th, 2014
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Want to know how to hold onto Summer a little bit longer?  Think local and think cheese…your dreams will come true!  It’s still summer you can’t deny it when you look around the farmers’ markets still showing off all the local produce while they can.

Summer entertaining

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

Watch the TV segment here – Part 1 & Part 2

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

Let’s Celebrate Canadian Cheese

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

Millhouse Tomme

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

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

La Sorcière bien aimée

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

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

Bonnechère

Bonnechere

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

Bonnechere is one-of- a-kind artisan cheese.  It’s a semi-firm, double pressed and unique both inside and out.  A beautiful, chestnut patterned toasted rind covers the interior smooth ivory paste.  Hand torching gives Bonnecheresmoky aromas and a very distinct caramel flavor.  As it ages, these characteristics amplify the tangy, sweet, and fruity body of the cheese.  Sour milk lingers with a slight amount of acidity. Produced in very small quantities with seasonal milk, it’s a hot commodity.  If you see this cheese, don’t blink, don’t hesitate, snap it up immediately.  I suggest The Piggy Market or Serious Cheese as a starting point.  Make these cheesemongers your best friend and you’ll never miss out.

Honey Cheddar

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

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

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

Lindsay Bandaged Goats Milk Cheddar

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

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

 

Where to buy Canadian cheese in Ottawa?

Farmers Markets

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

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

Specialty shops

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

Summer Recipe for Peach & Beet Salad

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

Ingredients

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

Method

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

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

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

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

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

Bon appetit & here’s to holding onto summer!

Vanessa

 

 

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Fabulous Farm Fresh Feta Most Versatile of Cheeses

Posted by Vanessa

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
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My longing for spring to hurry up and arrive inspires this week’s cheese pick.  I dream of radiant sunshine, colorful tulips & daffodils, picnics, fresh local produce, farmers’ markets, and FETA.  One of the most versatile of cheeses, it gives an added zing to spring & summer dishes; think salads, pizzas, burgers, wraps.

Sticking to tried and true traditional cheesemaking, Jeff & Jenna Fenwick, the new owners of Back Forty Artisan Cheese are carrying on the spirit of old world methods using 100% raw ewe’s milk in the production of their hand-lovingly crafted, small batch artisan cheeses.

Flower Station, one of the little known Back Forty Artisan Cheeses is a fresh, un-ripened, semi-firm, Mediterranean-style raw sheep’s milk feta.  Stored in it’s own whey, you’ll find slightly crumbly texture with mild citrus flavor combined with a good balance of salt and fresh milk flavors from these little ivory wedges.

Spring is in the air & as the weather warms up you’ll see them soon at the Carp Farmer’s Market. Find their other popular cheeses Madawaska, Highland Blue & Bonnechere on the board at local restaurants, Foodsmith’s in Perth, The Piggy Market and Serious Cheese, while available.

Factbox:

Cheese:  Flower Station
Producer: Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Lanark County, Ontario
Interesting Fact: Feta falls into the fresh, un-ripened cheese category, which are cheeses that receive minimal or no aging.  It has a longer shelf life when persevered in it’s own brine.

 

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Flower Station by Vanessa Simmons

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Ontario cheese twist on a French favorite

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
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Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa picks this week  Le Saler cheese made by Monforte Dairy, located in Stratford, Ontario. Le Saler is rare artisan cheese made by this well established dairy. Canadian pioneer cheesemaker Ruth Khlasen’s take is a rustic, cow’s milk cheese styled after traditional French Salers PDO (cheese speak: Protected Designation of Origin) cheese.

During the winter months, it is a slow time for cheesemakers who make fine artisan cheese with seasonal milk, as they follow the natural order of life and process of pasturing. Milk production levels don’t increase until new baby lambs, kids or calves are born in early spring and the mothers have had a chance to rest. A happy mother equates to excellent quality milk and the perfect beginning to stunning artisan cheese!

Similar to handcrafted bandaged cheddar (but not able to be called ‘cheddar’), Le Saler sports a dark, stone-colored rind covering a pale straw interior who’s crumbly texture shows evidence of original curd easily seen in the paste. Mild milk and earthy flavors mix with a hit of salt leaving a lingering creamy mouth feel behind.

Cheese: Le Saler
Producer: Monforte Dairy, Stratford, Ontario
Where to buy in Ottawa: The Piggy Market or Il Negozio Nicastro

Want to learn more about artisan cheeses?

Join Vanessa for her Great Canadian Cheese Discovery events. On March 19 she will feature artisan cheeses of British Columbia, Nova Scotia & PEI.   Tickets are $55 per person & includes samples of 7 to 8 artisan cheeses plus Canadian wines to enjoy.  More details about these events at www.savvycompany.ca/events

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Cheese For Chillin’ Out

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, September 20th, 2012
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My cheese pick this week is a reflection of the cheesemaker herself.  Maggie Paradis of Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères in Ste. Sixte, Quebec, is laid-back, chill, goes with the flow (thus the cheese’s name) and doesn’t take life or herself too seriously (while remaining quite serious about making top notch artisan cheeses).

Among  the lineup of her famous soft cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses, La Coulée Douce is a 100% pure pasteurized, firm,  small wheel sheep’s milk cheese with an ivory slightly open (shows small holes) paste and thin, rustic, golden-hued washed rind.  Creamy aromas compliment rich, milky, slightly toasty and fermented fruit flavors with a grassy finish making it the perfect match for Quebec iced or apple cider as used to wash the rind from neighboring Verger Croque-Pomme.  Serve shaved on warm homemade peach or apple pie.  Find at The Piggy Market (Westboro) or at the Savour Ottawa Field House at Parkdale Market this season.

 

 

FACTBOX:
Cheese:  La Coulée Douce
Producer: Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères
PHOTO CREDIT:  La Coulée Douce by Vanessa Simmons

 

 

 

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the Black Sheep from Monforte Dairy

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
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My cheese pick this week, Monforte Dairy’s Black Sheep, is tribute to all those who march to the beat of their own drummer, are often the odd man (or woman out) among others, or venture down the cheesy road less travelled. Ruth Klahsen, one such individual and a self-taught cheesemaker, understands artisan, and believes strongly in not rushing cheeses as they develop, “crafting cheese with care, and a commitment to excellence.” A healthy dose of patience, deep love of her craft (and each & every one of her cheeses, like her three sons), drives her cheese prowess.

Black Sheep Cheese is a soft, surface-ripened sheep’s milk cheese shaped like a pyramid with the top sliced off, inspired by France’s Valencay. Handmade, when young, it sports a vegetable ash coating dark as midnight. With age, a snow white bloomy rind develops, adding mild piquant flavors and protecting the creamy, rich, milky, earthy goodness inside. Now available at The Piggy Market, Black Sheep stands out from the crowd. Catch this, more Canadian top cheeses, and my Taste of Quebec tutored tasting at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival June 1-4, 2012 in Prince Edward County.


FACTBOX:
Cheese: Black Sheep
Producer:
Monforte Dairy
Interesting Fact:
Ash coating on a cheese is tasteless, protects the paste, promotes mold growth and balances out the acidity.

 

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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Mooning over new tasty County cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
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Having recently made its debut on the Ontario market, Morning Moon is Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co.’s newest cow’s milk cheese, and the sister cheese to Cape Vessey (goat’s milk version) that we all know and love. A tour of their LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified facility is a must-stop for your next Prince Edward County getaway. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of master cheesemaker Stephanie Diamont working her cheese-y magic.

Morning Moon is a washed rind single note cow’s milk cheese, naturally aged. A thick terracotta-coloured rind covers the chewy, dense, firm, creamy, pale butter yellow paste. Savour full on flavour – earthy mixed with salt, fruit and a hint of spice. Pairs beautifully with a medium to full-bodied red wine such as a County Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir.

 

 
FACTBOX:

Cheese:
Morning Moon
Producer:
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co.
Where To Buy:
The Piggy Market (Westboro), Murray’s Market (Byward Market)
Interesting Fact:
Single note cow’s milk is milk used in cheesemaking sourced from one farm.


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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Maple Cheddar

Posted by Vanessa

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
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Oh Canada, you produce such delicious cheese and Black River Cheese epitomizes this as one of our oldest farmer-owned dairy co-operatives with over 100 years of cheesemaking experience. 

My cheese pick this week is Black River’s Maple Cheddar.  The idea for Maple Cheddar was born in 2003 to coincide with the Prince Edward County festival “Maple in the County”.  The Cheddar is aged 5-8 months, shredded, mixed with local Fosterholm Farms pure amber Maple Syrup and Maple Sugar, pressed into cheese hoops, cut into blocks and packaged. 

It’s still an example of what good medium cheddar should be, yet has a surprise flavour twist.  It has a nice, dense, smooth paste (not too dry, soft and still crumbly), milky aromas, clean slightly fruity taste, and is accented with true Canadian maple flavor without being overly sweet.

I’m always happy to celebrate my Canadian heritage with Maple Cheddar from Black River Cheese. To make it a truly Canadian culinary experience, pair with a local microbrew or cider.


FACTBOX:
Cheese: Maple Cheddar
Producer:
Black River Cheese Company
Where To Buy:
  Il Negozio Nicastro’s (Bank St. between Third & Fourth Ave), The Piggy Market (Westboro), Thyme & Again Creative Catering, Herb & Spice Shop &  Farm Boy
Interesting Fact:
Black River Cheese have been producing cheese in The County since 1901, despite a fire that destroyed their facility in 2001.

Enjoy! – Vanessa

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