Good cheese hunting: Day 7, in Montreal

We had a reservation for dinner at famed Au Pied de Cochon, so we aimed to pace ourselves during the day, starting with a light breakfast.

Lunch in our hotel room is a store-bought Caesar salad with parmesan bits and a big chunk of delightful Celtic Blue from Glengarry Cheese.
At Au Pied de Cochon, we let it all hang out with fois gras poutine for a starter followed by pork four ways with mashed potatoes, gravy and not a vegetable in sight. The cheese curds in the poutine are divine, produced by La Fromagerie Champêtre.
At, we're big fans of The Wild Chef, aka Martin Picard, owner of Au Pied de Cochon. He strolled through the restaurant while we were eating, but we were too shy to say hello.

Related links:

Good cheese hunting: Day 6, arrival in Montreal

Once we hit Montreal, it didn’t take us long to find our way to Atwater Market.

Quebec brie oozes from our ham sandwich at Première Moisson, an excellent bakery and café in the market—and many other locations across Montreal.
I know, I know, it isn't cheese but le paté canard et son fois gras was incredibly good at Première Moisson.
La fromagerie Atwater, which carries some 750 varieties of cheese, has served as a cornerstone of the artisan cheese movement in Quebec for two decades.
Sylvie, cheesemonger par excellence at Fromagerie Atwater, introduced us to four new-to-us Quebec cheeses which we'll report on in due course.

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Good cheese hunting: Day 5, leaving Eastern Ontario

Tasting our way across Eastern Ontario’s cheese country has been great fun, but Montreal and Quebec beckon.

Gulp! Our second poutine in as many days, this one from Celine's Casse-Croûte in Hawkesbury, Ontario.
We are thrilled to chat with Margaret Morris at Glengarry Fine Cheese in Lancaster, Ontario. Via her cheese-cultures business, Margaret has played an important role in cheesemaking in North America since 1995.
Mmm . . . Celtic Blue from Glengarry Fine Cheese. Great to eat as is, but Margaret Morris suggests we try her blue on baked chicken breast. As if we will have any left by the time we return home!

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Waiting for the first Tomme de Gaston of 2010

Cheesemaker Richard Garner says spring lambs have first dibs on the ewe's milk at Les brebis sur le toit bleu.

Our timing was off but the visit last weekend to Les brebis sur le toit bleu (Sheep on the blue roof) was most enjoyable—and served to whet the appetite for a return later in the summer when cheese will be available.

Les brebis sur le toit bleu produces only cheese made from sheep’s milk. Sheep do not lactate all year round. They lamb in March but Richard Garner doesn’t take any milk from his flock of 30 ewes until mid-May. By October, the ewes begin to dry out. By November, lactation is done for another season, and the rams are brought into play. The resulting gestation term is five months. And, thus, the cycle of life and cheese starts all over again.

Richard made this season’s first cheese on May 14. After the obligatory aging of a minimum of 60 days, his cheese will first be available for purchase at the farm near Oxford Mills, Ontario, on July 18. By the end of July, it will be available at Byward Fruit Market in Ottawa, Jamie Kennedy’s Gilead Café & Bistro in Toronto, Gurth Pretty’s Cheese of Canada, and the farmer’s market in Kemptville a few kilometres from the farm.

The farm dates back to the 1870s. Cheese is made in a small make room at the back of the house which has a blue roof. The name of the farm and business is a take on the title of a 1920s novel by Jean Cocteau.

Richard and Sylvie Morel, his wife, purchased the farm 13 years ago and started making cheese one year later. He was a professional photographer in his earlier life. Sylvie, until her retirement last year, was director of exhibits of the fabulous Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.

In addition to Tomme de Gaston, a natural rind, aged, semi-hard cheese typical of fermier cheeses from the western Pyrénées that is a favorite at, Richard and Sylvie produce:

  • a creamy blue called Bleu de Sophie between a French Roquefort and a British Stilton in taste and texture;
  • a Coulomier called Neige de Babette similar in to a large Camembert;
  • a washed rind cheese;
  • and a creamy Feta.

They have no plans to grow the business. For them, small isn’t just beautiful. It’s perfect.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at

The roof is indeed blue at Les brebis sur le toit bleu near Oxford Mills, Ontario.

Good cheese hunting: Day 4, still in Eastern Ontario

First poutine of the trip—and an outstanding example of layered cheese curds, fries and gravy—at Nancy's Kitchen, a chip truck in Limoges, Ontario.
First cheeseburger of the trip, and a good one at that, at Nancy's Kitchen in Limoges.
Two plastic forks and one paper plate—Yes, we're still locked out of the trunk—help us devour an excellent white chocolate lemon cheesecake from Lock 17 Bistro at Burritts Rapids.

Good cheese hunting: Day 3, in Eastern Ontario

As we check out of Millisle Bed & Breakfast in Merrickville to head farther east in Ontario cheese country, we realize, to our consternation, that the lock of the trunk on our Ford Focus has jammed shut.

Barbecued turkey topped with mozzarella and cheddar, and red peppers and onions, makes a terrific sandwich on flat bread at Lock 17 Bistro at Burritts Rapids on the Rideau Canal west of Kemptville.

A galaxy of cheese on display at St. Albert Cheese Co-Operative in St. Albert, Ontario.

Zowie! St. Albert cheese curds squeak between the teeth—like good curds should.

A sure sign we have locked ourselves out of the trunk: No dishes, no utensils for our light supper of Empire 3-year cheddar, bison pate with figs and port and a phenom baguette, all from Mrs. McGarrigle’s in Merrickville.

Our day concludes in Hawkesbury with a delicious creme brulee cheesecake from Lock 17 Bistro. Still no utensils, still no dishes on account of the jammed trunk. Monday morning, we plan to find a Ford dealership.

Related links:

Millisle Bed & Breakfast

Lock 17 Bistro

St. Albert Cheese Co-Operative

Mrs. McGarrigle’s Fine Food Shop

Empire Cheese & Butter Co-Op

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at

Good cheese hunting: Day 1 and 2, in Eastern Ontario

We’re tasting our way through Eastern Ontario, heading for Montreal and the Formula 1 Grand Prix and then Warwick for Quebec’s huge cheese festival.

Quebec chevre on a bruschetta at Millisle Bed & Breakfast in Merrickville, Ontario.
Quebec chevre with a fresh salad drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette at Millisle B&B.
Toasting the fine conclusion of Day 1 with Santa Christina Sangiovese over dinner prepared just for us by Chef Debra MacLennan at Millisle B&B in Merrickville.
Grand Marnier raspberry creme brulee topped with cream and a chocolate mint leaf. A fine conclusion to a memorable meal at Millisle B&B.
Baked salmon on eggs scrambled with Gruyere, with thick bacon of course. Millisle B&B.
Frittata with Provolone, Asagio and Mozzarella, asparagus, red pepper, carmelized onion. Millisle B&B.
Lots of butter and a generous chunk of cheddar make the perfect breakfast scone at Millisle B&B.
Garden salad with Woolwich chevre at Yellow Canoe Cafe in Merrickville.
Grilled eggplant and Havarti on harvest rye sandwich at Yellow Canoe Cafe.
We spot a three-year Empire cheddar in the cheese display at Mrs. McGarrigle's Fine Food Shop in Merrickville.
An organic beet-spinach salad with Quebec chevre makes a pretty plate at Serendipity Bistro in Merrickville.
Le Calumet, Rosenberg Danish Blue and Triple Creme with duck pate and fois gras at Serendipity Bistro.

Lest you think we’re eating only cheese, take a gander at . . .

Wild boar ribs baked for eight hours at Serendipity Bistro, with yam fritters, root vegetables, fiddleheads and a superb slaw.
The chipotle rub on the bison steak at Serendipity Bistro was a bit hot for the Cheese-Head-in-Chief but it was wonderfully medium-rare tender, and the classic frites were perfect.

Related links in Merrickville, Ontario:

Millisle Bed & Breakfast

Yellow Canoe Cafe

Serendipity Bistro

Mrs. McGarrigle’s Fine Food Shop.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at

Cheese smarts: Get what you need for a career in cheese

A student in the Cheesemaking Technology course at University of Guelph learns how to pour Camembert-style cheese into forms.

Cheese education in Ontario is thriving, as evidenced by the array of tasting classes catering to those who wish to enhance their appreciation of cheese. But what about individuals looking to carve out a career in the cheese business who require a more thorough, professional education?

Here’s a roundup of courses available to mould a fresh batch of cheese professionals.

The University of Guelph has been offering some version of its cheesemaking course since 1893, though its present professor, Art Hill, began teaching his Cheesemaking Technology program with the Food Sciences department in 1986. The program—designed for artisan and commercial cheesemakers, cheese hobbyists, and government and sales personnel who work with cheesemakers—focuses on the science and technology of cheesemaking. Students attend lectures and apply the principles learned in a cheesemaking laboratory.

“The focus is on understanding the manufacturing principles of technological families of cheese, rather than becoming expert in the manufacture of particular cheese varieties,” says Professor Hill. The program is offered annually in the spring and runs for five days. The next course offering will run from April 27 to May 1, 2015. Those interested can visit the course website.

Artisan Cheese Marketing, a cheese education and public relations company founded by cheese industry expert Kathy Guidi, was the first business in Canada to recognize the demand for professional cheese appreciation classes. In response, the company developed the Cheese Education Guild in 2005, the first institution in Canada to offer a certificate-level cheese education course.

To earn a Cheese Education Guild certificate, students must complete three 24-hour appreciation courses. The courses aim to develop students’ tasting and sensing abilities while building cheese vocabulary and knowledge. Cheese Appreciation courses 1 and 2 each cost $550, while the final Cheese Appreciation 3 costs $620. Information on upcoming courses is listed on the company website, and can also be obtained by emailing Artisan Cheese Marketing.

George Brown College has also sensed a demand for professional cheese education classes, and so the school began offering a Professional Fromager Certificate in January 2010. The course was developed by Scott McKenzie, a graduate of the Cheese Education Guild, and is offered through the college’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts department. The program consists of six classes, each focusing on an element of cheese appreciation and knowledge. The program includes classes on tasting and criticism, affinage, and pairings. Individual classes range in cost from $231 to $321, with the total program tuition fees amounting to $1,556. For more information, contact the department at (416) 415-5000 ext. 2517 or via email.

Monforte Dairy is developing its own unique program that will bring the company into the ranks of professional cheese educators. Unlike other programs available in Ontario, Ruth Klahsen, Monforte’s owner and head cheesemaker, has decided to offer an apprenticeship program that focuses on the craft of artisan cheesemaking.

“The school is intended to preserve and grow the art of artisanal cheesemaking as opposed to industrial cheesemaking. Ontario was once the dairy capital of Canada and Monforte would like to see more artisanal cheese operations across the province again. It would be our hope that the new cheesemakers would then be able to start up their own dairies,” says Maureen Argon, Monforte’s communications specialist.

Monforte is hoping to attract apprentices who already hold a keen interest in cheesemaking, and who have some food production knowledge. The program is still in the development stage, with cheese consultant Neville McNaughton building a curriculum. Monforte is also looking into partnership possibilities with Ontario colleges. The program will run over a two-year period, from January to April. For more information, contact Monforte Dairy through the company website.

Though the popularity of cheese education courses is on the rise in Ontario, some experts believe a more traditional education is all a cheese enthusiast needs to learn the business. Julia Rogers, founder of Cheese Culture, which offers cheese classes and events to the public, says that while these courses can contribute to an individual’s overall cheese education, on their own they are not enough to prepare a person for retail or entrepreneurial work in cheese.

“If you want a career in cheese, you’ve got to work in cheese, which means washing dishes, washing floors, getting up early, stressing over margins and expiry dates and Christmas pre-orders, fielding every consumer question known to humanity, juggling CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and Public Health inspectors, navigating the minefields of fickle urban trendsetter taste, meanwhile smiling . . . and doing it for minimum wage, 360 days a year,” Rogers says.

If, after paying their dues in such a gruelling setting, aspiring cheese experts still wish to pursue a career in the business, Rogers recommends seeking apprenticeships with industry professionals and foreign learning experiences to polish their skills.

—Phoebe Powell

A journalism graduate and budding turophile, Phoebe Powell last wrote for about getting to know sheep’s-milk cheese.