The eye-opener at the inaugural Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards—and the palate-shocker—was the high quality of cheese made in homes across Canada.
In appearance, aroma, texture and flavour, many of the entries were the equal of commercially made cheese. None so more than Clover, the entry that captured Best of Show honours and won the washed-rind category in the competition held in conjunction with The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, on the first weekend of June.
Made by Mira Schenkel of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Clover was the clear favourite of anyone lucky enough to taste it.
There were 25 entries from three provinces accepted in five judging categories. The best in each category were judged a second time to determine Best in Show. Award-winning cheesemaker Stephanie Diamant, formerly of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, now at Black River Cheese in Prince Edward Country, and Ian Treuer of Edmonton, longtime home cheesemaker and a popular blogger at Much To Do About Cheese, served as judges.
Category winners with tasting notes by Ian Treuer:
Best Fresh Cheese: Curious Goat Chèvre
—Elis Ziegler of Toronto and Jess Posgate of Milton, Ontario, hope to start a farmstead cheese business one day with this wonderful, light cream cheese, a classic example of what a Chèvre should be. Perfect salt with hints of citrus round out the mild goat flavour.
Best Bloomy Rind Cheese: Camembert Type Cheese
—Doreen and Pete Sullivan of Niagara Falls, Ontario, are retired educators who offer home cheesemaking instruction. They created this bloomy rind gem where a lovely white exterior gives way to a fudgy and creamy paste.
Best Blue Cheese: Feu
—Suzanne Lavoie of Plantagenet, Ontario, was given a Jersey heifer called Yoga for her birthday. Curiosity and love of cheese led her to cheesemaking. Feu, a creamy blue cheese that is perfectly balanced, was a close contender for Best In Show.
Best Firm Cheese: Smoked Caciocavallo
—John Michael Symmonds of Vancouver is a sous chef at West restaurant in Vancouver. He started his love affair with cheese and cheesemaking after a trip to Neil’s Yard Dairy in London, England. His Smoked Caciocavallo has a great balance of smoke and cheese, the smoke serving to accent the local B.C. milk used to make the cheese.
Best Washed Rind Cheese: Clover
—Mira Schenkel of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, was born in Switzerland and immigrated with her husband, Uli, to Canada 18 years ago to farm and to raise a family. Click here to read more about Mira and her Best of Show cheese.
Competition co-ordinators were Ian Treuer and Jackie Armet, cheese co-ordinator of the annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival and the biennial Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens.
Fytozimus Bio Tech is Founding Sponsor of the Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards.
The mission of Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards is to provide encouragement to home cheesemakers, to offer expert feedback to all amateur cheesemakers, and to recognize the best in amateur cheesemaking in Canada.
The venue and logistical support were provided by Cheese Lover Productions, producers of the Cheese Festival and Cheese Awards/Le Concours.
The second annual Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards will be held June 4-5, 2016, again in conjunction with the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada.