We bring the curtain down on 2023 with the help of friends in fromage recalling the most memorable cheese that crossed their palates during the past 12 months.
Check out the tasting notes and make up your shopping list for the next visit to a cheese shop or, better yet, right to the cheesemaker. If you like, you can order online for convenient home delivery.
David Beaudoin first gained popularity as the Squeaky Cheese Guy. Nowadays, he’s known as the Canadian Cheese Ambassador. Here are his picks for the most memorable cheese of the year:
L’Attrappe Cœur, La Trappe à Fromage, Gatineau, Québec
This heart-shaped brie has conquered my heart and many others at weddings and gatherings. Under its velvety bloomy rind reminiscent of white mushrooms is a milky and chalky paste that keeps on “oozing” away when ripening to perfection. Mild, chalky and fresh when young, it develops beautiful aromas of mushrooms and root vegetables when ripe.
Great Plains Blue, Coteau Hills Creamery, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
A young mild blue, with light blue veins throughout the cheese, creates a nice balance between earthy, mushroomy, salty and creamy. This light blue cheese made from the milk of Caroncrest Farm in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, is a great entry-level blue cheese to be discovered. Only available in Saskatchewan, and in small quantities.
Miranda, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, Noyan, Québec
Le Miranda is a firm washed rind cheese with a savoury and umami flavour that still awaits to be discovered nationally. This cheese is spectacular on its own or with sweet and savoury accompaniments, and a long deep lasting flavour.
Cheese educator and cheese sommelier Vanessa Simmons says her most memorable cheese moments happen when the joy of the season is shared with good friends, family, work peers or colleagues, walking them through a memorable Canadian artisan cheese experience. Personally selected and perfectly à point, these cheeses are all uniquely special in their own way—whether award-winning, or reserve aged, rare and hard to find, or some of the last of their kind.
Here are those extraordinary cheeses:
- La Madeleine, Fromagerie Nouvelle France, Racine, Québec
- Chevronné, La Swisse Normande, Saint-Roch-Ouest, Québec
- Grey Owl, Fromagerie Le Detour, Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac, Québec
- Magie de Madawaska, Fromagerie Le Detour, Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac, Québec
- Hercule de Charlevoix 24 mois – Laiterie Charlevoix, Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec Québec
- Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar –Mariposa Dairy/Lenberg Farms, Lindsay, Ontario
- Hatley Grand Cru, Fromgerie La Station, Compton, Québec
- Bleu D’Elizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytere, Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick, Québec
Jackie Armet is a longtime friend in cheese who has worked with me as cheese co-ordinator at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival and then the Canadian Cheese Awards. A graduate of the Professional Fromager program at George Brown College in Toronto, Jackie lives in Prince Edward County and offers in-person tutored tastings and consulting services via Cheese Experience.
Here’s what really tickled her palate in 2023:
The Dragon’s Growl, That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm, Upper Economy, Nova Scotia
It’s a creamy Gouda cheese spread made with Dragon’s Breath Blue and Old Growler Gouda.
Cow’s milk creates a subtle, creamy and rich flavour as you spread it on anything from a cracker, baguette, burger, steamed or roasted vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes. Certainly takes veggies up a notch.
Fredondaine, Fromagerie La Vache à Maillotte, La Sarre, Québec
Often nicknamed the “Oka” of Abitibi, Fredondaine pleases everyone with its softness and versatility. This cow’s milk, washed rind cheese is always a good go to cheese with hints of cooked butter and slightly nutty.
STAND-OUT CHEESE OF YEARS PAST
- Outstanding cheese of 2012
- Outstanding cheese of 2014
- Most memorable cheese of 2018
- Most memorable cheese of 2020
- Most memorable cheese of 2022
Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca, has never met a cheese he didn’t like . . . well, hardly ever. Follow him on his other adventures at On the Road, Across the Sea on Substack.