Give me Riopelle or Laliberté or give me death!

Riopelle de l'Isle: A world-class triple-cream made in Canada.
Riopelle de l’Isle: A world-class triple-cream—made in Canada.

I enjoy eating cheese from around the world but my passion is for fromages fins, artisan cheese made in Canada. When I hear someone praising an imported cheese to high heaven, my immediate reaction is: What do Canadian cheesemakers produce that is just as tasty, if not superior?

Chateau de Bourgogne, a classic triplecrème made in France, was recently selected by Kelsie Parsons, a guest blogger at Cheese & Toast, as the one cheese he wanted to savour if the world were to end.

Call me chauvinistic, but I’d rather go with Riopelle de l’Isle, the first triple-cream artisanal cheese produced in Canada. It was launched in 2001 by Société Coopérative Agricole de l’Île-aux-Grues, located on an island in the St. Lawrence River northeast of Québec City, and quickly became a huge success.

A wedge of Riopelle reveals a creamy and incredibly smooth centre beneath a thin, bloomy rind. Leaving an exquisite hint of butter, it is absolutely enchanting.

Named for Jean-Pierre Riopelle, a world-renowned Canadian artist.
Named for Jean-Paul Riopelle, a world-renowned Canadian artist.

Jean-Paul Riopelle, the world-renowned painter who spent the last years of his life on l’Île-aux-Grues, gave his name and the image of one of his best-known paintings to the cheese. In return, part of the profits financially help students of the island who wish to attend high school or university.

Laliberté: a triple-cream created by award-winning chessemaker Jean Morin.
Laliberté: a triple-cream created by award-winning chessemaker Jean Morin.

If there were no Riopelle to be had, I’d select a another Québec beauty, this one created by Jean Morin at Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick, Québec:

Laliberté, a triple-cream cheese made with whole organic cow’s milk from the family dairy farm across the road from the creamery. It’s such a rich dairy delight!

Given the critical and commercial success of Riopelle over the last decade, Canadian producers of cheese on an industrial scale now also offer triple-creams:

The factory cheeses are OK, if you can get past the modified milk ingredients used in their manufacture, but the artisanal producers who use pure milk are the ones who deserve and need the support of Canadian cheese lovers.

Especially with recent rumblings from Ottawa that Canada’s producers of artisan cheeses may face greater challenges in the future. A report in the Ottawa Citizen indicates the Canadian government and European Union are close to a deal that would see a substantial increase in exports of European dairy products—mainly cheese—to Canada in exchange for greater access to European customers for Canadian beef, pork and canola.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at and founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.