Who will win Canadian Cheese of the Year on Thursday?

Le Baluchon: Cheese of the Year in 2014.
Le Baluchon: Cheese of the Year at the previous Canadian Cheese Awards.

The anticipation is building toward the climax of the 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens this Thursday in Montréal.

  • Will a Quebec cheese again be crowned Canadian Cheese of the Year?
  • Which cheese will be named Best Quebec Cheese of 2016? There are seven Quebec finalists within a few points of each other.
  • What about Best Ontario Cheese? There are five finalists in a tight race.
  • Who will win Best Blue Cheese, Best Cheddar and Best Gouda and 14 other main categories?

All together, 32 different champions will be crowned on Thursday, April 14, at the Awards Ceremony and Reception at popular Time Supper Club in downtown Montréal. The public is invited to the Awards Tasting Gala starting at 6 p.m.

More than 100 cheeses will be in the spotlight at the Tasting Gala, finalists and winners in the biggest cheese competition in Canada. Many cheesemakers will be present to engage with cheese lovers.

Admission includes more than 100 different cheese to sample as often as you wish, plus crackers, charcuterie and condiments. All you can eat, really! Wine, beer, sparkling water and juices available for purchase.

Click here to order tickets online at $25 per person plus tax. A ticket purchased in advance will provide speedy access to all the deliciousness inside Time Supper Club at 997 rue Saint-Jacques in Montréal. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

Time Supper Club is a short walk west of Palais des Congrès in downtown Montreal, two blocks from Bonaventure Metro Station. Originally, Palais des Congrès was announced as the venue for the Awards.

At the previous Canadian Cheese Awards in 2014, Le Baluchon, made by Marie-Claude Harvey and her team at Fromagerie F.X. Pichet in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec, was honoured as Cheese of the Year. This year, Le Baluchon is a finalist in three categories. It is also in the running for Best Quebec Cheese and Cheese of the Year in all Canada.

Competition is extremely close for Best Québec Cheese honours. There are seven finalists, in alphabetical order:

Best Ontario Cheese is also tightly contested, with five finalists:

  • Bella Casara Mascarpone – Quality Cheese, Vaughan, Ontario
  • Castello Smoked Gorgonzola – Arla Foods Canada, Concord, Ontario
  • Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario
  • Mountainoak Chili Pepper Smoked – Mountainoak Cheese, New Hamburg, Ontario
  • Tania, Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity – Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario.

Finalists are equally divided between Québec and other cheese-producing regions in Canada. They include large and small producers from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

The Farm House Natural Cheeses, a small producer in Agassiz, British Columbia, and Quality Cheese in Vaughan, Ontario, each garnered the most nominations as finalists: eight.
The Farm House Natural Cheeses, a small producer in Agassiz, British Columbia, and Quality Cheese in Vaughan, Ontario, each garnered the most nominations as finalists: eight.

The Farm House Natural Cheeses, a small producer in Agassiz, British Columbia, and Quality Cheese in Vaughan, Ontario, each garnered the most nominations as finalists: eight. That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm of Upper Economy, Nova Scotia, has five nominations.

In Québec, Fromagerie du Presbytère of Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick has been named finalist in seven classes. Fromagerie F.X. Pichet of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Cheese of the Year in 2014 with Baluchon, is finalist in five classes. Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser of Noyan, one of the pioneers in artisan cheese in Québec, has three nominations.

The independent competition is open to all milks used in cheesemaking in Canada—cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo—with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

Loblaw Companies and Provigo are Marquee Sponsors. Additional support is provided by Dairy Farmers of Canada and Desjardins Group. Slow Food Montréal is the presenting partner, Yannick Fromagerie, the logistics partner.

The biennial Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fin canadiens is organized by The Great Canadian Cheese Festival as a service to the cheese industry and a guide for consumers. The Festival is the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada, held annually the first weekend in June in Picton, Prince Edward County, in Bay of Quinte Region near Belleville, Ontario.

The 2016 Cheese of the Year and other award-winners will be in the spotlight at #TGCCF on June 4-5.


How many Cheese Grand Prix finalists have you tasted?

canadian-cheese-grand-prix_halfpagewidthThe 81 finalists in the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix have been announced. The prestigious biennial competition sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada saw 268 cheeses submitted in 27 categories.

The winners will be announced April 22 at a Gala of Champions in Toronto.

Quebec, home to the majority of Canada’s cheese producers, dominates the list of 81 finalists with 31 cheeses. Naturally, some of the larger producers have the most finalists: Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, 7 finalists, Sylvan Star Cheese, 6, and Natural Pastures Cheese Company and Fromagerie du Presbytère, 5.

The competition, open to cheese made exclusively with Canadian cow’s milk, first started in 1998 to promote achievement and innovation in cheesemaking and to spotlight the quality of Canadian milk.

Here are the 2015 finalists:category 1 fresh ch#196C2DE

Fresh Cheese

category 2 fresh pa#196C2EAFresh Pasta Filata

category 3 cheese w#196C2E9Fresh Cheese with grilling properties

category 4 soft che#196C307Soft Cheese with bloomy rind

category 5 soft che#196C2F8Cream-enriched Soft Cheese with bloomy rind

category 6 semi-sof#196C2EFSemi-soft Cheese

category 7 soft wit#196C2F0Washed- or Mixed-Rind Soft Cheese

category 8 semi-sof#196C305Washed- or Mixed-Rind Semi-soft Cheese

category 9 firm che#196C2F2Washed- or Mixed-Rind Firm Cheese

category 10 firm in#196C2DBFirm Cheese (except Cheddar and Gouda)

category 11 swiss 1#196C2ECSwiss-type Cheese

category 12 mozzare#196C2FFMozzarella (Ball, Brick or Cylinder) or Pasta Filata

category 13 ripened#196C2FBBrine-ripened Cheese

category 14 gouda 1#196C302Gouda (aged 1 to 6 months)

category 16 gouda 9#196C308Aged Gouda

category 17 extra g#196C2F9Extra Aged Gouda

category 18 blue ch#196C2E7Blue Cheese

category 19 flavour#196C2E4Flavoured Cheese with added non-particulate flavourings (except smoked cheese)

category 20 smoked #196C313Smoked Cheese

category 21 flavour#196C2F5Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavourings

category 20 smoked #196C313Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months)

category 23 medium #196C2F6Medium Cheddar (aged 4 to 9 months)

category 24 cheddar#196C2F3Old Cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year)

category 25 cheddar#196C2FCAged Cheddar (1 to 3 years)

category 26 cheddar#196C304Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years)

category 27 fromage#196C2DDFarmhouse Cheese

category 28 fromage#196C301Organic Cheese

Typically, many of the finalists and winners are available for sampling and purchase at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, this year taking place June 6-7 at Picton Fairgrounds in the heart of Ontario’s Prince Edward County, just south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region, near spectacular Sandbanks Provincial Park.


Outstanding cheese bites of 2011

Bliss from Monforte Dairy, an outstanding cheese bite if there ever was one.

We bring the curtain down on 2011 with friends in fromage recalling the memorable cheeses that crossed their palates this year. It’s a tradition at CheeseLover.ca we started last year.

Interestingly, two friends selected the same stand-out:

Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar, Mariposa Dairy:
Lindsay Clothbound was the best new Ontario cheese I tasted this year.  Beautifully balanced flavour, everything you would expect in a great clothbound cheddar in texture and flavour—with a terrific goat bonus at the end.
—Andy Shay, Cheese Buyer, Sobeys Ontario

Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar, Mariposa Dairy:
New to Ontario’s cheese scene and winning awards already, Mariposa’s twist on bandaged cheddar is an aged hard goat’s milk cheese, slightly dry and crumbly, with significant earthy, but distinct “meaty” flavor.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Vanessa named three other memorable cheeses of 2011:

Jersey du Fjord, Les Bergeries du Fjord:
My memorable cheese this year is definitely the Jersey du Fjord, aged 10 months, a 20-kg English Cheshire-inspired cheese that was one of the 16 Champions at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, a first prize and silver medal overall at the Quebec Caseus Awards.
Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Old World
2011 was my year to celebrate Old World classics. Iconic Spanish cheeses, such as sultry smoky Idiazábal and cool minerally Valdeón were big hits, as were rare treasures from tiny shops in Toronto, including Danish Esrom (Stinky! Umami!) and Portugal’s Serra da Estrela—a tangy, wobbly, grassy wonder.
—Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

Hail to the blues!
At what point do we stop developing our taste buds? For years, I have fought with the blues, only to find it actually works to try something 25 times! I have now come to the other side and crave the blues. No cheese board is complete without them. So what blue converted me? Saint Agur. How can you resist that double creamy, lovely balanced blue served with a beautiful glass of Karlo Estates Van Alstine Port. Hail to the blues! Bring them on in 2012!
—Jackie Armet, Cheese Co-ordinator , The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Lady Jane, Farm House Natural Cheeses:
I first fell in love with this cheese at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton when I tried it during one of the pairing sessions.  It looks like the best, most beautiful buttermilk-y cheesecake, with a texture that is such heaven in your mouth. Lady Jane is one of my favourite new finds of 2011.
—Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl

At CheeseLover.ca, the most memorable moment in cheese of 2011 came when we first tasted Laliberté, the triple-cream cheese made with whole organic cow’s milk at Fromagerie du Presbytère. Such rich dairy delight!

Other taste hits of the year just ending:

Bliss, Monforte Dairy:
Cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen never ceases to amaze with her creations. This Brie-style pasteurized sheep’s milk is pure bliss.

Goat Cheese Curds, Monforte Dairy:
Be prepared for bursts of farm flavours when you pop these squeaks into your mouth.

14 Arpents, Fromagerie Médard:
Every time we taste this soft-ripened cheese we get religion and want to make a pilgrimage to the Lac Saint Jean in Quebec where Rose-Alice Boivin Côté and her family work wonders.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-head-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, wonders what outstanding cheeses he’ll encounter in the New Year.

Farm House Kabritt and other cheese news

B.C. cheesemaker Debra Amrein-Boyes and husband George Boyes: Honouring aid workers in Haiti.

Cheese makes news every day. That’s why we’ve started collecting links to the most interesting news reports of the week on a special page under the News tab at the top of the blog. Check it whenever you visit CheeseLover.ca.

Go to B.C. if you want to taste this natural goat cheese (Photo above)

Finally, a recipe for cheesy cookies

New York’s Artisanal Cheese names new director of sales

Beer vs. wine debate rages on for which is the better suitor for cheese

World’s most expensive cheese sandwich

Man vs. Food feels the thrill of grilled cheese

Homemade cheddar from down on the farm

Barely Buzzed cheese rubbed with coffee and lavender

Five must-buy cheeses while in France: Max Shrem

The bluer the cheese the better: San Diego football hero