We bring the curtain down on 2016 with friends in fromage recalling the memorable cheeses that crossed their palates during the past 12 months. In alphabetical order, here is a baker’s dozen of outstanding cheeses of the year—plus a special mention for the 2016 Canadian Cheese of the Year and a word of advice for producers of non-dairy cheeses.
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.
Bibi is a delicious, oozy, creamy, finger-licking good Camembert-style cheese made by Guy Dessureault and Lise Mercier at Fromagerie Domaine Féodale. This cheese ranks in my very selective OMG! category. It is best enjoyed and savoured with a very special person. Make the experience part of a road trip as you will have to drive to the fromagerie, halfway between Montréal and Trois-Rivières, to buy it. It is a regional treasure! The warm hospitality of the two cheesemakers and their staff, at their recently expanded facility north of Berthierville, will make you feel like you are part of their family.
Blossom’s Blue is an aged blue cheese made entirely with the unpasteurised, organic milk of Moonstruck Dairy’s own Jersey herd. Its texture is firm and dense, yet slightly crumbly. It is a touch sweet with the rich flavor of Jersey milk and a has great balance of salt and strength.
Belgium-born Didier Laurent is cheesemaker and owner at Fromagerie Au Fond Des Bois located, as its French name implies, “deep in the woods” near Rexton, New Brunswick, on 267 acres of land bordered by the St. Nicholas River. All of Didier’s cheeses are made exclusively from the milk of his own goats with no additives. The 98 dairy goats raised in his goat house include Nubians, Alpines and Saanens. This is a goat’s milk bloomy-rind cheese that could easily pass for cow’s milk cheese with a soft and flowing texture with a rich, salty, earthy flavour. I love this cheese with Pinot Noir or a bubbly.
This cheese is a relatively new blue from urban cheesemaker Lyndell Findlay. She is one of the few sheep’s milk cheese producers in Nova Scotia. She purchases her milk from a farm in Stewiack and makes the cheese at her facility on Robie Street in Halifax’s North End—the first of its kind here in the city. The cheese reminds me of a mild Roquefort with a creamy, chalky texture, delicate bite and slightly sweet finish. Perfect for the “blue-fearful” cheeselover, it’s very accessible. It pairs really well with our local, aromatic whites like Tidal Bay, especially those with a touch of balanced sweetness.
We don’t see much water buffalo milk cheese in Nova Scotia, so this is a real treat. It’s made without rennet (perhaps coagulated with an acid instead) so it is suitable for strict vegetarians. It’s a semi-soft soft, washed rind cheese with a friendlier “fetor” than some washed-rinds! At peak ripeness it is totally decadent, rich and oozy with hazelnut and salted butter notes. Superb with a full, fruity white wine or Saison (beer).
It’s a rarity, but there might be some of the 2016 stock left if folks move fast. Available at Gunn’s Hill, it’s a coveted 18-month batch, released only in December of every year. Ripened for an additional 10 months, Five Brothers Reserve becomes more rustic in appearance, almost “leathered,” with its rind developing shades of darker brown. The “eyes” in the paste are more pronounced and tiny crystals are present, a result of the aging process, a sign of a good cheese! Enjoy its fruity and malty aroma on the nose. This cheese is complex while keeping its smooth and creamy texture and finishes with a subtle bite. Waves of scotch-y, malt-y and caramel flavours ride over your palate and linger for a long time.
Ile-aux-Grues, 2-year cheddar – Société Coopérative Agricole de l’Île-aux-Grues, Québec
At home, my personal favourite, everyday go-to cheese continues to be Ile-aux-Grues 2-year cheddar. I am never without at least 10 kg on hand. Enough flavor for character, not too much to overpower cooking or more sensitive palates. Perfect for grilled cheese, baguette and cheese, plowman’s lunch, omelettes, host gifts and drop-in entertaining.
The Tuijtels family up in Cherryville, B.C., has been producing this and many other cheeses according to their generations-old family recipes. They prefer to focus on high quality milk, and not an overly large production. This gives the Maasdammer its deep, buttery, sweet taste. Great as a base for fondue and with a crisp dry Reisling.
Another rarity to find in stores. We featured it in Savvy Cool Curds for November and it was nothing short of knock-your-socks-off yummy! Nevis comes in a larger format wheel as a washed rind cow milk cheese. A dark gold basket weave exterior compliments a golden straw interior which is cheddar-like in texture. Nevis is all buttery goodness with a tangy finish.
From Little Qualicum Cheeseworks in Parksville on Vancouver Island, Rathtrevor has quickly become one of our favorite local cheeses. Made with the unpasturised milk from their own mixed herd of Ayrshire, Brown and Canadienne cows, this Alpine-style cheese is nutty, sweet and delicious. Great on its own with a glass of wine, but also a fantastic melter.
This is a hard, 18-month, sheep’s milk Gouda made by Jeff McCourt at Glasgow Glen. Jeff bought Martina TerBeek’s business “The Cheeselady” in 2012 which was one of PEI’s only artisanal cheese business operating for 25 years specializing in Gouda. The farm is a 12-acre lot, overlooking Hunter River and Rustico Bay. This cheese has a parmesan-like flavour and texture—sharp, buttery, herbaceous, nutty,and a touch crumbly. Perfect with a hearty glass of Red.
As Canadians continue to re-examine their diets and understand that diet is a key measure in controlling health, there is rising interest in alternatives to traditional cheese.
I tried cheeses from Fauxmagerie Zengarry (Glengarry, Ontario) and Nuts For Cheese (London, Ontario) and while several of these are very good (Zengary Gruyere with cumin and Nuts for Cheese Chipotle Cheddar and Super Blue) they are not to be compared to traditional cheeses. My advice to these cheesemakers is to learn from the traditional techniques, embrace their creations for what they are, because they are good, but avoid the copy of traditional names and the implied similarity of flavor and texture experience. I can see lots of people finding this interesting.
For most of 2016—until the last of it disappeared in a shrimp bake a few days ago, there was always a kilo or more of Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar in the cheese fridge at CheeseLover.ca.
Crowned Cheese of the Year in the 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards, the old-style cheddar, made according to an Orkney island recipe, is truly a Canadian classic. Now generally available across Canada, it’s a must-try cheese, if you’ve not sampled it already.
A highlight of 2016 for us was a visit to Cows Creamery in Charlottetown, P.E. I., home of Avonlea, several other outstanding cheeses, fabulous ice cream and awesome chocolates—not to mention a huge selection of T-shirts featuring cows in many different settings.
The warm hospitality shown to us by Scott Linkletter, proprietor, and Armand Bernard, cheesemaker, only made the visit more memorable.
Congratulations to Glengarry Fine Cheese for winning Best of Show with Celtic Blue Reserve at the biggest cheese competition in the United States!
A soft blue enriched with extra buttercream and aged four months, the cheese won top honours at the annual American Cheese Society Judging & Competition, held this week in Providence, Rhode Island. Some 1,700 cheeses were submitted for judging by cheese producers in North, Central and South America.
Two years ago, Glengarry’s Lankaster Aged was named Best Cheese in the World at an international competition in England.
Margaret Peters-Morris, owner at Glengarry Fine Cheese, located in Lancaster near Cornwall, Ontario, give full credit to cheesemaker Wilma Klein-Swormink: “This cements 20 years of really hard work from myself and my staff. Through a lot of sweat and tears, we were determined to reach a real pinnacle in our career.”
Klein-Swormink has played a key role in cheesemaking at Glengarry since its inception in 2008 and produces cheese with the dedicated team at Glengarry as plant manager/cheesemaker.
Glengarry Fine Cheese and Glengarry Cheesemaking are located on the Peters family farm which has been in the family since 1967, Peters-Morris explains. “Our ancestral roots hail from the Netherlands and our parents have laid the framework for the family farm to grow and prosper in Lancaster where our parents started their dairy and crop farm which is now in the hands of the next generation who are continuing the dairy tradition and, now, the cheese factory is building its own tradition and reputation with the hard work and dedication that our parents instilled in myself and my brother.”
Margaret shares cheesemaking responsibilities with Wilma who is also the daughter of Dutch immigrants who also came to Eastern Ontario to establish a dairy farm.
We lower the curtain on 2014 with Vanessa Simmons, respected cheese sommelier at Savvy Company in Ottawa, recalling the 12 Canadian cheeses that made the year memorable for her palate. Check out her tasting notes and make up your shopping list for the next visit to a cheese shop.
We bring the curtain down on 2013 with friends in fromage recalling the memorable cheeses that crossed their palates this year. In alphabetical order, mainly, here are 22 outstanding cheeses of the year just ending—plus new Canadian fondues and a pilgrimage cheese lovers must make.
It is surprising, even to me, that two of my three faves of 2013 are flavoured cheeses, which to me is a testimony to high-quality cheesemaking. Flavours that meld with the cheese substrate where the cheese and the flavour counterpart do a sublime dance. —Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant
Ruckles, Salt Spring Island Cheese Company
David Wood knocks it out of the park, again. In a sea of so many pedestrian offerings of marinated goat cheese, Ruckles is in class all its own. Firm yet silkily textured cylinders of cheese are bathed in grapeseed oil which is speckled with a mix of thyme, rosemary, chives and garlic, in perfect proportion.
Chili Pecorino, The Cheesiry
The Chili Pecorino is one of my favourite offerings from Rhonda Zuk Headon’s repertoire. The balance of chilis embedded in this toothsome cheese provides a gentle heat that lingers on the palate while the nutty, olive flavour of this sheep milk cheese still holds its own. Not an easy accomplishment but Rhonda pulls it off!
Cheese fondue, the melted-cheese dish popular some years ago, is making a comeback—but without the classic ingredients of Comté, Beaufort, Gruyere or Emmental.
One of my best bites was a fondue made from Victor et Berthold, a beautiful washed rind from Fromagerie Du Champ a la Meule in Québec. This cheese made one of the most delicious fondues of all time. It made me very happy. —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway
Outstanding cheese of 2013
Alfred Le Fermier (24 months), Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Alfred Le Fermier is a true, rustic, organic, raw cow’s milk farmstead cheese made in small batches, pressed and cooked, washed/turned by hand, as a way of life on the farm. It has a European style, but with local terroir, as a result of choosing closely the hay from their local Estrie region. Note heavy woodsy, herbal and mild floral aromas, with layers of milky, grassy and buttery complexity on the palette, more pronounced when aged for 24 months. —Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company
Beau’s Abbey StyleCheese, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
A delicious marriage of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese of Woodstock, Ontario, with Beau’s All Natural Brewing of Vankleek Hill, Ontario. This sumptuous semi-soft cheese is washed with a seasonal beer from Beau’s. Beer and cheese together, pure bliss! —Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies
Brebichon, Les Fromages du Verger
I simply adore Brebichon, a farmstead sheep milk cheese that is oh so creamy, delicate and lucious. This apple juice washed cheese is an absolute must buy on every stop I make at Fromagerie Atwater in Montréal. —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway
Chemin Hatley, Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Made with organic raw milk from a closed herd of fourth-generation family-farmed cows, this cheese readily fulfills its potential. Supple and fragrant, with yeasty and savoury aromas, and a long layered finish. —Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture
Dragon’s Breath Blue, That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm A rare find and 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalist, Dragon’s Breath Blue is a closely guarded family secret. Unique in shape and size, these small cylinders of blue cheese are aged only a few weeks then coated with wax for ripening another 2-6 months. The flavor and texture varies by season, more buttery/creamy in the summer months with higher fat content in the milk. Note sharp blue flavor, moist texture with fruity notes, and little blue veining depending on exposure to air. More than worth the shipping charges! —Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company
Figaro, Glengarry Fine Cheese
I choose Figaro from Glengarry–not that I don’t love (and love the Global award!) for the Lankaaster Aged but I kind of forgot about the amazingly fresh and delicate qualities. And we found each other again this year–lucky for me. —Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail
Fleur des Monts, La Moutonnière
Not as consistent as one might want, though still an ambitious and expressive farmstead cheese modeled loosely after Manchego, but more floral, bright and pungent. —Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture
Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese
I’ve served the Grizzly Gouda from Sylvan Star many times at events or at home this year and it is outstanding in its complexity, looooong finish and “ability to wow” factor. —Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail
La Sauvagine Réserve, La Maison Alexis de Portneuf
Somehow the cheesemakers at Alexis de Portneuf improved their already mouth-watering, soft, mixed rind La Sauvagine cheese. What did they do? Add cream to it, making it a triple crème. Grab some of this cheese while you can. A limited amount of this OMG mouth experience was created. —Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies
Lankaaster Aged, Glengarry Fine Cheese Supreme Global Champion at the 2013 Global Cheese Awards, this firm to hard cow’s milk cheeses comes shaped in a loaf or wheel, covered in a waxy rind, and is a Gouda-style after Dutch farmstead cheeses. It’s a rich, dense, chewy cheese with intense buttery, fruity, caramelized nutty flavors that linger forever. —Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company
Le Vlimeux, Fromagerie Le Mouton Blanc It’s not hard to see how this multiple Caseus award-winning cheese is smokin’ hot! Vlimeux is a firm, pressed, uncooked raw sheep’s milk cheese, with a hard, waxy, glossy, caramel-hued rind. Smoke, salt and nut permeate the interior overlaying the cheese’s natural sweet milky flavors in a perfect complement. —Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company
Maple Cheddar, Black River Cheese
What could be more Canadian than Black River’s Maple Cheddar? This cheese provides a bite that is perfectly balanced between sweet and savoury, and just —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway
Okay, this is part of the cheese but my wife and I cannot resist adding small cubes of it into our soups, chili, tomato sauce and risotto. The dried rind softens in the broth, releasing its flavour and becomes chewable. We love it so much that we actually have to buy some from our local grocery store. —Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies
Pont Blanc, Fromagerie Au Grés Des Champs
Pont Blanc is a soft, lactic, surface ripened cow milk cheese. A rare find outside the farmstead retail store, the skin-like rind on this beauty reminds of intricate ivory lace, while the dense interior has the texture of a soft cream sandwich and moist piece of cheesecake. Note pronounced flavors and aromas of fresh sweet milk, and grass that linger and linger. —Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company
Ricotta, Quality Cheese The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Grand Champion, the humble Ricotta from Quality Cheese reigned supreme, winning against more than 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first ever for both an Ontario cheese and a fresh category cheese. Fresh, creamy, melt in your mouth Ricotta (which means re-cooked in Italian, as it’s made from the leftover whey after making other cheese). Very light, but rich, and very versatile as a simple cheese to eat with a variety of garnishes/condiments or used in cooking. —Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company
Taleggio, Northern Italy
Taleggio (1996 Italian DOP) has and will always be in my Top 10. It’s a semi-soft, washed rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that is named after Val Taleggio where it has been made since the 10th century. The cheese has a thin crust and a strong aroma, but its flavour is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang. —Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs
Water Buffalo Mozzarella, Old West Ranch
James Meservy deserves a medal for perseverance! He has faced many challenges in the last two years in his attempt to bring high quality Old West Ranch Water Buffalo Mozzarella to the artisan Canadian cheese market. When it is in its finest form, it is dense and velvety without being the least bit rubbery and sweetly milky with a tangy underpinning that keeps us reaching for more. —Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant
Only one imported cheese—Taleggio—made the 2013 most memorable list, but Julia Rogers offers this recommendation:
As far as international picks go, I’d suggest that any cheese lover make a pilgrimage to Neil’s Yard Dairy in London. The pleasures are too many to enumerate, but this is mecca, without a doubt. Here’s just one photo. And, yes, I tasted virtually everything in the shot. —Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture
Wow, Ontario’s Glengarry Fine Cheese rules the world!
Lankaaster Aged Loaf was crowned Supreme Global Champion at the Global Cheese Awards in Frome, England, on September 14. It’s the top award in the international competition that dates back to 1861.
“Being the big cheese in the world feels pretty good,” says Margaret Peters, owner of Glengarry Fine Cheese in Lancaster, Ontario, and the lead cheesemaker. She gives full credit to Wilma Klein Swormink, the plant manager/cheesemaker who has played a key role in cheesemaking at Glengarry since its inception in 2008 and continues to produce cheese with the dedicated team at Glengarry.
Glengarry Fine Cheese and Glengarry Cheesemaking are located on the Peters family farm which has been in the family since 1967, Margaret explains. “Our ancestral roots hail from the Netherlands and our parents have laid the framework for the family farm to grow and prosper in Lancaster where our parents started their dairy and crop farm which is now in the hands of the next generation who are continuing the dairy tradition and, now, the cheese factory is building its own tradition and reputation with the hard work and dedication that our parents instilled in myself and my brother.”
Margaret shares cheesemaking responsibilities with Wilma who is also the daughter of Dutch immigrants who also came to Eastern Ontario to establish a dairy farm.
Lankaaster Aged is matured to a minimum of 10 months. The cheese entered in the competition was made in June, 2011, thus, it aged two years and a bit.
The cheesemaking team at Glengarry makes Lankaaster with pasteurized Brown Swiss milk from the Reimann Farm just north of the plant in Lancaster. It is a loaf shape, weighing 3 kilos, which is Glengarry’s traditional gouda loaf.
It’s shaped like a loaf of bread in the Dutch style to make it easy to eat the cheese as a sandwich.
Lankaaster Aged is a firm cheese, traditional rind, characteristic gouda “eyes” present, paste is dark, laden with crystals, with lovely butterscotch, pineapple and lactic notes, the veteran cheesemaker says. The cheese lingers in one’s mouth and is suitable to make any “gratin” in culinary preparations.
In addition to the overall grand prize, Glengarry’s Lankaaster Aged won the gold medal in Best Overseas Cheese (Non-European) while Glengarry’s Celtic Blue won a bronze medal in Blue Vein Cheese. Celtic Blue is also made with Brown Swiss milk and aged three months.
Fromagerie L’Ancêtre of Bécancour, Québec, was judged to produce the Best Butter in the world after its salted and unsalted butters took category honours.
It is not known how many other Canadian cheese dairies entered the annual competition.
We bring the curtain down on 2012 with friends in fromage recalling the memorable cheeses that crossed their palates this year. In alphabetical order, here are 20 outstanding cheeses of the year just ending—and one terrific cinnamon butter:
Any cheese made by Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
Regardless if I’m eating his curds or the harder aged cheeses Shep Ysselstein is best known for, his cheeses never disappoint, they’re always outstanding bites to remember. He is truly a talented cheesemaker to watch. —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, COWS Creamery
I was in P.E.I in the summer and finally got to meet Scott Linkletter, owner of COWS Creamery, and Armand Bernard, the cheesemaker. Ate Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar (still good everytime I have it) looking out over New London Bay as the sun was setting. —Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail
Bella Casara Mozzarella di Buffala, Quality Cheese
Discovered shortly after my trip to Italy when I was experiencing serious fresh cheese withdrawals. Enjoy the fresh, mild, milky flavor and smooth silky texture of this oh-so-versatile cheese made from Ontario buffalo (Yes, water buffalo) milk. The small, soft, delicate hand-pulled rounds pair perfectly with both sweet and savory accoutrements. Click here for more tasting notes. —Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company
Black River 8-Year Cheddar, Black River Cheese
While many Black River cheddars have a characteristic bitterness, the 8-year has lost this. It is incredibly thick and smooth in the mouth, rich and nutty, with a hint of caramel. —Andy Shay, Cheese Buyer, Sobeys Ontario
Brie Paysan, Fromagerie de la Presbytere
It’s been consistently beautiful this year, especially when ripe. If purchased, folks should hold it for an extra while. This is my favourite example of “vegetal” notes in a cheese. —Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company
Downey’s Cinnamon Honey Butter
My personal favourite this year is Downey’s cinnamon butter. It was a breakfast favourite of my youth, and I knew the family that made it in upstate New York. Through sleuthing with Gerry Albright and Sue Riedl, it turns out this is a heritage Canadian product! Many people remember McFeeter’s Honey Butter. The McFeeters licenced honey butter to the Downeys in Eastern Ontario. The Downeys later moved the company to New York. Whether you like the history or not, it is an awesome breakfast treat on toast. Sobeys is very happy to offer this heritage Ontario product again—now made in Pennsylvania. —Andy Shay, Cheese Buyer, Sobeys Ontario
Figaro, Glengarry Fine Cheese
My favourite Canadian cheese of late has been Figaro, by Glengarry Fine Cheese, because it is unique (though I believe modeled after a style of Robiola) and risk-taking (very moist, difficult to package and transport) and absolutely delicious (yeasty aromas, complex texture, musky finish). —Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture
Golden Blyth, Blyth Farm
A delicious, mild goat’s milk Gouda produced by Paul van Dorp near Blyth, Ontario —Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, at Loblaws
Grey Rush, Primeridge Pure
I’m a sucker for the plain as it is so versatile, but I find myself craving the chili, and this summer I was blown over by the frozen cheesecake made with their exceptional cream cheese. —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl
Sensations Applewood Smoked Cheddar, aged 2 years, Sobeys
A thermalized cheddar made in Québec. Like a campfire, you can taste the nuance. Would be perfect with a single malt! —Andy Shay, Cheese Buyer, Sobeys Ontario
Sorcière Bien Aimée, Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères
A soft, unctuous goat’s milk cheese is new to the luxurious lineup of Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères cheeses. Click here for my tasting notes. Again, keep until it’s soft and ooey-gooey good. —Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company
Wendy’s Own Camembert
A sheep’s milk Camembert that I made in a class at George Brown taught by Ruth Klahsen. I was not expecting success, but one out of the five cheeses I affineured actually turned out well. I was really proud of myself. —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl
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
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.
Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar was named Grand Champion about a year after it was introduced by Mariposa Dairy of Lindsay, Ontario—and began winning awards, including Best of Show, Runner-up, at the American Cheese Society.
Camelot, a new goat-milk cheese introduced by Upper Canada Cheese of Jordan, Ontario, only a few months ago, was named Reserve Champion and its other new cheese, Nanny Noire, placed second in mold-ripened class.
Mariposa Dairy dominated the goat-milk cheese competition, winning or placing in five categories.
Upper Canada’s goat cheeses are made only with milk from a rare herd of Lamancha goats pastured at Gord and Melanie Wood’s Idyllwood Farms near Keene, Ontario, and cared for by the entire Wood family. Says Lauren Petryna, head cheesemaker:
“This fresh, pure milk is then transformed into Camelot and Nanny Noire. Camelot ages for two months in our cellars, while camembert-style Nanny is rolled in ash, allowed to develop its bloomy rind and is ready to be enjoyed within weeks.”
Here are the top three in the mixed-milk class of the annual competition at the Royal:
Despite multiple entries from large cheese producers such as Saputo and Agropur, Quality Cheese of Vaughan, Ontario, collected the most first-place ribbons—four in all—with Zerto Fresh Mozzarella, Ricotta, Borgonzola and Burrata.
Perhaps as an indication of things to come, a new artisan cheesemaker, Primeridge Pure of Markdale, Ontario, won a second and a third with Grey Rush, a creamy dessert cheese.
The Grand Champion, Aged Lankaaster, is matured to a minimum of 10 months. Margaret Peters-Morris tells CheeseLover.ca. The cheese entered in the competition was made in June, 2010, therefore, it was 16 months mature.
Aged Lankaaster is a firm cheese, traditional rind, characteristic gouda “eyes” present, paste is dark, laden with crystals, with lovely butterscotch, pineapple and lactic notes, the veteran cheesemakers says. This cheese lingers in one’s mouth and is very suitable to use as cheese to make any “gratin” in culinary preparations.
Here are the top three in the variety class of the annual competition:
Canadian cheesemakers did remarkably well at the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference and Competition in Montreal this week, winning close to one-quarter of ribbons up for grabs. Best of all, Mariposa Dairy with Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar and Fromagerie du Presbytère with Louis d’Or won Best of Show honors.
D. AMERICAN MADE / INTERNATIONAL STYLE
Cheeses modeled after or based on recipes for established European or other international types or styles – Beaufort, Abondance, Gruyère, Juustoleipa, Caerphilly, English Territorials, Leyden, Butterkäse, Monastery styles, etc.
3rd Cabot Creamery Cooperative, MA
Cabot Unsalted Butter
S. CHEESE SPREADS
Spreads produced by grinding and mixing, without the aid of heat and/or emulsifying salts, one or more natural cheeses
SA: Open Category made from all milks – Spreads with flavors using a base with moisture higher than 44%
3rd Appleton Creamery, ME
Chevre Wrapped in Brandied Grape Leaf
V. WASHED RIND CHEESES
Cheeses with a rind or crust washed in salted brine, whey, beer, wine, other alcohol, or grape lees that exhibit an obvious, smeared or sticky rind and/or crust – Limburger, Pont l’Evêque, Chimay, Raclette, Swiss Appenzeller or Vignerons-style, etc.