Laliberté is triple crème that will blow your mind and palate. Think aromatic, decadent, with an exquisite hint of mushrooms and wild flowers. It’s made by Jean Morin, cheesemaker extraordinaire, and his équipe in a former Roman Catholic rectory—thus, the name Fromagerie du Presbytère—in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick two hours east of Montréal.
The milk comes from the family dairy farm across the street from the rectory now creamery. Jean Morin is a fourth-generation dairy farmer, the fifth generation now works the farm, too, with a sixth generation in the toddler phase.
The farmstead cheese took a year and a half to develop and is made with cow’s milk provided by a mix of naturally raised Jerseys and Holsteins.
When asked what the secret is to making award-winning cheese, Morin, answers simply: “Good grass and no silage.” He elaborates: “Happy, healthy cows. It all starts with the milk, and the care we show the cheese as we make it.”
Laliberté was judged Grand Champion at the recent Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. At the most recent Canadian Cheese Awards, it was named Best Bloomy Rind Cheese.
“This cheese truly distinguished itself in texture, taste and overall appearance. Its exquisite aromatic triple cream with its tender bloomy rind encases an unctuous well-balanced flavour with hints of mushroom, pastures and root vegetables,” says Phil Bélanger, Canadian Cheese Grand Prix jury chairman.
Jackie Armet, cheese co-ordinator at Canadian Cheese Awards, spotlights Laliberté “because it is simply delicious. It has so many rich qualities for a soft bloomy rind cheese. Delicate but bold in flavour with a lovely creamy finish and always t
Looking for last-minute ideas for delicious cheese to give as special gifts during the holidays—or to create an appealing cheese board?
Here are recommendations from the cheese lovers who work behind the scenes to make the Canadian Cheese Awards, the biggest cheese competition and judging in the country, happen every two years.
Awards Co-ordinator Jackie Armet picks Laliberté “because it is simply delicious. It has so many rich qualities for a soft bloomy rind cheese. Delicate but bold in flavour with a lovely creamy finish and always the first to go on a cheese board.”
Laliberté is made by Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick, Québec, by Cheesemaker Jean Morin and his équipe.
Awards Registrar Heather Robertson goes with Vacherin Mont d’ Or from Switzerland: “It’s a Christmas tradition! Pair it with some bubbly and fresh bread and you are ready for hibernation.”
Vacherin Mont d’Or is a seasonal cheese of Switzerland that delivers an amazing explosion of aroma and taste.
Nathalie Rollet Schofield, who serves as liaison with cheese producers in Québec, selects La Madelaine made by Fromagerie Nouvelle France.
“La Madelaine is an easy to love cheese. Rich and creamy, its mild taste will appeal to many. The unusual shape makes it readily identifiable. Made from sheep’s milk, it has a smooth and alluring taste.”
Cheese Ambassador Roxanne Renwick has been sampling cheese at Eataly Toronto, the luxury Italian food hall that recently opened in Yorkville.
She recommends Northern Italy’s La Tur: “A lush rich cream dream with a three-dimensional complexity of the cow, sheep, goat milk mix. Sweet grass and funky tang. A heavenly cloud of a cheese that transports me every time I have it.”
As Cheesemaker Ruth Khlasen puts it, “This Water Buffalo Camembert will make you decide where your loyalties to the name Matilda lay. Tom Waits’ gravelly rasp, or a patriotic love of Australia? For an elegant dinner party, choose the Waltzing Matilda with a delicate layer of ash under its bloomy rind.”
Pair it with a drizzle of honey to elevate the taste experience a notch.
Another delicious cheese from Ruth Khlasen, this one made with Ontario water buffalo milk. It offers a strong aroma and distinct, complex flavours. You might catch a hint of hazelnut as the cheese melts in your mouth.
Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese is a small artisan cheese dairy nestled within the rolling hills of Gunn’s Hill Road in Oxford County in Southwestern Ontario. The cheeses produced at Gunn’s Hill are truly unique, although you can taste the Swiss influence from techniques and recipes Cheesemaker Shep Ysselstein learned while making cheese in the Swiss Alps. Handeck is a handcrafted, washed-rind cow’s milk cheese that is produced using the same methods as a typical Swiss mountain-style cheese. Handeck Reserve is delicately aged for 36 months on cedar planks, adding robust quality to the cheese. It is a drier hard cheese with rich and complex flavours and nutty overtones. Available only at Christmas.
If your cheesemonger doesn’t carry Handeck Reserve, go with 5 Brothers Reserve. It doesn’t quite have the heft of Handeck but is delicious just the same.
He wore the same smiling-cow tie he wore at the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, and, again, at the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix last night, Jean Morin was named Grand Champion—the best of the best in artisan cheesemaking in Canada.
This time the champion cheese is Laliberté, an aromatic triple crème that will blow your mind and palate. Last time the winning cheese was Louis d’Or, another extraordinary cheese made in a former Roman Catholic rectory—thus, the name Fromagerie du Presbytère—in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick two hours east of Montréal.
Laliberté was also named champion in the Cream-Enriched Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind category,
Louis d’Or was named champion in Swiss-Type Cheese,
Le Bleu d’Élizabeth was named champion in Blue Cheese.
Clearly, it was an unforgettable evening for Morin and associate cheesemaker Dany Grimard as the Gala of Champions unfolded at Liberty Grand in Toronto, scene of a lavish awards ceremony cum cheese-tasting organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada. DFC has sponsored of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix since launching the biennial competition in 1998 to celebrate the high quality and proud tradition of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.
When asked what the secret is to making award-winning cheese, Morin, a fourth-generation dairy farmer, answers simply: “Good grass and no silage.”
Appropriately, smiling cows adorned the tie Morin wore to the 2011 awards presentation and last night, too.
Laliberté was selected as Grand Champion by a jury of Canadian food industry experts from 27 category winners. The Grand Champion and 27 category winners were chosen from a record-setting 268 cheese entries submitted by cheesemakers from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. The submissions were then narrowed down to 81 finalists by the jury in February.
“From all the excellent cheeses the jury tasted, we found Laliberté to be the stand-out,” said Phil Bélanger, Canadian Cheese Grand Prix jury chairman. “This cheese truly distinguished itself in texture, taste and overall appearance. Its exquisite aromatic triple cream with its tender bloomy rind encases an unctuous well balanced flavour with hints of mushroom, pastures and root vegetables.”
Named after Alfred Laliberté, the famous sculptor born in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, the farmstead cheese took a year and a half to develop and is made with cow’s milk provided by a mix of naturally raised Jerseys and Holsteins.
Fromagerie du Presbytère cheeses are distributed by Plaisirs Gourmets and available in cheese shops across Canada.
Laliberté will the featured cheese and Jean Morin the guest of honour at the fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 6-7 in Picton, Ontario. Many of the Grand Prix winners will also be in the spotlight at what has become the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast.
The 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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.