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 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.
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:
Margaret Peters-Morris started making cheese commercially under the Glengarry Fine Cheese banner three years ago, but her involvement in cheesemaking across North America goes back almost two decades.
She’s making a name now as an award-winning cheesemaker in her own right but for many years, Margaret was—and still is—the go-to-source for lactic starters and ripening cultures for cheesemakers from California to Quebec. Legend has it that she never sold a culture to a cheese producer without first making the cheese herself in a makeshift make room in her garage.
Margaret Peters-Morris is native to the area. She was raised on the Peters family’s dairy farm where her mother, Johanna, taught Margaret cheesemaking at a young age. Her interest in dairy farming led her to McGill University in Montreal where she earned a B.Sc. in Agriculture and Food Science. After graduating, she enhanced her cheese knowledge by traveling and studying cheesemaking in Europe. All of that experience has culminated in the products of Glengarry Fine Cheese.
In 2008, the Glengarry creamery was built on a piece of the same land which was farmed by Margaret’s family. Much of the milk used comes from a heard of Holsteins on her brother’s dairy farm across the road from the plant. All of the cheeses are made at that single location ensuring consistent methods and high quality standards of production.
In just a few short years, Glengarry has developed and introduced 10 styles of cow’s milk cheeses and two goat’s milk cheeses.
Glengarry’s most popular cheese is the Lankaaster. The unique spelling of the name is a clever spin on the nearby town of Lancaster with an added European flair. The Lankaaster is a hard Gouda-style cheese that is shaped as a loaf to express the fact that it is meant to be sliced and eaten on bread as is the tradition of Dutch farmers. Glengarry offers three variations of the Lankaaster: infused with chives, Italian spice or cumin. This hard cheese is aged 2 to 4 months and is categorized as mild or medium.
For fans of soft cheese, Glengarry offers Figaro which is a soft bloomy-rind cheese that is made in the tradition of Chaource cheese from the Champagne region of France. It is aged 3 weeks and has a mild milky and fresh taste when young but the flavor intensifies when aged to 6 weeks.
For blue-cheese lovers, Glengarry has developed Celtic Blue which is a soft creamy blue cheese with delicate veining. The taste is mild and not aggressive and it has a pleasing buttery aroma.
The cow’s milk comes from two local herds at the family-owned VLN Farm and nearby Maple Lane Farm. To ensure quality, Margaret visits the farms on a weekly basis and sometimes assists in milking
If goat’s milk cheese is your thing, then you should try the Fromage fraise which is a goat’s milk cheese made from milk originating from the nearby Clarmell Farms.
The Glengarry family of cheeses have been well received and have earned top honours in cheese competitions. Most recently, in May of 2011, three of Glengarry’s cheeses are finalists in the seventh Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Lankaaster Traditional Gouda (semi-soft cheese category), Lankaaster Traditional Gouda Aged (firm cheese), and Celtic Blue (blue cheese). The final results of that competition will be announced in two weeks and the winners will be available for tasting in a special presentation at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.
At the plant, Glengarry operates a retail store open seven days a week. It also serves as an education and interpretation center. In addition to selling the cheeses made on the premises, the store offers maple syrups, jams and other specialty food items.
Drew Gall earned his way through university working on a dairy farm, studied dairy science, switched to forestry and ended up owning a specialty fabrication company. He indulges his true passion by blogging about cheese as the Canada Cheese Man.