Le Pizy: Truly outstanding Québec farmstead cheese

Le Pizy: Outstanding farmstead cheese from Fromagerie La Suisse Normande.

We’ll go for months without Pizy, and then, when we taste it again, we fall in love all over again.

There is no question Le Pizy, created by Cheesemaker Fabienne Mathieu at Fromagerie La Suisse Normande in St.-Roch-de-L’Achigan, Québec, is one of Canada’s best farmstead cheeses. When it comes to aroma, flavour and texture, Pizy is simply outstanding, and pretty in appearance, too.

We were first introduced to Pizy while spending too much money on cheese one afternoon years ago at Marché Jean Talon in Montréal in the company of Vanessa Simmons, arguably Canada’s leading cheese sommelier.

Try and buy Le Pizy at the upcoming Artisan Cheese Night Market in Toronto.

Vanessa’s tasting notes tell all:

Pizy has and remains one of my favourite top 10 Canadian cheeses, for sure. It’s even better if you keep it past the best-before date on the package by at least a week or two or more.

The cheese has more yeasty notes when it’s young which develops into more of a mushroomy, slightly nutty flavour as it ages. It’s very pretty, with the most delicate hue of champagne.

This small, soft, surface-ripened pasteurized cow’s milk cheese is fashioned after the Swiss Tomme Vaudoise, due to its shape (small wheel) and size (only ½-inch thick). Le Pizy has a thick bloomy ivory rind, with a rich, dense, paste coloring between ivory and pearl. Experience big milky, fresh field mushroom aromas and a fresh lactic taste with a sweet tang when it’s young, softening out as it ages.

The hand-crafted cheese produced at Fromagerie La Suisse Normande represents the marriage of two cultures, Swiss and French. Cheesemaker Fabienne Mathieu comes from Switzerland, husband Frédérick Guitel who manages the farm comes from Normandy in France.

Their resulting cow, goat and sheep’s milk products are a marriage made in heaven. Cheeses are made from animals raised on the farm, in true “fermier” (farmstead) fashion.

Meet the Suisse Normande family, left to right : Fabienne (mother), Magaly, Bénédicte (both daughters work at the fromagerie), Freddy (father) and Thibaut (son who works at the farm).

Of their five children, three want to ensure the continuity of their parents’ work: Bénédicte and Magaly at the fromagerie and Thibault on the farm.

The fromagerie began its activities in 1995 on the farm 50 kilometres north of Montréal.

Fromagerie La Suisse Normande will be represented by Plaisirs Gourmets at Canada’s Artisan Cheese Night Market on June 6 in historic St. Lawrence Market’s Temporary North Hall in Toronto.

  • Fromagerie website: https://www.lasuissenormande.com/?lang=en_US
  • Distributor website: http://fromagesduquebec.qc.ca/en
  • Night Market information and tickets: http://www.cheeseawards.ca/night-market/

 —Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheesehead-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, is chairman of Canadian Cheese Awards and director of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. He’s hardly ever met a cheese he didn’t like.

Where can I buy Zacharie Cloutier outside Québec?

Multiple-award-winner Zacharie Cloutier.
Multiple-award-winner Zacharie Cloutier.

Here is where one can purchase award-winning Zacharie Cloutier and other Fromagerie Nouvelle France cheese outside of Québec:

Olympic Food & Cheese Mart, St. Lawrence Market, 93 Front St. East, Toronto

Delight, 3040 Dundas St. West, Toronto

International Cheese, 40 Byward Market Square, Ottawa

Chasing the Cheese, 372 Water Street, Peterborough, Ontario

Vincenzo’s,  150 Caroline St. South, Waterloo, Ontario

C’est Cheese Please! 12 Water Street, Galt City Centre, Cambridge, Ontario

A l’Epi de Blé (french bakery),  1757 Main Street, Winnipeg

Les Amis du Fromage, 175 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver.

Fromagerie Nouvelle France cheese is distributed by Plaisirs Gourmets.

Read more: Zacharie Cloutier best of the best in Quebec

Cheese Tasting Gala: What a deal for $25 per person!

Who will win Canadian Cheese of the Year honours?
Who will be named Canadian Cheese of the Year?

Winners in the inaugural Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens will be revealed during an Awards Ceremony, Reception and Tasting Gala open to the public on April 7 at St. Lawrence Market North in Toronto.

The new and independent competition, with Loblaw Companies as Marquee Sponsor, has quickly become the biggest cheese competition in Canada with 76 producers from Newfoundland to British Columbia submitting 291 cheeses for judging. Appropriately, the competition will reach its climax at the venue National Geographic has called the world’s best food market.

The competition culminates on Monday, April 7, when the Awards Ceremony begins at 3 p.m. with the announcement of 30 award winners plus the Canadian Cheese of Year followed by an Awards Reception at 5 p.m. The Awards Tasting Gala begins at 6 p.m. with the winners as well as finalists on display for tasting by the public.

Qui sera connue sous le nom de fromage de l'année?
Qui sera connue sous le nom de fromage de l’année?

More than 50 different cheeses will be available for sampling, including Canadian Cheese of the Year and 30 other award winners. Admission to the age-of-majority event includes:

Tickets are for sale only online at <http://tinyurl.com/Awards-Tickets>. Admission is $25 per person for the Awards Tasting Gala. A limited number of tickets are also available for the Awards Ceremony and Reception at $25 each.

Guests at the Tasting Gala can enhance their experience by engaging with “experts in the crowd” in red aprons–like cheese educator Julia Rogers–who will have you tasting and talking cheese like a pro from your very first bite.

Anita Stewart, culinary activist, author, founder of Food Day Canada and Food Laureate, University of Guelph, will host the festivities.

For additional information, please visit CheeseAwards.ca or telephone 1-866-865-2628.

Click here for a preview of the finalists in the search for the best artisan cheeses made in Canada.

Judging took place at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, headed by Dr. Arthur Hill, Chair and Professor in Food Science and an internationally recognized authority in cheese technology.

Loblaw Companies is the Marquee Sponsor.
Loblaw Companies is Marquee Sponsor.

The Canadian Cheese Awards is sponsored by Loblaw Companies and Dairy Farmers of Canada, La Ferme Black River Game Farm, Plaisirs Gourmets, Palatine Hills Estate Winery, The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards & Estate Winery, Mill St. Brewery, ACE Bakery, Seed to Sausage and The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, with historic St. Lawrence Market the venue sponsor.

World's best food market is the Host Sponsor.
World’s best food market is Host Sponsor.

The Official Cheesemongers of the Awards are cheese shops of St. Lawrence Market: Chris’ Cheesemongers, Olympic Cheese Mart and Scheffler’s Delicatessen & Cheese.

As a service to the cheese industry and as a guide for consumers, Canadian Cheese Awards is being organized by The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada that is held annually in June in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, in Bay of Quinte Region near Belleville. Georgs Kolesnikovs, founder and director of the Cheese Festival, serves as Awards Chairman.

Canadian Cheese Awards
St. Lawrence Market North
92 Front Street East, Toronto
Monday, April 7, 2014
Website CheeseAwards.ca
Telephone 1-866-865-2628.

Psst! If Toronto on April 7 doesn’t work for you, the winners will be featured at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 7 and 8. To save 15% off the ticket price for admission to the Cheese Festival, enter the promo code CF14AT before starting your order: http://cheesefestival.ca/tickets/

Christmas greetings from cheesemakers and cheesemongers

We’ve seen more than one Christmas cheese greetings, and received a few, too, but these five make our Best of 2013 list:

Guernsey Girl at Upper Canada Cheese.
The artisan cheeses distributed by Plaisirs Gourmets.
Ooops! We’ve misplaced name of cheesemonger who created this cheese tree.
From Fromagerie Hamel in Montréal.
L'équipe à la Fromagerie La Station de Compton.
L’équipe à la Fromagerie La Station de Compton.

Plaisirs Gourmets markets cheese beautifully


Porn, in the lexicon of today, creates or satisfies an excessive desire for something, especially something luxurious or delicious, thus, one hears of an addiction to real-estate porn, or the irresistible appeal of food porn.

Cheese porn has been raised to the highest level seen in Canada by Plaisirs Gourmets, the Quebec artisan cheese distributor, with publication of its catalogue of artisan and farmstead cheeses produced in La Belle Province. The result is a thing of beauty while serving to most effectively market cheese.

The French language edition features all 15 cheesemakers represented by Plaisirs Gourmets . The English version features the eight producers who are federally licensed to sell cheese across Canada.

The photos here are from the French edition. They show how the catalogue is organized and presented. Each cheese is given a double-page spread (photo above) for a gorgeous photograph and detailed information, from the story behind the cheese to age, size, dominant flavour to awards won, ingredients and nutritional data. Each producer is also given a double-page spread (photo below) displaying an appealing portrait of the artisans who make the cheese and an outline of family history, dairy or farm information, cheeses made and contact co-ordinates.

It’s a classic example of how to market a food product beautifully and effectively. Our congratulations to co-owners Nancy Portelance and Louis Gadreau and the entire team at Plaisirs Gourmets based near Quebec City.

Click on  the images for an enlarged view, or click here for the online edition in English.


Québec’s best cheeses featured at Wine/Dine at The Grange

CF13 Grange Gagnon Menu

François Gagnon, a Top Chef Canada contestant and owner of a trendy sandwich shop and flourishing catering business in Montréal, is returning to cook up a cheese-themed feast at the upcoming Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Chef Gagnon has created a mouth-watering five-course menu featuring the best in Québec cheeses paired with exceptional wines made by Caroline Granger at The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery on Saturday evening, June 1. Starting with smoked duck tartare and concluding with salted chocolate caramel for the road, the menu is posted above. Click on it for an enlarged view.

Space is limited so don’t delay in ordering tickets online by clicking here. The costs is $125 per person + HST + gratuity for food and wine. The dinner starts at seven o’clock, Saturday, June 1.

The eight outstanding cheesemakers taking part are all under the Plaisirs Gourmets banner.

Top Chef Canada contestant François Gagnon, a seasoned chef who has worked in the best restaurants in Quebec, France and Vancouver, owns Lunch Insolite, a trendy sandwich shop and flourishing catering business in Montréal.

Until a year ago, when he was featured in the Cooks & Curds Gala at last year’s Cheese Festival, François was a private chef for Ædifica, a prestigious architectural firm in Montreal, where the design culture stimulated his use of color, texture, technique and flavours to produce visually and conceptually inspiring meals daily.

Just before joining Ædifica in 2011, Chef Gagnon took part in the first season of Top Chef Canada on the Food Network, finishing in the top five.

At The Grange of Prince Edward, the title “president and CEO” doesn’t do justice to Caroline Granger’s job description. Caroline began with planting and managing 10 acres of vineyards all on her own. From there she oversaw the restoration of the historical barn that now houses the tasting room and cellar, as well as the construction of a brand new wine making facility. In those same years she oversaw the planting and management of a crew for another 50 acres.

Caroline now over sees, winemaking, viticulture, tasting room, and sales herself. Perhaps “chief, cook, and bottle washer” would be a more apt title some days, but Caroline wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The Grange of Prince Edward is a family-run winery,” she explains. “We produce only 100% estate grown and made wines because we want our wines to reflect our region and our distinct style. We grow seven varietals and produce three distinct lines of wine to suit our diverse clientele. We believe in eating and drinking locally and we believe in value—and we hope these beliefs can be passed on to you.”

The Grange of Prince Edward is located at ‪990 Closson Road‬, Hillier, Prince Edward County. Click here for a map.

Wine & Dine with Francois Gagnon at The Grange is the final event to be announced in the Festival’s new Saturday evening offerings for visitors seeking a memorable evening of food and drink—and artisan cheese, of course!

Merry Christmas to cheese lovers everywhere!

px_cl_Xmas-12-PiedDeVent-cowsOur favourite Christmas greeting this year comes from Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent on Îles de la Madeleine via Plaisirs Gourmets.

As you can see, the image shows a herd of cows of the famed Canadienne heritage breed at pasture on the rolling hills of the Magdalen Islands—with the sun’s rays piercing through clouds. Those rays, in the local dialect, are called pied-de-vent.


Sun's rays piercing through clouds appear on packaging.
Sun’s rays piercing through clouds appear on packaging.

Click here to read more about Pied-de-Vent, the Canadienne breed and my pilgrimages to the islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in a piece I wrote last year for a special edition of Culture: the word on cheese.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief of CheeseLover, is founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Cheese Rave: Craziness at the Drake with Ivy Knight

Ivy Knight, Toronto’s extraordinary social convener and food writer, is hosting a Cheese Rave on Monday night at the Drake Hotel to kick off ticket sales for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. Says Ivy:

I will be blindfolding the city’s top cheesemongers and testing their palates. Afrim Pristine of Cheese Boutique, Cole Snell of About Cheese and Michael Simpson of Leslieville Cheese Markets will pit their talents against each other and the cheese

Cole Snell will be on hand-pulling fresh Ontario Buffalo Mozzarella. Jameson Irish Whiskey will be pouring shots to be taken with cheese chasers for the Name That Shot contest and the cheesemakers of Quebec are sending five award-winning cheeses for you to taste, thanks to Plaisirs Gourmets. Including Alfred Lefermier, Tomme de Gross-Ile and Rassembleu.

From 7 p.m. to 10:00 only, Cheese Festival tickets will be sold on the spot for unbelievable prices ranging from $86 to $8.60 to commemorate the 86’d festivities organized at the Drake every Monday night by Ivy.

Click here to read what the Ottawa Citizen has to say about at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival taking place June 4-5 at Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest-growing culinary destination and Canada’s newest VQA wine region.