Have you ever seen how fresh mozzarella is made and stretched until it is butter-soft, milky and velvety? Have you inhaled the creamy aroma?
At the upcoming Artisan Cheese Night Market, Mozzarella Master Angelo Pelosi will demonstrate the ancient craft that he first learned more than 50 years ago in his native Puglia, the capital of fresh Mozzarella in Italy.
Angelo came to Canada to make cheese for the Borgo family at Quality Cheese in Vaughan, Ontario, a half-century ago. Now retired, he still enjoys coming to Quality Cheese to help train the next generation of Pasta Filata specialists and help out when things get busy.
Angelo will be stretching Mozzarella with cow’s milk. He also makes Trecche with fresh arugula, a classic recipe from Puglia. Angelo does private hand-stretching functions for weddings and food events as a side business.
At the Night Market, Angelo will demonstrate the craft at 2:00 p.m. during Session 1 and at 3:30 p.m. during Session 2, in booth space adjacent to Quality Cheese where the freshly made mozzarella will be sold to consumers.
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.
Canadian cheesemakers won 30 ribbons in the 2013 American Cheese Society Judging & Competition in Madison, Wisconsin, in early August, competing against 1,794 cheeses submitted by 257 producers in the Americas—the largest competition in the history of the ACS.
Twenty-three of the 30 ribbons were won by 10 Québec cheesemakers, four being first-place ribbons, two for Agropur Fine Cheese and one each for Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, represented by Fromages CDA, and La Moutonnière.
Two Ontario producers, Mariposa Dairy, represented by Finica Food Specialties, and Quality Cheese, won first-place ribbons as well.
Best of Show was won by Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont with the Winnimere, an extraordinary take on the French mountain classic Vachering Mont d’Or. Made with raw milk from the farm’s Ayrshire cows, Winnimere is wrapped in cambium cut from the spruce trees on the farm and washed in a beer from a neighbouring brewery. It’s available only January through June.
Here are the Canadian winners:
OPEN CATEGORY – FRESH UNRIPENED CHEESES – MADE FROM SHEEP’S MILK OR MIXED MILKS
A half-century after Almerigo Borgo Sr. emigrated from Italy and started making what to this day is his favourite cheese, his Ricotta was named the best of the best at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix last night when it was honored as the 2013 Grand Champion.
Albert Borgo and his wife, Gabriella, were in the audience for the awards ceremony in Montreal and they were pleased when their Ricotta was judged Best Fresh Cheese early in the evening. Just before the Grand Champion was announced, Gabriella whispered to Albert: “Is there a chance we could win?” Albert replied, “No, no chance.”
Moments later Albert was on the stage accepting the award for the family business, Quality Cheese of Vaughan, Ontario, while Gabriella texted the good news to his brother, Bill, the cheesemaker. There are four generations involved in the business. The father still “comes by and pokes around the plant.”
“I’m not used to being treated like a rock star,” Albert said later.”This is really incredible, and a great honour for my father and my brothers.”
Being the first Ontario cheese producer to win the Grand Prix was akin to the “Leafs beating the Canadiens,” Albert said. Quebec cheesemakers have dominated the competition since its inception.
Chef Michael Howell of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, a member of the jury that selected the Grand Champion and 19 category winners, praised the Ricotta made by Quality Cheese: “I’ve traveled in Italy from top to bottom and tasted many a Ricotta, but there is no question, this Ricotta is the best I’ve ever tasted.”
Sponsored and hosted every two years by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix celebrates the high quality, versatility and great taste of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.
For the first time in the eight renditions of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, a fresh cheese was named Grand Champion, the first time an Ontario cheese was named the best cheese in Canada.
The history-making cheese is Ricotta made by Quality Cheese of Vaughan, Ontario.
A jury of top Canadian food industry experts selected it from 19 impressive category winners in the Grand Prix.
Sponsored and hosted every two years by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix celebrates the high quality, versatility and great taste of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk. The winners were announced tonight during a gala at the Hyatt Regency in Montreal.
“The Ricotta’s refined and balanced taste really stood out during the competition “, says Chef Danny St. Pierre, Canadian Cheese Grand Prix jury member. “This confirms that a fresh cheese can have as much depth as an aged cheese”.
Quality Cheese’s Ricotta is lauded for its creamy texture and milky aroma. Quality Cheese manufactures, distributes and retails Italian speciality cheeses and boasts a team representing four generations of cheesemaking.
Their products are so popular that fans flock to their Vaughan, Ontario, location to buy the cheese fresh.
The Grand Champion and 19 category winners were selected from a record 225 cheese entries submitted by cheesemakers from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. The submissions were then narrowed down to 58 finalists by the jury in February.
“We are seeing an impressive variety of Canadian cheeses being developed to satisfy various culinary tastes and trends”, says Mr. St. Pierre. “It’s fascinating to see all the things we can do with these cheeses, be it topping a cracker with an aged Cheddar or using a fresh cheese to make a wild blueberry cheesecake. So take out your cooking aprons and discover the winners of the 8th Canadian Cheese Grand Prix!”
Indeed, Canada’s vibrant and unique cheesemaking craft has evolved to the point that new types of cheese are continually being added to the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. This year, two new categories were introduced: “Gouda’’ and “Fresh Cheese with Grilling Properties.”
Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Jury members tasted, touched and smelled each cheese, evaluating them for appearance, flavour, colour, texture and body, and salt content before determining the following winners.
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
One of eight tasting dishes prepared by eight outstanding chefs from across Canada for the Cooks & Curds Gala at the 2012 Great Canadian Cheese Festival on Saturday evening, June 2, presented by Swallow.
The Gala is the culinary and social highlight of the Cheese Festival. The first sitting at 6:00 p.m. has SOLD OUT. Second sitting at 7:00 p.m. now on sale. Don’t delay ordering your tickets!
Chefs use Canadian cheeses to create mouth-watering tasting dishes that are paired with Canadian wine, craft beer and cider. The strolling dinner concludes with an after-dinner cheese board presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada, sweets and wine.
Thus, it came to pass that we had one champion and five winners spread out before us on Friday, as you can see in the photo. We would have liked more champions but only Oka L’Artisan was available at St. Lawrence Market.
You’ll note the lack of wine glasses. After all, it was a working lunch. Just cheese, with sides of charcuterie, walnuts, grapes, bread, and, in the front right, Bleu d’Auvergne from France for dessert.
Here’s how the three of us informally ranked the award-winning Canadian cheese we tasted:
Outstanding! If this what a cheddar that wasn’t even entered tastes like, we cannot wait to get our hands on Perron’s Doyen, Grand Champion, and 120th Anniverdsary Reserve, Reserve Champion.
Fromagerie Perron definitely will be on our list of cheesemakers to visit when we next travel on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Fromagerie Perron is located on Lac Saint Jean in the Saguenay region.
It didn’t take us long to consume the entire small wheel of Champfleury. We loved the fruity creaminess of this washed-rind soft cheese but were stunned afterward to read on the label that modified milk ingredients (MMI) are used in making the cheese.
Champfleury is marketed as an “authentic fine cheese” in the Agropur Signature collection. Hmmm . . .
No longer made by Trappist monks but still one of Canada’s most recognizable and noteworthy cheeses. Agropur cheesemakers make the cheese in the former Cistercian abbey. Whether the recipe is the original is arguable.