Video Wednesday: Dr. Art Hill and Christina Marsigliese of Department of Food Science, University of Guelph, demonstrate why only fresh cheese curds squeak.
Generally speaking, supermarkets and chain grocery stores refrigerate cheese curds which reduces or eliminates squeak. For truly fresh curds that squeak as they’re supposed to, shop at specialty cheese stores or go directly to the source at the cheese dairy.
When you taste Cantal, you’re sampling one of the oldest cheeses on the planet, a cheese that dates back to Celtic times more than 2,000 years ago in what was then called Gaul, now France.
It’s jaw-dropping to realize that those buttery, milky and nutty flavours and that strong and earthy aroma were first appreciated by human kind more than two millenia ago, starting in the Cantal Mountains in the Auvergne region of central France.
Pliny’s Historia Naturalis, written in the first century AD, says Cantal was a favourite in ancient Rome. In ancient Rome!
I was first introduced to Cantal last winter by Cecilia Smith during a cheese appreciation course at George Brown College. The first taste was an eye-opener. Last week, at a family gathering to celebrate my sister’s birthday, there was Cantal Fermier, the centrepiece of a three-cheese gift she received. I was lucky enough to bring a small wedge home.
Cantal received Appellation d’Origine (AOC) status from the administrative region of Cantal in the Auvergne region in 1956. This has ensured that the semi-hard, uncooked, pressed cheese has the features and characteristics attributable to the area of origin.
The ”fermier” in the name indicates it’s a farmhouse cheese made with raw milk, as opposed to Cantal Laitier which is the commercial, mass-produced version made from pasteurized milk.
The strong flavours and marked aroma of the wedge I have indicate the cheese has been well-aged, likely nine months or longer. As is typical of an aged firm cheese, the paste is brittle and crumbly. The colour is pale yellow. The rind is rustic-looking but thick and no longer edible.
The gift my sister received was part of a membership in the Cheese of the Month Club offered by CheesyPlace.com, the popular online cheese retailer that ships across Canada.
The tasting notes included with Cantal Fermier say it perfectly:
Along with its stronger flavour, the Cantal also has an equally strong milky, earthy aroma. With this robust selection, you will experience a variety of tastes—with buttery, milky, nutty, sweet and tangy flavours all playing a part. It is also lightly salty in the finish as it gets to room temperature.
Visually, Cantal can be quite intimidating with its rigid rind, penetrating deep into the cheese as its ages and the blue moldy veins that arise with time. Some cheese lovers look for the “most blue-looking” Cantal because it has the most flavour.
Cantal goes well with nuts, grapes and apples and it can be used in salads, soups, cheese fondue or gratins. Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot would pair nicely with Cantal.
Cantal is available from CheesyPlace.com and at fine cheese shops across the land.
Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheese-head-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, is founder of Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens. His usual focus in the blog is on Canadian cheese but he’ll make an exception for exceptional imports like Cantal.
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
Ruth Klahsen has been making cheese at Monforte Dairy for 16 years now. Regularly, she has knocked it out of the park with winners like Toscano and Abondance. Add Waltzing Matilda to that list. Made with the rich milk of water buffalo, the flavour profile of the Camembert-style Waltzing Matilda can only be described as gorgeous, as silky smooth delicious.
There are actually two Matildas: Waltzing Matilda features a delicate layer of vegetable ash under its bloomy rind while Matilda in the Buff is the same cheese without the touch of ash.
As Ruth writes on her website:
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. For the more casual family affair, the Matilda in the Buff will do just fine. Both of these cheeses age beautifully and become supple and creamy in their hinter years (weeks). Honey pairs perfectly with their nutty flavor.
The soft cheese comes in 200-gram rounds, made with water buffalo milk from the Isaac and Israel Wagner farm in Ontario’s Amish community around Aylmer. The ash is, to satisfy federal regulations, imported from France.
At Monforte Dairy in Stratford, Ruth writes, we’re convinced the small things do indeed make a difference, that agriculture is best practiced on a human scale, and that our cheeses, each in its own way, reflect something a little deeper than the technology behind mass manufactured food—a little of the poetry and passion of life itself.
Speaking of poetry and passion, here is the legendary Tom Waits performing the song that inspired Ruth to name her cheese Matilda:
Rock-music author Daniel Durchholz once said Tom’s voice sounds “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.”
We agree and, thus, in the interest of public service, we feel obliged to present the lyrics here. Besides, wasted and wounded never sounded so good!
Wasted and wounded, it ain’t what the moon did I got what I paid for now See ya tomorrow hey Frank can I borrow a couple of bucks from you To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, You’ll go waltzing Matilda with me
I’m an innocent victim of a blinded alley And I’m tired of all these soldiers here No one speaks English, and everything’s broken and my Stacys are soaking wet To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, You’ll go waltzing Matilda with me
Now the dogs are barking and the taxi cabs parking A lot they can do for me I begged you to stab me you tore my shirt open And I’m down on my knees tonight Old Bushmills I staggered you buried the dagger in Your silhouette window light To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, You’ll go waltzing Matilda with me
Now I’ve lost my Saint Christopher now that I’ve kissed her And the one-armed bandit knows And the maverick Chinaman, and the cold blooded signs And the girls down by the strip tease shows, go Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, You’ll go waltzing Matilda with me
No, I don’t want your sympathy the fugitives say That the streets aren’t for dreaming now manslaughter dragnets and the ghosts that sell memories They want a piece of the action anyhow Go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, You’ll go waltzing Matilda with me
And you can ask any sailor and the keys from the jailor And the old men in wheelchairs know that Matilda’s the defendant, she killed about a hundred And she follows wherever you may go Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, You’ll go waltzing Matilda with me
And it’s a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace And a wound that will never heal No prima donna the perfume is on an Old shirt that is stained with blood and whiskey And goodnight to the street sweepers the night watchmen flame keepers And goodnight Matilda too
Tom Traubert’s Blues “Waltzing Matilda”
Album: Used Songs
Click here to order Matilda and other Monforte Dairy cheeses online for home delivery in Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Niagara. Or check with your favourite cheese shop.
For the Love of Cheese: Recipes and Wisdom from Cheese Boutique, by Afrim Pristine, Maître Fromager at Cheese Boutique in Toronto, is much more than a cookbook. Yes, 164 of its 214 pages are devoted to recipes but even those pages are chockful of cheese knowledge and anecdotes from Afrim’s lifelong devotion and passion.
He was born into the business that began as a convenience store in the Bloor West Village in the 1960s, eventually growing into the Cheese Boutique on Ripley Avenue, Toronto’s pre-eminent retailer of fine cheese and gourmet foods.
Afrim started working at the store when he was eight years old. Three decades later, there is no one, arguably, with a higher profile and deeper knowledge of cheese in Toronto.
Afrim’s father, Fatos Pristine, built the business by cultivating relationships with the city’s outstanding chefs. Afrim has taken those relationships to the next level. Many are his close friends, many have contributed to recipes in the book. The list reads like a who’s who of chefs: from Michael Bonacini, who wrote the foreword, to Claudio Aprile and Chuck Hughes, Mark McEwan, Jonathan Gushue, Anthony Walsh and Daniel Bolud, to Bob Blumer who describes the “spine-tingling gastrogasm” of enjoying Époisses.
But when I asked Afrim what is the one recipe of the 79 in the book that I must try, he recommended his mother’s Gatto di Patate. How he knew we love potatoes in this house almost as much of cheese, I don’t know, but Modesta Pristine’s recipe delivered deliciousness in spades, as you can read here.
For the Love of Cheese is available for convenient online purchase and contactless delivery at the CheeseLover.ca Bookstore.
The wisdom portion of the book’s subtitle starts straightaway, after an introductory history of Cheese Boutique, with Cheese 101, Afrim’s take on all you need to know about buying, storing and enjoying cheese. He covers all the bases in a straightforward, useful manner.
Afrim, like most cheesemongers worthy of the name, is often asked to name his favourite cheese—an impossible question, really, given the thousands of tasty cheeses on the planet. His response is to identify his top 10 cheeses of all time, in order of preference, no less.
We won’t reveal the entire list but will allow that Parmigiano-Reggiano is clearly the first cheese named—“The king of cheeses, end of story”—while two Canadian cheeses make the list:
“Simple, straightforward, with the perfect amount of stink.”
#10 FRESH CHEESE CURDS
“Go, Canada, go!”
Then follows a section on all 55 cheeses used in the book’s recipes—which results in a handy directory of possibly the 55 tastiest cheeses in the world.
When I asked Afrim Pristine what is the one recipe in For the Love of Cheese: Recipes and Wisdom from Cheese Boutique that I must try, he recommended his mother’s Gatto di Patate. How he knew we love potatoes in this house almost as much of cheese, I don’t know, but Modesta Pristine’s recipe delivered deliciousness in spades, spuds and curds.
It’s a classic Neapolitan dish—IlGattò di Patate in Italian—that Mrs. Pristine makes on special occasions, such as when relatives visit from Italy.
The recipe calls for Ragusano, Mozzarella, Salami Cacciatore and Yukon Golds, in addition to milk, eggs, unsalted butter, nutmeg, sea salt, ground pepper and fine breadcrumbs. We substituted Parmigiano-Reggiano for the Ragusano, an Italian PDO-protected cheese made exclusively in provinces of Ragusa and Siracusa, Sicily. It is one of the oldest cheeses in Sicily dating back to 1500.
After mashing the boiled potatoes with milk, eggs and grated Parmigiano, we cubed the Mozzarella and Salami and mixed gently with a wooden spoon, adding seasoning as we went.
After applying butter to the bottom of the casserole dish and adding breadcrumbs, in went the potato mixture with all its ingredients. Then a coating of breadcrumbs and more butter before our Gattò went into the oven.
After an hour in the oven at 350F, we concluded we had been too liberal with breadcrumbs, but what the whey. The aroma of baked cheese and potato was fabulous, lingering in our home till late in the evening.
The first scoop revealed a wonderful warm mixture of cheese, potato and salami.
Served with Italian sausages and green beans, we had ourselves a wonderful feast.
PLEASE NOTE: The most up-to-date version of this directory appears under the SHOP ONLINE menu located above. Or click here.
Knoydart Farm is located in Merigomish, Nova Scotia, so for Nova Scotia, near Antigonish and Pictou County near New Glasgow, they hand-deliver cheeses themselves or through a local company so orders reach consumers within one or two days, also all the way to Halifax region once a week. For anything further in NS or NB, PEI or NL, they use Canada Post and deliver within two days usually. They shrink-wrap all packages with frozen gel packs and then shrink-wrap again the outer box.
Our company just launched a website which includes both local Fifth Town and imported Italian artisan cheeses with free delivery on orders In our delivery area of Toronto/suburbs/Niagara over $99:
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
We are offering our cheeses from Prince Edward County as well as cheese care boxes for pickup or delivery across Canada.
The Charlottetown Cheese Company
Not sure how far east you’re interested in, but I sell cheese in Prince Edward Island, with delivery in Charlottetown, Stratford, and east towards Montague, pick-up options available otherwise. (I’m usually at the Charlottetown Farmers Market.)
No need to live without cheese during Covid Times.
Here’s the Cheese Lover directory of Canadian cheese producers, distributors and retailers who will deliver cheese to your home, listed alphabetically
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.
The voicemail was brief and to the point: “Georgs, you mustcome and sample the new cheese from Pieter.”
The caller was Tammy Miller at Country Cheese in Ajax, my neighbourhood cheesemonger in Durham outside Toronto. I stopped by a few days later, and right away sent an email to Pieter van Oudenaren at Mariposa Dairy in Lindsay, Ontario:
“Wow, Pieter, Thea is a stunner! Tell me more so I can spread the word to Canadian cheese lovers.”
To the point, Thea is an outstanding bandaged cheddar made with Ontario sheep’s milk by the Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve division of Mariposa Dairy where Pieter has had a hand in developing aged cheese like Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar and Tania Toscano Sheep Cheese over the last nine years.
Hand-crafted in small batches using premium sheep’s milk from Miklin Farms near Georgina, Thea Bandaged Cheddar is made in the old world way by wrapping the cheddar wheel with cheesecloth which helps to age the cheese and preserve the flavour.
Aged nine months in a humidity-controlled aging room, the cheese yields a woody and buttery aroma, a sharp nutty profile with subtle caramel undertones. It has the sought after crystallization of a well-aged cheddar with a firm but creamy texture.
As Roxanne Renwick, a cheese specialist in Toronto, puts it: “Thea is rich and creamy yet full of tyrosine crystals. Sweet, salty and slightly tangy.”
The name Thea (along with the names Luuk, Taavi and Zander of truckles made at Mariposa Dairy) is a common Dutch name. It reflects the Dutch heritage of the VandenBerg family, Mariposa founders and owners, and the Dutch reputation for great cheese.
Cheesemaker Pieter van Oudenaren was born and raised in Bobcaygeon, a short drive from Lindsay. His parents emigrated from the Netherlands in the 1950s. The family name comes from Oudenaarde, a Flemish city in Belgium. Pieter’s father, Harry van Oudenaren, who is turning 95 this month, owned and operated an auto repair garage in Bobcaygeon for many years. Pieter took over the business and operated it for 27 years before the cheesemaking bug took hold nine years ago.
Since then, it has been one award after another for Lenberg Farms cheeses, including Grand Champion honours for Thea at this week’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.
“What’s your secret in making such fabulous cheese?” we asked Pieter.
“A secret is a secret. In the words of Monty Python, ‘Blessed are the cheesemakers.’ I have been blessed with a great company and owners to work for and with. Good components, co-workers, a wife that supports and prompts me, and consultants that have helped me along the way to help me to tweak the recipes.”
Pieter describes himself as a learner: In recent years, he’s learned to sail a boat, drive a horse and carriage, and make maple syrup, in addition to making award-winning cheese.
He and his wife, Grace, who is executive secretary at Mariposa, have two daughters.
Miklin Farms in Georgina is owned by Mike and Linda Thompson and operated with their children, Anna, Laura and Joe. The Thompsons have been farming sheep for 29 years. They currently have 1,000 breeding/milking ewes, milking 500 at a time year round. The breed of sheep is Rideau crossed with East Friesian.
Thea is hand-made in relatively small quantities and thus is in limited distribution. Here are cheese retailers in Ontario that carry Thea:
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.