Take, for example, the award-winning cheeses that Fromagerie du Presbytère in Québec has assembled in a Winner’s Basket for $29.95: Louis d’Or, Religieuse, Laliberté and Bleu d’Élizabeth, plus a cranberry-guinea fowl treat from Faisanderie St-Albert. Order three baskets to give as gifts and one for yourself and the fromagerie will cover the cost of shipping.
From Prince Edward Island, the Over the Moon Box from Cows Creamery contains three pieces of Cheddar, Avonlea Clothbound, Extra Old and Appletree Smoked, two pieces of butter, Sea Salted and Cultured, Cheddar Pop, freshly baked COWS Butter Biscuits, Receiver Butter Crackers, Prince Edward Island Honey, Avonlea Preserves, COW CHIPS, and COWS Caramel Corn. $125 with shipping included.
Stonetown Artisan Cheese in Ontario offers a Charcuterie Box for $58 that contains four 170-gram wedges of cheese, including Grand Trunk and Wildwood, German salami and crackers. Free shipping with every purchase of $100 or more.
So good to see Progressive Dairy Canada magazine produce an Advent calendar featuring Canadian cheese.
Really good to see excellent representation of cheesemakers from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland although we will quibble that many outstanding Québec cheeses are missing. Maybe next year we’ll have to develop an Advent calendar of our own.
Click the left picture tab for complete listing of results.
Winner profiles are found under the document tab on that same page.
Competition day videos are listed under videos.
A delicious extra old cheddar made by Maple Dale Cheese in Plainfield, Ontario, was declared a champion twice over in the 2020 Canadian Cheese & Butter Competition at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
Maple Dale’s Naturally Aged Extra Old Cheddar was named Grand Champion Cheddar. It also scored Ontario Champion Cheddar honours in the oldest cheese competition in Canada that dates back 98 years to 1922 when the Fair was first held at Exhibition Place in Toronto.
In this Covid-19 era, The Royal hosted the only cheese judging and competition in Canada and one of the few such contests in the world this year.
Judging took place on September 24 with six expert judges sampling and evaluating the 164 cheese and butter entries submitted by producers across Canada. The results were announced this morning at The Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience on a special new digital platform at http://www.royalfair.org/virtual that replaces the in-person fair this year.
Be sure to visit The Royal Agricultural Virtual Experience on a special new digital platform at http://www.royalfair.org/virtualthat replaces the in-person fair this year. The site is loaded with features and videos.
Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca, Canada’s most popular blog about fromage, served as co-host with Katie Brown of the virtual competition in the video above.
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar’s recipe comes from the Orkney Islands, north of mainland Scotland, with the cheese made in the style of traditional English cheddars by Cows Creamery of Prince Edward Island.
Scott Linkletter, who started Cows Inc. in 1983 by famously making ice cream, was visiting the Orkneys with his wife 15 years ago when they were so taken by the local cheese that he cajoled a Scottish cheesemaker into sharing the recipe. The recipe became the foundation for the Cows signature cheese, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, introduced in 2006. Ten years later, Avonlea was named Cheese of the Yearat the Canadian Cheese Awards.
While developing the recipe for the clothbound cheddar, Linkletter and head cheesemaker Armand Bernard created a second cheese, PEI Cheddar. Other cheddars, such as Appletree Smoked, followed.
How Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is made by Cows Creamery in Prince Edward Island under the guidance of head cheesemaker Armand Bernard.
Milk of Holstein cows from small local farms in the rolling hills of Prince Edward Island is gently heated—but not pasteurized—to allow beneficial microbes to thrive and give depth of character and flavour. The salt air and iron-rich soil of Prince Edward Island combine to add flavour and quality to the cheddar.
Cows makes Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar in 10 kilograms wheels, and ages it for 12 to 16 months at 10–12 degrees Celsius and 90% humidity.
The multi-award-winning cheese gets the “clothbound” name from traditional cheddar-making technique of wrapping it in cheese cloth, a method that originated in Somerset, England. The town of Cheddar, where cheddar cheese gets its name from is in Somerset.
The name Avonlea comes from link between Prince Edward Island and Anne of Green Gables. As Scott Linkletter explained to Sue Riedl of The Globe and Mail: “We thought that was a great name because of the connection with Anne of Green Gables. At the time of Anne, this is the way cheese would have been made.”
COWS Ice Cream has been a family tradition on Prince Edward Island since 1983. From a small kiosk on the famous Cavendish Boardwalk, the COWS brand now has seven locations across PEI, two in Nova Scotia, two in British Columbia and one each in Alberta, Ontario and Beijing, China. The COWS brand has expanded over the years with cheese and butter lines, as well as the popular COWS-themed merchandise.
The Linkletter family has also invested in Raspberry Point Oysters with oysters being shipped across Canada, USA, Japan and Denmark. The oyster line started as a bit of a hobby for Scott Linkletter, who used to harvest oysters with his father near his summer home on New London Bay.
How does Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar taste? Among Canadian cheddars, quite unique, truly exceptional.
The flavours and aroma are rich and robust, fruity and nutty, with a hint of baked potatoes, as befits a cheese made on Canada’s spud island, Prince Edward Island. The texture is firm, slightly crumbly as the cheese ages beyond 12 months.
It’s an outstanding Canadian cheese, perfect for cheese boards and snacking. Stick a wedge in your glove compartment for your next road trip.
Check with your favourite cheese shop for availability or order online for convenient and safe home delivery:
You can order boxed selections of cheese and butter direct from Cows Creamery in Charlottetown by clicking here.
When it comes to cooking with cheese, I’m total devoted to recipes that call for melted cheese. There is nothing quite like the smell and the taste of ooey gooey.
Which brings us to making my soon-to-be famous (with tongue in cheek) Three-Cheese Toastie.
The recipe was inspired by a cheese vendor in Borough Market in London, England, called Kappacasein. I learned about it during chat at a farmer’s market at Brickworks several years ago which led me to a mouth-watering video on YouTube.
My Three-Cheese Toastie is all about showcasing Canadian artisan cheese. The recipe I developed—by delicious trial and error—originally called for a blend of three artisan cheeses, two from Ontario, one from Quebec.
The main ingredient is cheddar. I tried others but always came back to cheddar.
Empire Cheese & Butter, in Campbellford, Ontario, northwest of Belleville, started making cheese in 1876. It’s now owned by a group of dairy farmers and still dedicated to traditional handcrafted cheesemaking.
In case you didn’t know, cheddaring started in the village of Cheddar in southwest England in the 12th century. Yes, 12th century!
We use the 2-year cheddar made at Empire. Older cheddars have less moisture and aren’t as good for grilled cheese.
Two cheeses have supporting roles in our original recipe: Mountainoak Gouda and Louis d’Or.
Sainte Elizabeth de Warwick, Québec, 1.5 hours southeast of Montréal
The Morin family are sixth generation dairy farmers. Across the street, in a former Roman Catholic rectory, is the fromagerie that Jean Morin founded in 2005. Since then, Morin was has won more awards than any other cheesemaker in Québec.
Let’s get started!
Shred the cheese immediately after removing from fridge. If you let it come up to room temperature, you’ll have a mess on your hands.
White onion (NOT cooking onion)
Chopped fairly fine and mixed thoroughly into cheese blend. In equal parts. Tailor to your taste.
Quantities are easy to remember:
To make 10 sandwiches, you’ll need 1 kilo or 1,000 grams of cheese mixture. If only 5 sandwiches, which we’re doing, 500 grams of cheese mixture and 50 grams of onion/leek/garlic.
We’re shooting for about 100 grams of cheese per sammie. Equal cheese and bread for best results.
Optional: Black Forest Ham, 2 slices, folded, per Sammie, approx 25 g per slice;
For speed and efficiency when making 100 or more toasties at our local farmers market, we used butter-flavored PAM with excellent results.
At home, we use either unsalted butter or mayo, slathered on the outside of both slices of bread. As the years slide by, we may be developing a preference for the mayo option, mainly because it produces such a nice even brown.
If you’re adding ham, to make what is called a Croque Monsieur, smear a small amount of mustard on the ham. To make a Croque Madame, top with a fried egg, sunny side up.
Usually, we’ll just use a non-stick frying pan, using a second pan or skillet to press down the toasties as they toast away. When we have more time, or guests, we’ll use our Cuisinart Griddler.
Medium heat works well. About 3 or 4 minutes per side, or until cheese melts and bread toasts. Serve while hot, cutting each sandwich on the diagonal to expose more of the ooey gooey. We start eating with our eyes, after all
We’ll usually serve the toasties with a handful of potato chips or a small tomato or gherkins or all of the above.
In the toasties that you see in the video and photos, we went with cheese we had on hand:
Flashback Friday: It’s amazing how many favourites of 2010 are still popular choices today. This post first appeared in November 2010.
It is hard to imagine someone with a greater enthusiasm for cheese and its appreciation than Vanessa Simmons. “I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like,” she insists, and I believe her. I met Vanessa on a Monday night in Ottawa as she led a cheese-tasting class presented by Savvy Company titled the Great Canadian Cheese Discovery. Held at Thyme and Again Food Shop, the class focused on Quebec artisan cheeses.
Vanessa is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, whose passion for cheese first developed when she made her own feta during a cooking class. She says she was amazed that it seemed to take just “magic, faith and some TLC” in order to produce a great-tasting cheese. She was hooked.
Vanessa is now working toward her Cheese Education Guild certificate with Canadian cheese maven and author Kathy Guidi. Once a week, Vanessa leaves work early and drives five hours from Ottawa down Highway 401 in order to attend the cheese appreciation course in Toronto.
“My brother jokes I either need a boyfriend or a dog, because I spend way too much time with cheese,” Vanessa says with a laugh.
We began our sampling with Le Joupon Frivole from Fromagerie Les Folie Bergeres in St-Sixte, a soft, rich surfaced-ripened sheep’s milk cheese. It was fresh tasting and had a thick texture, forming a paste that coated the mouth. The milk used for Le Jupon Frivole is thermalized, a process commonly used in Quebec. Unlike the high heat of pasteurization, thermalization uses lower heat over a longer period of time. It is therefore gentler on the milk, and helps maintain its original flavours.
Our second cheese of the evening was Foin D’Odeur, produced by La Moutonniere in Sainte-Helene-de-Chester. When it was presented to us, this ripe cheese was melting all over the plate. Foin D’Odeur is a bloomy rind sheep’s milk cheese. It had grassy, natural flavours, while the rind tasted mushroomy.
Nearly every cheese we tasted that night was packaged in a beautiful, hand-designed label, as Vanessa pointed out to the group. The unique labelling reflects the grassroots nature of Quebec cheesemaking. The labels serve as an indication of where the cheeses comes from, and speak to the personal attention they receive from their makers.
Our next sample was a knockout little cheese, and one of my two favourites from the evening’s selection. Le Pizy from Fromagerie La Suisse Normandie in Saint-Roch-de-L’Achigan comes in a tiny wheel, but packs a rich, buttery taste with a bit of a tang. A winner at Quebec’s Selection Caseus awards this year, this cow’s milk cheese is a standout.
We then moved to the most playful cheese of the evening, Sein d’Helene from La Moutonniere. Literally “Helen’s breast,” this cheese is sold in a cone-shaped package, both to reflect its cheeky name and the mountainous region from where it hails. The cheese mixes sheep and cow’s milk; it is a fresh, earthy tasting cheese with a bit of acidity.
Our next selection was a goat’s milk cheese from Fromagerie La Petite Heidi in Saint-Rose-du-Nord called Tomme Le Rosee de Saguenay. The cheese presented barn aromas and had a sweet, tangy taste. It is dry and crumbly in texture with a yellow-coloured rind.
Next up was the second of my two favourites from the evening: Hercule de Charlevoix from Laiterie Charlevoix in Baie-St-Paul. The cheese is named for a legendary local figure, Jean-Baptiste Grenon, dubbed “Hercules of the North”. According to local lore, when Grenon was captured by the English in the 1700s and hung, he fought so hard and so long, the English were so impressed they released him from the gallows. The cheese certainly exhibits some of that same strength with its powerful flavours. A thermalized cow’s milk cheese, it tastes of earth and nuts, with a rind that tastes of chocolate.
Our final cheese of the evening was the only bleu on our plate: Bleu Moutonniere from La Moutonniere dairy. Vanessa has nicknamed this blue-veined sheep’s milk cheese “the converter” for its ability to change the minds of staunch anti-bleu cheese tasters. My neighbour at the table was one of these self-professed bleu haters, so I eagerly awaited her reaction to this cheese. Bleu Moutonniere was a big performer at this summer’s American Cheese Society awards, claiming first prize in the “blue-veined sheep’s milk with rind” category. The cheese is smooth and creamy, with bright coloured blue veins snaking throughout the wheel. It is salty and earthy, and quite inoffensive for a bleu cheese. Bleu Moutonniere managed to live up to its name at the table, as my neighbour declared “this is the only bleu cheese I’ve ever been able to stomach!”
As the evening wound down, I finished up my wine, and mingled a bit with the crowd of satisfied cheese students. Finally, I made my way over to bid goodnight to Vanessa. Like a true cheese enthusiast, she was standing by the cheese table, making sure none of the evening’s offerings went to waste.
Except when it affects us humans, aging can be a wonderful thing. It’s what transforms shlock into fine wine, it’s what turns a good cheese into a great cheese.
In cheesemaking, the process of maturing cheese is called affinage. It usually occurs in a cellar or climate-controlled room where temperature and humidity are carefully managed.
But Jean Morin took the concept further: First, he bought the village church. Then, he turned it into a state-of-the-art space for aging Louis d’Or and other cheese.
He paid $1 to purchase the Roman Catholic church in Sainte Elizabeth de Warwick, Québec, in 2015, across the street from the family dairy farm, Ferme Louis d’Or, and then poured $1 million into the conversion for affinage.
The church is adjacent to the former rectory which Morin purchased in 2005 to start up Fromagerie du Presbytère. (Presbytère is the French word for rectory.) Cheesemaking takes place in the former rectory which also houses fromagerie offices. The expansive new retail store is just down the street.
The former church can house up to 3,000 wheels of Louis d’Or. They are looked after by Pat, the name given to a $300,000 Swiss-made robot that lifts, brushes and rotates the 40-kilo wheels of cheese. Since the aging space is more than five meters high, the robot not only ensures uniformity but also protects employees from the hazards of doing it manually.
You can watch Pat in action in this video produced by the Ottawa Citizen:
“Even by using new cutting-edge technologies, we will never make concessions on the quality and authenticity of our artisan cheeses,” says Jean Morin. “We are and will remain artisans. We always take the same care to prepare each cheese using milk from our family farm.”
The robot may be cutting edge, the temperature and humidity controls state of the art, but the vat in the fromagerie make room has roots in Neolithic times around 9,000 B.C. The vat is made in France with copper, an element with thermal conductivity 20 times more efficient than stainless steel.
Many of the classic European cheese, such as Gruyère, Comté, Emmentaler and Parmigiano Reggiano, are made in copper vats. In fact, AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) regulationas require it. As far as we know, Fromagerie du Presbytère is the only Canadian cheesemaker using a copper vat.
Made in monster-sized 40-kilogram wheels, this washed-rind raw cow milk cheese is cooked, pressed and aged from 9 to 24 months with extra care taken during the ripening process. Resulting is a smooth, rich-textured paste encased in an antique gold, amber-colored rind. Aromas range from butter to onion and ripe pineapple. A complex mix of sweet, salty and dominant nutty, meaty flavors finish with a tingle at the back of the palate that lingers thanks to raw milk.
Age Louis d’Or another 12 months and all that aroma and flavour only elevate the taste experience to a sublime degree. It’s rich and creamy, with floral notes and hints of nuttiness, a wonderful example of Canadian cheese at its finest.
FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Originally posted on June 28, 2010
Thank goodness the G20 madness in Toronto is over. The politicians have departed, the hooligans are in jail, the barricades are coming down. As far as we can see, the only bright note was the promotional opportunity for Canadian cheese.
The main meal for the assembled world leaders in the Royal York Hotel began with an appetizer of fresh Atlantic seafood followed by custom-aged filet mignon from the Spring Creek Ranch in Alberta.
They then sampled a selection of four Canadian cheeses: Blue Juliette from Salt Spring Island Cheese in British Columbia, a Toscano from Ontario’s Monforte Dairy, and two Quebec artisan offerings—Le Belle de Jersey from Les Bergeries du Fjord and La Fleurmier from Laiterie Charlevoix.
(No snide remarks, please, about the preponderance of soft “girly” cheeses at this alpha-male feast.)
Each course was paired with red and white Canadian wines, and the food will be served on white bone Villeroy & Boch china. A dessert buffet featured Nanaimo bars and the work of two Toronto chocolatiers.
Julia Rogers of Cheese Culture, a leading expert on Canadian cheeses, and foreign fromage, too, was delighted for the cheese producers involved:
“Bravo to the creative Canadian cheesemakers who’ve managed to score some face-time with the world’s leaders. The selection features delicate, surface-ripened Fleurmier, from Québec’s dairy mecca: the Charlevoix region. Belle de Jersey highlights the rich milk of English Channel Island cows—a rare breed in Canada—in a supple, Reblochon-esque washed rind. B.C.’s contribution comes from David Wood, whose Salt Spring Island cheeses are appreciated across the country. Blue Juliette is a petite, pillowy round with earthy, mineral flavours and a steely blue-grey complexion. Rounding out the plate, and giving it some muscle, is Monforte Dairy’s Toscano, a firm and forthright sheep milk offering that despite its Ontario origin, expresses Central Italian caccio di pecora typicity.”
Here are links to more information about the G20 cheese plate:
Silky smooth and creamy, with loads of umami, that’s Adoray, a soft cheese with a mixed rind, wrapped with spruce bark.
What’s umami, you ask? Umami comes from the Japanese word for delicious, umai. Umami translates roughly to “deliciousness” and often stands in for “savory” or “meaty.”
It was only 30 years ago that umami was recognized as a distinct taste, one of the five basic tastes, the others being sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness. It was only in 2006 that University of Miami neuroscientists were able to locate the taste-bud receptors for umami, validating the existence of the fifth taste.
Scientifically speaking, umami refers to the taste of glutamate. Glutamate, or glutamic acid, is a common amino acid in vegetable and animal proteins—and cheese.
L’Adoray is made with pasteurized cow’s milk by Fromagerie Montebello located on the Québec side of the Ottawa River one hour east of Ottawa.
The cheese dairy was established in 2011 following the meeting of two men, Alain Boyer and Guy Boucher. Having worked as a cheesemaker in the past, Boyer dreamed of owning his own cheesemaking business. Understanding that such a project would be difficult to bring to fruition on his own, he was fortunate to meet Guy Boucher, an accountant by training, who dreamed of owning his own business. Boucher took on the financial aspects of the enterprise while Boyer looked after cheesemaking.
Fromagerie Montebello officially opened its doors in June 2011. Located in the former Louis-Joseph Papineau seigneurie, Fromagerie Montebello makes fine cheeses in a nod to the famous 18th century politician.
L’Adoray has an orangey rind and an ivory-coloured, supple and creamy paste. Strapped with spruce bark, it features lactic, woodsy aromas and slightly spicy flavours of butter, wood and straw.
The cheese was introduced to the public upon the Fromagerie’s fifth anniversary in 2016. It’s named for the grandfather and father of Cheesemaker Alain Boyer: Adorice and Raymond.
The silky result is a wonderful mouth-feel packed with umami flavours. One could easily over-indulge.
Nathalie Schofield, who works with me at Canadian Cheese Awards as liaison with cheesemakers in Québec—and who adores Adoray, recommends pairing it with a Riesling or a sweeter white like a Gewürztraminer or Viognier.
This style of cheese, wrapped with spruce bark, has its roots in Europe, the classic example being Vacherin Mont d’Or.
L’Adoray has a rustic rind, pinkish in colour. The small, 160-gram wheel has a beautiful ivory paste with a silky sheen. Soft and gooey. Medium nose, with a savoury forest-like aroma. There is a hint of spicy damp hay on the palate, there is a taste of bacon in the rind. The cheese literally melts on the tongue, with much smacking of the lips long afterward.
A unique Canadian cheese, generally available in stores and shops, distributed by Aux Terroirs.
Are you thinking about ordering cheese online for home delivery for the first time?
We can attest it’s an excellent way to get your fromage fix in these Covid Times. Check out the growing list of Canadian cheese producers, distributors and retailers offering home delivery on the Cheese Lover Shop Online page.
Aux Terroirs, a leading Quebec-based distributor of fine cheese, charcuterie and other gourmet foods, has put together a #stayathome box of Canadian artisan cheese curated by Erin Harris, chef, cheesemonger and now author widely known as The Cheese Poet.
The Cheese Poet Box includes one piece each with tasting notes of seven outstanding cheeses:
Le Fleurmier: A soft cheese with a bloomy rind produced by Laiterie Charlevoix, it has a rich and velvety texture and a fruity, nutty flavour.
Le 1608: A hard cheese from Laiterie Charlevoix made with the milk of the Canadienne breed of cows, a breed unique to Canada that first arrived with French settlers between 1608 and 1670. Smooth, unctuous, melt-in-your-mouth deep yellow paste, delicate yet complex buttery flavour.
La Moutonnière Feta: A marinated sheep-milk feta made by Fromagerie la Moutonnière, it presents a very white paste that is creamy yet crumbly. It features fresh milk aromas with finely spiced lactic and tangy flavours.
Azimut: An aged goat cheese, a tomme, made by Fromagerie Lait Grand Cru. The flavour of this firm cheese has a hint of fleeting sweetness, more pronounced buttery notes and a nuttiness that lingers longer in the mouth.
Cow’s Creamery 2-year Cheddar: The pride of Prince Edward Island, this all-natural cheddar features a smooth texture, rich flavour and tangy bite. A gold medal winner in the World Championship Cheese Contest
L’Adoray: Made by Fromagerie Montebello, it features an orangey rind and an ivory-coloured, supple and creamy paste. Strapped with spruce bark, it features lactic, woodsy aromas and slightly spicy flavours of butter, wood and straw.
Urban Blue: Made with Nova Scotia cow’s milk, the double cream Urban Blue delivers mushroomy, umami flavours without being pungent or salty. Inspired by Gorgonzola, Urban Blue is an approachable, versatile cheese with a tasty natural rind made by Blue Harbour Cheese near Halifax.
Shipping and applicable taxes are included in the $80 price. Available for home delivery in Ontario and Quebec. Click here to order.