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
The sweet smell of dairy in the house that comes from making cheese at home is one of my favourite things. Holding milk at 90 to 95C for 15 minutes so curd separates from whey is a sure way to create that warm and wonderful aroma.
The summer solstice has me preparing to make a caraway-speckled fresh cheese Latvians call Jāņu Siers.
Here are the ingredients: 3 litres of whole milk, 1 kilo dry pressed cottage cheese, 150 grams butter, 4 eggs, 2 tablespoons caraway seeds, and 1 tablespoon salt. After I make the cheese, I’ll add a few photos at the bottom of the post about the process.
In Latvia, my native land, the cheese is a core element in celebrations marking the summer solstice, a festival called Jāņi. I like the cheese too much to eat it only once a year, so often I’ll make it also at midwinter and giving small wheels as gifts to family and friends at Christmas.
Here’s what I posted about the cheese a few years back:
“Jāņu siers, what kind of cheese is that?” you ask. It’s a caraway-speckled fresh cheese that I make at home.
Jāņu siers in Latvian, my native language, is, literally, John’s cheese in English. In Latvia, for more than a thousand years, it has been made at the summer solstice to mark the midsummer festival of Jāņi. That festival is celebrated on June 23 by Latvians all over the world on the eve of St. John’s Day. For many, it’s the most important holiday of the year.
In Latvia, farms are bedecked with garlands of oak and birch branches and meadow flowers. Nearly everyone leaves the city for the open air so that the shortest night of the year can be spent in the merry company of friends in the country. Bonfires are lit, special songs are sung, dancing is a universal element during the festival. The traditional caraway-seed cheese and lots of beer are on the menu.
This TV commercial for Aldaris beer will give you a taste of the festivities on Jāņi:
Tradition has it that this is the one night of the year that you must never sleep. Girls pick meadow flowers to make wreaths for their hair, while men named Jānis get a bushy crown of oak leaves around their heads. (Jānis is the most popular male name in Latvia and comparable to John.)
Eating, singing, drinking and dancing ensue the whole night long. Although the sun sets briefly, it doesn’t get dark in the higher latitude of Latvia and everyone must be awake to greet the rising sun in the morning. A naked romp into the nearest lake or river is a must for men—and the women who cheer them on. Young couples like to go into the forest and search for the legendary fern blossom. Or so they say. And when you greet the morning sun, you have to wash your face in the grass’s morning dew, which on Jāņi morning is said to have particularly beneficial properties.
The reality for me this year was that I tried to make more Jāņu siers than before and used a large lobster pot to heat the milk to 90-95C rather than my usual heavy saucepan. Very hard to keep milk near the boiling point for 15 minutes in a thin pot, I discovered to my dismay, without scorching the milk, thus, three small wheels I made won’t be shared with friends as behind the taste of cream and caraway there is a hint of burnt.
On the bright side, Jāņu siers is always eaten with butter (and never on bread), and I love butter almost as much as cheese. Lay on enough butter and the slight scorched taste dissipates. Consume with enough lager and the cheese tastes as good as it should.
Incidentally, I have not repeated the error of trying to keep milk at 90-95C in a thin lobster pot!
Here are photos of the process I used this year:
Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca, was born in Latvia but has lived in Canada most of his life, in Ontario, Quebec and the Northwest Territories. He did spend most of the 1980s living, working and sailing in California.
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.
You’ve been thinking that cheese fondue is simply white wine and Swiss cheese melted together and served warm with cubes of rustic bread. Wrong!
As certified chef and cheesemonger extraordinaire Erin Harris demonstrates in her first cookbook, Essential Fondue Cookbook, fondue can feature Asian Tempura, Chocolate and Espresso and even Beef Bourguignon.
In all, there are 75 recipes in the compact cookbook that was released May 19. Order your copy, in paperback or Kindle, on Amazon by clicking here.
The cookbook may sell out quickly as Erin, who now calls Toronto home, has a huge following on Instagram. Her recipes appear regularly in Culture magazine.
When we obtain a copy of the fondue cookbook, we’ll post our take on a recipe or three. If you get cooking before we do, or have a favourite fondue recipe of your own, send us a photo by email mailto:email@example.com or post a link in the comments section below.
We first met Erin almost 10 years ago when she left behind a career as a chef and started a new life as a cheesemonger by operating her own kiosk, called The Cheese Poet, at Western Fair Farmers and Artisans Market in London, Ontario.
She closed the cheese kiosk in 2014 to begin a new role as Cheese and Catering Manager for Sobey’s Urban Fresh, first to work in Toronto and then to help open the new Urban Fresh store in Ottawa in 2015. Last year, she joined Aux Terroirs, the distributor of Québec cheese and charcuterie, as “cheese hustler” (as she puts its) which brought her back to Toronto.
But let’s start at the beginning: I’ve always loved cheese. Cheese was always around, on the dinner table, in my sandwiches, in the cheese drawer. My Dad loves a really good nippy cheddar cheese, and also a nice stinky blue. My Mom, she is equally a lover of cheddar, but also brie, especially when baked and served with something sweet. My sister loves a good goat cheese . . . fresh chevre, gouda, tomme. And then there was me: I love them all. I always wanted to learn more, going to the local market to try something new each week. Cheese parties with my friends, cheeses abroad while traveling, cheeses every day, if I could!
My love of cheese really came alive the year that I took La Cucina Italiana: Italian Culinary Diploma at George Brown College in Toronto. While living in such a great metropolitan area I had a huge variety of food shops to choose from so, nearly every day I would walk the five blocks down to St. Lawrence Market and check out all three cheese shops. I would pick up little 2-ounce pieces of cheese that looked different and interesting to me, take them home, and savour them. I spent most of my grocery money on cheese!
As part of the diploma, I was required to do a work term in Italy, home of the King of Cheeses! For six months I worked in Italy, and fell in love with a country that truly celebrates food—especially cheese (and wine, and pasta!). The first cheese that really made an impression on me was the Stracchino, a cheese that the lady of the house where I worked, would eat every day at the end of her meals with a piece of fruit. She would share her cheese with me in the early days, but then my own container started to show up on the table. “Get your own Stracchino!” was the clear message. And then there were all of the Pecorinos. Young, aged, rolled in herbs, soaked in wine, drenched in honey. I consumed more Pecorino than any other food in those six months.
We congratulate Erin on the first of what we fully expect to be many cheese-themed cookbooks. We look forward to cooking with her, as it were, when we have our copy of Essential Fondue Cookbook in hand.
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Here we go, our first attempt to make La Tartiflette Gourmande following a Chef Club video recipe, with the help of Sarmite and Maris Vitols, friends in cheese.
Instead of Reblochon, the French classic, we used an outstanding Canadian cheese, Origine de Charlevoix made by Laiterie Charlevoix in Québec.
Our tartiflette turned out rich and delicious!
Origine de Charlevoix is made by Laiterie Charlevoix in Baie-Saint-Paul one hour northeast of Quebec City, using milk from Canadienne breed cows. In taste and texture, the cheese is similar to Reblochon, the French classic.
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:
Louis d’Or, an outstanding Alpine-style cheese made by Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, Québec, was named the 2018 Cheese of the Year in the biennial Canadian Cheese Awards, the biggest cheese judging and competition in the country.
BEST ATLANTIC CANADA CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES
Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Biggest cheese competition in Canada
Judging by a jury of 14 cheese experts took place at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, in February. A total of 117 finalists were selected from the 375 cheeses entered by producers from Newfoundland to British Columbia.
The 2018 Canadian Cheese of the Year and champions in 33 categories were announced at the Awards Ceremony on June 6 at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto followed by an Awards Tasting Gala. The next day, winners were featured at Canadian Cheese Expo for the trade followed by Canada’s first Artisan Cheese Night Market open to the public.
Fifty-six of the 117 nominations went to 22 Québec cheese producers led by Fromagerie La Station, 7 finalists, Laterie Charlevoix, 6, and Fromagerie du Presbystere, 5.
Sixty-one of the 117 nominations went to 23 producers in English-Canada, led by Cows, 12 finalists, Glengarry Fine Cheese, 5, and Amalgamated Dairies, Cross Wind Farm and Mountainoak Cheese, 4 each.
Canadian Cheese Awards is the only pan-Canadian cheese competition open to all milks used in cheesemaking—cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo—with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.
“We aim to honour and celebrate 100% pure natural cheese that has achieved technical excellence and exhibits the highest aesthetic qualities,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, Awards Chairman.
The biennial Canadian Cheese Awards is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the support of Loblaw Companies as Marquee Sponsor and Dairy Farmers of Canada as Principal Partner, Cow Milk Cheese.
The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, is on hiatus in 2018 to allow resources to be devoted to the launch of Artisan Cheese Night Market and related events.
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar made by Cows Creamery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, was proclaimed Cheese of the Year at the conclusion of the 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards in Montréal on Thursday.
Awards were also presented to 31 category winners during the Awards Ceremony at glittering Time Supper Club to bring to a climax the biennial cheese judging and competition that is open to all milks—cow, goat, sheep and water Buffalo—used in cheesemaking in Canada.
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar was also honoured as Best Aged Cheddar (aged more than 18 months).
Appletree Smoked Cheddar, also made by Cows Creamery, also won big :
BEST ATLANTIC CANADA CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES
· Appletree Smoked Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
The Canadian Cheese Awards is the first cheese competition in Canada open to all milks used in cheese making – cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo – with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.
Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens est le premier et le plus grand au Canada ouvert à tous les fromages produits au Canada à partir du lait pur de vaches, de chèvres, de brebis ou de bufflonnes canadiennes – sans colorant artificiel, parfum, agent de conservation ni substance laitière modifiée.