Boursin: Creamy, garlicky, tasty—and versatile

My love affair with Boursin started maybe 40 years ago, when it was still an imported delicacy from France, so creamy and so garlicky. Now made in Canada, and even though manufactured on an industrial scale, the garlic and herb Boursin is very similar to what I recall enjoying so many years ago.

Which is to say the love affair continues.

It’s easy to understand why beguiling Boursin may well be the most popular flavoured soft cheese in the world, now sold in some three dozen countries.

Boursin was developed by French cheesemaker Francois Boursin in 1957 in Normandy. He was inspired by a traditional fromage frais dish in which dinner guests use bowls of fine herbs to season their own cheese.

A major newspaper in France reported incorrectly that Boursin’s cheese was flavoured with garlic. It was actually a competing cheesemaker who had introduced the garlic cheese. The newspaper article generated such interest and demand for garlic Boursin that the cheesemaker spent two years developing a garlic-flavoured cheese—which was introduced in 1963 to quickly become a household name across France.

Not only was Boursin an excellent cheesemaker, he had marketing smarts. In 1968, Boursin made history as the first cheese featured in a TV ad campaign. It featured famous French comedian Jacques Duby cast in the role of the first “Boursinophile,” a cheese lover unable to resist the alluring taste of Boursin whatever time of day or night. Waking in the middle of the night, he rushes to the fridge in his pyjamas yelling for Boursin over and over again.

You may recall seeing Boursin commercials on Canadian TV, for example:

More than 50 years later, Boursin now is available in seven flavours, with garlic and herbs being the most popular. The original recipe has changed little:

Pasteurized cow milk and cream, culture, garlic, salt, fresh and frozen parsley, white pepper, and fresh and frozen chives.

Since 2011, Boursin has been made in Canada in St. Hyacinthe, Québec, by Agropur, the Canadian dairy co-operative, for Bel Cheese Canada , the Canadian arm of Bel Group, the France-based multinational. Agropur also produces Bel’s other popular cheeses, The Laughing Cow and Mini Baby Bel.

Boursin is sometimes dubbed a Gournay cheese, Gournay being the name of the region in Normandy where Boursin was first made. The cheesemaker used the name when he was first asked to classify the cheese for customs purposes

Why is Boursin so popular?

  • The taste is irresistible, especially if you like garlic.
  • The small 150-gram wheels looks perfect.
  • The flavour balance between creamy and savoury is just right.
  • That slightly granular mouthfeel has one smacking lips. The finish lingers nicely.
  • The price point, as Boursin is so widely available including at discounters like Costco and Walmart, is affordable and appealing.

And it is such a versatile cheese. Great for snacks, wonderful for appetizers, excellent for cooking, just the thing for a picnic, as the slogan says, “Bread. Wine. Boursin.”

We keep Boursin in the cheese fridge, pretty well year round. Recently, we cooked with it, making a truly delicious stuffed chicken breast.

We seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika and stuffed the breast with Boursin, sautéed spinach and a dusting of Parmigiano. Baked at 375F for 30 minutes. Served with a garden salad.

We also transformed leftover mushrooms into lovely appetizers: Sautée mushroom stems and spinach, then add Boursin and mix until creamy. Stuff the mushroom caps and top with Parm. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

Although Boursin is so readily available and affordable, one of these Covid Days we’re going to try making it at home, following this simple recipe:

We’ll let you knows how it turns out. If you have made it at home, let us know in comments below.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca. He’s never met a cheese he didn’t like . . . well, hardly ever.

Adoray: Silky smooth, creamy and loaded with umami

Adoray: Just enjoy it with a spoon, but be sure to first give it at least two hours at room temperature.

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.

Unique among Canadian cheeses.

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.

Cheesemaker Alain Boyer, co-founder of Fromagerie Montebello.

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.

It’s difficult to miss Fromagerie Montebello as you enter the village of the same name one hour east of Ottawa.

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.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheesehead-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, is chairman and founder of Canadian Cheese Awards and founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

 

Potato, bacon and cheese: What’s there not to like?

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.

Ours was sourced by Country Cheese Company in Ajax, Ontario.

Origine de Charlevoix was named Best Mixed Rind Cheese in the most recent Canadian Cheese Awards.

Pan-fry Yukon Gold potatoes with red onion until the spuds have softened. Then dress with parsley.

Sarmite Vitols makes sure the potatoes are just right.

Time to layer the baking pan with bacon.

The bed of bacon is ready. We use Dry Cured Bacon from Seed to Sausage.

Two wheels of Origine de Charlevoix cut in half. We resist the temptation to start nibbling on the aromatic cheese.

That’s two vital food groups looked after.

Now comes the third important food group: potatoes.

Potatoes surround the cheese on a bed of bacon. The mere words sound delicious!

Now we add the secret ingredient: crème fraiche.

More potatoes finish the prep before we head for the oven for 20+ minutes at 400F to 425F.

Voila!

Rich and delicious, a feast fit for a queen. With a green salad featuring fresh mango and avocado drizzled with a poppy-seed vinaigrette.

For libation, the in-house sommelier selected a lovely pinot gris from Acrobat Wine in Oregon. Thanks, Moe!

Zesty and buttery, the hostess-baked lemon tart was the perfect ending to a fine lunch. Thanks, Sam!

Here’s the Chef Club inspiration:
https://youtu.be/4x4_uj5hlg4

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive oil
  • Parsley
  • Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Red onion
  • Bacon slices
  • Origine de Charlevoix
  • Crème fraîche

In future, we will cut the bacon strips so they can be served more easily, and we won’t overdo the crème fraiche as it makes the dish wet.

Disclaimer: The tartiflette bake shown above took place prior to Covid Times.

 —Georgs Kolesnikovs

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

Cheesemaker Jean Morin strikes gold again at Caseus

Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère, always joking, always winning.

Jean Morin has been the winningest cheesemaker in Sélection Caseus, the prestigious annual competition for Québec cheese producers, for the past decade.

Fromagerie du Prebystère won Caseus Gold with Bleu d’Élizabeth in 2018, 2013 and 2009, with Louis d’Or in 2012 and 2010, with Taliah in 2016, and with Pionnier, in collaboration with Fromagerie Nouvelle France, in 2017.

This year he struck gold again with Religieuse, a marvelous washed-rind cheese ideally suited for raclette or just plain eating.

Here are winners in the top six categories announced last night in a ceremony in Quebec City:

CASEUS GOLD

CASEUS SILVER

CASEUS BRONZE

BEST AGED CHEESE

BEST RAW MILK CHEESE

BEST ORGANIC CHEESE

La Tommette de Chèvre made by L’Atelier Fromagerie is distributed by Aux Terroirs. The other five big winners are distributed by Plaisirs Gourmets.

Zacharie Cloutier, the wonderful sheep’s milk cheese made by Marie Chantal Houde, won Caseus Gold in 2014 and 2011.

Click here for 2019 Caseus winners in all categories: https://www.caseus.ca/laureats

How many nominees for Cheese of the Year have you tasted?

Le Baluchon: 2014 Cheese of the Year. This year, it’s nominated for Best Organic Cheese.

Here you have them, the 117 finalists in the 2018 Canadian Cheese Awards competition, the biggest independent judging of cheese in Canada.

Winners and all finalists will be introduced to the public at Canada’s first-ever Artisan Cheese Night Market on June 7 at historic St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.

MAIN CATEGORIES (19) CATÉGORIES PRINCIPALES

FRESH CHEESE – FROMAGE FRAIS

FRESH PASTA FILATA CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE FILÉE

SEMI-SOFT CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE  SEMI-FILÉE

FETA/CHEESE IN BRINE – Feta / FROMAGE EN SAUMURE

FIRM CHEESE –  FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME

FIRM CHEESE WITH HOLES (Swiss-style) – FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME AVEC OUVERTURES

WASHED RIND CHEESE – FROMAGE À CROÛTE LAVÉE

MIXED RIND CHEESE – FROMAGE À CROÛTE MIXTE

BLOOMY RIND CHEESE – PÂTE MOLLE À CROÛTE FLEURIE

LACTIC RIPENED CHEESE – Fromage Lactique à croûte fleurie

MILD & MEDIUM CHEDDAR (aged up to 9 months) – CHEDDAR DOUX & MOYEN (maximum de 9 mois d’affinage)

OLD CHEDDAR (aged from 9 to 18 months) – CHEDDAR FORT (entre 9 et 18 mois d’affinage)

AGED CHEDDAR (aged more than 18 months) – CHEDDAR VIEILLI (plus de 18 mois d’affinage)

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar— Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 2 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

GOUDA CHEESE – FROMAGE GOUDA

BLUE CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE PERSILLÉE

FLAVOURED CHEESE – FROMAGE AROMATISÉ

FLAVOURED FRESH CHEESE – FROMAGES FRAIS AROMATISÉS

SMOKED CHEESE – FROMAGE FUMÉ

GRILLING CHEESE – FROMAGE À GRILLER

SPECIAL AWARDS (9) PRIX SPÉCIAUX

BEST COW’S MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE VACHE

BEST GOAT’S MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE CHÈVRE

BEST SHEEP’S MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE BREBIS

BEST WATER BUFFALO MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE BUFFLONNE

BEST BLENDED-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT MIXTE

BEST FARMSTEAD CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE FERMIER

BEST ORGANIC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE BIOLOGIQUE

BEST RAW-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT CRU

BEST NEW CHEESE (introduced to market during 2017) – MEILLEUR NOUVEAU FROMAGE (Mis en marché en 2017)

  • Cows Creamery 2 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Mountainoak Farmstead 3 Year Old — Mountainoak Cheese, New Hamburg, Ontario

REGIONAL AWARDS (5) PRIX RÉGIONAUX

BEST B.C. CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LA COLOMBIE BRITANNIQUE

BEST WEST CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’OUEST (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

BEST ONTARIO CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’ONTARIO

BEST QUEBEC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DU QUÉBEC

BEST ATLANTIC CANADA CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery Appletree Smoked Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Cheese is listed alphabetically within each category or award. Where more than three finalists are shown, there were many entries and close scores. The Cheese of the Year was selected after several rounds of blind tastings of the best cheeses from the above 19 main categories.

For the 2018 competition, judging on technical aspects and aesthetics took place February 22 and 23 at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, with evaluation of cheese headed by Dr. Arthur Hill, Chair and Professor, Food Science.

The Awards Ceremony takes place June 6 in Toronto at historic St. Lawrence Market. The presentation of winners will be followed by an Awards Tasting Gala open to trade, media, and special guests. The following day, June 7, the inaugural Canadian Cheese Expo trade show for cheese industry, hospitality industry, chefs, media, food writers and bloggers takes place in the afternoon with the first-ever Artisan Cheese Night Market in the evening, open to the public.

The Canadian Cheese of the Year receives a prize of $5,000, thanks to Loblaw Companies, to support a marketing campaign to exploit being named the best cheese in Canada. Champions in each cheese category and provincial or regional champions will also be selected.

In 2018, a special prize of $5,000 for marketing also will be presented to the winner of the Best Cow’s Milk Cheese Award thanks to Dairy Farmers of Canada, our Principal Partner, Cow Milk Cheese.

It is the biggest cheese competition in Canada and the first 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.

Canadian Cheese Awards is produced by Cheese Lover Productions which also operates The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario. The Cheese Festival is on hiatus in 2018 to allow resources to be devoted to the launch of Artisan Cheese Night Market and related events.

For additional information, mailto:awards@cheeselover.ca or telephone 1.866.865.2628.

Kennedy boys to serve their father’s famed braised-beef poutine at #TGCCF

Chef Jamie Kennedy elevates poutine to a fine-dining experience.

When your father is one of Canada’s most renowned chefs, a passion for food and an appreciation for the restaurant industry come naturally. Nile and Jackson Kennedy grew up around the celebrated kitchens of their father, chef Jamie Kennedy, Canada’s first celebrity chef and a pioneer of the local food movement. But being the chef’s sons earned them no special treatment, as they worked their way through various positions within Kennedy’s restaurants.

“We’ve been working with my dad for a really long time now,” said Nile, 22. “We started by going to events and doing small jobs to just get a sense of what he did.”

Nile got his start in the family business at age 17, working in coat check during private events at the Gardiner Museum, where Jamie Kennedy then ran the venue’s fine dining restaurant and catered on-site weddings and other special events.

From there, Nile worked his way up to become an event server at the Gardiner and then an a la carte server at Kennedy’s Gilead Café, the chef’s last Toronto restaurant, which closed its doors in 2015.

Nile and Jackson Kennedy will serve J.K. Fries in addition to braised-beef poutine at #TGCCF.

Working in his father’s restaurants taught Nile a great deal about the industry and allowed him to spend plenty of quality time with his dad outside the house.

“Working with my Dad has always been great,” said Nile, “It wasn’t really like a typical working relationship. We would be cracking jokes with each other, and it was really positive. I’ve learned a lot working with him.”

For the past two summers, Nile and his brother Jackson, 26, have operated J.K. Fries, a mobile French fry kitchen they run at events and farmers’ markets around Toronto. J.K. Fries offers Chef Kennedy’s signature double-fried French fries, made with local Yukon Gold potatoes, fresh thyme and sea salt. The fries are always made entirely on site, for the freshest, crispiest snack possible.

This summer, J.K. Fries is setting up shop in Prince Edward County, offering its famous fries at events in the region all season long. For Nile and Jackson, this means a break from city life, and a chance to slow down and take a well-deserved break at the Kennedy farm in the County.

“This summer will still be about work, but we also wanted to take a step back, get out of the city and go to our farm,” Nile explained of the move. “We’ll work up there, and also take up any projects and hobbies we’ve really wanted to do. It’s an exploratory summer in that sense and we’ve both been excited about it for a long time.”

Chef Jamie Kennedy works his magic in the converted barn on his farm in Prince Edward County.

The brothers are looking to discover new interests outside the restaurant business, including learning to craft handmade utility knives using wood and metal found around the family farm. With the help of YouTube, they plan to teach themselves to build a forge and try their hands at knife making during their down time.

The Kennedy brothers will bring a special version of the J.K. Fries stand to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 3-4, with a braised-beef poutine, an artful take on the iconic, indulgent dish that his father made famous when he became the first Canadian chef to introduce poutine on a fine-dining menu.

“It’s an elevated version of the classic Quebecois poutine,” Nile explains. “We use braised, tender beef in a thick, salty, flavourful gravy and in place of cheese curds we’re using an aged cheddar from Monforte Dairy, who make a really nice cow’s milk cheddar.”

The Kennedy boys will be serving up the braised-beef poutine and the fries at the Festival’s Artisan Food Court on both Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

Meanwhile, Jamie Kennedy is hosting a fabulous feast at his Prince Edward County Farm on Saturday evening as part of his popular Summer Dinner Series. Award-winning cheesemakers Jean Morin and Marie-Chantal Houde will be among the lucky 55 guests—with their fromage featured on the cheese plate.

Jackson Kennedy tosses double-fried French fries, made with local Yukon Gold potatoes, fresh thyme and sea salt.

When he’s not slinging their much-loved poutine dishes to hungry festival-goers, Nile is eager to explore what’s new at this year’s Festival. He’s attended the past few years both to work and to observe.

“What’s great about the Cheese Festival, especially with all these local producers coming, people can taste all these amazing cheeses and it gives them ideas about what’s possible,” Nile said.

“More and more these days, people are interested in sourcing locally, but they might not realize how much is available and how many varieties are available so close to home. The Festival is great for that.”

—Phoebe Powell, senior roving reporter at CheeseLover.ca, is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her last blog post was on La Moutonnière: Happy sheep make award-winning cheese.

 

 

 

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!

Pilgrimage to a Canadian cheese lover’s Mecca

Vanessa and I stopped shopping for cheese and charcuterie at Marché Jean-Talon when we were left with nothing but coins in our pockets. Photo by SO.

When they want to pay homage to fromage, cheese lovers in Europe make a pilgrimage to France. In the U.S., the destination is Vermont or California. In Canada, there is only one choice: Québec.

Despite much progress in Ontario and British Columbia in the last decade, Québec remains Canada’s leading artisan-cheese region. With about half of Canada’s 180 cheese producers based in Québec, its leading role isn’t likely to end anytime soon.

For Canadian cheese lovers, the easiest way to find Mecca in Québec is to visit Marché Jean-Talon in Montréal. Which is what Significant Other and I did with a great friend in cheese, Vanessa Simmons, cheese sommelier at Savvy Company in Ottawa. We have many friends who love cheese, many friends who love food, but only in Vanessa do SO and I find an appetite for food, drink and adventure to match ours.

We warmed up for Marché Jean-Talon by visiting Complexe Desjardins in downtown Montreal to say hello to cheesemakers taking part in the annual La Fête des fromages d’ici. It was good to see so many producers represented by Plaisirs Gourmets at the show. SO and I sampled our way around for several hours and then caught up with Vanessa to compare notes and purchases. No surprise that our wallets were $150 lighter and bags similarly heavier.

What makes Marché Jean-Talon such a perfect Mecca for cheese lovers is that here one finds:

and across the lane:

Short of spending weeks driving from cheesemaker to cheesemaker around Québec, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Two hours and more than $350 later, here’s what we had in our cooler bags:

OUR HAUL

IN VANESSA’S COOLER

CHARCUTERIE

Smoked meat at Schwartz's, fatty and fabulous.
Smoked meat at Schwartz’s, fatty and fabulous. Photo by VS.

And if all that wasn’t enough, Vanessa forced us to accompany her to Schwartz’s Montréal Hebrew Delicatessen for lunch of the most famous smoked meat in Canada. Oh, the agony!

 —Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheesehead-in-cheef at CheeseLover.ca and director of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, lived in Montréal when Oka was still made Trappists at Oka. Way back then, his smoked-meat emporium of record was Bens De Luxe Delicatessen & Restaurant founded in 1908 by Latvian immigrants Ben and Fanny Kravitz.

Quebec cheesemakers score at World Cheese Awards

Cornish Blue: Judged the best cheese in the world in 2010.

Four artisan cheesemakers from Quebec as well as Canadian cheese giants Saputo and Agropur medalled in the World Cheese Awards last week, the largest cheese competition on the planet. Hosted at the BBC Good Food Show in the U.K., 201 judges from 19 different countries judged 2,629 cheeses from 29 countries. Louis Aird of Saputo was the sole Canadian judge.

Louis Aird of Saputo: Judge at the World Cheese Awards.

Cornish Blue brought the World Champion Cheese title back to the U.K., being the first British cheese honoured in more than a decade. Here are the Canadian winners, starting with the four Quebec artisan cheesemakers entered by their distributor, Fromages CDA:

 

Le Moutier

Hard goats’ milk cheese plain
Gold medal: Le Moutier ~ Fromagerie de L’Abbaye St Benoit

Rind washed cheese not in any other class
Silver Medal: La Mont Jacob ~ Fromagerie Blackburn

Rind washed cheese not in any other class
Bronze medal: Guillaume Tell ~ Fromagerie Féodal

Cheese made with the milk of more than one animal
Bronze medal: Soeur Angéle ~ Fromagerie Kaiser

 

La Sauvagine

Rind washed cheese not in any other class
Super Gold medal: La Sauvagine ~ Saputo/Alexis de Portneuf

Brie made from pasteurized milk
Silver medal: Cendré de Lune ~ Saputo/duVillage 1860

All other new cheeses. Open to any new cheese first marketed after 01/10/09
Bronze medal: Tentation de Laurier ~ Saputo

White mold ripened soft or unpressed cows’ milk cheese with savoury additives
Bronze medal: Lady Laurier d’Arthabaska ~ Saputo/du Village 1860

Soft goats’ milk cheese plain – mold-ripened
Bronze medal: Le Cendrillon ~ Saputo/Alexis de Portneuf

Brie made from pasteurized milk
Bronze medal: Saint-Honoré ~ Saputo/Alexis de Portneuf

Blue vein cheese any variety, uncut, natural rind
Bronze medal: Bleubry ~ Saputo/Alexis de Portneuf


 

Camembert L'Extra

Camembert made from pasteurized milk
Gold medal: Camembert l’Extra ~ Agropur

Cheese made with the milk of more than one animal
Silver medal: Vaudreuil mi-vache/mi-chêvre ~ Agropur

New Cheese – hard or semi-hard. Open to any new cheese first marketed after 01/10/09
Silver medal: Rivière Rouge ~Agropur

Ricotta
Bronze medal: Ricotta Prestigio ~ Agropur

For a list of U.S. winners, visit Cheesemonger’s Weblog.

The World Cheese Awards has been bringing together buyers and sellers from the dairy industry worldwide for 20 years. The BBC Good Food Show is the biggest and most cosmopolitan cheese festival ever staged in the U.K.,, with almost 100,000 consumers tasting cheese after the international panel of experts completed their judging.

—Rebecca Crosgrey

Rebecca Crosgrey is Event Co-Ordinator at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. She patrols the Web for cheese news for CheeseLover.ca.