Cheese Tasting Gala: What a deal for $25 per person!

Who will win Canadian Cheese of the Year honours?

Who will be named Canadian Cheese of the Year?

Winners in the inaugural Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens will be revealed during an Awards Ceremony, Reception and Tasting Gala open to the public on April 7 at St. Lawrence Market North in Toronto.

The new and independent competition, with Loblaw Companies as Marquee Sponsor, has quickly become the biggest cheese competition in Canada with 76 producers from Newfoundland to British Columbia submitting 291 cheeses for judging. Appropriately, the competition will reach its climax at the venue National Geographic has called the world’s best food market.

The competition culminates on Monday, April 7, when the Awards Ceremony begins at 3 p.m. with the announcement of 30 award winners plus the Canadian Cheese of Year followed by an Awards Reception at 5 p.m. The Awards Tasting Gala begins at 6 p.m. with the winners as well as finalists on display for tasting by the public.

Qui sera connue sous le nom de fromage de l'année?

Qui sera connue sous le nom de fromage de l’année?

More than 50 different cheeses will be available for sampling, including Canadian Cheese of the Year and 30 other award winners. Admission to the age-of-majority event includes:

Tickets are for sale only online at <http://tinyurl.com/Awards-Tickets>. Admission is $25 per person for the Awards Tasting Gala. A limited number of tickets are also available for the Awards Ceremony and Reception at $25 each.

Guests at the Tasting Gala can enhance their experience by engaging with “experts in the crowd” in red aprons–like cheese educator Julia Rogers–who will have you tasting and talking cheese like a pro from your very first bite.

Anita Stewart, culinary activist, author, founder of Food Day Canada and Food Laureate, University of Guelph, will host the festivities.

For additional information, please visit CheeseAwards.ca or telephone 1-866-865-2628.

Click here for a preview of the finalists in the search for the best artisan cheeses made in Canada.

Judging took place at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, headed by Dr. Arthur Hill, Chair and Professor in Food Science and an internationally recognized authority in cheese technology.

Loblaw Companies is the Marquee Sponsor.

Loblaw Companies is Marquee Sponsor.

The Canadian Cheese Awards is sponsored by Loblaw Companies and Dairy Farmers of Canada, La Ferme Black River Game Farm, Plaisirs Gourmets, Palatine Hills Estate Winery, The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards & Estate Winery, Mill St. Brewery, ACE Bakery, Seed to Sausage and The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, with historic St. Lawrence Market the venue sponsor.

World's best food market is the Host Sponsor.

World’s best food market is Host Sponsor.

The Official Cheesemongers of the Awards are cheese shops of St. Lawrence Market: Chris’ Cheesemongers, Olympic Cheese Mart and Scheffler’s Delicatessen & Cheese.

As a service to the cheese industry and as a guide for consumers, Canadian Cheese Awards is being organized by The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada that is held annually in June in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, in Bay of Quinte Region near Belleville. Georgs Kolesnikovs, founder and director of the Cheese Festival, serves as Awards Chairman.

Canadian Cheese Awards
St. Lawrence Market North
92 Front Street East, Toronto
Monday, April 7, 2014
Website CheeseAwards.ca
Telephone 1-866-865-2628.

Psst! If Toronto on April 7 doesn’t work for you, the winners will be featured at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 7 and 8. To save 15% off the ticket price for admission to the Cheese Festival, enter the promo code CF14AT before starting your order: http://cheesefestival.ca/tickets/

Blind tasting of 290 cheeses under way for new Awards

Logo - Cheese of the Year

Somebody’s got to do it—taste 290 cheeses over a day and a half!

That’s precisely what 10 experts will be doing this week in order to evaluate and score cheeses entered in the inaugural Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens. The new and independent competition—with Loblaw Companies as its Marquee Sponsor—has immediately become the biggest cheese competition in Canada with 75 producers from Newfoundland to British Columbia submitting 290 cheeses for judging.

Judging will take place at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, headed by Dr. Arthur Hill, Chair and Professor in Food Science and an internationally recognized authority in cheese technology, who will serve as Chief Judge.

Finalists in 18 main categories will be announced March 7. Winners will be revealed during an Awards Ceremony, Reception and Tasting on April 7 at St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, that will be open to the public. Tickets will go on sale March 7.

It is the first cheese competition in Canada 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.

As a service to the cheese industry and a guide for consumers, Canadian Cheese Awards is being organized by The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada held annually in June in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, in Bay of Quinte Region near Belleville. Kolesnikovs is founder and director of the Cheese Festival.

Canadian Cheese Awards aims to recognize excellence in 18 main categories, eight special awards, five regional awards and the one very best cheese in Canada, the Grand Champion promoted as the Canadian Cheese of the Year with the support of Loblaw Companies and other sponsors.

Logo - Fromage d'exceptionAn extensive knowledge of cheese, on technical basis as well as aesthetic values, was the key factor in selection of the Jury, the judges who will evaluate and score entries following blind tasting of the cheese. Members of the Jury are:

Anita Stewart, culinary activist, author and founder of Food Day Canada, in her role as Food Laureate, University of Guelph, will welcome judges to Guelph.

Mary Ann Ferrer, Research Associate, Department of Food Science, University of Guelph, serves as Judging Co-ordinator. Jackie Armet, Cheese Co-ordinator, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and a cheesemonger at Whole Foods Market in Yorkville, serves as Cheese Co-ordinator. Rebecca Crosgrey, Event Co-ordinator, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, serves as Entry Co-ordinator.

The mission of Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens is three-fold:

  • to promote the best in Canadian cheese of all milks,
  • to create a recognized symbol of excellence for all Canadian cheese,
  • to offer expert feedback to all producers who submit entries by providing them with evaluation reports prepared by the judges.

For the biennial competition in the future, the Awards Ceremony will rotate Montréal 2016, Vancouver 2018 and Toronto 2020 while judging will remain at University of Guelph.

–30–

The judging on February 27 and 28 is not open to the public. Media access for photography and interviews can be arranged via Georgs Kolesnikovs, awards@cheeselover.ca.

Best bites: Outstanding cheeses of 2013

Ruckles from Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. Photo: Bob Chelmick.

Ruckles from Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. Photo: Bob Chelmick.

We bring the curtain down on 2013 with friends in fromage recalling the memorable cheeses that crossed their palates this year. In alphabetical order, mainly, here are 22 outstanding cheeses of the year just ending—plus new Canadian fondues and a pilgrimage cheese lovers must make.

Flavoured cheeses

It is surprising, even to me, that two of my three faves of 2013 are flavoured cheeses, which to me is a testimony to high-quality cheesemaking. Flavours that meld with the cheese substrate where the cheese and the flavour counterpart do a sublime dance.
—Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant

Ruckles, Salt Spring Island Cheese Company
David Wood knocks it out of the park, again. In a sea of so many pedestrian offerings of marinated goat cheese, Ruckles is in class all its own. Firm yet silkily textured cylinders of cheese are bathed in grapeseed oil which is speckled with a mix of thyme, rosemary, chives and garlic, in perfect proportion.

Chili Pecorino, The Cheesiry
The Chili Pecorino is one of my favourite offerings from Rhonda Zuk Headon’s repertoire. The balance of chilis embedded in this toothsome cheese provides a gentle heat that lingers on the palate while the nutty, olive flavour of this sheep milk cheese still holds its own. Not an easy accomplishment but Rhonda pulls it off!

Cheese fondues

Cheese fondue, the melted-cheese dish popular some years ago, is making a comeback—but without the classic ingredients of Comté, Beaufort, Gruyere or Emmental.

Four new ready-to-eat Cheese Fondues arrived on the market in 2013. All amazing, with either Louis d’Or, 14 Arpents or Victor et Berthold or the one from Charlevoix with both 1608 and Hercule in the box!
Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

One of my best bites was a fondue made from Victor et Berthold, a beautiful washed rind from Fromagerie Du Champ a la Meule in Québec. This cheese made one of the most delicious fondues of all time. It made me very happy.
—Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

 Outstanding cheese of 2013

Alfred Le Fermier (24 months), Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Alfred Le Fermier is a true, rustic, organic, raw cow’s milk farmstead cheese made in small batches, pressed and cooked, washed/turned by hand, as a way of life on the farm. It has a European style, but with local terroir, as a result of choosing closely the hay from their local Estrie region. Note heavy woodsy, herbal and mild floral aromas, with layers of milky, grassy and buttery complexity on the palette, more pronounced when aged for 24 months.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Beau’s Abbey Style Cheese, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
A delicious marriage of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese of Woodstock, Ontario, with Beau’s All Natural Brewing of Vankleek Hill, Ontario. This sumptuous semi-soft cheese is washed with a seasonal beer from Beau’s. Beer and cheese together, pure bliss!
—Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Brebichon, Les Fromages du Verger
I simply adore Brebichon, a farmstead sheep milk cheese that is oh so creamy, delicate and lucious. This apple juice washed cheese is an absolute must buy on every stop I make at Fromagerie Atwater in Montréal.
—Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

Chemin Hatley, Fromagerie La Station de Compton
Made with organic raw milk from a closed herd of fourth-generation family-farmed cows, this cheese readily fulfills its potential. Supple and fragrant, with yeasty and savoury aromas, and a long layered finish.
—Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

Crottin à ma Manière, Fromagerie L’Atelier
The goat’s milk cheese Crottin à ma Manière from Simon Hamel at Fromagerie l’Atelier in the Bois-Francs region of Québec surpasses famed Chavignol of France, is much cheaper and it’s federally licensed.
Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Dragon’s Breath Blue, That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm
A rare find and 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalist, Dragon’s Breath Blue is a closely guarded family secret. Unique in shape and size, these small cylinders of blue cheese are aged only a few weeks then coated with wax for ripening another 2-6 months. The flavor and texture varies by season, more buttery/creamy in the summer months with higher fat content in the milk. Note sharp blue flavor, moist texture with fruity notes, and little blue veining depending on exposure to air. More than worth the shipping charges!
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Figaro from Glengarry Fine Cheese. Photo: Vanessa Simmons.

Figaro from Glengarry Fine Cheese. Photo: Vanessa Simmons.

Figaro, Glengarry Fine Cheese
I choose Figaro from Glengarry–not that I don’t love (and love the Global award!) for the Lankaaster Aged but I kind of forgot about the amazingly fresh and delicate qualities. And we found each other again this year–lucky for me.
Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail 

Fleur des Monts, La Moutonnière
Not as consistent as one might want, though still an ambitious and expressive farmstead cheese modeled loosely after Manchego, but more floral, bright and pungent.
—Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture 

Grizzly Gouda, Sylvan Star Cheese
I’ve served the Grizzly Gouda from Sylvan Star many times at events or at home this year and it is outstanding in its complexity, looooong finish and “ability to wow” factor.
Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail 

La Sauvagine Réserve, La Maison Alexis de Portneuf
Somehow the cheesemakers at Alexis de Portneuf improved their already mouth-watering, soft, mixed rind La Sauvagine cheese. What did they do? Add cream to it, making it a triple crème. Grab some of this cheese while you can. A limited amount of this OMG mouth experience was created.
—Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Laliberté, Fromagerie du Presbytère,
I have to start with Laliberté from Fromagerie du Presbytere–the triple cream that I could not stop eating, and made from organic milk to boot.
Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail

Lankaaster Aged, Glengarry Fine Cheese
Supreme Global Champion at the 2013 Global Cheese Awards, this firm to hard cow’s milk cheeses comes shaped in a loaf or wheel, covered in a waxy rind, and is a Gouda-style after Dutch farmstead cheeses. It’s a rich, dense, chewy cheese with intense buttery, fruity, caramelized nutty flavors that linger forever.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Le Vlimeux, Fromagerie Le Mouton Blanc
It’s not hard to see how this multiple Caseus award-winning cheese is smokin’ hot! Vlimeux is a firm, pressed, uncooked raw sheep’s milk cheese, with a hard, waxy, glossy, caramel-hued rind. Smoke, salt and nut permeate the interior overlaying the cheese’s natural sweet milky flavors in a perfect complement.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Maple Cheddar, Black River Cheese
What could be more Canadian than Black River’s Maple Cheddar? This cheese provides a bite that is perfectly balanced between sweet and savoury, and just —Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl, Cheesemonger, Sobeys Queensway

Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds
Okay, this is part of the cheese but my wife and I cannot resist adding small cubes of it into our soups, chili, tomato sauce and risotto. The dried rind softens in the broth, releasing its flavour and becomes chewable. We love it so much that we actually have to buy some from our local grocery store.
—Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies

Pont Blanc, Fromagerie Au Grés Des Champs
Pont Blanc is a soft, lactic, surface ripened cow milk cheese. A rare find outside the farmstead retail store, the skin-like rind on this beauty reminds of intricate ivory lace, while the dense interior has the texture of a soft cream sandwich and moist piece of cheesecake. Note pronounced flavors and aromas of fresh sweet milk, and grass that linger and linger.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Ricotta, Quality Cheese
The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Grand Champion, the humble Ricotta from Quality Cheese reigned supreme, winning against more than 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first ever for both an Ontario cheese and a fresh category cheese. Fresh, creamy, melt in your mouth Ricotta (which means re-cooked in Italian, as it’s made from the leftover whey after making other cheese). Very light, but rich, and very versatile as a simple cheese to eat with a variety of garnishes/condiments or used in cooking.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company 

Taleggio, Northern Italy
Taleggio (1996 Italian DOP) has and will always be in my Top 10. It’s a semi-soft, washed rind, smear-ripened Italian cheese that is named after Val Taleggio where it has been made since the 10th century. The cheese has a thin crust and a strong aroma, but its flavour is comparatively mild with an unusual fruity tang.
Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Water Buffalo Mozzarella, Old West Ranch

James Meservy deserves a medal for perseverance! He has faced many challenges in the last two years in his attempt to bring high quality Old West Ranch Water Buffalo Mozzarella to the artisan Canadian cheese market. When it is in its finest form, it is dense and velvety without being the least bit rubbery and sweetly milky with a tangy underpinning that keeps us reaching for more.
—Janice Beaton, Owner, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese, FARM Restaurant

Only one imported cheese—Taleggio—made the 2013 most memorable list, but Julia Rogers offers this recommendation:

As far as international picks go, I’d suggest that any cheese lover make a pilgrimage to Neil’s Yard Dairy in London. The pleasures are too many to enumerate, but this is mecca, without a doubt. Here’s just one photo. And, yes, I tasted virtually everything in the shot.
—Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

Neal's Yard Dairy: Mecca for cheese lovers. Photo: Julia Rogers.

Neal’s Yard Dairy: Mecca for cheese lovers. Photo: Julia Rogers.

See also:

A delish potato gratin made with five artisan cheeses

Five-cheese Potato Gratin: Scalloped potatoes never tasted so good.

Five-cheese Potato Gratin: Scalloped potatoes never tasted so good.

If you like cheese and if you like potatoes, this Five-Cheese Potato Gratin is the dish for you. This Christmas, we served it with roasted turkey at a Boxing Day family gathering and it was a hit.

Our gratin is based on a recipe developed by Kelly Jaggers who runs the mouth-watering blog Evil Shenanigans, subtitled “Sometimes it’s good to be bad.” Her’s is a four-cheese gratin. We go the extra step with five cheeses, four of them made by Canadian artisans.

Kelly Jagger's dish looks better than ours.

Kelly Jagger’s dish looks better than ours.

The main cheese is Pionnier, a wonderful collaboration by Marie-Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France and Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère, made in the Jura style with a blend of sheep’s milk and cow’s milk.

The supporting cast includes two cheddars, Avonlea Clothbound and Pine River Aged, and for creaminess, the delicious Laliberté, a triple-cream cheese made by Jean Morin.

The final touch, as the topping, is 30-month Parmigiano-Reggiano, imported simply because no one in Canada comes close to matching the Italian classic.

Bon appétit!

Merry Christmas from CheeseLover.ca!

From our house to yours, all the best of the holidays! May much cheese be with you in 2014!

Christmas greetings from cheesemakers and cheesemongers

We’ve seen more than one Christmas cheese greetings, and received a few, too, but these five make our Best of 2013 list:

Guernsey Girl at Upper Canada Cheese.
The artisan cheeses distributed by Plaisirs Gourmets.
Ooops! We’ve misplaced name of cheesemonger who created this cheese tree.
From Fromagerie Hamel in Montréal.
L'équipe à la Fromagerie La Station de Compton.
L’équipe à la Fromagerie La Station de Compton.

Celebrate the holidays with Canadian cheese champions

A divine crab and Quality Cheese Ricotta mousse.

A divine crab and Quality Cheese Ricotta mousse.

Canadians looking for the perfect way to enhance meals and gift-giving this holiday season need look no further than Canadian cheese, known around the world for its high quality, versatility and great taste. To help create the perfect holiday experience, the elves at Dairy Farmers of Canada have just released more than 20 mouth-watering recipes featuring 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix category winners that are guaranteed to delight food-loving friends and family.

“These creative recipes will completely amaze your guests,” says Michael Howell, Executive Chef of Tempestuous Culinary in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. “The taste, quality and versatility of Canadian cheese know no bounds. These award winners lend themselves beautifully to holiday meals and really raise the bar for taste and pleasure.”

The innovative recipes, developed using 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix category winners from Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and PEI, provide holiday hosts with a full range of dishes, including appetizers and main courses, as well as a delectable dessert. Recipes include:

  • Appetizer: Oven-roasted Latin Foods Queso Fresco cheese and apples
  • Appetizer: Crab and Quality Cheese Ricotta mousse
  • Appetizer: Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar pastry with sweet potato purée and roasted tomatoes
  • Main course: Gunn’s Hill Five Brothers cheese and butter-nutty pecan turkey
  • Main course: Asian baked salmon with Le Noble cheese
  • Dessert: Bleu D’Élizabeth cheese, dark chocolate and date bites

Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian milk also makes a great gift all on its own.

“For those times when you aren’t wearing the chef hat and are a guest at a dinner, a great ‘out-of-the-box’ gift idea for the host or hostess is to create a beautifully assembled basket of award-winning Canadian cheeses,” says chef Michael.  “With any luck, your hosts may feel generous and share the basket with you and the other guests.”

All the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix award winners, with tasting notes, are listed at AllYouNeedIsCheese.ca/GrandPrix. Keep in mind that when purchasing a variety of cheeses, a good sampler size is 150 grams for each wedge.

“You really can’t go wrong giving the gift of award-winning Canadian cheeses; we make some of the best cheeses in the world,” says chef Howell. “Just remember to buy a little extra for yourself since we all need a pleasurable treat during the holidays.”

For more information on the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix winners and for recipes, visit AllYouNeedIsCheese.ca/GrandPrix.

About the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix
Sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix began in 1998 to promote achievement and innovation in cheese making and to increase appreciation for fine quality Canadian cheese. All eligible cheeses must be produced in Canada, bear the 100% Canadian Milk symbol on their packaging and be available at retail.

The cheeses are judged by a jury of experts from across Canada who are recognized in each of their respective domain in the food industry. Canada has a wide variety of world-class cheese makers from coast-to-coast. It is part of DFC’s mission to promote the great cheeses produced in Canada. We have so many different types of cheeses – from Cheddar to soft cheese, Blue cheese and flavoured cheese! The Canadian Cheese Grand Prix helps consumers learn more about great Canadian cheeses available in their local grocery or cheese store.

About Dairy Farmers of Canada
Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) strives to create favourable conditions for the Canadian dairy industry, today and in the future. DFC works to maintain policies that foster the viability of Canadian dairy producers and to promote quality Canadian dairy products made from 100% Canadian milk as part of a healthy balanced diet.

SOURCE Dairy Farmers of Canada (Marketing)

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