Canadian cheeses winners in largest U.S. competition

Big winners at ACS: Alastair MacKenzie and Lucille Giroux of La Moutonnière of Ste-Hélène de Chester, Quebec.

Eighteen Canadian cheeses were honoured at this year’s American Cheese Society Judging and Competition held in Seattle on the weekend. It’s the largest cheese competition in the Americas with 225 producers from 34 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico delivering a record 1,462 cheeses and cultured dairy products for judging.

Fifteen of the winners are Quebec cheeses, two are British Columbia (Kootenay Alpine Cheese), and one is Ontario (Fifth Town Artisan Cheese). La Moutonnière won four times, the most wins for a single cheesemaker from Canada.

SOFT RIPENED CHEESES

Open Category, made from sheep’s or mixed milks

1st – Soeur Angele
Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser
Quebec

Triple Crème – soft ripened/cream added

2nd – Brie Le Trappeur Triple Crème
Damafro
Quebec

Cheesemaker Simon Hamel at work in the make room of Fromagerie Éco-Délices in Plessisville, Québec.

AMERICAN ORIGINALS

Oka

2nd – Douanier
Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser
Quebec

3rd – Mamirolle
Eco Delices
Quebec

AMERICAN MADE/INTERNATIONAL STYLE

Open Category, made from cow’s milk

2nd – Raclette Nature
Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser
Quebec

Emmental-style made from cow’s milk with eye formation

2nd – Frere Jacques
Fromagerie Abbaye St-Benoit
Quebec

3rd – Mont-Gleason
La Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage
Quebec

BLUE MOLD CHEESES

Blue-veined made from cow’s milk with a rind or external coating

3rd – Benedictin
Fromagerie Abbaye St-Benoit
Quebec

Blue-veined made from sheep’s milk or mixed milk with a rind or external coating

1st – Bleu de La Moutonnière
La Moutonnière
Quebec

FETA CHEESES

Feta made from sheep’s milk or mixed milks

2nd – Feta Naturel
La Moutonnière
Quebec

For Wayne and Denise Harris, Kootenay Alpine Cheese is family operation—from soil management to the finished award-winning product—with daughters Nadine and Erin. Photo by Imageobcura Nelson BC.

FARMSTEAD CHEESES

Open Category cow’s milk cheeses, hard

2nd – Alpindon
Kootenay Alpine Cheese
British Columbia

2nd – Nostrala
Kootenay Alpine Cheese
British Columbia

Open Category sheep’s milk and mixed milk

2nd – Fleur des Monts
La Moutonnière
Quebec

FRESH SHEEP’S MILK CHEESES

Open to all shapes and styles of rindless, unaged, fresh sheep’s milk cheeses

3rd – Cabanon
La Moutonnière
Quebec

WASHED RIND CHEESES

Open Category made from cow’s milk

2nd – Magie de Madawaska
Fromagerie Le Détour
Quebec

3rd – Guillaume Tell
Domaine Feodal
Quebec

3rd – Cantonnier
La Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage
Quebec

Open Category made from sheep’s milk or mixed milks

3rd – Bonnie and Floyd
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
Ontario

Stephanie Diamant is the veteran cheesemaker at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Unlike other cheese competitions, where cheeses are graded down for technical defects, the American Cheese Society’s goal is to give positive recognition to those cheeses that are of the highest quality in their aesthetic evaluation (i.e. flavor, aroma, and texture), as well as their technical evaluation. As a result, the highest quality cheeses are those that the Society feels deserve the recognition of an American Cheese Society award, based on a minimum number of points awarded (totaling 100 points possible) for First, Second, or Third Place. In categories, or subcategories, where the minimum number of points is not earned, no awards are given.

Nova Scotia chef wins Canadian grilled-cheese throw-down

Chefs who fried and fought: Lucas Castle of Holt's Cafe (left), Melissa Craig of The Bearfoot Bistro, Paul Rogalski of Rouge Restaurant and winner Michael Howell of Tempest Restaurant.

Canada’s favourite comfort food received the gourmet treatment at the Dairy Farmer’s of Canada’s first-ever Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-off today.

Four acclaimed Canadian chefs fried and fought for the title of grilled-cheese champion. They were Melissa Craig, head chef at The Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, British Columbia; Paul Rogalski of Rouge Restaurant in Calgary; Corbin Tomaszeski of Holt’s Cafe in Toronto (represented by his sous Lucas Castle); and Michael Howell from Tempest Restaurant in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Each competitor cooked two original grilled-cheese creations in 20 minutes, in front of a foodie crowd at the Canadian National Exhibition. The dishes, all showcasing Canadian cheese, were then presented to a panel of expert judges, comprised of Lucy Waverman, Rita DeMontis and Corey Mintz, all food writers. Gurth Pretty, cheese author and chair of Ontario Cheese Society, was the engaging master of ceremonies.

Chef Michael Howell: Grilled-cheese champion.

Chef Michael Howell was hailed the champion for his recipe dubbed the “Panini Toscano,” an Italian-inspired creation that featured Nova Scotia Fox Hill Cheese House Havarti accompanied by prosciutto, figs, arugula, lemon aioli and balsamic vinaigrette.

Howell, who has run Tempest Restaurant for the past eight years following stints in Toronto and the United States, is committed to local, sustainable cooking. He believes the competition will inspire Canadians to experiment with locally produced cheese:

“This wonderful cook-off and my fellow chefs have all shown us that making a winning grilled cheese sandwich is simple: all you need is bread, your favourite Canadian cheese, and some imagination.”

Judge Rita DeMontis described the winning creation as being “a burst of flavour. A mouthful of joy!” Waverman praised the calibre of the food prepared by all four chefs, while Mintz declared that the judging might have been “the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”

The task assigned to the attendees was much easier: after watching the chefs battle it out, we were able to sample their tasty inventions. While they were all scrumptious, I was partial to Chef Craig’s decadent French Toast Grilled Cheese, which featured Canadian camembert, figs, and walnut cranberry bread.

All the chefs’ recipes are available online. I plan to recreate them all.

—Phoebe Powell

Phoebe Powell, a roving reporter for CheeseLover.ca, is crazy about grilled cheese. Her fave is aged cheddar on multigrain bread.

Cook-off judges: Rita DeMontis (left), Corey Mintz and Lucy Waverman.

Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide, by Kathy Guidi

At last, an up-to-date book on Canadian cheese loaded with information and insight!

A CheeseLover.ca review will be posted soon. In the meantime, here’s the official  announcement on Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide, by Kathy Guidi, the highly respected maven of all things cheese in this country:

Most of us are intimidated in front of the cheese case with so many varieties to choose from. We end up buying the same familiar cheese even when we set out to try something new.

Most Canadians have no idea what they’re missing! New Canadian cheeses emerge all the time! Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide is a reference to some of the newest, best and most popular.

The Guide includes concise tasting information for more than 180 cheeses from coast to coast with emphasis on artisan varieties. There are enchanting author and cheesemaker anecdotes, plus

  • useful information on buying and serving, and
  • author insights on popular cheese topics such as raw milk cheese, discerning quality, whether (or not) to eat the rind, cheesemaking and ingredients.

Natural Cheeses Grouped Alphabetically by Category

  • Fresh, Unripened – versatile, indigenous cheeses
  • Soft, Ripened – fragile, runny and unctuous
  • Soft Washed Rind – called ‘the stinkers’
  • Semi-Soft – mild, yet diverse
  • Semi-Soft Washed Rind – Canada’s new cheese heritage
  • Firm – substantial, dependable classics
  • Hard – maturity with benefits
  • Blues – love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re anything but ordinary

“Cheese can be the perfect accompaniment for many wines. But not every match is made in heaven making knowledge of cheese just as important as that of wine when recommending pairings. Kathy Guidi has the knowledge and passion to make learning about cheese a pleasure.”

—Carol LePage, Sommelier, Director of Sales, Reif Estate Winery

“Your passion for the topic of cheese, mental energy and agility, enthusiasm and friendliness is impressive and uplifting and so good for the dairy industry.”

—Russell Gammon, Executive Director Canadian Jersey Cow Association

The book is available* for pre-order on Amazon.ca and Indigo.ca and available at book and cheese stores across Canada by September 2010. ( * pre-order only until late August 2010 )

Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide
ISBN (978-1-55278-894-3)

Published by McArthur & Company
322 King St. West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 1J2
416-408-4007
www.mcarthur-co.com

For corporate or special sales, please contact the publisher directly: Ann Ledden, VP Sales, McArthur & Company.

Book signings can be arranged by contacting Devon Pool, Director of Publicity, McArthur & Company. See the Artisan Cheese Marketing calendar for scheduled book signings and event dates.

Kathy Guidi is the founder of Cheese Education Guild which in September will again present its in-depth Cheese Appreciation 1 program. It’s the perfect way to learn about cheese while savouring and comparing up to 10 cheeses each week during the 8-week certificate course.

  • Course:  Cheese Appreciation 1
  • Designed for: fine dining and wine professionals, sales and retail professionals,
    cheesemakers and cheese marketers AND caseophile (cheese loving) enthusiasts.
  • Starts:  Tuesday September 14 through Tuesday November 2, 2010
    Time:  6:15 – 9:15
  • Location:  Toronto Board of Trade, First Canadian Place, Bay and Adelaide
  • Cost: $ 550. + HST  (tax deductable receipt provided)

For complete information, visit www.artisancheesemarketing.com.

Grilled cheese vs poutine: A great Canadian debate

The Big Cheese at Chesterfields, photographed by the Blackberry Queen aka @CreativeKarinD aka Karin Desveaux-Potters.

Beyond eating cheese straight, I cannot decide which cheese dish I prefer: a grilled-cheese sannich or poutine?

These deep thoughts come to me as I get ready to take my first big bite of the Big Cheese, the grilled-cheese sandwich served at Chesterfields Homegrown Cafe in Picton, in Ontario’s Prince Edward County. Graham Sayers, who owns and operates the funky joint with his wife, Vicky, creates the Big Cheese with three local cheeses, Black River Old Cheddar, Black River Horseradish Mozzarella and Fifth Town Chevre. Grilled on whole grain bread with a pickle on the side, it’s a winner.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca, can’t wait for the results of the Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Challenge next week.

Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival: Talk about craziness!

It’s got to be the wackiest way to promote cheese but the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival has proven to be highly effective—right out of the gate. About 5,000 people watched the inaugural event at Whistler, British Columbia, two years ago. Who knows how many will show up for the 2010 race this Saturday?

What’s really surprising is that the crazy afternoon of cheese rolling and other activities for the whole family is sponsored and promoted by Dairy Farmers of Canada, an organization generally seen as staid.

Cheese rolling is exactly that. A large wheel of cheese is rolled down a hill and daring men and women chase after it. The first contestant to make it down the hill wins. Vancouver Island cheesemaker Natural Pastures produced special 11-pound wheels of Cracked Pepper Verdelait cheese for the Festival. The winners get to take home the wheel of 100-percent Canadian cheese and a Whistler season ski pass.

“Last year, the attendance at the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival was above our expectations and many people from across the country and abroad have asked us to bring it back,” says Solange Heiss, a spokeperson for Dairy Farmers of Canada. “It’s a great activity for the entire family and a fantastic way to showcase the amazing 100-percent Canadian cheeses this country has to offer.”

The race course will be set up in Whistler’s Upper Village on Blackcomb Mountain. Free round trip transportation to Blackcomb Mountain Base 2 parking lot via Excalibur Gondola in Whistler village is available for everyone. Anyone over 19 years of age can participate and contestants can register on site on August 14. The downhill event will consist of six men’s and three women’s races. The winner from each round will compete in the finals. For the kids, there will be six uphill races that will be a little easier.

In addition to the races, spectators, families and contestants can take in a host of other fun activities including cheese bowling and cheese twister. Everyone will be able to sample delicious Canadian cheese, wander through a Farmers Market and participate in cheese seminars. Canadian comic and award-winning host, Jebb Fink, will be hosting the festivities.

For more information about the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, click here.

CheeseLover.ca has been unable to confirm that a cheese-rolling festival will take place this fall in Toronto’s High Park.

Grilled cheese at Clinton wedding and other cheese news

Chelsea Clinton

Cheese makes news every day. That’s why we’ve started collecting links to the most interesting news reports of the week on a special page under the News tab at the top of the blog. Check it whenever you visit CheeseLover.ca.


Little Rove des Garrigues makes big mark

Cheese for vegans

Saputo cheese factory sale looms in Vermont

Mangos lighten up grilled cheese

Microbes help make raw-milk cheese safe

Cloak and dairy grilled cheese in Manhattan

Jessica Biel loves her cheese

Cheese washed with beer makes big stink

First breast-milk cheese, now he shows us sausage

How to make giant cheese popovers

Fried cheese curds popular but unhealthy

Cheese booms in Britain

The raw-milk debate Down Under

World Championship Cheese Curd Throw in Wisconsin

African cheese aims for U.S. market

Cheese and the kosher palate

Cooler cheeses for hotter weather

Wine and cheese and blood pressure

Lady Gaga admits she has cottage-cheese thighs

Milk: How much should you drink?