Lunch of champions for Festival worker bees

There was a planning session for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival scheduled over lunch for the week following the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. When the question came up, “What shall we eat?” the answer was a no-brainer: “Let’s sample the champions and winners in the Royal’s cheese competition.”

Thus, it came to pass that we had one champion and five winners spread out before us on Friday, as you can see in the photo. We would have liked more champions but only Oka L’Artisan was available at St. Lawrence Market.

You’ll note the lack of wine glasses. After all, it was a working lunch. Just cheese, with sides of charcuterie, walnuts, grapes, bread, and, in the front right, Bleu d’Auvergne from France for dessert.

Here’s how the three of us informally ranked the award-winning Canadian cheese we tasted:

Cheddar, 5 year, Fromagerie Perron, $2.39/100g

Outstanding! If this what a cheddar that wasn’t even entered tastes like, we cannot wait to get our hands on Perron’s Doyen, Grand Champion, and 120th Anniverdsary Reserve, Reserve Champion.

Fromagerie Perron definitely will be on our list of cheesemakers to visit when we next travel on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Fromagerie Perron is located on Lac Saint Jean in the Saguenay region.

Champfleury, Agropur, $4.00/100g

It didn’t take us long to consume the entire small wheel of Champfleury. We loved the fruity creaminess of this washed-rind soft cheese but were stunned afterward to read on the label that modified milk ingredients (MMI) are used in making the cheese.

Champfleury is marketed as an “authentic fine cheese” in the Agropur Signature collection. Hmmm . . .

Bonnie & Floyd, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, $7.69/100g

No MMIs come anywhere near this excellent cave-aged sheep cheese made in Prince Edward County by the greenest creamery in Canada.

Oka L’Artisan, Agropur, $3.58/100g

No longer made by Trappist monks but still one of Canada’s most recognizable and noteworthy cheeses. Agropur cheesemakers make the cheese in the former Cistercian abbey. Whether the recipe is the original is arguable.

Cape Vessey, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, $6.99/100g

Goat’s milk does have it distinctive lemony tang but Fifth Town has earned many awards with this washed-rind cave-aged cheese that has broad appeal.

Chevrita, Agropur

Snow white and satin-like to the touch, Chevrita is pure goat cheese.

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