Wow! Pulled pork sauced with cheddar fondue

A poached Asian pear, stuffed with pulled pork and topped with two-year-old Black River cheddar fondue was one of the taste treats at the Taste: Community Grown event in Prince Edward County.

It was created and offered by Amelia’s at The Waring House Restaurant, Inn, Conference Center, Spa & Cookery School, with pears supplied by Kendelson Orchards.

Black River Cheese was one of three cheese vendors at Taste, the annual celebration of local foods. Also participating were Empire Cheese & Butter and newcomer County Cheese.

Mountainoak Cheese grand opening September 15

Farmstead Gouda in the aging room at Mountainoak Cheese which has its grand opening on September 15. Click on any image at CheeseLover.ca for an enlarged view.

Adam and Hannie van Bergeijk will see their dream come true this Saturday, September 15, with the official opening of Mountainoak Cheese in New Hamburg, Ontario. For them, it’s the culmination of many years of hard work and planning. For the cheese enthusiasts, it could well be the beginning of a love affair with their superb  Farmstead Gouda cheeses.

Adam and Hannie’s passion for making Gouda cheese started more than 30 years ago. In 1976, they took over the dairy farm run by Adam’s parents near the town of Spijkkernisse in their native Holland. From the beginning, they had an interest in making artisan cheese. The southwest area of Holland they lived in has a long and illustrious history of cheesemaking, so it was not hard to find willing teachers. In 1981, they both attended the renowned cheesemaker school in nearby Gouda, a center of cheesemaking expertise for more than 300 years. Since that time, Adam has passed on his knowledge to others as well, training students from countries throughout Europe in the art of making high quality Gouda cheeses.

Annie and Adam van Bergeijk ‘s dream of cheesemaking in Canada has come true.

In Holland, the van Bergeijks set up a small cheese plant right on their dairy farm. Their prize-winning cheeses were very popular with local consumers, and by the 1990s they were selling more than half the milk from their 60 cows as Farmstead Gouda direct to the public. But with two sons and a daughter, all interested in farming, there was little opportunity to grow as dairy farmers in the Netherlands.

In search of a brighter future for their children, Adam and Hannie sold the dairy and emigrated to Canada in 1996. They purchased land in Wilmot Township just east of the village of Haysville and built a modern freestall barn to provide comfortable housing for their new dairy herd. Since on-farm artisan cheese making was virtually unknown in Ontario, the van Bergeijks planned to focus on dairy farming only. Nevertheless, some of their original cheesemaking equipment found its way into the container destined for their new homeland, and it wasn’t long before they were making cheese for their own consumption.

Now that married sons Arjo and his wife Baukje on the home farm and John and his wife Angela on a second dairy nearby have taken over primary responsibility for the dairy operation, Adam and Hannie’s passion to make cheese is blooming once more. With the encouragement of family, friends and neighbours, they have embarked on a new cheesemaking adventure.

Mountainoak Cheese is a state-of-the-art operation but all the key steps in cheesemaking are still done by hand by an artisan craftsman. Here, Adam fills forms with blocks of Gouda-to-be.

Mountainoak Cheese is a state-of-the-art processing plant that allows the van Bergeijks to continue the tradition of great tasting high quality Gouda-style cheeses made with high quality fresh milk from their own dairy cows. Three days a week, right after the morning milking is completed, fresh milk from their herd of  purebred Holsteins is pumped directly over to the cheese plant to begin the process. Using their 30 years experience and traditional Dutch recipes, the van Bergeijks have a reputation for making superb-quality Farmstead Gouda cheese. They also offer very interesting variations on spiced Gouda, using traditional cumin as well as black pepper, mustard seed, nettles and even gourmet black truffles.

To those unfamiliar with the Dutch language, “Mountainoak” may seem like an odd name for a local cheese produced in Waterloo County.  There is no particular abundance of oaks on the farm, and certainly there are no mountains anywhere nearby either. A literal translation from Dutch to English of the family name “van Bergeijk”, would be “from the mountain oak.” Coming to a new land and eager to embrace the English language, they chose “Mountainoak Farms” as the name of their dairy. When their dream to make cheese in Canada became a reality, it just made sense that fresh Mountainoak milk should be made into high quality, all-natural, Mountainoak cheese.

The grand-opening celebration on September 15 will be held from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the farm, 4 kilometres south of Baden, just west of Wilmot Centre Road. The address is 3165 Huron Road, New Hamburg. The day will feature cheese sampling, self-guided tours of the processing plant, and information on how cheese is made. There is an official opening ceremony at 11:00 a.m., and a complimentary lunch including ice cream at noon. While all refreshments are complimentary, in light of the recent hurricane damage in Haiti, there will be opportunity to make a freewill donation to “Mission to Haiti Canada” at the event.

For more information and directions to the farm, visit the website at www.mountainoakcheese.ca.

—Jack Rodenburg of Dairy Logix

2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off

Chef Jason Bangerter, executive chef at O&B Canteen and Luma in Toronto, is the Master of the Melt after winning the 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off. (CNW Group/Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC))

Jason Bangerter, executive chef, O&B Canteen and Luma restaurants in Toronto, won the coveted cheese grater trophy for his Niagara Gold Crunch at the 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Jason Bangerter- Niagara Gold Crunch

Niagara Gold Crunch was judged the best grilled-cheese sandwich of 2012 in Canada.

The winning creation was reminiscent of a gourmet grilled ham and cheese, but the chef used shaved prosciutto and baby arugula as a filling between layers of that wonderful Niagara Gold, spread with a thyme, garlic and black pepper mayo and served with pickled grapes. Chef Bangerter wooed the judges’ sense of smell by completing the grilling by sautéing it in a little extra butter, thyme and garlic. Upper Canada’s cheesemaker was on hand to cheer him on.

From L to R, Chefs Michael Howell, Liana Robberecht, Ned Bell, and Jason Bangerter are all smiles after competing in the 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off in Toronto. (CNW Group/Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC))

The competing chefs hailed from four provinces of Canada: Ned Bell, executive chef, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, British Columbia; Liana Robberecht, executive chef, Calgary Petroleum Club, Calgary, Alberta; Jason Bangerter, executive chef, O&B Canteen & Luma, Toronto, Ontario; and Michael Howell, chef and owner, Tempestous Culinary, Nova Scotia.

Each chef  prepared two different sandwiches to present to the judges. Bangerter’s other entry was a sweet grilled cheese, filled with strawberries, raspberry liqueur, and layered with basil and Canadian Mascarpone. Served with a lavender milk to drink.

Left to right, Chef Bangerter and Chef Bell, with Judge Kevin Durkee.

The judges were Canadian food writers Sue Riedl, Rita DeMontis and Elizabeth Baird, and Kevin Durkee proprietor of CHEESEWERKS restaurant in Toronto.

The competition was fierce, with Chef Robberecht (left) paired with Chef Howell in the first round of the cook-off.

Chef Howell defended his 2011 title with an Apulia Panini and a Crabby Dipper pictured below, made with Canadian Cream Cheese and smoked Canadian Gouda.

Chef Howells Crabby Dipper.

Chef Howell’s Crabby Dipper.

Chef Robberecht’s entries were The Cherry Bomb made with candied cherry tomatoes and rich Triple Cream Brie and thick sizzling bacon, and the Stampede Centennial with Alberta BBQ beef pulled short ribs complemented by Canadian Provolone and Blue cheese.

Chef Bell used local B.C. cheeses such as Island Brie and Courtenay Cheddar served with a homemade fruit chutney in his The Simple and he went from simple to sweet in his entry Ned Bell Pepper Sweet & Spicy  with B.C. Pacific Pepper Spicy Verdelait and Cheddar Red Hot Pepper surrounding tomatoes in the centre.

For recipes and more click here.

—Rebecca Crosgrey is logistics boss of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Sail right to the door of County Cheese Company

Our lunch after docking at the County Cheese Company in Waupoos: Marvelous Magie de Ganaraska (right) and Voyageur, a strong blue with a unique hint of sweetness. Click on any image for an enlarged view.

If you sailed to Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, you could visit Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent. On the west coast, you could call at Salt Spring Island in the Strait of Georgia and visit Salt Spring Island Cheese. But you’d have to hike or cab to get to the cheese.

In Ontario, you can step off the boat and in less that one minute be inside the County Cheese Company to taste and purchase artisan cheese. Which is what we did this afternoon while on a boating holiday around Prince Edward County.

One-month-old County Cheese Company is based in Waupoos Marina just down the road from County Cider Company and Waupoos Estate Winery.

John Thomson of KendalVale Cheese and now also the County Cheese Company at Waupoos Marina in Prince Edward County.

A Canadian filmmaker turned cheese entrepreneur, John Thomson, opened a retail store adjacent to the Blue Moose Café in the marina on the Civic Holiday weekend. By the spring of 2013, Thomson plans to be producing sheep’s milk cheese in the Old Waupoos Canning Factory building on the marina property.

Thomson isn’t exactly a newcomer to cheese. He started KendalVale Cheese about a year ago. He transports Ontario sheep’s milk to Quebec where it’s turned into fine cheese at La Moutonnière, an established award-winning fromagerie operated by Lucille Giroux and Alastair Mackenzie in the village of Sainte-Hélène-de-Chester.

The KendalVale cheeses—Magie de Ganaraska, Commanda, Voyageur and Champlain—have quickly become favorites with cheese lovers in Ontario and chefs such as Jamie Kennedy. Thomson has set up his own distribution system and also represents the award-winning cheeses of La Moutonnière such as Bleu de La Moutonnière, Fleurs des Monts and Sein d’Hélène.

The County Cheese Company shares a building with Blue Moose Café steps from the docks at Waupoos Marina. County Cheese will operate the café during the fall, winter and spring.

Following the closing of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese early this year. Thomson saw an opportunity to develop a cheese production facility in Prince Edward County, often called the hottest new culinary destination in Ontario. He did consider making a bid for Fifth Town assets but decided to pursue his own direction with the support of Prince Edward/Lennox & Addington Community Futures Development Corporation (PELA CFDC)* and others, including Linda Bell, owner of Waupoos Marina.

By boat or other means, Waupoos is about to become a must-stop on any visit to Prince Edward County.

Black River Cheese Company, which has been producing cheddar in the County since 1901, is a short distance from Waupoos. There is a small dock at the rear of the plant on Black River but we’re not certain it can be reached by anything but a small boat. We’ll have a report on that in a few days.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, aboard the power yacht At Last!

* PELA CFDC is a community-based, not-for-profit corporation whose objective is to encourage local entrepreneurship and economic development. PELA CFDC specializes in providing business loans, grants, and training.