Grand Trunk: Savour the aroma and flavour of the Swiss Alps

Grand Trunk wheel and wedge

Try and buy Grand Trunk and other award-winning cheeses from Stonetown Artisan Cheese at Canada’s Artisan Cheese Night Market in Toronto on June 6.

Grand Trunk is a best-seller for good reason: It tastes great, it really does!

Grand Trunk, the most popular cheese made by Stonetown Artisan Cheese in St. Marys, Ontario, is named after the historic railway bridge of the former Grand Trunk Railway in St. Marys.

On the outside of the cheese, the rind does have an old rustic look, just like the historic bridge.

But cut open a wheel and inhale the aroma. You’re immediately transported to the Swiss Alps where the fragrance of alpine meadows fills the air, mingling with a robust aroma of dairy.

Place a piece in your mouth and let it melt. It’s so rich and creamy, so packed with layers of flavour, with a nice balance of salt.

Grand Trunk is aged six to nine months and more. The older the better the taste, we say.

That’s award-winning Grand Trunk, the pride of cheesemakers Jolanda and Hans Weber who came to Canada in 1996 from their native Switzerland, with three children in tow, to begin a new life in St. Marys on their own dairy farm.

“Having previously worked in the Swiss Alps, it was always our dream to produce delicious, high quality cheese reminiscent of the renowned Swiss mountains and made from our own milk,” the Webers explain. “With a profound commitment to creating cheese of the highest quality, and the support of our family, as well as Ramon Eberle, a Master Cheesemaker from Switzerland, our humble dream became a reality.”

Fresh milk comes from 250 Holstein cows—who sleep on beach sand all year round. Two sons, together with their families, look after the cows while Jolanda and Hans handcraft the farmstead cheese: “In order to obtain a great taste, the milk is unpasteurized and has no additives. This ensures the cheese is pure and natural.”

The milk is thermized, which means its heated to reduce spoilage bacteria with minimum collateral heat damage to milk components. Artisan cheesemakers prefer thermization to pasteurization as the former does not cause changes in flavour.

The taste of place is definitely the Swiss Alps, although the cheese is made in Southwestern Ontario.

You’ll have a chance to meet Jolanda and Hans and sample their delicious cheese at Canada’s Artisan Cheese Night Market at historic St. Lawrence Market’s Temporary North Hall in Toronto on June 6.

“We will bring our award-winning cheeses like Wildwood, Homecoming, Farmstead Fontina, Farmstead Emmental and, of course, our most famous cheese, our Grand Trunk. We also make some goat milk cheeses and we will bring our Amazing Grey. The recipe for Amazing Grey is the same as for the Grand Trunk but with goat milk.”

Grand Trunk, which is aged six to nine months, was crowned Grand Champion in Specialty Cheese at the 2018 British Empire Cheese Competition.

Jolanda and Hans Weber with Master Cheesemaker Ramon Eberle.

Grand Trunk tastes excellent in sandwiches or just on a cheese platter with fruits, dried meat and rustic bread. It is a great cheese for fondue or grilled cheese sandwiches. Due to its unique flavor, the cheese pairs well with both red and white wines.

 —Georgs Kolesnikovs

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

Le Pizy: Truly outstanding Québec farmstead cheese

Le Pizy: Outstanding farmstead cheese from Fromagerie La Suisse Normande.

We’ll go for months without Pizy, and then, when we taste it again, we fall in love all over again.

There is no question Le Pizy, created by Cheesemaker Fabienne Mathieu at Fromagerie La Suisse Normande in St.-Roch-de-L’Achigan, Québec, is one of Canada’s best farmstead cheeses. When it comes to aroma, flavour and texture, Pizy is simply outstanding, and pretty in appearance, too.

We were first introduced to Pizy while spending too much money on cheese one afternoon years ago at Marché Jean Talon in Montréal in the company of Vanessa Simmons, arguably Canada’s leading cheese sommelier.

Try and buy Le Pizy at the upcoming Artisan Cheese Night Market in Toronto.

Vanessa’s tasting notes tell all:

Pizy has and remains one of my favourite top 10 Canadian cheeses, for sure. It’s even better if you keep it past the best-before date on the package by at least a week or two or more.

The cheese has more yeasty notes when it’s young which develops into more of a mushroomy, slightly nutty flavour as it ages. It’s very pretty, with the most delicate hue of champagne.

This small, soft, surface-ripened pasteurized cow’s milk cheese is fashioned after the Swiss Tomme Vaudoise, due to its shape (small wheel) and size (only ½-inch thick). Le Pizy has a thick bloomy ivory rind, with a rich, dense, paste coloring between ivory and pearl. Experience big milky, fresh field mushroom aromas and a fresh lactic taste with a sweet tang when it’s young, softening out as it ages.

The hand-crafted cheese produced at Fromagerie La Suisse Normande represents the marriage of two cultures, Swiss and French. Cheesemaker Fabienne Mathieu comes from Switzerland, husband Frédérick Guitel who manages the farm comes from Normandy in France.

Their resulting cow, goat and sheep’s milk products are a marriage made in heaven. Cheeses are made from animals raised on the farm, in true “fermier” (farmstead) fashion.

Meet the Suisse Normande family, left to right : Fabienne (mother), Magaly, Bénédicte (both daughters work at the fromagerie), Freddy (father) and Thibaut (son who works at the farm).

Of their five children, three want to ensure the continuity of their parents’ work: Bénédicte and Magaly at the fromagerie and Thibault on the farm.

The fromagerie began its activities in 1995 on the farm 50 kilometres north of Montréal.

Fromagerie La Suisse Normande will be represented by Plaisirs Gourmets at Canada’s Artisan Cheese Night Market on June 6 in historic St. Lawrence Market’s Temporary North Hall in Toronto.

 —Georgs Kolesnikovs

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