Celtic Blue Reserve: Best cheese in all the Americas

Best of Show: Celtic Blue Reserve by Glengarry Fine Cheese.

Best of Show: Celtic Blue Reserve by Glengarry Fine Cheese.

Congratulations to Glengarry Fine Cheese​ for winning Best of Show with Celtic Blue Reserve at the biggest cheese competition in the United States!

A soft blue enriched with extra buttercream and aged four months, the cheese won top honours at the annual American Cheese Society Judging & Competition, held this week in Providence, Rhode Island. Some 1,700 cheeses were submitted for judging by cheese producers in North, Central and South America.

Two years ago, Glengarry’s Lankaster Aged was named Best Cheese in the World at an international competition in England.

Cheesemakers extraordinaire: Margaret Peters-Morris (left) and Wilma Klein-Swormink

Cheesemakers extraordinaire: Margaret Peters-Morris (left) and Wilma Klein-Swormink.

Margaret Peters-Morris, owner at Glengarry Fine Cheese, located in Lancaster near Cornwall, Ontario, give full credit to cheesemaker Wilma Klein-Swormink: “This cements 20 years of really hard work from myself and my staff. Through a lot of sweat and tears, we were determined to reach a real pinnacle in our career.”

Klein-Swormink has played a key role in cheesemaking at Glengarry since its inception in 2008 and produces cheese with the dedicated team at Glengarry as plant manager/cheesemaker.

Glengarry Fine Cheese and Glengarry Cheesemaking are located on the Peters family farm which has been in the family since 1967, Peters-Morris explains. “Our ancestral roots hail from the Netherlands and our parents have laid the framework for the family farm to grow and prosper in Lancaster where our parents started their dairy and crop farm which is now in the hands of the next generation who are continuing the dairy tradition and, now, the cheese factory is building its own tradition and reputation with the hard work and dedication that our parents instilled in myself and my brother.”

Margaret shares cheesemaking responsibilities with Wilma who is also the daughter of Dutch immigrants who also came to Eastern Ontario to establish a dairy farm.

A single herd of Brown Swiss cows provides the milk for Celtic Blue.

In addition to being named Best of Show, Celtic Blue Reserve won the blue-cheese category. Canadian cheesemakers won five other categories in the prestigious competition:

Best Gouda: Louis Cyr by Fromagerie Bergeron.

Best Gouda: Louis Cyr by Fromagerie Bergeron.

Margaret Peters-Morris started making cheese commercially under the Glengarry Fine Cheese banner seven years ago, but her involvement in cheesemaking across North America goes back two decades. She’s making a name now as an award-winning cheesemaker in her own right but for many years, Margaret was—and still is—the go-to-source for lactic starters and ripening cultures for cheesemakers from California to Quebec.

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Best Bites: Twelve outstanding cheeses of 2014

We lower the curtain on 2014 with Vanessa Simmons, respected cheese sommelier at Savvy Company in Ottawa, recalling the 12 Canadian cheeses that made the year memorable for her palate. Check out her tasting notes and make up your shopping list for the next visit to a cheese shop.

Glengarry-Celtic-Blue

  • Celtic Blue Reserve: Glengarry Fine Cheese
  • Even more robust, buttery than the Celtic Blue we know and love from Glengarry Fine Cheese.

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  • Taliah: Taliah
  • New-on-the-scene earthy ewe’s milk clothbound cheddar from Québec.

lindsay-cheddar-1

  • Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve by Celebrity Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar: Mariposa Dairy
  • Continues to wow year after year. Tangy, fruity, yet clean.

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  • Bonnechere 2 year: Back Forty Artisan Cheese
  • One-of-a-kind and very rare to find aged. Packs a punch of flavour with awesome bite on the finish.

magie

  • Magie De Madawaska: Fromagerie le Détour
  • Runny, lucious, creamy, buttery, nutty and ooey-gooey good when perfectly à point (fully ripened).

Canadian Cheese Awards

  •  Bella Casara Mascarpone: Quality Cheese
  • Rich, and oh so sinful, with flavors of butter, cream and a hint of sweet dulce de leche (to quote myself!). Eat right from the spoon.

burrata

  • Quality Cheese Hand-Pulled Burrata: Quality Cheese
  • Heaven. Pure indulgence. Need I say more?

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  •  Sylvan Star Natural Smoked Gouda: Sylvan Star Cheese Farm
  • Surprising! Hints of bacon, maple and smoke, with an overlay of butter and nut rounding out its smooth and supple texture.

ma-maniere

madelaine

plaisirs-gourmets-pont-blanc

  • Pont Blanc: Au Grés des Champs
  • Texture of soft ice cream sandwich with flavours and aromas of fresh sweet milk and grass that lingers and lingers.

laliberte

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Margaret Morris: Helping to make cheese across North America

Margaret Peters-Morris started making cheese commercially under the Glengarry Fine Cheese banner three years ago, but her involvement in cheesemaking across North America goes back almost two decades.

She’s making a name now as an award-winning cheesemaker in her own right but for many years, Margaret was—and still is—the go-to-source for lactic starters and ripening cultures for cheesemakers from California to Quebec. Legend has it that she never sold a culture to a cheese producer without first making the cheese herself in a makeshift make room in her garage.

Glengarry Cheesemaking and Dairy Supply and Glengarry Fine Cheese are located in a new purpose-built facility just north of the village of Lancaster near Cornwall in Eastern Ontario.

Margaret Peters-Morris is native to the area. She was raised on the Peters family’s dairy farm where her mother, Johanna, taught Margaret cheesemaking at a young age. Her interest in dairy farming led her to McGill University in Montreal where she earned a B.Sc. in Agriculture and Food Science. After graduating, she enhanced her cheese knowledge by traveling and studying cheesemaking in Europe. All of that experience has culminated in the products of Glengarry Fine Cheese.

In 2008, the Glengarry creamery was built on a piece of the same land which was farmed by Margaret’s family. Much of the milk used comes from a heard of Holsteins on her brother’s dairy farm across the road from the plant. All of the cheeses are made at that single location ensuring consistent methods and high quality standards of production.

In just a few short years, Glengarry has developed and introduced 10 styles of cow’s milk cheeses and two goat’s milk cheeses.

Lankaaster
Glengarry’s  most popular cheese is the Lankaaster. The unique spelling of the name is a clever spin on the nearby town of Lancaster with an added European flair. The Lankaaster is a hard Gouda-style cheese that is shaped as a loaf to express the fact that it is meant to be sliced and eaten on bread as is the tradition of Dutch farmers.  Glengarry offers three variations of the Lankaaster: infused with chives, Italian spice or cumin. This hard cheese is aged 2 to 4 months and is categorized as mild or medium.

Figaro
For fans of soft cheese, Glengarry offers Figaro which is a soft bloomy-rind cheese that is made in the tradition of Chaource cheese from the Champagne region of France. It is aged 3 weeks and has a mild milky and fresh taste when young but the flavor intensifies when aged to 6 weeks.

Celtic Blue
For blue-cheese lovers, Glengarry has developed Celtic Blue which is a soft creamy blue cheese with delicate veining. The taste is mild and not aggressive and it has a pleasing buttery aroma.

The cow’s milk comes from two local herds at the family-owned VLN Farm and nearby Maple Lane Farm. To ensure quality, Margaret visits the farms on a weekly basis and sometimes assists in milking

Fromage Fraise
If goat’s milk cheese is your thing, then you should try the Fromage fraise which is a goat’s milk cheese made from milk originating from the nearby Clarmell Farms.

The Glengarry family of cheeses have been well received and have earned top honours in cheese competitions. Most recently, in May of 2011, three of Glengarry’s cheeses are finalists in the seventh Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Lankaaster Traditional Gouda (semi-soft cheese category), Lankaaster Traditional Gouda Aged (firm cheese), and Celtic Blue (blue cheese). The final results of that competition will be announced in two weeks and the winners will be available for tasting in a special presentation at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

GLENGARRY FINE CHEESE

5926 County Road 34, Lancaster, Ontario  K0C 1N0   Telephone 613.347.1141, 1.888.816.0903

At the plant, Glengarry operates a retail store open seven days a week. It also serves as an education and interpretation center. In addition to selling the cheeses made on the premises, the store offers maple syrups, jams and other specialty food items.

Glengarry Fine Cheese will be a participating cheesemaker at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival taking place June 4-5 at Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest-growing culinary destination and Canada’s newest VQA wine region.

—Drew Gall

Drew Gall earned his way through university working on a dairy farm, studied dairy science, switched to forestry and ended up owning a specialty fabrication company. He indulges his true passion by blogging about cheese as the Canada Cheese Man.

Outstanding cheese bites of 2010

Deservedly, Vacherin Mont d'Or sits front and center at a cheese tasting also featuring Fritz Kaiser's Miranda, a seven-year-old Empire Cheddar and Celtic Blue from Glengarry Fine Cheese.

There’s nothing quite as exciting as tasting an outstanding cheese for the first time: Whoa! What aroma! What flavour! What texture! Where have you been all my life?

We bring the curtain down on 2010 with friends in fromage recalling the memorable cheeses that crossed their palates this year.

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery:
Lots of typical aged Cheddar flavour with sweet and spicy notes. Very firm and dry.
—Art Hill, professor, Dairy Science and Cheese Technology, University of Guelph

Louis d’Or, Fromagerie du Presbytère:
An 18-month-old, 40kg organic raw milk pressed cheese that won the Gold Medal at 2010 Quebec Caseus Awards. Federally licensed.
Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater, often called the godfather of the Québec artisan cheese movement

Brebichon, Les Fromages du Verger:
A young 350g farmstead sheep milk cheese made with apple juice added to the curd and washed with apple juice from their own orchard. First prize in washed rind cheese category at 2010 Quebec Caseus Awards. Provincially licensed.
Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater, often called the godfather of the Québec artisan cheese movement

Jersey Blue, Städtlichäsi Lichtensteig:
A 100% Jersey cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland made by Willi Schmid. So beautiful you almost don’t want to eat it, just gaze at it. But, mamma mia, when it gets into your mouth! What a cheese, WHAT a cheese! —Russell Gammon, Executive Secretary, Jersey Canada

Cone de Port Aubry and Vacherin de Savoie, Maison Mons – Fromager Affineur:
Two treasures from maître affineur Hervé Mons.
—Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

Le Foin d’Odeur, La Moutonniere:
Soft surface-ripened sheep’s milk, sweet, mushroomy and herbacious. When ripe, like licking buttered popcorn from your fingertips!
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Monforte Dairy Cottage Cheese:
Georgous small cream colour curds that play on your tongue like caviar and are so fresh they sqeek lightly on your teeth.
Andy Shay, Cheese Consultant

At CheeseLover.ca, the most memorable moment in cheese of 2010 came when we first tasted Vacherin Mont d’Or, a singular seasonal cheese of Switzerland that delivers an amazing explosion of aroma and taste—so rich, so gooey.

Other taste hits:

Miranda, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser:
Cheesemaker Fritz Kaiser, who kick-started the Quebec artisanal cheese movement in the 1980s, says Miranda is one of the many cheeses he produces that he’s most proud of. That says a lot, when one considers he makes Le Douanier, Port Royal, Raclette, La Soeur Angele, Le Saint Paulin, among others. We especially liked the rustic flavours of Miranda.

Celtic Blue, Glengarry Fine Cheese, and Bleu d’Elizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère: Two very different blue cheeses that demonstrate how far blues made in Canada have come since the days Roquefort ruled. Three cheers for Blue Canada!

Empire Cheddar, 7-year, Empire Butter & Cheese:
There are so many fine older cheddars made in Canada, but Empire’s oldest offering stands out in memories of cheese tasted during 2010.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-head-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, wonders what outstanding cheeses he’ll encounter in the New Year.

Best cheeses of the “British Empire” in 2010

Lori Legacey, cheesemaker at Mariposa Dairy, has a sniff of a 19-kilo wheel of cheddar. The dairy's Lindsay Bandage Cheddar beat out 40 other goat-milk cheeses in the British Empire Cheese Competition. Photo by Lisa Gervais/The Lindsay Post.

Here are the results of the cheese competition at the 83rd annual British Empire Cheese Show organized by Central Ontario Cheesemakers Association:

The Alexis De Portneuf division of cheese giant Saputo was crowned Grand Champion.

Quebec cheesemaker Fromagerie La Vache à Maillotte was named Reserve Champion.

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, an artisan cheesemaker  in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, was honoured with the Finica Food Specialties Award.

In the cheddar class, Parmalat Canada was recognized as Grand Champion. Reserve Champion honours went to Fromagerie Isle-aux-Grues.

Glengarry Fine Cheese, after an excellent showing at Royal Winter Fair, picked up several more awards at British Empire, as reported in Eastern Ontario AgriNews.

Here are the top three in each class of the competition:

ARTISAN

Goat Milk Cheese

  1. Lindsay Bandage Cheddar, Mariposa Dairy (Finica Food Specialties)
  2. Cape Vessey, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
  3. Operetta, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Sheep Milk Cheese

  1. Bonnie and Floyd, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
  2. Toscano, Monforte Dairy
  3. Wishing Tree, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

SPECIALTY CLASS

Hard Cheese Type

  1. Glengarry Fen, Glengarry Fine Cheese
  2. Lankaaster Aged, Glengarry Fine Cheese
  3. Romano, St. Albert Cheese Co-Operative

Firm Cheese Type

  1. Lankaaster Medium, Glengarry Fine Cheese
  2. Nouvelle France, Agropur
  3. Fondue Prestigio, Agropur

Swiss Cheese Type

  1. Artisan, Agropur
  2. Swiss, Fromagerie Lemaire
  3. Mont Gleason, Saputo/Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage

Semi-Firm Cheese Type

  1. Raclette du Village, Saputo/Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage
  2. Le Cabouron, Fromagerie Blackburn (Fromages CDA)
  3. Le Cendre, Saputo/Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage

Fresh Cheese Type

  1. Mascarpone, Arla Foods
  2. Ricotta, Quality Cheese
  3. Prestigio Ricotta, Agropur

Soft Rind Cheese Type

  1. St. Honoré, Saputo/Alexis De Portneuf
  2. Triple Crème du Village, Saputo/Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage
  3. Cendre de Lune, Saputo/Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage

Smear Ripened Type

  1. Mamirolle, Fromagerie Eco Delices (Fromages CDA)
  2. Mont Jacob, Fromagerie Blackburn (Fromages CDA)
  3. Raclette, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser (Fromages CDA)

Flavoured Soft Type

  1. Lady Laurier d’Arthabaska, Saputo/Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage
  2. Raclette Oka, Agropur
  3. Chevalier Tomato Basil, Agropur

Flavoured Firm Type

  1. Lankaaster Chive, Glengarry Fine Cheese
  2. Smoked Cheddar, Parmalat Canada
  3. Lankaaster Cumin, Glengarry Fine Cheese

Blue Veined Cheese

  1. Celtic Blue, Glengarry Fine Cheese
  2. La Roche Noire, Saputo/Alexis De Portneuf
  3. Bleubry, Saputo/Alexis De Portneuf

American Style Type

  1. Brick, St. Albert Cheese Co-Operative
  2. Monterey Jack, Bothwell Cheese
  3. American Mozzarella, Parmalat Canada

Pasta Filata Type

  1. Bocconcini, International Cheese
  2. Burrata, Quality Cheese
  3. Fresh Mozzarella, Quality Cheese

Goat Milk Cheese

  1. Le Paillot de Chevre, Saputo/Alexis De Portneuf
  2. Rondoux Chevre, Agropur
  3. Chevrita, Agropur

Sheep Milk Cheese

  1. Allegretto, Fromagerie La Vache a Maillotte
  2. Bedda Fedda, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
  3. Blossom, Monforte Dairy

Process Cheese

  1. Spreadable Cream Cheese Product, Parmalat Canada
  2. Spreadable Cream Cheese Product, Parmalat Canada
  3. Spreadable Cream Cheese Product, Parmalat Canada

CHEDDAR

Mild White or Coloured Cheddar – Less than 2 months of age, 40 lb. or more

  1. Parmalat Canada
  2. Empire Cheese & Butter Coop
  3. Black River Cheese

Medium White Cheddar – 3 to 6 months of age, 40 lb. or more

  1. Parmalat Canada
  2. Fromagerie Isle-aux-Grues
  3. Amalgamated Dairies

Medium Coloured Cheddar – 3 to 6 months of age, 40 lb. or more

  1. Parmalat Canada
  2. Bothwell Cheese
  3. Empire Cheese & Butter Co-op

Marbled Cheddar – any age, 40 lb. or more

  1. Bothwell Cheese
  2. Empire Cheese & Butter Co-Op
  3. St. Albert Cheese Co-Operative

Mature Cheddar – 12 to 15 months of age, 40 lb. or more

  1. Parmalat Canada
  2. St. Albert Cheese
  3. Fromagerie Isle-aux-Grues

Extra Mature Cheddar – 24 to 36 months of age, 40 lb. or more

  1. Parmalat Canada
  2. Maple Dale Cheese
  3. St. Albert Cheese Co-Operative

Ontario fetish: Sampling cheese and sipping wine

Spending an evening tasting and discussing Ontario artisan cheeses under the guidance of a passionate professional is a wonderfully indulgent experience. Adding expertly paired VQA Ontario wines to the mix only serves to increase the decadence of the experience.

Sherinne Quartermaine talks wine at Culinarium.

Culinarium hosted an evening of wine and cheese tasting last week that adhered to the Toronto gourmet food shop’s mantra “All Ontario, all the time.” Kathleen Mackintosh, founder of Culinarium, chose the evening’s cheeses, and she guided the eight eager students in attendance through the process of cheese tasting.

The Wine Rack provided the VQA wines, and Sherinne Quartermaine, the store’s manager, selected a variety of Ontario wines to pair with Kathleen’s four cheese choices. Both Kathleen and Sherinne gave their students general guidelines for tasting cheese and wine, but ultimately, they agreed tasting is a personal experience. They encouraged everyone to approach tasting in whatever way worked for them.

We started each pairing by tasting the cheese on its own, then the wine on its own. We discussed the flavours and characteristics of each, and then we tasted the cheese and wine together. First, we had a bite of the cheese followed by a sip of the wine, and we noted the ways in which the flavours changed, became more apparent, or were lost with the pairing. We then reversed the steps, tasting the wine first and then the cheese.

The first cheese we sampled was a sheep’s milk cheese produced by Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in Prince Edward County near Picton, Ontario. The cheese, Lemon Fetish, was a firm, dry, feta-style cheese with citrus flavours.

Lemon Fetish was paired with Strut Sauvignon Blanc. When the cheese was sampled first, followed by the wine, the sauvignon blanc mellowed out the strong citrus flavours in the cheese, while the saltiness of Lemon Fetish made the Strut wine taste sweeter.

Kathleen Mackintosh talks cheese.

The tasting group as a whole agreed that when the approach was reversed, and the wine was followed by the cheese, the subtleties of the wine were lost to the strong flavours of the cheese. This was the case for most of the combinations sampled that evening, with the exception of the second pairing, which featured a bold Inniskillin Two Vineyards Merlot. The merlot was paired with a sharp 5-year cheddar produced by Maple Dale Cheese. The two paired nicely as neither overpowered the other.

During the evening’s tasting, the passion of both Kathleen and Sherinne for the craft of Ontario’s cheese and wine producers became apparent. Kathleen explained the human quality of artisan cheesemaking, describing it as a “hand-touched” and “human-tended” craft that required patience and care on the part of the cheesemaker.

Kathleen insisted this handcraft deserved the respect of the taster.

She argued that a taster should never ignore the rind of a cheese. As the only part of the cheese the maker can really affect, Kathleen believes we should taste the rind of every cheese we buy, out of respect for the cheesemaker.

We all gamely tried the rind of the Comfort Cream Camembert made by Upper Canada Cheese in the Niagara Peninsula. The bloomy rind added another dimension to the nutty flavours of this cheese. It was paired with a Jackson Triggs Reserve Cuvee Close, and they worked well together. The cheese made the wine taste creamier and sweeter.

Sherinne told the group of tasters the price of a wine is often a reflection of the care a grape receives. For that reason, she explained, ice wines are often pricier than other varieties. She described the labour of ice-wine making, in which pickers hand pick the frozen grapes in the middle of the night, in temperatures below minus 8 degrees Celsius.

In the case of Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine, the hard work certainly paid off. The 2006 vintage we sampled is a multiple gold medal winner, and an older vintage of Inniskillin’s Vidal ice wine was served to President Barack Obama at his Nobel Peace Prize Dinner.

The ice wine was paired with Glengarry Fine Cheese’s Celtic Blue. The two paired nicely. While on its own, the ice wine was a bit syrupy and sweet for my liking (with a sugar code of 24), when paired with the sharp, tangy blue, I appreciated the sweetness of the ice wine.

Fifth Town's Lemon Fetish.

When our four pairings had all gone down, and our taste buds were thoroughly satisfied, the night began to wind down. My tasting companion and I lingered in the store a bit longer, admiring the cheese selection. We finally took advantage of the 10 per cent discount offered to the guests, and picked up Fifth Town’s Lemon Fetish.

Perhaps we will be inspired to experiment with some wine pairings of our own.

—Phoebe Powell

A journalism graduate and budding turophile, Phoebe Powell last wrote for CheeseLover.ca about Monforte Dairy morphing into an art gallery.

Good cheese hunting: Day 7, in Montreal

We had a reservation for dinner at famed Au Pied de Cochon, so we aimed to pace ourselves during the day, starting with a light breakfast.

Lunch in our hotel room is a store-bought Caesar salad with parmesan bits and a big chunk of delightful Celtic Blue from Glengarry Cheese.

At Au Pied de Cochon, we let it all hang out with fois gras poutine for a starter followed by pork four ways with mashed potatoes, gravy and not a vegetable in sight. The cheese curds in the poutine are divine, produced by La Fromagerie Champêtre.

At CheeseLover.ca, we're big fans of The Wild Chef, aka Martin Picard, owner of Au Pied de Cochon. He strolled through the restaurant while we were eating, but we were too shy to say hello.

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