Cheesemobile heads to Gaspésie this summer

Our elegant cheesemobile, aka Buick Verano Turbo, at Mt. Revelstoke in B.C.

Our elegant cheesemobile, aka a Buick Verano Turbo, at Mt. Revelstoke in B.C.

Another successful Great Canadian Cheese Festival is behind us and it’s time to start planning another road trip—in search of cheese and other delights.

 Last summer, an elegant Buick Verano Turbo served as the cheesemobile as we hunted for the best in cheese in British Columbia and researched venues for a future Great Canadian Cheese Festival West.

This summer, the general plan is to head into Québec and eventually circumnavigate iconic Gaspésie to satiate our second love—fresh seafood. Of course, a visit to the region’s sole cheesemaker, Fromagerie du Littoral, will be on the itinerary.

Here’s the travel plan that’s taking shape:

  • Initial destination: Ste Elisabeth de Warwick two hours east of Montreal.
  • Festival Des Fromagers Artisans du Québec held this year at Fromagerie du Presybytère. The annual festival travels from cheesemaker to cheesemaker and attracts upwards of 10,000 cheese enthusiasts.
  • Visit Fromagerie Abbaye deSaint-Benoît-du-Lac and Fromage de La Station in Eastern Townships.
  • Fromagerie FX Pichet in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade. home of Le Baluchon, the Canadian Cheese of the Year.
  • Grand tour of Gaspésie, some 1,200 km in all, searching for the freshest seafood and other culinary delights during 10 days along the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River and into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Breathtaking panoramas and tasty maritime cuisine await.
  • Fromagerie le Détour in Témiscouata-sur-le-Lac, home of Magie de Madawaska, a wonderful soft cheese worth driving many days for.
  • Overnight visit to Isle aux Grues in the middle of the St. Lawrence River east of Quebec City from whence comes Riopelle, one of Canada’s iconic cheeses, named after Jean-Paul Riopelle, a larger-than-life painter and sculptor who spent his summers on Isle aux Grues and died there.
  • Return home to Ontario with coolers full of goodies.

More, as it develops.

If you have recommendations for must-make-stops along the proposed route, we’d love to hear them. Click here to e-mail CheeseLover.ca.

A cheese lover’s tour of B.C. creameries set to start

A 2013 Buick Verano Turbo serves as the Cheesemobile for our B.C. Cheese Tour.

A 2013 Buick Verano Turbo serves as Official Cheesemobile for our B.C. Cheese Tour.

Francis has his Popemobile, CheeseLover.ca has its Cheesemobile.

It’s a luxurious Buick Verano Turbo to whisk us around British Columbia over the next three weeks. The mission is to see how much artisan and farmstead cheese we can enjoy—reporting on our tasting adventures here and on Facebook and Twitter.

As much as we look forward to sampling cheese new to our palates (and generally unavailable in Ontario), we especially look forward to getting to know the men and women who make the cheese. At our first stop, at Golden Ears Cheesecrafters, we’ll be getting into the make room to help make cheese curds.

Here’s the itinerary for the inaugural B.C. Cheese Tour, roughly in order of the routing we plan to take:

B.C. Cheese Tour II, perhaps in 2014

Starting with any of the above that we won’t be able to visit this summer and continuing on to

B.C. Cheese Tour III will focus on Vancouver Island:

Click here for Google Map showing all 25 artisan cheese producers in B.C.

Much thanks to General Motors Canada for providing the Buick Verano for our B.C. Cheese Tour.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca and founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Good cheese hunting: Day 13, pilgrimage in Montreal

On our final full day in Montreal, we make a pilgrimage to the oldest cheesemonger in Quebec. As true pilgrims, we trudge on foot, some two hours, between Marché Jean-Talon and our downtown hotel on Boulevard René Lévesque.

Marché Jean-Talon, the largest year-round farmer’s market in Montreal, is where one finds the head office and main retail store of La fromagerie Hamel—in the cheese business since 1961.

There are some 700 varieties of cheese on display at La fromagerie Hamel in Marché Jean-Talon in Montreal.

La fromagerie Hamel now has five locations in Montreal including the flagship store at Jean-Talon. The name comes from its founder, Fernand Hamel, who owned the business until 1988 when it was purchased by Marc Picard who runs the business today with his wife, Murielle Chaput, and his son, Ian Picard, who has been the master fromager affineur for the past decade.

Camille, one of the friendly, bilingual experts in cheese who looks after customers, introduced us to three new-to-us Quebec cheeses that we will report on in due course:

  • Alfred fermier, a farmstead organic raw cow’s milk cheese from
    Eastern Townships
  • Kenogami fermier, a farmstead thermalized cow’s milk cheese from Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean
  • Mamirolle, a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Central Quebec aged in the cave at La fromagerie Hamel.

La fromagerie Hamel is the oldest cheese retailer in Quebec and, as far as we can make out, the second oldest in Canada. Olympic Cheese Mart at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto started cheesemongering in 1958. The high-profile Cheese Boutique in Toronto opened its doors in 1977.

Non-cheese footnotes on eating our way around Montreal for a week:

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca, departs Montreal tomorrow with his Significant Other for Le Festival des Fromages de Warwick.

Good cheese hunting: Day 12 and crêped out

We lied. After dining at Crêperie Chez Suzette in Old Montreal, we’re unable to stay away from the blog. Here’s why:

Brie, Gruyere and mozzarella—with a splash of maple syrup—make le crêpe aux trois fromages an amazing dish, cheesy and so tasty.

La Florentine is a crêpe stuffed with spinach and Brie and served with a béchamel sauce. Yum.

There is no cheese involved but we couldn't resist showing you a decadent dessert named Sonia: A crêpe served with fresh strawberries, bananas, ice cream and Belgian chocolate sauce.

We know, we know, the dessert looks, well, over the top, but it was utterly delicious.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca, is traveling with his Significant Other to Le Festival des Fromages de Warwick.

Good cheese hunting: Day 11, kicking back in Montreal

Lest you think we’re slacking off in the good cheese hunt, here’s a look at what’s in our portable cheese bin at the moment, clockwise starting from the upper left:

For the next few days, as we get down to serious sight-seeing in Montreal, we might drop out of sight as far as the blog goes. Besides, we need to munch our way through the cheeses shown above. After all, the cheese hunt will start again with a bang when we hit Warwick on Thursday for Festival des Fromages de Warwick.

Tonight, it was bistro night in our suite at Holiday Inn Express in downtown Montreal. A few mouthfuls of a rich smoked salmon, a chunk of Balderson 3-year, a chunk of the great Celtic Blue, and a chunk of unsalted butter with the fresh baguette. The vin rouge was a no-name from France that we found at the neighbourhood IGA for under $10.

A final note: During a visit to Dairy Farmers of Canada, it was most encouraging to learn how DFC promotes Canadian cheese in so many different ways.

Good cheese hunting: Day 9, at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Spectating at the Formula 1 Grand Prix requires about two hours of walking each day; thus, a hearty breakfast is a requirement. At l'hotel Gouverneur, we have pork three ways with a mozzarella-cheese omelette.

Lunch at Circuit Gilles Villenueve is a creamy, tasty Mi-Careme from L'Isle-aux-Grues, an island in the St. Lawrence River downriver from Montreal. Mi-Careme has that distinctive taste of a cheese made with non-pasteurized cow's milk.

Related link:

Good cheese hunting: Day 6, arrival in Montreal

Once we hit Montreal, it didn’t take us long to find our way to Atwater Market.

Quebec brie oozes from our ham sandwich at Première Moisson, an excellent bakery and café in the market—and many other locations across Montreal.

I know, I know, it isn't cheese but le paté canard et son fois gras was incredibly good at Première Moisson.

La fromagerie Atwater, which carries some 750 varieties of cheese, has served as a cornerstone of the artisan cheese movement in Quebec for two decades.

Sylvie, cheesemonger par excellence at Fromagerie Atwater, introduced us to four new-to-us Quebec cheeses which we'll report on in due course.

Related links: