Pulled-pork parfait a fabulous find at Gourmet Expo

Giovanni Le Brasso shows a guest how easy it is to cut an 80-kilo wheel of Emmentaler at the Switzerland Cheese display at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo in Toronto this week.

There are more wines to taste than is humanly possible in one evening and all kinds of fancy food to sample, but pulled pork was the clear winner in our hearts  and stomachs at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo in Toronto this week. Not just any pulled pork but a perfect parfait served up at Hank Daddy’s Barbecue stand.

Pulled-Pork Parfait made by Hank Daddy's Barbecue, pictured with Hank's nephew Gordie.

Here are the ingredients: pulled pork, Hank Daddy’s Original Barbecue Sauce, mashed potatoes, more sauce, another layer of pork, sauce, potatoes, more pork and a topping of baked beans. Talk about an ultimate take on comfort food! No wonder Jennifer Bain raved about it in the Toronto Star after sampling the dish at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair last week.

For cheese lovers, there is a diverse selection of tastes to be had at the Gourmet Expo which runs till Sunday:

  • Cypress Grove Cheese from Northern California and Sobeys Ontario team up to present a divine plate of four goat cheeses made by Mary Keehn, one of the founders of the artisan-cheese movement in the U.S.
  • A delicious selection of classic and contemporary goat cheeses is available at the stand operated by Ontario Goat Cheese.
  • Devil’s Rock, a creamy blue cheese from Northern Ontario, and squeaky cheese curds are front and center at the Thornloe Cheese stand.
  • Major Craig’s Chutney is partering with two new artisan producers, Primeridge Pure and Seed to Sausage, to present a dynamite charcuterie platter.

Dairy Farmers of Canada is presenting winners of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in tasting seminars at the All You need Is Cheese stage.

Also participating in the Expo: Finica Food Specialties with Mariposa Dairy and other products,  Ivanhoe Cheese and Switzerland Cheese.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

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

Good cheese hunting: Day 10, at the Canadian Grand Prix

Significant Other and I are so excited at the prospect of Formula 1 racing starting in 20 minutes that we wolf down most of our Hercule de Charlevoix before we think of taking a photo for the blog. Which explains the only image (above) we have of this wonderful Quebec cheese.

L’Hercule de Charlevoix was named after Jean-Baptiste Grenon from Baie-Saint-Paul whose physical strength was said to be phenomenal. Made prisoner by General Wolfe’s troops during the summer of 1759, Grenon was released by the English soldiers who were incapable of controlling the Charlevoix strongman. So the legend goes.

Steve Essiembre and Stéphanie Simard of Ferme Stessi with one of their 30 Jersey cows.

L’Hercule is a classic firm cheese made with raw milk from the 30 Jersey cows of the Ferme Stessi, a mere hundred yards from cheesemaker Laiterie Charlevoix, The curds are cooked, pressed and ripened, normally, for 6 to 18 months. Our Hercule had been aged a full 24 months and showed it in complexity.

The result is a cheese that is somewhat reminiscent of Swiss Gruyere but much more earthy, with a nice nutty finish. Writing in The Globe and Mail, Sue Riedl had this to say about Hercule:

The flavour and supple texture of the cheese gives a nod to such greats as French Comté and Swiss Gruyère. The younger cheese is mild with a fruity aroma and sweet flavour, followed by a tangy finish. By 18 months the aroma is creamier and more complex, and the sharper finish has mellowed to a full, nutty finale that is enhanced by the earthy, toasted flavour of the rind. These traits and its larger wheel size (12-14 kilograms) make L’Hercule de Charlevoix a unique style of cheese in Canada.

Laiterie Charlevoix also produces Le Fleurmier, Le Vieux Charlevoix, available in Ontario, as is L’Hercule, and Le Cheddar Charlevoix, sold only in Charlevoix. Our Hercule came from Fromagerie Atwater in Montreal. ($4.10/100g)

Our plan was to make the Hercule the only of cheese of this day, but after Lewis Hamilton, boyfriend of Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, won the Grand Prix we feel the urge to celebrate. Off to Montreal’s Latin Quarter we go where, at La Brioche Lyonnaise, Significant Other has a delightful vegetarian crepe—nicely layered with Emmentaler.

After a long day at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, she is famished and, again, we forget to take a photo.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs is Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca.