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.

Fifth Town recognized for excellence in sustainability

Petra Cooper, founder and president of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, accepts Corporate Social Responsibility recognition from Lloyd Hipel, project manager, Enviro-Stewards.

For a woman dedicated to artisan cheesemaking—who famously chucked a high-level career in publishing to pursue her passion for cheese, it must have been a particularly sweet moment to learn that her tiny creamery beat out giant Kraft Canada for a prestigious national award.

Petra Cooper of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese was honored at a gala event hosted by Guelph Food Technology Centre (GFTC) to celebrate leadership in sustainability among food and beverage processing facilities.

The November 4 event signalled the release of key findings from a GFTC research project, “Raising the Bar for Sustainability Performance in Ontario’s Food and Beverage Processing Industry.”

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, located in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, won the recognition plaque for the most prestigious overall category, Corporate Social Responsibility.  Cher Mereweather, director of GFTC’s sustainability consulting business unit, says what makes the win so impressive is that a small facility has been able to excel at incorporating sustainability.

“With fewer than 20 employees, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co. demonstrated that corporate social responsibility can be done well at any size,” says Mereweather.

Other facilities that were nominated in this category were Kraft Canada Inc. in Scarborough, Ontario; Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd. in Windsor, Ontario; and Cargill Value Added Meats – Foodservice Canada in London, Ontario.

Guelph Food Technology Centre is a world leader in food industry solutions, helping companies along the entire food value chain compete globally by strengthening the very foundations of their business: their products, processes and people. Each year, GFTC assists more than 1,500 companies, providing confidential services in food safety and quality consulting and auditing, training, product development, packaging, labeling and sustainability.