Name the cheese, win tickets to #TGCCF and Makers+Mongers

613UiaJ5qjLBe the first to correctly identify the six cheeses on the cover of the second edition of Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide, by Kathy Guidi, and you’ll win a two-day pass for two to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival and a pair of tickets to Makers+Mongers in Cheeseburger Paradise. PLUS you’ll receive an autographed copy of the book!

Enter the contest by posting your answer in the Leave-a-Reply form below this post.* Winner will be announced Thursday at 12 noon Picton time.

Click on the image for a better view of the six cheeses.

The fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival takes place this weekend in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest-growing culinary destination. Click here for complete information.

The prize covers admission for two to:

Kathy Guidi, a leading authority on Canadian cheese, has written an updated edition of her Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide published in 2010. Here’s the official announcement on Canadian Cheese: A Guide by the publisher, Firefly Books.

Kathy Guidi

Kathy Guidi

The variety and quality of Canadian cheeses has never been so high nor has it been so popular. New handcrafted cheeses continue to emerge to critical acclaim, winning international awards. At the 2013 Global Cheese Awards in England, an aged Lankaaster by Glengarry Cheesemaking in the small town of Lancaster, Ontario, was declared “Supreme Global Champion.” As Huffington Post put it, “Canada, it’s time to celebrate cheese in a big way.”

This completely revised and updated edition of a cheese lover’s classic does just that. Canadian Cheese: A Guide is a comprehensive reference to some of the newest, best and most popular of Canadian cheeses. New and updated sections, content and photographs include:

  • concise tasting notes for 225 artisan cheeses from coast to coast
  • what’s on your cheese board—Canadian cheese professionals share their favorites
  • wine and beer pairing suggestions
  • tasting notes for Old World cheeses that have influenced New World Canadian styles
  • cheese ladder of appreciation suggestions: if you like this cheese… try this one
  • how to taste cheese like a pro
  • author and cheesemaker anecdotes
  • useful information on buying and serving cheese.

The author shares her insights on such popular cheese topics as raw milk cheese, discerning quality, whether to eat the rind (or not), cheesemaking and ingredients.

Professionally renowned for her work in furthering artisan and specialty cheese in the U.S. and Canada, Kathy Guidi founded the first full curriculum cheese appreciation school in North America and is a founding member of the Cheese Professional Certification Program run by American Cheese Society. Consultant to numerous cheese producers, trade organizations and consulates during a 40-year career, Kathy continues to influence and lead the domestic and international cheese world through her in-depth training session and interactive cheese tasting series Conversations in Cheese.

The new book is available via Amazon.ca and at book and cheese stores across Canada. For bulk purchases and wholesale discount information, contact Firefly Books.

* Employees and associates of Firefly Books, associates and students of Cheese Education Guild and Artisan Cheese Marketing, associates of Cheese Lover Productions, producers of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and cheese professionals are ineligible. The contest is open exclusively to consumers and not the trade.

Canadian Cheese Guide updated by Kathy Guidi

613UiaJ5qjLKathy Guidi, a leading authority on Canadian cheese, has written an updated edition of her Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide published in 2010. Here’s the official announcement on Canadian Cheese: A Guide by the publisher, Firefly Books.

The variety and quality of Canadian cheeses has never been so high nor has it been so popular. New handcrafted cheeses continue to emerge to critical acclaim, winning international awards. At the 2013 Global Cheese Awards in England, an aged Lankaaster by Glengarry Cheesemaking in the small town of Lancaster, Ontario, was declared “Supreme Global Champion.” As Huffington Post put it, “Canada, it’s time to celebrate cheese in a big way.”

This completely revised and updated edition of a cheese lover’s classic does just that. Canadian Cheese: A Guide is a comprehensive reference to some of the newest, best and most popular of Canadian cheeses. New and updated sections, content and photographs include:

  • concise tasting notes for 225 artisan cheeses from coast to coast
  • what’s on your cheese board—Canadian cheese professionals share their favorites
  • wine and beer pairing suggestions
  • tasting notes for Old World cheeses that have influenced New World Canadian styles
  • cheese ladder of appreciation suggestions: if you like this cheese… try this one
  • how to taste cheese like a pro
  • author and cheesemaker anecdotes
  • useful information on buying and serving cheese.

The author shares her insights on such popular cheese topics as raw milk cheese, discerning quality, whether to eat the rind (or not), cheesemaking and ingredients.

Canadian Cheese: A Guide promises to add excitement to readers’ appetites for cheese. It helps make sense of the many cheeses available at grocery stores, cheese boutiques and fromageries, and helps to break the pattern of buying the same, familiar cheese.

Author Kathy Guidi.

Author Kathy Guidi.

Professionally renowned for her work in furthering artisan and specialty cheese in the U.S. and Canada, Kathy Guidi founded the first full curriculum cheese appreciation school in North America and is a founding member of the Cheese Professional Certification Program run by American Cheese Society. Consultant to numerous cheese producers, trade organizations and consulates during a 40-year career, Kathy continues to influence and lead the domestic and international cheese world through her in-depth training  and interactive cheese tasting programs.

The new book is available via Amazon.ca and at book and cheese stores across Canada. For bulk purchases and wholesale discount information, contact Firefly Books.

The “first full curriculum cheese appreciation school in North America” refers to Cheese Education Guild now operated by Lisa McAlpine and Marla Krisko in Toronto.

 

 

Cheese appreciation: A great gift idea for Christmas

Cheese Education Guild: Learn by tasting the best in cheese.

Cheese Education Guild: Learn by tasting the best in cheese.

Here’s a great gift idea for the budding caseophile in your life—even if the caseophile happens to be you yourself.

A class in Cheese Appreciation will be offered by the Cheese Education Guild, on Wednesday evenings during January-February at Cheesewerks in Toronto.

In the course of 24 hours over eight Wednesdays, you’ll receive a thorough introduction to cheese and cheese enjoyment:

  • How to sense a cheese*
  • Words to describe cheese*
  • Cheese through the ages
  • Basic cheese and wine pairing*
  • Old and New World varieties
  • Developing a Cheese Vocabulary
  • Categories of cheese*
  • Handling and storage (general)*
  • Milk and ingredient terms
  • Processes in cheese-making*
  • Blue, goat and pasta filata cheeses*
  • Cheese ingredients*
  • Types of milk*
  • What makes a cheese superior

* Indicates tasting will be included in the presentation.

The cost of the eight-week course is $575 + HST which covers the class, cheese for tasting, workshop materials, testing and Certificate of Achievement. The class is limited to 30 persons. The first class is January 9, 2013, at Cheesewerks,  56 Bathurst Street, Toronto.

Mario Krisko (left) and Lisa McAlpine of Cheese Education Guild.

Mario Krisko (left) and Lisa McAlpine of Cheese Education Guild.

Your instructors are Lisa McAlpine and Maria Krisko who took over the Cheese Education Guild after founder Kathy Guidi retired to the U.S. Virgin Islands two years ago.

Canadian_Cheese_GuideThe Cheese Education Guild is the oldest cheese school dedicated to cheese appreciation in Canada. It was founded in 2005 by Guidi when she launched Artisan Cheese Marketing as a cheese public relations, education and marketing company designed to meet the education needs of the growing North American cheese industry.

Through a series of three Cheese Appreciation courses, students explore and compare hundreds of cheeses so that they can experience the artistry in a truly great cheese and understand the challenges facing cheesemakers. The January-February course is Cheese Appreciation, Level 1.

Click here for more information on the Cheese Education Guild and its offerings.

Click here for information on Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide authored by Kathy Guidi, a must-have, must-read for any cheese lover.

Name the cheese, win a $400 Festival pass

Be the first to correctly identify the three cheeses pictured on the cover of Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide, by Kathy Guidi, and you’ll win a three-day VIP pass to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival worth $400.

Enter the contest by posting your answer in the Leave-a-Comment form below this post.*

Click on the image for a better view of the three cheeses.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival will take place June 4-5 in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest-growing culinary destination. Click here for complete information.

The VIP pass includes admission to every single event during the Cheese Festival:

  • All-Day Cheese Tour on Friday, June 3 – $85
  • All-Day Tasting Seminar Program, Saturday, June 4 – $175
  • Cooks & Curds Cheese Gala, Saturday, June 4 – $95
  • Cheese Fair & Artisan Food Market, Sunday, June 5 – $45
  • Total value – $400.

Those are regular prices. Savings are possible by taking advantage of earlybird pricing until April 4. Click here for the Cheese Festival box office.

Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide is an outstanding reference to some of the newest, best and most popular cheese made in Canada. It includes concise tasting information for 180 cheeses from coast to coast, with emphasis on artisan varieties, while providing enchanting author and cheesemaker anecdotes, useful information on buying and serving, as well as author insights on popular cheese topics like raw milk cheese, discerning quality, whether to eat the rind (or not), cheesemaking and ingredients.

Chapters:

• Fresh, unripened – versatile, indigenous cheeses
• Soft, Ripened – fragile, runny and unctuous
• Soft Washed Rind – called ‘the stinkers’
• Semi-soft – mild, yet diverse
• Semi-soft Washed Rind – Canada’s new cheese heritage
• Firm – substantial, dependable classics
• Hard – maturity with benefits
• Blues – love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re anything but ordinary

Kathy Guidi is founder of Cheese Education Guild, a school dedicated to advancement of cheese knowledge and appreciation among food professionals and cheese lovers. She is also president of Artisan Cheese Marketing, a unique cheese public relations and business development company.

With more than 35 years of experience working as a consultant and maitre fromager (cheese master) with cheesemongers, trade organizations and producers, Kathy continues to influence and lead domestic and international cheese circles through her passionate training sessions and public speaking engagements. Born and raised in Milwaukee before moving to Chicago for school and career, Kathy has called Toronto home for 25 years.

Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide, published by McArthur & Company of Toronto, is available through Amazon.ca or Indigo.ca and in book stores, cheese shops, select wineries as well as Costco and supermarket book sections across Canada.

* Employees and associates of McArthur & Company, associates and students of Cheese Education Guild and Artisan Cheese Marketing, associates of Cheese Lover Productions, producers of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and cheese professionals are ineligible. The contest is open exclusively to consumers and not the trade.

Discovering Quebec cheese one wedge at a time

Vanessa Simmons passes her enthusiasm for cheese on to students at a Savvy Company tutored tasting.

It is hard to imagine someone with a greater enthusiasm for cheese and its appreciation than Vanessa Simmons.  “I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like,” she insists, and I believe her. I met Vanessa on a Monday night in Ottawa as she led a cheese-tasting class presented by Savvy Company titled the Great Canadian Cheese Discovery. Held at Thyme and Again Food Shop, the class focused on Quebec artisan cheeses.

Vanessa is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, whose passion for cheese first developed when she made her own feta during a cooking class. She says she was amazed that it seemed to take just “magic, faith and some TLC” in order to produce a great-tasting cheese. She was hooked.

Vanessa is now working toward her Cheese Education Guild certificate with Canadian cheese maven and author Kathy Guidi. Once a week, Vanessa leaves work early and drives five hours from Ottawa down Highway 401 in order to attend the cheese appreciation course in Toronto.

“My brother jokes I either need a boyfriend or a dog, because I spend way too much time with cheese,” Vanessa says with a laugh.

But Vanessa’s great enthusiasm for cheese makes for a tasting course that is both educational and inspired. She led her 18 guests through a selection of seven Quebec cheeses, all of which paired with two Ontario wines: Cattail Creek Chardonnay Musque and Niagara Teaching College Winery Cabernet Sauvignon.

We began our sampling with Le Joupon Frivole from Fromagerie Les Folie Bergeres in St-Sixte, a soft, rich surfaced-ripened sheep’s milk cheese.  It was fresh tasting and had a thick texture, forming a paste that coated the mouth. The milk used for Le Jupon Frivole is thermalized, a process commonly used in Quebec. Unlike the high heat of pasteurization, thermalization uses lower heat over a longer period of time. It is therefore gentler on the milk, and helps maintain its original flavours.

Our second cheese of the evening was Foin D’Odeur, produced by La Moutonniere in Sainte-Helene-de-Chester. When it was presented to us, this ripe cheese was melting all over the plate.  Foin D’Odeur is a bloomy rind sheep’s milk cheese. It had grassy, natural flavours, while the rind tasted mushroomy.

Nearly every cheese we tasted that night was packaged in a beautiful, hand-designed label, as Vanessa pointed out to the group. The unique labelling reflects the grassroots nature of Quebec cheesemaking. The labels serve as an indication of where the cheeses comes from, and speak to the personal attention they receive from their makers.

Our next sample was a knockout little cheese, and one of my two favourites from the evening’s selection. Le Pizy from Fromagerie La Suisse Normandie in Saint-Roch-de-L’Achigan comes in a tiny wheel, but packs a rich, buttery taste with a bit of a tang. A winner at Quebec’s Selection Caseus awards this year, this cow’s milk cheese is a standout.

Sein d’Helene with cheesemaker Lucille Giroux.

We then moved to the most playful cheese of the evening, Sein d’Helene from La Moutonniere. Literally “Helen’s breast,” this cheese is sold in a cone-shaped package, both to reflect its cheeky name and the mountainous region from where it hails. The cheese mixes sheep and cow’s milk; it is a fresh, earthy tasting cheese with a bit of acidity.

Our next selection was a goat’s milk cheese from Fromagerie La Petite Heidi in Saint-Rose-du-Nord called Tomme Le Rosee de Saguenay. The cheese presented barn aromas and had a sweet, tangy taste. It is dry and crumbly in texture with a yellow-coloured rind.

Next up was the second of my two favourites from the evening: Hercule de Charlevoix from Laiterie Charlevoix in Baie-St-Paul. The cheese is named for a legendary local figure, Jean-Baptiste Grenon, dubbed “Hercules of the North”.  According to local lore, when Grenon was captured by the English in the 1700s and hung, he fought so hard and so long, the English were so impressed they released him from the gallows. The cheese certainly exhibits some of that same strength with its powerful flavours. A thermalized cow’s milk cheese, it tastes of earth and nuts, with a rind that tastes of chocolate.

Our final cheese of the evening was the only bleu on our plate: Bleu Moutonniere from La Moutonniere dairy.  Vanessa has nicknamed this blue-veined sheep’s milk cheese “the converter” for its ability to change the minds of staunch anti-bleu cheese tasters. My neighbour at the table was one of these self-professed bleu haters, so I eagerly awaited her reaction to this cheese.  Bleu Moutonniere was a big performer at this summer’s American Cheese Society awards, claiming first prize in the “blue-veined sheep’s milk with rind” category. The cheese is smooth and creamy, with bright coloured blue veins snaking throughout the wheel. It is salty and earthy, and quite inoffensive for a bleu cheese. Bleu Moutonniere managed to live up to its name at the table, as my neighbour declared “this is the only bleu cheese I’ve ever been able to stomach!”

As the evening wound down, I finished up my wine, and mingled a bit with the crowd of satisfied cheese students. Finally, I made my way over to bid goodnight to Vanessa. Like a true cheese enthusiast, she was standing by the cheese table, making sure none of the evening’s offerings went to waste.

—Phoebe Powell

Phoebe Powell, CheeseLover.ca’s roving reporter, is currently based in Ottawa. Her last post was about pairing artisan cheese with craft beer.

In praise of aged Comté and belle Bleu l’Élizabeth

Bliss: Comté, Bleu l'Élizabeth and a glass of Jim Jim.

Sometimes, a board featuring only two cheeses is more than enough to satiate the senses. Last night was such a time at our house. Significant Other and I started with a divine 24-month Comté and stopped talking for the longest spell while moaning with delight about Le Bleu l’Élizabeth.

The fully mature Comté was recommended to us by Geoff at Chris’ Cheesemongers in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. He knows how much we enjoy an Alpine cheese such as Beaufort d’Alpage.

Comté has been made in the Jura Mountains in southeast France since the 12th century. It has the highest production figures of all the French AOC cheeses (51,000 tons in 2005, or about 1,275,000 wheels every year), a testament to its distinctive deliciousness.

It’s a raw cow-milk cheese with a natural brushed rind that is aged on average for eight months. The maturing period ranges from four months (the legal minimum ) to 12, 18 or even 24 months.

Comté: Spectacular caves to age a spectacular cheese.

Being a French AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) cheese, its production is tightly controlled:

  • Delimited area of production: Doubs, Jura, Ain, elevation 1,500-4,500 ft.
  • Milk must be produced by local cows of the Montbéliarde (95%) and Simmental (5%) breeds. There are about 112,000 Comté cows.
  • Minimum of 2.5 acres of natural pasture for each animal.
  • Cattle feed must be natural and free of fermented products and genetically modified organisms (GMO).
  • Each fruitière must collect milk from dairy farms within a 20-kilometre diameter at maximum.
  • Milk must be made into cheese within 24 hours of the earliest milking. Of course no modified milk ingredients (MMI) are allowed.
  • Only natural ferments must be used to transform the milk into curds.
  • Wheels must be aged on spruce boards.

It takes as many as 530 litres of milk, which is about the daily production of 30 cows, all to make one wheel of Comté weighing 40 kilograms. Those numbers are staggering in a world where progress is measured in ever increasing productivity and, sadly, often decreasing quality.

The texture is firm, the rind is grey-brown and pebbled, and the flavours burst forth in so many ways: Complex, nutty and caramelized with a lingering but not sharp flavor. The taste is variable depending on the age and the season of the milk. It’s typically described as salty, mild, and fruity. Some Comté has strong hazelnut flavours, other exhibits subtle hints of nutmeg.

Comté goes well with either dry white or light red wines, but we’re fans of bold fruit-forward wines, thus, we paired both cheeses with our last bottle of Jim Jim, a 2008 Australian shiraz.

Our cave-aged Comté was made by Fromageries Arnaud. $8.99/100g @ Chris’ Cheesemongers

I only expected SO to pick up the Comté at Chris’s, but when she spotted Bleu l’Élizabeth, she couldn’t resist one of our favourite blues. It was the perfect match for the Comté and made for a memorable evening. Sides of duck paté with pistachio and rare roast-beef slices and a caraway rye only enhanced the experience.

Writing in The Globe and Mail, Sue Riedl described the cheese as a “mellow blue even the blue-skeptic will love.” Bleu l’Élizabeth is much more than that. As Kathy Guidi writes in Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide, “The flavour, initially sweet with balanced salt and a piquant finish, is impeccable.”

Indeed, Bleu l’Élizabeth is a beauty, and unusually creamy and rich, with prominent Penicillium roqueforti veins that are blue, or green, according to the eye of the beholder. In 2009, it was declared the gold standard in Selection Caseus, the chief cheese competition in Quebec.

A former rectory houses Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick.

The cheese is made in Sainte-Elizabeth de Warwick in central Quebec at Fromagerie du Presbytère housed in the former rectory of the village Roman Catholic church. Across the street is La Ferme Louis d’Or where Holstein and Jersey cows provide the organic raw milk for cheesemaking, after feasting on clover, bluegrass and other organic grains in season, dry hay in the winter.

Brothers Louis and Dominique are the fourth generation of the Morin family to run the dairy farm. Louis started cheesemaking almost 20 years ago, under the Fromagerie du Presbytère label four years ago this month.

Bleu l’Élizabeth is a true farmstead cheese, generally aged two to three months. $6.99/100g @ Chris’s Cheesemongers

Louis d’Or, the Alpine-style cheese that won Caseus 2010, is also made at Fromagerie du Presbytère as is buttery Le Champayeur, a soft-ripened cheese.

The question is, after two gold medals in the Caseus competition, how will Jean Morin next knock our socks off?

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-In-Chief at CheeseLover.ca, plans to visit Fromagerie du Presbytère again in the next month or three to seek the answer.

Tasting the best of Quebec cheese from Caseus 2010

Georgs Kolesnikovs and Kathy Guidi taste and talk cheese outside A Taste of Quebec in Toronto. Photo by Tetsuto Ozawa.

You can tell two people meeting for an informal cheese tasting are head-over-heels in love with cheese when they both show up with cheese board and cheese knives in hand.

Kathy Guidi and I had a chuckle about that when we met at A Taste of Quebec in Toronto’s Distillery District to sample the gold and silver medalists in Selection Caseus 2010, the chief cheese competition in Quebec. (We used her board as it was larger.)

Kathy, who has forgotten more about cheese than most of us will ever know, is the author of the newly published Canadian Cheese: A Pocket Guide and a long-time cheese educator and consultant to cheesemakers and cheesemongers.

The Caseus 2010 overall winners are:

The first two are generally available at A Taste of Quebec managed by Thomas Sokoloski and other cheese shops. The third I’ve had to order from Leslieville Cheese Market; more on Le Monnoir in a future post.

The dairy goodness of Louis d'Or tastes as good as it looks.

Louis d’Or is a relatively new firm cheese made by Jean Morin, a fourth-generation dairy farmer, at Fromagerie Presbytère housed in a former rectory across the street from the Morin organic dairy farm in tiny St. Elizabeth de Warwick, about two hours east of Montreal.

When I visited Fromagerie du Presbytère last summer, Jean Morin told me he was proudest of Louis d’Or of all the cheese he makes, and that includes Bleu d’Élizabeth, a favourite at CheeseLover.ca, which was the Caseus gold medalist in 2009.

“It’s a beautiful cheese,” Kathy said of Louis d’Or, nutty, with floral notes. Me, I love the milky richness of the cheese, a testament to the organic raw milk provided by the Morin family’s Holstein and Jersey cows. The Louis d’Or we had was maybe a tad dry as it didn’t quite have the knock-your-socks-off quality that I recall from last summer.

Flavourful Hercule de Charlevoix is one of the many outstanding Quebec cheeses.

There was no question our Hercule de Charlevoix was at the top of its game. Fruity, creamy, complex, with a delicious rind. One of the great cheeses of Quebec, no doubt about it. Another example of what a powerhouse of gastronomy the Charlevoix region of Quebec is—and how Jersey cows often lead to superb cheese.

“Don’t let the bold aromatics intimidate you from trying Hercule,” Kathy writes in her book. The flavour is actually quite refined.

Bleu de la Moutonnière is an amazing blue made by Lucille Giroux.

For our third cheese, Kathy recommended we try Bleu de la Moutonnière—and I am so glad she did!

If you believe a blue cheese must be soft, creamy and veined, you might be put off by the appearance of this Bleu. It looks more like a clothbound cheddar than a blue, although bursts of blue are clearly visible. But so much taste, so much flavour, and very blue indeed. Kudos to cheesemaker Lucille Giroux and her partner Alistair MacKenzie.

In her book, Kathy says, “This distinctive blue offers the epitome of zesty blue piquant and salt flavour balance while allowing other mores subtle, sweet, grassy cheese flavours to shine through.”

When I gave two budding caseophiles a taste of all three cheeses a few days later, they could not say which one was their favourite because all three seemed so outstanding to them, each in its own distinctive way.

That’s the sign of memorable cheese plate, isn’t it? All cheeses so tasty you cannot pick only one as a favourite.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Three months after his last visit to Quebec, Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca, says he’s overdue for another trip to La Belle Province.