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.

wedge-clothcheddarXXlf1

  • 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • 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

See also:

Jean Morin wins again with Louis d’Or and Pionnier

Louis d'Or.

Louis d’Or.

Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère is Grand Champion twice over at this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

His Louis d’Or is Grand Champion in the cow’s milk variety cheese class. Pionnier, made with a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk in collaboration with Marie-Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France, is Grand Champion in the goat and sheep milk variety cheese class.

Marie-Chantal Houde and Jean Morin with Pionnier.

Marie-Chantal Houde and Jean Morin with Pionnier.

The 18-month Farmstead Gouda made by Adam van Bergejik of Mountainoak Cheese is Reserve Grand Champion in cow milk.

Adam van Bergejik.

Adam van Bergejik.

Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar made by Pieter van Oudenaren of Lenberg Farms/Mariposa Dairy is Reserve Grand Champion in goat and sheep milk.

Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar.

Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar.

Grand Champion in cheddar cheese is Black Diamond Mild Cheddar made by Parmalat Canada, now part of Groupe Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy producer. Parmalat dominated all cheddar categories except:

Click here for complete results.

 

 

 

 

Tania leads the Mariposa charge in Royal competition

Grand Champion: Tania Lenberg Farms Toscano Sheep Cheese.

Royal Winter Fair Grand Champion: Tania Lenberg Farms Toscano Sheep Cheese. Tania also won a Super Gold in the World Cheese Awards in September.

Mariposa Dairy dominated this year’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair competition for cheese made with goat, sheep or water buffalo milk. Mariposa’s Tania Lenberg Farms Toscano Sheep Cheese was named Grand Champion. Three other Mariposa cheeses won their classes as did Tania.

Tania, a farmstead Toscano-style sheep’s milk cheese, is a relatively new addition to the array of cheeses produced by Mariposa Dairy in Lindsay, Ontario. Sweet and nutty, attractive on the cheese board, Tania already has many fans.

px-tania-royal-winnerA distinctive characteristic is the colour of the paste that deepens as the cheese ages. Cheesemaker Pieter vanOudenaren says the orange colour comes from the carotene in milk. The inset shows a wedge of Tania in our cheese bin that was made in early 2012, now nicely aged, darker in colour and delicious.

Mariposa markets its goat and sheep cheeses under three labels: Celebrity, Mariposa Dairy and Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve.

Here are the results for cheese made with goat, sheep or water buffalo milk:

Grand Champion Goat, Sheep or Water Buffalo Milk Cheese

Mariposa Dairy – Tania Lenberg Farms Toscano Sheep Cheese

Reserve Champion Goat, Sheep or Water Buffalo Milk Cheese

Woolwich Dairy – Woolwich Dairy Crooked Wheel

Hard Cheese

1 Gordons Goat Dairy – Farmstead Goatagiono aged 2.5yrs no GMO

Firm Cheese

Mariposa Dairy – Lenberg Farms Bandaged Goat Cheddar
Mariposa Dairy – Lenberg Farms Premium Age
Woolwich Dairy – Woolwich Dairy Goat Cheddar

Interior Ripened

1 Mariposa Dairy– Celebrity International Mediterranean Gouda
Woolwich Dairy – Woolwich Dairy Goat’s Milk Feta Cheese
Mariposa Dairy – Extra Sheep Feta

Surfaced Ripened

Woolwich Dairy – Woolwich Dairy Crooked Wheel
2 Upper Canada Cheese – Nosey Goat
3 Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser – Sainte-Nitouche

Mold Ripened Cheese

1 Alexis de Portneuf – Cendrillon
2 Woolwich Dairy– Woolwich Dairy Triple Creme Goat Brie
3 Quality Cheese – Ashley Goat

Unflavoured Fresh Cheese

Mariposa Dairy – Celebrity International Goat Cheese Original
2 Quality Cheese – Ricotta
Woolwich Dairy – Woolwich Dairy Original Chevrai

Flavoured Fresh Cheese

1 Cross Wind Farm – Cranberry Orange
2 Cross Wind Farm – Italian Blend
Woolwich Dairy – Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Cranberry Cinnamon

Flavoured Cheese

1 Blyth Farm Cheese – Blyth’s Jalapeno
2 Blyth Farm Cheese – Blyth’s Garlic
3 Blyth Farm Cheese – Blyth’s Cumin

All New Innovations

1 Alexis de Portneuf – Double Joie
2 Quality Cheese – Buffalo Mozzarella
Woolwich Dairy – Woolwich Dairy Plain ‘N’ Simple Fresh Chevre

Any Cheese Made with Sheep’s Milk

Mariposa Dairy – Tania Lenberg Farms Toscano Sheep Cheese

Canadians produce 30 of the best cheeses in the Americas

bufala400

Quality Cheese of Vaughan, Ontario, which won the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix with its cow’s milk Ricotta, won the category of fresh unripened cheese made from sheep or mixed milk with its Bella Casara Buffalo Ricotta.

Canadian cheesemakers won 30 ribbons in the 2013 American Cheese Society Judging & Competition in Madison, Wisconsin, in early August, competing against 1,794 cheeses submitted by 257 producers in the Americas—the largest competition in the history of the ACS.

Twenty-three of the 30 ribbons were won by 10 Québec cheesemakers, four being first-place ribbons, two for Agropur Fine Cheese and one each for Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, represented by Fromages CDA, and La Moutonnière.

Two Ontario producers, Mariposa Dairy, represented by Finica Food Specialties, and Quality Cheese, won first-place ribbons as well.

Best of Show was won by Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont with the Winnimere, an extraordinary take on the French mountain classic Vachering Mont d’Or. Made with raw milk from the farm’s Ayrshire cows, Winnimere is wrapped in cambium cut from the spruce trees on the farm and washed in a beer from a neighbouring brewery. It’s available only January through June.

2013-Winner-Low-Res

Here are the Canadian winners:

OPEN CATEGORY – FRESH UNRIPENED CHEESES – MADE FROM SHEEP’S MILK OR MIXED MILKS

1st    Quality Cheese, Ontario
Buffalo Ricotta Bella Casara

3rd    La Maison Alexis de Portneuf (Saputo), Québec
Chèvre des Neiges plain

BRIE – MADE FROM COW’S MILK

2nd   Agropur Fine Cheese, Québec
Brie Normandie

CAMEMBERT – MADE FROM COW’S MILK

1st    Agropur Fine Cheese, Québec
Camembert l’Extra

2nd   Agropur Fine Cheese, Québec
Camembert Vaudreuil

TRIPLE CRÈME – SOFT RIPENED/CREAM ADDED – ALL MILKS

2nd   Agropur Fine Cheese, Québec
Chevalier Triple Creme

3rd    La Maison Alexis de Portneuf (Saputo), Québec
Saint-Honoré

OPEN CATEGORY – SOFT-RIPENED CHEESES – MADE FROM COW’S MILK

2nd   Agropur Fine Cheese, Québec
Rondoux Double Crème

OPEN CATEGORY – SOFT-RIPENED CHEESES – MADE FROM GOAT’S MILK

3rd    Upper Canada Cheese, Ontario
Nanny Noire

EMMENTAL-STYLE WITH EYE FORMATION (SWISS, BABY SWISS, BLOCKS, WHEELS) – MADE FROM COW’S MILK

1st    Agropur Fine Cheese, Québec
Oka l’Artisan

3rd    Fromagerie Abbaye Saint-Benoît-du-Lac (Fromages CDA), Québec
Le Frère Jacques

OPEN CATEGORY – AMERICAN MADE/INTERNATIONAL STYLE – MADE FROM GOAT’S MILK

3rd    Fromagerie Bergeron, Québec
Patte Blanche

FRESH MOZZARELLA – 8 OZ. OR MORE (BALLS OR SHAPES) – ALL MILKS

2nd   Quality Cheese, Ontario
Bella Casara Fior de Latte

3rd    Quality Cheese, Ontario
Fresh Mozzarella Zerto

FETA – MADE FROM SHEEP’S MILK OR MIXED MILKS

 2nd   La Moutonniere, Québec
Feta

FAT FREE AND LOW FAT CHEESES

2nd   Fromagerie Le Détour, Québec
La Dame du Lac

LIGHT/LITE AND REDUCED FAT CHEESES

1st    Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser (Fromages CDA), Québec 
L’Empereur Léger 

FRESH UNRIPENED CHEESE WITH FLAVOR ADDED – ALL MILKS

3rd    La Maison Alexis de Portneuf (Saputo), Québec
Chèvre des Neiges Fig and Orange

INTERNATIONAL-STYLE WITH FLAVOR ADDED – ALL MILKS

2nd   Fromagerie Bergeron, Québec
Le Coureur des bois

HAVARTI WITH FLAVOR ADDED – ALL MILKS

2nd   Agropur Fine Cheese, Québec
Havarti Jalapeno

REDUCED FAT CHEESE WITH FLAVOR ADDED – ALL MILKS

2nd   Woolwich Dairy, Ontario
Woolwich Dairy Fresh Chèvre – Big Kick Herb & Garlic

SMOKED CHEDDARS – ALL MILKS

2nd   COWS CREAMERY, Prince Edward Island
Applewood Smoked Cheddar

FRESH RINDLESS GOAT’S MILK CHEESE AGED 0 TO 30 DAYS (BLACK ASH COATING PERMITTED)

3rd    Mariposa Dairy (Finica Food Specialties), Ontario
Celebrity International Goat Cheese Original

SHEEP’S MILK CHEESE AGED OVER 60 DAYS

1st    Mariposa Dairy (Finica Food Specialties), Ontario
Tania

3rd    Fromagerie Nouvelle France, Québec
Zacharie Cloutier

YOGURTS – PLAIN WITH NO ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS –MADE FROM COW’S MILK

3rd    Beurrerie du Patrimoine, Québec
Plain Yogourt

BUTTER WITH OR WITHOUT CULTURES – MADE FROM GOAT’S, SHEEP’S OR MIXED MILKS

1st    La Moutonniere, Québec
Ewes Butter

OPEN CATEGORY – WASHED RIND CHEESES – MADE FROM COW’S MILK

2nd   La Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage (Saputo), Québec
Vacherin

3rd    La Maison Alexis de Portneuf (Saputo), Québec
Le Reflet de Portneuf

OPEN CATEGORY – WASHED RIND CHEESES – MADE FROM GOAT’S MILK

2nd   Fromagerie Le Détour, Québec
Sentinelle

Congratulations to all Canadian winners! They are shown below in alphabetical order with a summary of their winnings which accounted for 30 ribbons.

Agropur Fine Cheese
First-place  – 2
Second-place  – 5

Beurrerie du Patrimoine
Third-place  – 1

Cows Creamery
Second-place  – 1

Mariposa Dairty (Finica Food Specialties)
First-place  – 1
Third-place  – 1

Fromagerie Abbaye Saint-Benoît-du-Lac (Fromages CDA)

Third-place  – 1

Fromagerie Bergeron
Second-place  – 1
Third-place  – 1

Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser (Fromages CDA)
First-place  – 1

Fromagerie Le Détour
Second-place  – 2

Fromagerie Nouvelle France
Third-place  – 1

La Fromagerie 1860 DuVillage (Saputo)
Second-place  – 1

La Maison Alexis de Portneuf (Saputo)
Third-place  – 4

La Moutonniere
First-place  – 1
Second-place  – 1

Quality Cheese
First-place  – 1
Second-place  – 1
Third-place  – 1

Upper Canada Cheese
Third-place  – 1

Woolwich Dairy
Second-place  – 1

The 2014 American Cheese Society Judging & Competition will be held in Sacramento, California.

Outstanding cheese bites of 2011

Bliss from Monforte Dairy, an outstanding cheese bite if there ever was one.

We bring the curtain down on 2011 with friends in fromage recalling the memorable cheeses that crossed their palates this year. It’s a tradition at CheeseLover.ca we started last year.

Interestingly, two friends selected the same stand-out:

Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar, Mariposa Dairy:
Lindsay Clothbound was the best new Ontario cheese I tasted this year.  Beautifully balanced flavour, everything you would expect in a great clothbound cheddar in texture and flavour—with a terrific goat bonus at the end.
—Andy Shay, Cheese Buyer, Sobeys Ontario

Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar, Mariposa Dairy:
New to Ontario’s cheese scene and winning awards already, Mariposa’s twist on bandaged cheddar is an aged hard goat’s milk cheese, slightly dry and crumbly, with significant earthy, but distinct “meaty” flavor.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Vanessa named three other memorable cheeses of 2011:

Jersey du Fjord, Les Bergeries du Fjord:
My memorable cheese this year is definitely the Jersey du Fjord, aged 10 months, a 20-kg English Cheshire-inspired cheese that was one of the 16 Champions at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, a first prize and silver medal overall at the Quebec Caseus Awards.
Alain Besré, Fromagerie Atwater and Aux Terroirs

Old World
2011 was my year to celebrate Old World classics. Iconic Spanish cheeses, such as sultry smoky Idiazábal and cool minerally Valdeón were big hits, as were rare treasures from tiny shops in Toronto, including Danish Esrom (Stinky! Umami!) and Portugal’s Serra da Estrela—a tangy, wobbly, grassy wonder.
—Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

Hail to the blues!
At what point do we stop developing our taste buds? For years, I have fought with the blues, only to find it actually works to try something 25 times! I have now come to the other side and crave the blues. No cheese board is complete without them. So what blue converted me? Saint Agur. How can you resist that double creamy, lovely balanced blue served with a beautiful glass of Karlo Estates Van Alstine Port. Hail to the blues! Bring them on in 2012!
—Jackie Armet, Cheese Co-ordinator , The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Lady Jane, Farm House Natural Cheeses:
I first fell in love with this cheese at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton when I tried it during one of the pairing sessions.  It looks like the best, most beautiful buttermilk-y cheesecake, with a texture that is such heaven in your mouth. Lady Jane is one of my favourite new finds of 2011.
—Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl

At CheeseLover.ca, the most memorable moment in cheese of 2011 came when we first tasted Laliberté, the triple-cream cheese made with whole organic cow’s milk at Fromagerie du Presbytère. Such rich dairy delight!

Other taste hits of the year just ending:

Bliss, Monforte Dairy:
Cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen never ceases to amaze with her creations. This Brie-style pasteurized sheep’s milk is pure bliss.

Goat Cheese Curds, Monforte Dairy:
Be prepared for bursts of farm flavours when you pop these squeaks into your mouth.

14 Arpents, Fromagerie Médard:
Every time we taste this soft-ripened cheese we get religion and want to make a pilgrimage to the Lac Saint Jean in Quebec where Rose-Alice Boivin Côté and her family work wonders.

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

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.

Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar best goat-milk cheese at Royal

Grand Champion honours at the Royal Fair are the latest recognition for Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar, shown here at the American Cheese Society competition where it was named Best in Show, Runner-up.

Two new goat-milk cheeses—one barely out of the vat—took top honours in the goat-cheese competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair this week.

Lindsay Bandaged Cheddar was named Grand Champion about a year after it was introduced by Mariposa Dairy of Lindsay, Ontario—and began winning awards, including Best of Show, Runner-up, at the American Cheese Society.

Camelot, a new goat-milk cheese introduced by Upper Canada Cheese of Jordan, Ontario, only a few months ago, was named Reserve Champion and its other new cheese, Nanny Noire, placed second in mold-ripened class.

Mariposa Dairy dominated the goat-milk cheese competition, winning or placing in five categories.

Upper Canada’s goat cheeses are made only with milk from a rare herd of Lamancha goats pastured at Gord and Melanie Wood’s Idyllwood Farms near Keene, Ontario, and cared for by the entire Wood family. Says Lauren Petryna, head cheesemaker:
“This fresh, pure milk is then transformed into Camelot and Nanny Noire. Camelot ages for two months in our cellars, while camembert-style Nanny is rolled in ash, allowed to develop its bloomy rind and is ready to be enjoyed within weeks.”

Here are the top three in the mixed-milk class of the annual competition at the Royal:

All New Innovations Mixed Milk Cheese

  1. Buffalo Mozzarella, Quality Cheese
  2. Buffallo Ricotta, Quality Cheese
  3. Doucerel, Agropur Fine Cheese

Here are the top three cheeses in each category of the goat-milk competition:

Firm Cheddar, Mozzarella, Caprano

  1. Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar, Mariposa Dairy
  2. Mornington Heritage Old Cheddar, Ontario Dairy Goat Co-operative
  3. Mornington Heritage Marble, Ontario Dairy Goat Co-operative

Interior Ripened Gouda, Friulano, Manchego, Havarti, Feta

  1. Woolwich Dairy Goats Milk Feta, Woolwich Dairy
  2. Feta, Rivers Edge Goat Dairy
  3. Feta, Glengarry Fine Cheese

Surface Ripened Oka-style, St. Paulin, Tilsit, Mimstes

  1. Camelot, Upper Canada Cheese
  2. Cape Vessey, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Mold Ripened Brie, Camembert, tre Fratello, L’Extra Goat, La Brie,Triple Cream Brie

  1. Nettles Gone Wild, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
  2. Nanny Noir, Upper Canada Cheese
  3. Triple Creme Brie, Woolwich Dairy

Unflavoured Fresh Cheese Cream Cheese, Ghage, Quark, Ricotta

  1. Capriny, Alexis de Portneuf
  2. Chevre Original Cup, Mariposa Dairy
  3. Chevrai Original, Woolwich Dairy

Flavoured Fresh Cheese

  1. Celebrity International Goat Cheese Herb+Garlic, Mariposa Dairy
  2. Celebrity International Goat Cheese Mediterranean, Mariposa Dairy
  3. Celebrity International Goat Cheese Fig, Mariposa Dairy

Blue Veined Cheese

  1. Celebrity International Blue Goat Sliced, Nasonville Dairy

Flavoured Cheese Smoked, Jalepeno

  1. Mornington Ultimate Smoked Cheddar, Ontario Dairy Goat Co-operative
  2. Mornington Ultimate Cranberry Cheddar, Ontario Dairy Goat Co-operative
  3. Charlton hot pepper, Thornloe Cheese

Camelot by Upper Canada Cheese Company was named Reserve Champion in the goat-cheese class.

Judges: Thierry Martin and Jean‐Jacques Turgeon

Sponsors: Gay Lea Foods Co-operative, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Canadian Cheese Society, Cargill, Central Ontario Cheese Makers, Parmalat, Jersey Canada, Continental Ingredients Canada, Ecolab, Empire Cheese.

The 89th annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs until Sunday at Exhibition Place, Toronto.

To be posted tomorrow: results in the cheddar competition at the Royal.