Monforte to start cheese school with Premier’s Award

Ruth Klahsen of Monforte Dairy was honoured with the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne this week for implementing a Community Shared Agriculture micro-financing model to raise capital to build a new plant in Stratford, Ontario. The award comes with a cash prize of $75,000.

“I am so thrilled and so honoured.” Klahsen said in accepting the award. “We want to take that award and we want to give it back. So what we intend to do with the money is to set up a cheesemaking school here at Monforte and that’ll start in February next spring. Because what we really need in the industry is education and depth and understanding of regulations so that we can do safe, wonderful products that are as good as Europe. And so a school becomes so important.

“The school becomes the coolest thing that we can do and I’m so excited about the potential of that. And the potential for what that can do to Ontario as far as just making really, really good cheese . . .

In 2008, when rent at Monforte Dairy’s location skyrocketed, the artisanal cheesemaker faced the challenge of securing enough money to build a new facility. So Monforte turned to its biggest believers—its customers.

It sold shares in denominations of $200, $500 and $1,000, redeemable in cheese. While many farmers have turned to community-supported agriculture to finance their operations, this is the first time the model had been attempted by an Ontario food processor. Monforte customers came through, purchasing nearly 900 shares totaling more than $400,000. The money helped pay for one-and-a-half acre of land in Stratford and a new, purpose-built environmentally sustainable cheesemaking plant.

This year, Monforte is on target to reach $2 million in sales, with the help of cheese aficionados determined to keep their favourite producer in business.

If you ask Ruth Klahsen, how she got into making cheese, she’ll tell you, in that self-deprecating way she has: “I’m just an old broad who had a mid-life crisis!”

Click here to read more.

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Monforte Dairy’s Ruth Klahsen and Kathleen Wynne, Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food.

Best bites: Outstanding cheeses of 2012

This is the third year Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar has been selected as one of the outstanding cheeses of the year at CheeseLover.ca.

This is the third year in succession that Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar has been selected as one of the outstanding cheeses of the year at CheeseLover.ca.

We bring the curtain down on 2012 with friends in fromage recalling the memorable cheeses that crossed their palates this year. In alphabetical order, here are 20 outstanding cheeses of the year just ending—and one terrific cinnamon butter:

Any cheese made by Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
Regardless if I’m eating his curds or the harder aged cheeses Shep Ysselstein is best known for, his cheeses never disappoint, they’re always outstanding bites to remember. He is truly a talented cheesemaker to watch.
—Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, COWS Creamery
I was in P.E.I in the summer and finally got to meet Scott Linkletter,  owner of COWS Creamery, and Armand Bernard, the cheesemaker. Ate Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar (still good everytime I have it) looking out over New London Bay as the sun was setting.
Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail

Bella Casara Mozzarella di Buffala, Quality Cheese
Discovered shortly after my trip to Italy when I was experiencing serious fresh cheese withdrawals. Enjoy the fresh, mild, milky flavor and smooth silky texture of this oh-so-versatile cheese made from Ontario buffalo (Yes, water buffalo) milk.  The small, soft, delicate hand-pulled rounds pair perfectly with both sweet and savory accoutrements. Click here for more tasting notes.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Black River 8-Year Cheddar, Black River Cheese
While many Black River cheddars have a characteristic bitterness, the 8-year has lost this. It is incredibly thick and smooth in the mouth, rich and nutty, with a hint of caramel.
—Andy Shay, Cheese Buyer, Sobeys Ontario

Monforte Dairy's Bliss makes our Best Bites list for the second time.

Monforte Dairy’s Bliss makes our Best Bites list for the second time.

Bliss, Monforte Dairy
I had been waiting and waiting for Bliss to be available after trying a sample in 2011. Finally, in May, I scored some at the Brickworks farmers’ market in Toronto. Worth the wait!
Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail

Brebiou, Fromagerie de Chaumes
Brebiou is a pasteurized sheep’s milk bloomy rind from Fromagerie des Chaumes in southwest France that I thoroughly enjoyed discovering. Click here for more tasting notes.
—Jackie Armet, Cheese Co-ordinator , The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Brie Paysan, Fromagerie de la Presbytere
It’s been consistently beautiful this year, especially when ripe. If purchased, folks should hold it for an extra while. This is my favourite example of “vegetal” notes in a cheese.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Downey’s Cinnamon Honey Butter
My personal favourite this year is Downey’s cinnamon butter. It was a breakfast favourite of my youth, and I knew the family that made it in upstate New York. Through sleuthing with Gerry Albright and Sue Riedl, it turns out this is a heritage Canadian product! Many people remember McFeeter’s Honey Butter. The McFeeters licenced honey butter to the Downeys in Eastern Ontario. The Downeys later moved the company to New York. Whether you like the history or not, it is an awesome breakfast treat on toast. Sobeys is very happy to offer this heritage Ontario product again—now made in Pennsylvania.
—Andy Shay, Cheese Buyer, Sobeys Ontario

Figaro, Glengarry Fine Cheese
My favourite Canadian cheese of late has been Figaro, by Glengarry Fine Cheese, because it is unique (though I believe modeled after a style of Robiola) and risk-taking (very moist, difficult to package and transport) and absolutely delicious (yeasty aromas, complex texture, musky finish).
—Julia Rogers, Cheese Educator, Cheese Culture

How can a cheese that looks as good as Fleuron not be selected for the annual honour roll? Photo by Vanessa Simmons.

How can a cheese that looks as good as Fleuron not be selected for the annual honour roll? Photo by Vanessa Simmons.

Fleuron, Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde
A beautiful rustic creamy blue that is simply stunning. I think the photo speaks for itself. How could this not make the list?
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Fromagerie Du Champ a la Meule
Le Fetard, Les Metayeres and Le Victor et Berthold are three awesome cheese from Québec made at Fromagerie Du Champ a la Meule that I hope we in Ontario can purchase really, really soon!
—Jackie Armet, Cheese Co-ordinator , The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Golden Blyth, Blyth Farm
A delicious, mild goat’s milk Gouda produced by Paul van Dorp near Blyth, Ontario
Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, at Loblaws

Grey Rush, Primeridge Pure
I’m a sucker for the plain as it is so versatile, but I find myself craving the chili, and this summer I was blown over by the frozen cheesecake made with their exceptional cream cheese.
—Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl

Cheddar Île-aux-Grues, Fromagerie Ile-aux-grues
It has a lovely sharp bite while maintaining a creamy crumby flavour.
—Jackie Armet, Cheese Co-ordinator , The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Mascotte, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser
A washed rind, semi-soft, goat’s milk cheese. Slight tang to it.
Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, at Loblaws

Nostrala, Kootenay Alpine Cheese
At The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, I sampled (and sampled) Nostrala and again was reminded how amazing it is and that I should buy it much more! Click here for more tasting notes.
Sue Riedl, Cheese Columnist, The Globe and Mail

Sensations Applewood Smoked Cheddar, aged 2 years, Sobeys
A thermalized cheddar made in Québec. Like a campfire, you can taste the nuance. Would be perfect with a single malt!
—Andy Shay, Cheese Buyer, Sobeys Ontario

Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères deserves to be on the best-of-2012 list if only for the artistry of its packaging.

Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères deserves to be on the best-of-2012 list if only for the artistry of its packaging.

Sorcière Bien Aimée, Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères
A soft, unctuous goat’s milk cheese is new to the luxurious lineup of Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères cheeses. Click here for my tasting notes. Again, keep until it’s soft and ooey-gooey good.
—Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Savvy Company

Tuxedo Triple Creme
A delicious triple-cream from France.
Gurth Pretty, Senior Category Manager, Deli Cheese, at Loblaws

Wendy’s Own Camembert
A sheep’s milk Camembert that I made in a class at George Brown taught by Ruth Klahsen. I was not expecting success, but one out of the five cheeses I affineured actually turned out well. I was really proud of myself.
—Wendy Furtenbacher, Blogger, CurdyGirl

See also:

Outstanding cheeses of 2011

Outstanding cheeses of 2010

You’re becoming a true caseophile when . . .

When we asked Perry Manti for photo, he said he was camera-shy and instead sent along this image of a Monforte Toscano wheel that he is aging at home. See below for details on the affinage.

When we asked Perry Manti for photo, he said he was camera-shy and instead sent along this image of a Monforte Toscano that he aged at home. See below for affinage details.

By PERRY MANTI

You know you’re becoming a true caseophile when . . .

. . . your parents start asking what kind of cheese you want for your birthday.

. . . the GPS unit in your car is programmed to always lead you to the cheese shop.

. . . you stub your toe and angrily yell “Idiazabal!”

. . . you wish Chanel would finally come out with a fragrance that smells like Brie de Meaux.

. . . you fantasize about Kraft going bankrupt.

. . . your spouse, based on what you often mumble in your sleep, suspects you’re having a torrid affair with some Italian hussy named “Taleggio.”

. . . you enjoy holding your socks to your nose because it reminds you of Limburger.

. . . you seriously wonder what cheddar from giraffe’s milk might taste like.

. . . you have to say to your wife “Oh, that bra! Sorry dear, I thought you were asking about the Slow Food Movement. Try looking in the clothes drier.”

. . . you proudly refer to yourself and fellow pecorino aficionados as “pecorheads.”

. . . your spouse puts her foot down and simply refuses to allow you to convert the entire basement of your home into a cheese cave.

. . . you sincerely hope Louis Pasteur is burning in Hell.

. . . you have a reoccurring erotic dream involving a goat and a tub full of warm curds.

. . . your colleagues are beginning to believe you’ve joined some bizarre cult that worships Thunder Oak Gouda.

. . . you believe Saturday is the best day of the week because you get to taste cheese at George Brown College.

. . . your vision of Hell includes the image of Ronald McDonald pushing a cheese cart.

. . . your expectant wife unequivocally rejects your idea of naming the child “Pliny the Elder.”

. . . your spouse catches you on the Internet, in the middle of the night, ogling pictures of Montgomery Cheddar.

. . . you book off sick at work so you can surreptitiously attend a local cheese convention.

. . . you mumble “Mildly lactic on the attack, a little barny, notes of citrus, lingering nuttiness on the finish.” Then, you open your eyes to discover the Baskin-Robbins staff behind the counter staring at you in utter disbelief.

. . . you stop going to church and begin turning to your cheesemonger for spiritual advice.

. . . you dream about living in a house shaped like a Valencay.

. . . you have a nightmare about a large piece of Cabrales biting you back.

. . . you embrace your spouse and tenderly whisper, “Je t’aime ma petite Chabichou du Poitou.”

. . . you dream of one day seeing Max McCalman on Dancing with the Stars.

Perry Manti, a teacher by profession, was in the first graduating class of the Professional Fromager program at George Brown College in Toronto. The Toscano in the photo above was two to three months old when he purchased it at Monforte Dairy: “I rubbed it every week with Kalamata olive oil. I aged it in my cantina for an additional three months. The rind became soft and edible. The paste became somewhat darker than a typical Toscano and developed a fruity aroma.”

Perry presented the aged cheese to Monforte where it became the inspiration for  Athena: “Quite frankly, I thought their final version was better than mine. It turned out well for them, as they sold out.”

Learn cheesemaking at Monforte with Ruth Khlasen

Image

Ruth Khlasen, owner and lead cheesemaker at Monforte Dairy.

Monforte Dairy in Stratford, Ontario, will become a cheese school for eight weeks in February and March with eight students studying and practicing the fine art of artisan cheesemaking.

Ruth Klahsen, Monforte’s owner and lead cheesemaker (photo above), will share the curriculum with Neville McNaughton and Evelyn McManus.

McNaughton, widely known in the cheese business as Doctor Cheese, owns and operates CheezSorce in St. Louis,, Missouri, a consulting and training firm. His experience in cheese goes back 35 years to his native New Zealand. He has many clients in Canada.

McManus has a PhD in Organic Chemistry, a diploma from Stratford Chef School and is chef instructor at Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

The cheesemaking program is limited to eight students. To enroll, email Ruth Khlasen or telephone 1.877.437.5553.

Image

Neville McNaughton of CheezSorce aka Doctor Cheese.

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.

Canadian winners at American Cheese Society

Lori Legacey, cheesemaker at Mariposa Dairy, has a sniff of a 19-kilo wheel of Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar which was named first runner-up in Best of Show at the American Cheese Society competition. Photo by Lisa Gervais/The Lindsay Post.

Canadian cheesemakers did remarkably well at the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference and Competition in Montreal this week, winning close to one-quarter of ribbons up for grabs. Best of all, Mariposa Dairy with Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar and Fromagerie du Presbytère with Louis d’Or won Best of Show honors.

BEST OF SHOW

Rogue Creamery, OR
Rogue River Blue

BEST OF SHOW 2nd PLACE (TIE)

Mariposa Dairy, ON
Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar

Carr Valley Cheese, WI
Cave Aged Marisa

BEST OF SHOW 3rd PLACE

Fromagerie Du Presbytère, QC
Louis d’Or

Louis d'Or, created by Jean Morin at Fromagerie Du Presbytère (photo), was named second runner-up in Best of Show at the annual ACS competition held in Canada for the first time.

HERE ARE ALL 69 CANADIAN RECIPIENTS OF RIBBONS BY CATEGORY

B. SOFT RIPENED CHEESES
White surface mold ripened cheeses – Brie, Camembert, Coulommiers, etc.

BA: Open Category made from cow’s milk

1st Agropur Fine Cheese, QC
Rondoux Double Crème

2nd Domaine Feodal, QC
Inspire

3rd Domaine Feodal, QC
Cendre des Priés

BB: Brie made from cow’s milk

1st Brazos Valley Cheese, TX
Eden

2nd Brazos Valley Cheese, TX
Brie

3rd La Maison Alexis de Portneuf, QC
Brie de Portneuf Double Crème

BC: Camembert made from cow’s milk

1st No Award Given

2nd Old Europe Cheese, Inc., MI
Camembert Fermier

3rd Alemar Cheese Company, MN
Bent River Camembert – Style Cheese

3rd Upper Canada Cheese, ON
Comfort Cream

BG: Open Category made from goat’s milk

1st Fromagerie Le Détour, QC
Grey Owl

2nd Damafro, QC
La Bûchette

3rd Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, CO
Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy Camembert

BS: Open Category made from sheep’s or mixed milks

1st Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, QC
Le Soeur Angele

2nd Les Bergeries du Fjord, QC
Le Blanche du Fjord

2nd Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, NY
Hudson Valley Camembert Square

3rd Marin French Cheese Co, CA
Melange Brie

BF: Flavor Added – spices, herbs, seasoning, fruits, etc.

1st Marin French Cheese Co, CA
Peppercorn Brie – Garlic

2nd Agropur Fine Cheese, QC
Chevalier Fines Herbs

3rd Old Europe Cheese, Inc., MI
Brie with Herbs

BT: Triple Crème – soft ripened / cream added – all milks

1st Agropur Fine Cheese, QC
Rondoux Triple Crème

2nd Old Europe Cheese, Inc., MI
Brie Triple Créme

3rd Agropur Fine Cheese, QC
Chevalier Triple Crème

CC: Original Recipe / Open Category made from cow’s milk

1st Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, CA
Point Reyes Toma

2nd Cowgirl Creamery, CA
Mt. Tam

3rd Les Fromages de l’île d’Orléans, QC
Le Paillasson de l’isle d’Orléans

D. AMERICAN MADE / INTERNATIONAL STYLE
Cheeses modeled after or based on recipes for established European or other international types or styles – Beaufort, Abondance, Gruyère, Juustoleipa, Caerphilly, English Territorials, Leyden, Butterkäse, Monastery styles, etc.

DD: Dutch style – all milks (Gouda, Edam etc.)

1st Glengarry Fine Cheese, ON
Lankaaster Aged

2nd Oakdale Cheese & Specialties, CA
Gouda

3rd Edelweiss Creamery, WI
Gouda Cellar Aged Grass Based

3rd Old Europe Cheese, Inc., MI
Edam Ball

DC: Open Category made from cow’s milk

1st Eagle Mountain Farmhouse Cheese Co., TX
Birdville Reserve

2nd Monforte Dairy, ON
Abondance

3rd Hahn’s End, ME
Petit Poulet

3rd Sartori Company, WI
Sartori Reserve BellaVitano Gold

DE: Emmental style made from cow’s milk with eye formation (Swiss, Baby Swiss, Blocks, Wheels etc.)

1st No Award Given

2nd Agropur Fine Cheese, QC
OKA L’Artisan

3rd Farmers Cooperative Dairy, NL
Farmers Swiss

DG: Open Category made from goat’s milk

1st Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, QC
Tomme Haut Richelieu

2nd Baetje Farms LLC., MO
Sainte Genevieve

2nd Consider Bardwell Farm, VT
Manchester

3rd Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, CO
Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy Queso De Mano

DS: Open Category made from sheep’s milk or mixed milks

1st Carr Valley Cheese Co, Inc., WI
Caso Bolo Mellage

2nd Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, ON
Fellowship

2nd Tumalo Farms, OR
Rimrocker

3rd Sartori Company, WI
Sartori Limited Edition Pastorale Blend

E. CHEDDARS
All Cheddars – all milks

EA: Aged Cheddar, all milks (aged between 12 and 24 months)

1st Milton Creamery LLC, IA
Prairie Breeze

2nd Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, ON
Premium Goat Cheddar, 12 to 24 months

3rd Kraft Foods, WI
Aged Extra Sharp Cheddar

EG: Cheddar from goat’s milk, aged less than 12 months

1st Central Coast Creamery, CA
Goat Cheddar

2nd Meyenberg Goat Milk Products, CA
Meyenberg Valley Goat Cheddar

3rd Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, ON
Premium Goat Cheddar, <12 months

3rd Mt. Sterling Co-Op Creamery, WI
Sterling Reserve / Raw Goat Milk Cave Aged Cheddar

EX: Mature Cheddar aged between 25 and 48 months

1st Agropur Fine Cheese, QC
Agropur Grand Cheddar aged 3 years

2nd Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, WA
Four Year Flagship

3rd Cabot Creamery Cooperative, VT
Cabot Vintage Choice Cheddar

3rd Tillamook County Creamery Association, OR
Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar

EE: Mature Cheddar aged longer than 48 months

1st Agropur Fine Cheese, QC
Agropur Grand Cheddar aged 5 years

2nd DCI Cheese Company, WI
Black Diamond 5 Year Cheddar

3rd Fromagerie Perron, QC
Doyen

EW: Cheddar wrapped in cloth, linen, aged up to 12 months

1st Cows Creamery, PEI
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar Aged Up To 12 Months

2nd Bleu Mont Dairy, WI
Bandaged Cheddar – Wrapped and Aged up to 12 Months

3rd Avalanche Cheese Co., CO
Hand Bandaged Goat Cheddar

3rd Brazos Valley Cheese, TX
Cheddar

EB: Cheddar wrapped in cloth, linen, aged over 12 months

1st Mariposa Dairy, ON
Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar

2nd Bleu Mont Dairy, WI
Bandaged Cheddar – Wrapped and Aged Over 12 Months

3rd Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, WA
Flagship Reserve

F. BLUE MOLD CHEESES

All cheeses ripened with Roqueforti or Glaucum Penicillium (Excluded: Colorless Mycelia)
FK: Blue-veined made from cow’s milk with a rind or external coating

1st Rogue Creamery, OR
Rogue River Blue

2nd Spring Day Creamery, ME
Spring Day Blues

3rd Glengarry Fine Cheese, ON
Celtic Blue

FM: Blue-veined made from sheep’s or mixed milk with a rind or external coating

1st La Maison d’affinage Maurice Dufour, QC
Le Bleu de Brebis de Charlevoix

2nd La Moutonniere, QC
Bleu La Moutonnière

3rd Valley Shepherd Creamery, NJ
Crema De Blue

H. ITALIAN TYPE CHEESES
Excluded: Mascarpone and Ricotta
HP: Pasta Filata types – Provolone, Caciocavallo – all milks

1st Saputo Dairy Products, QC
Provolone

2nd Sorrento Lactalis, ID
Whole Milk Low Moisture Pasta Filata

3rd BelGioioso Cheese Inc., WI
Sharp Provolone Mandarino

HY: Fresh Mozzarella – 8 oz. or more (Balls or Shapes) – all milks

1st BelGioioso Cheese Inc., WI
Fresh Mozzarella Thermoform

2nd Calabro Cheese, CT
Fior Di Latte

2nd Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, CA
Fresh Mozzarella

3rd International Cheese, ON
Santa Lucia Buffalo Mozzarella

I. FETA CHEESES

IC: Feta made from cow’s milk

1st No Award Given

2nd Karoun Dairies Inc., CA
Basket Feta

3rd Parmalat Canada, ON
Black Diamond Feta

IG: Feta made from goat’s milk

1st Karoun Dairies Inc., CA
Basket Goat Feta

2nd Shepherds Dairy Products, UT
Fine Feta-Plain

3rd Goat’s Pride Dairy at McLennan Creek, BC
Feta

3rd Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery, VT
Vermont Feta

3rd Willow Moon Farm, VT
Feta

IS: Feta made from sheep’s milk or mixed milks

1st Hidden Springs Creamery, WI
Farmstead Feta

2nd La Moutonniere, QC
Feta

3rd Meadowood Farms, NY
Meadowood Farms Sheep’s Milk Feta

IF: Flavor added – spices, herbs, seasoning, fruits – all milks

1st Klondike Cheese Co., WI
Tomato & Basil Feta

2nd Neighborly Farms of Vermont, VT
Organic Pepper Feta

3rd Goat’s Pride Dairy at McLennan Creek, BC
Cranberry Caprabella

3rd La Moutonniere, QC
Feta with Herbs

J. LOW FAT / LOW SALT CHEESES
JL: Fat Free and Low Fat cheeses

1st No Award Given

2nd Fromagerie Le Détour, QC
La Dame du Lac

3rd Fromagerie Bergeron, QC
6% Pourcent

JR: Light/Lite and Reduced Fat cheeses

1st Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, QC
Empereur Light

2nd Cabot Creamery Cooperative, VT
Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar

3rd Tillamook County Creamery Association, OR
Tillamook Reduced Fat Monterey Jack

K. FLAVORED CHEESES
Entries are limited to cheeses not included in categories with “Flavor Added” subcategories

KC: Cheeses flavored with all peppers (chipotle, jalapeno, chili, etc.) – all milks

1st No Award Given

2nd Damafro, QC
Les Bouchées Saveur Mexicaine

3rd Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin, WI
Brun-uusto with Jalapeno

KP: Cheeses flavored with crushed or whole peppercorns or savory spices – all milks

1st Sartori Company, WI
Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano

2nd Fromagerie Bergeron, QC
Coureur des Bois

3rd Formaggio Italian Cheese Specialties, LLC, NY
Prosciutto Roll

KH: Flavor Added Havarti – spices, herbs, seasonings, fruits – all milks

1st No Award Given

2nd Klondike Cheese Co., WI
Dill Havarti

3rd Agropur Fine Cheese, QC
Havarti Jalapeno

3rd Edelweiss Creamery, WI
Onion Havarti

L. SMOKED CHEESES
LD: Smoked Cheddars

1st Parmalat Canada, ON
Balderson Double Smoked Cheddar

2nd Gold Creek Farms, UT
Smoked Cheddar

3rd Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, WA
Smoked Flagship

M. FARMSTEAD CHEESES
Limited to cheeses and fermented milk products made with milk from herds on the farm where the cheeses are produced

MA: Open Category for all milks – Soft (Aged up to 60 days – over 50% moisture)

1st Doe Run Dairy, PA
Hummingbird

2nd Fromagerie Au Gré Des Champs, QC
Le Pont-Blanc

3rd Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, LLC, WI
Petit Frere Reserve

ME: Open Category cow’s milk cheeses – Hard (Aged over 60 days – Less than 39% moisture)

1st Fromagerie Du Presbytère, QC
Louis d’Or

2nd Farms For City Kids Foundation, VT
Tarentaise

3rd Shatto Milk Company, MO
Gouda

MG: Open Category Goat’s Milk Cheeses aged over 60 days

1st Tumalo Farms, OR
Classico

2nd Chèvrerie Fruit d’une Passion, QC
Tomme des Joyeux Fromagers

2nd Yellow Springs Farm LLC, PA
Fieldstone

3rd Capriole, IN
Mont St. Francis

MF: Open Category for all Cheeses with Flavorings Added – all milks

1st Ruggles Hill Creamery, MA
Lea’s Great Meadow

2nd Valley Shepherd Creamery, NJ
Pepato Shepherd

3rd Coach Farm, NY
Coach Farm Fresh Goat Cheese Log with Dill

3rd Fromagerie La Station, QC
Raclette de Compton au Poivre

N. FRESH GOAT’S MILK CHEESES
NO: Fresh Goat Rindless (black ash coating permitted, extruded or in containers, cups, tubs, cryovac)

1st Laura Chenel’s Chevre, CA
Laura Chenel’s

2nd Montchevre-Betin, INC., WI
Crumbled Goat Cheese

3rd Mariposa Dairy, ON
Celebrity International Goat Cheese Original

3rd Woolwich Dairy, ON
Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Original

NP: Flavor Added – Peppers / Spice

1st Baetje Farms LLC., MO
Coeur de la Crème Three Pepper

2nd Mariposa Dairy, ON
Celebrity International Chevre Pesto

3rd Baetje Farms LLC., MO
Coeur de la Crème Garlic and Chives

O. FRESH SHEEP’S MILK CHEESES
Open to all shapes and styles of rindless, unaged, fresh sheep’s milk cheeses

OO: Open Category

1st Les Fromages du Verger, QC
Le Louché

2nd La Moutonniere, QC
Cabanon

3rd Shepherd’s Way Farms, MN
Shepherd’s Hope Original

P. MARINATED CHEESES
Entries include cheeses marinated in oil, vinegar, wine, etc.

PG: Open Category made from goat’s milk marinated in liquids and ingredients

1st Laura Chenel’s Chevre, CA
Laura Chenel’s Cabecou

2nd Happy Days Dairies, BC
Goat Cheese Balls in Herb and Oil 100g

3rd Carr Valley Cheese Co, Inc., WI
Sweet Vanilla Cardona

Q. CULTURED MILK PRODUCTS
Limited to Yogurt, Crème Fraiche, Kefir, Labne, etc.

QG: Cultured products made from goat’s milk

1st No Award Given

2nd Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Inc., CA
Traditional Plain Kefir

3rd Happy Days Dairies, BC
Goat Milk Kefir 500ML

QY: Yogurts, Plain – made from cow’s milk with NO additional ingredients

1st No Award Given

2nd Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Inc., CA
Lactose Free Lowfat Plain Yogurt

3rd Beurrerie du Patrimoine, QC
Plain Cow Yogurt

QD: Yogurts, Plain – made from goat’s milk with NO additional ingredients

1st Sierra Nevada Cheese, CA
Capretta Goat Yogurt Rich & Creamy, Plain

2nd Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, Inc., CA
Plain Yogurt

3rd Beurrerie du Patrimoine, QC
Plain Goat Yogurt

3rd Coach Farm, NY
Coach Farm Goat Milk Yogurt, Plain

QE: Yogurts, Plain – made from sheep’s milk with NO additional ingredients

1st Best Baa Dairy, ON
Sheepmilk Yogourt

2nd La Moutonniere, QC
Royogourt

3rd Appleton Creamery, ME
Yogurt

3rd Valley Shepherd Creamery, NJ
Ewegurt

R. BUTTERS
Whey Butter, Salted Butter, Sweet Butter, Cultured Butter, etc.

RC: Salted Butter made from cow’s milk with or without cultures

1st Fromagerie L’Ancêtre, QC
L’Ancêtre Organic Salted Butter

2nd Parmalat Canada, ON
Lactantia Salted Butter

3rd Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery, VT
Vermont Cultured Butter – lightly salted

RO: Unsalted Butter made from cow’s milk with or without cultures

1st No Award Given

2nd CROPP Cooperative/ Organic Valley, WI
Organic European Style Cultured Butter

2nd Parmalat Canada, ON
Lactantia Unsalted Butter

3rd Cabot Creamery Cooperative, MA
Cabot Unsalted Butter

S. CHEESE SPREADS

Spreads produced by grinding and mixing, without the aid of heat and/or emulsifying salts, one or more natural cheeses
SA: Open Category made from all milks – Spreads with flavors using a base with moisture higher than 44%

1st Kraft Foods, NY
Garden Vegetable Spread

2nd Kraft Foods, NY
Spinach Artichoke Spread

3rd Happy Days Dairies, BC
Probiotic Goat Cheese Spread 280G

T. AGED SHEEP’S MILK CHEESES
Caciotta, Romano, Manchego, Table Cheeses, etc.

TO: Open Category

1st Carr Valley Cheese Co, Inc., WI
Cave Aged Marisa

2nd Fromagerie Nouvelle France, QC
Zacharie Cloutier

2nd Hidden Springs Creamery, WI
Ocooch Reserve

3rd Lark’s Meadow Farms, ID
Dulcinea Extra Reserve

U. AGED GOAT’S MILK CHEESES
Taupinière, Rinded Log and Pyramid Types, etc.

UG: Open Category

1st LaClare Farms Specialties LLC, WI
Evalon

2nd Chèvrerie du Buckland, QC
Tomme du Maréchal

3rd Appleton Creamery, ME
Chevre Wrapped in Brandied Grape Leaf

V. WASHED RIND CHEESES
Cheeses with a rind or crust washed in salted brine, whey, beer, wine, other alcohol, or grape lees that exhibit an obvious, smeared or sticky rind and/or crust  – Limburger, Pont l’Evêque, Chimay, Raclette, Swiss Appenzeller or Vignerons-style, etc.

VC: Open Category made from cow’s milk

1st La fromagerie 1860 DuVillage, QC
La Tentation de Laurier

2nd Agropur Fine Cheese, QC
Champfleury

3rd Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, ON
Rose Haus

3rd Upper Canada Cheese, ON
Niagara Gold

VG: Open Category made from goat’s milk

1st Baetje Farms LLC., MO
Fleur de la Vallee

2nd Carr Valley Cheese Co, Inc., WI
River Bend Goat

3rd Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, ON
Cape Vessey

VS: Open Category made from sheep’s milk or mixed milks

1st La Maison d’affinage Maurice Dufour, QC
La Tomme d’Elles

2nd Best Baa Dairy, ON
Mouton Rouge

2nd Hidden Springs Creamery, WI
Ocooch

3rd Hidden Springs Creamery, WI
Meadow Melody

Elisabeth Bzikot of Best Baa Dairy receives a first-place ribbon for her Sheepmilk Yogurt while Lucille Giroux of La Moutonniere waits for a second-place ribbon for Royogourt.

Congratulations to all Canadian winners! They are shown below in alphabetical order with a summary of their winnings which accounted for 22.5 percent of ribbons awarded.

Agropur Fine Cheese
First-place ribbons – 4
Second-place ribbons – 3
Third-place ribbons – 2

Best Baa Dairy
First-place ribbons – 1
Second-place ribbons – 1

Beurrerie du Patrimoine
Third-place ribbons – 2

Chèvrerie du Buckland
Second-place ribbons – 1

Chèvrerie Fruit d’une Passion
Second-place ribbons – 1

Cows Creamery
First-place ribbons – 1

Damafro
Second-place ribbons – 2

Domaine Feodal
Second-place ribbons – 1
Third-place ribbons – 1

Farmers Cooperative Dairy
Third-place ribbons – 1

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
Second-place ribbons – 2
Third-place ribbons – 3

Fromagerie Au Gré Des Champs
Second-place ribbons – 1

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

Fromagerie Du Presbytère
Best of Show – 3rd place
First-place ribbons – 1

Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser
First-place ribbons – 3

Fromagerie L’Ancêtre
First-place ribbons – 1

Fromagerie La Station
Third-place ribbons – 1

Fromagerie Le Détour
First-place ribbons – 1
Second-place ribbons – 1

Fromagerie Nouvelle France
Second-place ribbons – 1

Fromagerie Perron
Third-place ribbons – 1

Glengarry Fine Cheese
First-place ribbons – 1
Third-place ribbons – 1

Goat’s Pride Dairy at McLennan Creek
Third-place ribbons – 2

Happy Days Dairies
Second-place ribbons – 1
Third-place ribbons – 2

International Cheese
Third-place ribbons – 1

La fromagerie 1860 DuVillage
First-place ribbons – 1

La Maison Alexis de Portneuf
Third-place ribbons – 1

La Maison d’affinage Maurice Dufour
First-place ribbons – 2

La Moutonniere
Second-place ribbons – 4
Third-place ribbons – 1

Les Bergeries du Fjord
Second-place ribbons – 1

Les Fromages de l’île d’Orléans
Third-place ribbons – 1

Les Fromages du Verger
First-place ribbons – 1

Mariposa Dairy
Best of Show – 2rd place
First-place ribbons – 1
Second-place ribbons – 1
Third-place ribbons – 1

Monforte Dairy
Second-place ribbons – 1

Parmalat Canada
First-place ribbons – 1
Second-place ribbons – 2
Third-place ribbons – 1

Rogue Creamery
Best of Show

Saputo Dairy Products
First-place ribbons – 1

Upper Canada Cheese
Third-place ribbons – 2

Woolwich Dairy
Third-place ribbons – 1

For additional photos from ACS 2011 in Montreal, click here.

Ruth Klahsen: Rebel cheesemaker with a cause

Ruth Klahsen in a classic cheesemaker portrait photographed by Nigel Dixon for Toronto Life.

If you ask Ruth Klahsen, owner and lead cheesemaker at Monforte Dairy, how she got into making cheese, she’ll tell you, in that self-deprecating way she has: “I’m just an old broad who had a mid-life crisis!”

The real story is that Ruth is a graduate of the inaugural class of ’83 at the Stratford Chefs School where she also teaches cheesemaking. Her cuisine is well-known to patrons of premier restaurants Rundles and the Old Prune in Stratford, Ontario.

For 11 years, from 1990 to 2001, Ruth was the Chef and Manager of the Green Room of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival responsible not only for the entire smooth functioning of the kitchen but also the special on-site catering. When she walks into the Festival today, she still gets hugs from Festival staff and actors. She’s the one who bolstered their bodies and souls with truffles and caviar and anything their hearts desired . . . sometimes on the sly.

While at the Festival, Ruth dreamed of being a cheesemaker and made her own chèvre.

But managing a big operation took its toll and when budget restrictions conflicted with Ruth’s strong principles, she threw in her apron and apprenticed at a local sheep milk dairy.

By 2004, Ruth and a partner opened Monforte Dairy (refinancing her house for the start up money) and started making sheep-milk cheeses in a rented facility in Millbank, Ontario, just north of Stratford.

The partnership dissolved early on but Ruth continued making cheese and Monforte soon became known as southwestern Ontario’s premier artisanal cheese company. Ruth, clad in her vintage apron, sold her signature Toscano and other cheeses at numerous markets in the GTA, quickly gaining fans and followers among foodies, chefs and people who like cheese and remembered when almost every small town in Ontario had a dairy. Monforte doubled sales every year.

Known for its range of extraordinary cheeses, Monforte has become supplier of choice to five-star restaurants, leading wineries and progressive food retailers throughout Ontario. In the fall of 2009, Ruth was invited to the State dinner for Prince Charles and Camilla at Rideau Hall where her cheese was featured on the menu.

Not one to follow the well-worn path and no fan of bureaucracy and procedure, Ruth made the tough decision in January 2009 to pull out of the facility where she was making Monforte cheese, striking out on her own to realize her dream of creating a permanent home for Monforte. Monforte Renaissance 2010, a revolutionary microfinancing campaign through Community Shared Agriculture (CSA), was conceived to raise the capital to build Monforte’s new dairy.

CSAs were offered at three different levels—$250, $500 and $1000—paying out in cheese over five years. Close to $400,000 was raised from her loyal customer base—people who both love Monforte cheese and want to add their support to microproduction, sustainable farming and just food. Ruth has always said the farmers from whom she buys milk have to earn enough to afford piano lessons for their kids.

And the dairy got built. And the party thanking the subscribers and community is now the stuff of legend.

Located at 39 Griffith Road in the heart of an industrial park in Stratford, the dairy has a store front and garden and the sexiest, blingiest, edgiest paint job around thanks to installation artist Corinne Carlson and the graffiti artists at The Loft in Toronto.

Monforte has added cow’s milk cheese to the repertoire of sheep and goat cheese, crackers and charcuterie from the pigs fed Monforte whey. Faced with financial “pinch” in January 2010, Ruth once again appealed to her supporters for help. Within a week her supporters came through with a loan of $100,000.

Says Ruth in her blog, “What a privilege it is to be in this place at this time.”

Ruth Klahsen will be a featured seminar presenter at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival taking place June 4-5 at Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest-growing culinary destination and Canada’s newest VQA wine region.

Ruth will define and defend genuine artisan cheese, and discuss why integrity of ingredients matter, why turning milk into cheese is a craft, why the bond between and farmer is important‑and worth preserving. She’ll tackle the MMI issue and offer selection of her artisan cheeses for tasting.

Click here for the complete seminar program at the Festival.

—Maureen Argon

Maureen Argon, a widely published writer, was fortunate to work as the “shepherdess” at Monforte Dairy keeping the community in know during Monforte’s Renaissance year. Maureen now is the Chairman of Chairman Mo Media, a digital consultancy where she helps business people use social media to spread their message.