How many Cheese Grand Prix finalists have you tasted?

canadian-cheese-grand-prix_halfpagewidthThe 81 finalists in the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix have been announced. The prestigious biennial competition sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada saw 268 cheeses submitted in 27 categories.

The winners will be announced April 22 at a Gala of Champions in Toronto.

Quebec, home to the majority of Canada’s cheese producers, dominates the list of 81 finalists with 31 cheeses. Naturally, some of the larger producers have the most finalists: Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, 7 finalists, Sylvan Star Cheese, 6, and Natural Pastures Cheese Company and Fromagerie du Presbytère, 5.

The competition, open to cheese made exclusively with Canadian cow’s milk, first started in 1998 to promote achievement and innovation in cheesemaking and to spotlight the quality of Canadian milk.

Here are the 2015 finalists:category 1 fresh ch#196C2DE

Fresh Cheese

category 2 fresh pa#196C2EAFresh Pasta Filata

category 3 cheese w#196C2E9Fresh Cheese with grilling properties

category 4 soft che#196C307Soft Cheese with bloomy rind

category 5 soft che#196C2F8Cream-enriched Soft Cheese with bloomy rind

category 6 semi-sof#196C2EFSemi-soft Cheese

category 7 soft wit#196C2F0Washed- or Mixed-Rind Soft Cheese

category 8 semi-sof#196C305Washed- or Mixed-Rind Semi-soft Cheese

category 9 firm che#196C2F2Washed- or Mixed-Rind Firm Cheese

category 10 firm in#196C2DBFirm Cheese (except Cheddar and Gouda)

category 11 swiss 1#196C2ECSwiss-type Cheese

category 12 mozzare#196C2FFMozzarella (Ball, Brick or Cylinder) or Pasta Filata

category 13 ripened#196C2FBBrine-ripened Cheese

category 14 gouda 1#196C302Gouda (aged 1 to 6 months)

category 16 gouda 9#196C308Aged Gouda

category 17 extra g#196C2F9Extra Aged Gouda

category 18 blue ch#196C2E7Blue Cheese

category 19 flavour#196C2E4Flavoured Cheese with added non-particulate flavourings (except smoked cheese)

category 20 smoked #196C313Smoked Cheese

category 21 flavour#196C2F5Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavourings

category 20 smoked #196C313Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months)

category 23 medium #196C2F6Medium Cheddar (aged 4 to 9 months)

category 24 cheddar#196C2F3Old Cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year)

category 25 cheddar#196C2FCAged Cheddar (1 to 3 years)

category 26 cheddar#196C304Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years)

category 27 fromage#196C2DDFarmhouse Cheese

category 28 fromage#196C301Organic Cheese

Typically, many of the finalists and winners are available for sampling and purchase at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, this year taking place June 6-7 at Picton Fairgrounds in the heart of Ontario’s Prince Edward County, just south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region, near spectacular Sandbanks Provincial Park.

 

Cheese-rolling madness returns to Whistler

cheese_rolling_6

Dairy Farmers of Canada will host one of Canada’s most unique events again this summer when the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival takes place August 16 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. in Whistler, British Columbia. In its seventh year, the festival features cheese rolling races, costume contests and other fun activities for the whole family.

An 11-pound wheel of Courtenay Cheddar cheese, produced by British Columbia cheesemaker Natural Pastures, will roll down a hill and enthusiastic and ambitious cheese lovers will chase after it. The first contestant to make it down the hill wins. The winners get to take home the giant, coveted wheel of delicious Canadian cheese and a Whistler season ski pass for two.

“Cheese-loving Canadians and visitors from all over the world eagerly await the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival year-after-year and Dairy Farmers of Canada is thrilled to bring it back again,” says Sandra Da Silva of Dairy Farmers of Canada.  “With all the many activities the festival has to offer, it’s a great event for the entire family and a fantastic way to shine a spotlight on Canadian cheese.”

The race course will be set up in Whistler’s Upper Village on Blackcomb Mountain. Free round trip transportation to the Blackcomb Mountain Base 2 parking lot via Excalibur Gondola in Whistler village is available for everyone.  Anyone over 19 years of age can participate and contestants can register on site on August 16at 11:00 am. The downhill event will consist of seven men’s and four women’s races. The winner from each round will compete in the finals. For the kids, there will also be uphill races categorized by age.

A costume contest will be held again this year. All race participants are invited to wear costumes for the chance to win a $500 gift voucher from Marketplace IGA. Prior to each race heat, the official cheese roller will award costumed contestants a ribbon. After all the race heats, all ribbon-awarded costumed contestants will gather at the base of the course, where a panel of judges will select their top five favourite costumes, which will then be judged by the crowd. Team costumes will be judged as one participating unit, not individually. The contestant or team that receives the most applause will be selected as the costume contest winner(s).

Participants, families and spectators can take in a host of other fun things at the festival, including activities for children, free cheese seminars and a Cheese Market full of delicious samples of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian milk. Visitors will also be able to buy cheeses from different Canadian provinces. Vancouver native and Breakfast Television host, Riaz Meghji, will emcee the event again.

In addition to the numerous pre-promotion events in Whistler village a few days before the event, Dairy Farmers of Canada partnered with Sobey’s nationally and Marketplace IGA in British Columbia for in-store promotions and a contest. Visit any Sobey’s store in the Maritimes, Ontario and the Prairies until July 20, as well as Marketplace IGA in British Columbia until July 13, for a chance to win a trip for two to the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival.

To learn more about the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival and to view videos and photos from past festivals, visit www.canadiancheeserolling.ca.

Vancouver Island produces a world-champion brie

Comox Brie from Natural Pastures Cheese of Vancouver Island.

It takes a big person to admit a big mistake.  And I’m, um, a big person.  I can’t believe it! I have made a grievous cheese-based error.  I have somehow overlooked the World Championship Cheese Contest gold medalist—even though it’s made in my own backyard.  Forgive me, cheese gods!

I was in my local market in Vancouver the other day, checking out the cheese—as I always do—when something caught my eye on the package of Comox Brie.  That something was a Gold medal. Yikes! A cheese Gold medal.  You see, I purposefully overlooked this cheese BECAUSE it’s always at my local market. I made the mistake of assuming that anything that could be widely purchased was crap, and that’s just foolish snobbery on my part. Do not be trapped into this assumption. I can’t tell you how many “artisan” type handmade cheeses I have tried that were just kind of meh, and how many widely available cheeses I have tried that really rocked.  I know, it seems wrong, but I must speak the cheese truth.

Comox Brie comes from the town of Courtenay, a small town on Vancouver Island with a close connection to my own hometown, Powell River.  I spent many days in my youth wandering the little streets of this town. Comox is an even tinier little town near Courtnenay. Comox Brie takes its name from this town.  Sweet. I feel almost like cousins.

Natural Pastures Cheese Company is a family owned affair.  The Smith family makes only “artisan cheeses,” all hand-made under the guidance of their very own Swiss  Master Cheesemaker Paul Sutter, originally from Switzerland where he received traditional Swiss training and professional accreditation. For the record, I also would like my very own Master Swiss cheesemaker!

Guest blogger and author Willow Yamauchi.

Natural Pastures sources all the milk from its own farm, Beaver Meadow, as well as a handful of other local farms, all on Vancouver Island. Thus the “terroir” of the  coastal valley environment is evident in this cheese—all the milk coming from a single area.  Interestingly, when I was a child we sometimes ate bear.  If the bear had been feastin

g on berries, the meat was sweet and succulent.  If, however, the bear had been feasting on salmon, the meat was, well, fishy.  This is an example of terroir that I just wanted to share with you, because it’s my blog, and I can say whatever I want!  Ha!

I digress.  The Smith family turned to cheesemaking in 2001 and have made a big splash on the cheese world winning 40-plus prestigious national and international awards. How did I miss this?  Scratches head.  Interestingly, the farms they work with, “Heritage Dairy Farms,” are committed to environmental sustainability including natural wildlife habitat. Their  enhanced stream habitats raise thousands of wild Coho Salmon each year which could be eaten by bears causing a unique salmon terroir.  See, full circle logic.

I digress again.  Natural Pastures Cheese Comox Brie earned the pinnacle World Championship Gold Medal in the 27th biennial World Championship Cheese Contest, a technical evaluation of cheese by an international panel of 22 judges, experts in cheese evaluation. Again, I shall volunteer to be a judge at this event.  It saddens me that I have not been called upon to judge cheese, as I am so clearly qualified!

I digress yet again.  As the first World Championship cheese ever produced from Vancouver Island and the first WCC gold medal Brie ever from western Canada, scoring 98.95, Comox Brie edged out Damafro’s double crème from Quebec (which I previously reviewed and ADORED, OMG, so good).   Comox Brie begins with milk from a herd of Ayrshire cattle raised by Guy Sim, a Canada Master Breeder. Wow, this cheese and the cows all have their own pedigree! I’m assuming this is a pasteurized cheese, but I can’t be sure. I’m about 99.99% certain of this, but as the wrapper has disappeared and it doesn’t say on the website, it’s an educated guess at this point.

I have actually had a hard time reviewing Comox Brie, chiefly because everyone in my family kept eating it before I was ready to sample it.  My small wedge—which was much larger before the swarm of locusts known as my family descended upon it—is a typical white-looking brie: penicillium mold on the outside (yup, the white stuff is mold, deal with it) and creamy buttery interior.  I have wisely chosen to taste this one right before the best before date, when the brie is perfect.  Like women, brie really must be aged in order to achieve true greatness.  You can tell a brie is ready if it’s gooey inside. If it’s kind of dry and chalky, you have a young brie. Put it back! This Comox Brie is gorgeous looking, so creamy and succulent, it smells  faintly of ammonia, mushroom and um, adult pleasures . . . shall I leave it at that?

Here goes….

Mmmmm . . . Oh my lord, now this is a great brie. Like, really, really great. It’s perfectly ripened, look at the picture above, see how it’s gooey all the way through, that’s what you want!  It’s making love to my teeth and tongue.  It’s salty and creamy and slightly uric and carnal . . . Oh yes, this is a carnal little cheese. This is actually quite a naughty little cheese. This is the way I always want brie to be but it rarely is.  It’s absolutely divine.  Yes, this is a Gold Medal winner—all the way.  Scrumptious!  Go and get yourself some of this, stat.  Let it ripen up until the best before date and go for it. You’ll thank me later.

—Willow Yamauchi

Guest blog courtesy of Willow Yamauchi, creater of My Blog of Cheese: My 100-day gastronomic journey into fromage—one day at a time—one cheese at a time. Comox Brief was her 113rd cheese in an ongoing quest for pleasure.

Natural Pastures Cheese is a Featured Cheesemaker at the second annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival taking place this weekend in Picton, in Ontario’s Prince Edward County. Doug Smith, one of three brothers operating Natural Pastures, will be featured in the Breakfast of Champions presentation.

Festival tickets are available online. Buy in advance and save money for cheese purchases.

Heads and heels over cheese at cheese-rolling championship

The rolling cheese eludes chasers as they run, stumble and fall during a championship heat.

Chasing a giant wheel of Canadian cheese down Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, British Columbia, is how 165 enthusiastic competitors spent last Sunday afternoon during the annual Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada.

The two Grand Champions each went home with an 11-pound wheel of Canadian cheese and a Whistler season’s ski pass for two.

The male Grand Champion, Guy McLintock of Vancouver, British Columbia, won the men’s race in a time of nine seconds and the female Grand Champion, Lorraine Phan of Richmond, British Columbia, won the women’s race in a time of 19 seconds.  In addition to the men’s and women’s downhill races, 139 children participated in uphill races.

“This festival, which is now the most unique one held worldwide, attracts families, contestants and spectators from across Canada and all for the love of cheese. The number of people participating in the races, attending the festival and sampling some of Canada’s great cheeses exceeded our expectations,” said Solange Heiss, assistant director, marketing and nutrition communications, Dairy Farmers of Canada. “Dairy Farmers of Canada is proud to sponsor the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival for the fourth year and shine the spotlight on the high-quality cheese produced in this country from coast to coast.”

More than 12,500 spectators took in a host of fun activities including Cheese Twister, free cheese seminars and a cheese market full of delicious samples of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian milk.

Grand Champions Guy McLintock and Lorraine Phan with their wheels of Verdelait.

Renowned Canadian and award-winning stand-up comic, improviser, actor and writer from Western Canada, Roman Danylo, hosted the days’ festivities, which involved 11 race heats before the final Grand Championship races.

For the fourth consecutive year, Brisitsh Columbia cheesemaker Natural Pastures produced the special 11-pound wheels of delicious Cracked Pepper Verdelait for the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival. Verdelait is the delicious, award-winning blend of cheddar, Dutch gouda and Swiss raclette, developed by Natural Pastures in Courtenay on Vancouver Island. Verdelait is the base for the five flavoured cheeses. Versatile and wonderful for cooking, grating, fondues, sandwiches, it melts beautifully.

Louis d’Or: Best of the best in Canadian Cheese Grand Prix

The smiling-cow tie worn by Grand Champion Jean Morin breaks up TV personalities Anne-Marie Withenshaw and Ben Mulroney at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Gala of Champions.

It was an unforgettable evening for cheesemaker Jean Morin, his brother, Dominic, and associate cheesemaker Dany Grimard.

Louis d’Or, the extraordinary cheese they make at Fromagerie du Presbytère, was declared Grand Champion—the best of the best—at the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix last night.

Additionally, in an unprecedented awards sweep, Louis d’Or was named champion in three different categories:

  • Firm cheese
  • Farmstead cheese
  • Organic cheese

On top of that, their fabulous Bleu d’Élizabeth was selected champion in the blue-cheese category!

Clearly, Jean Morin was the happiest and proudest cheese producer in Canada last night as the Gala of Champions unfolded at Palais Royale in Toronto, scene of a lavish awards ceremony cum cheese-tasting organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada, sponsors of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.

Dominic Morin, Dany Grimard and Jean Morin are flanked by Phil Bélanger, Grand Prix jury chair, and Ben Mulroney, TV personality and co-MC at the Gala of Champions.

In his acceptance speech, Jean was quick to give credit to his brother, Dominic, who looks after their herd of cows, and to Dany Grimard, who runs the make room in the former rectory that serves as the creamery across the street from their farm in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick two hours east of Montréal.

Jean and Dominic are fourth-generation dairy farmers who have found amazing success as first-generation cheese producers in a few short years. What’s the secret of their success?

“Happy, healthy cows,” Jean says. “It all starts with the milk, and the care we show the cheese as we make it.”

Appropriately, smiling cows adorned the tie Jean wore to the awards gala.

Quadruple-award-winner Louis dOr from Fromagerie du Presbytère.

Phil Bélanger, chair of the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Jury and president of the New Brunswick Chapter of La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, had this to say about Louis d’Or:

“The milky richness of this cheese is a tribute to the organic milk with which it is made. The cheese has a smooth texture, warm nutty and floral notes in aroma and taste. Inspired by the traditional cheesemaking know-how from the Jura region, the cheesemaker created an amazing cheese.”

Louis d’Or is truly a magnificent cheese, with fine, complex flavours, eloquently expressed after nine months of ripening. The Louis d’Or cheese gets its name from the Louis d’Or Farm, which produces the organic milk used to make it. The name of the cheese also refers to the French currency of the same name used under the reign of Louis XIII in 1640.

The first opportunity for the public to taste Grand Prix winners in one place—and meet the makers such as Jean Morin—will be at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 4-5 in Picton in Prince Edward County, Ontario’s newest wine region and fastest-growing culinary destination.

At the Festival, cheese expert and author Gurth Pretty, one of the Grand Prix judges, will lead a tutored tasting on cheese of Western Canada. Grand Prix champion Margaret Peters-Morris will conduct a demonstration of cheesemaking at home.

Here is the complete list of 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix winners, with asterisks indicating those already committed to taking part in The Great Canadian Cheese Festival:

Fresh cheese:

Soft cheese with bloomy rind:

Semi-soft cheese:

Washed-rind soft and semi-soft cheese:

Firm cheese:

Swiss-type cheese:

Mozzarella:

Blue cheese:

Flavoured cheese with added non-particulate flavouring:

Flavoured cheese with added particulate solids and flavouring:

Mild cheddar:

Medium cheddar:

Old and extra old cheddar:

Aged Cheddar (1-3 years):

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery, Prince Edward Island*

Aged Cheddar (4 years +):

Farmhouse cheese:

Organic cheese:

The Canadian Cheese Grand Prix is a competition sponsored and hosted by Dairy Farmers of Canada, celebrating the high quality and proud tradition of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.

For the 2011 competition, a record-breaking total of 203 cheeses from six provinces was submitted for judging in the competition.

A panel of Canada’s top cheese experts spent two days in Montréal rigorously tasting and evaluating the best cow-milk cheeses this country has to offer as they narrowed the field down to 51 cheeses in 17 categories.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheesehead-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, couldn’t believe his ears when Jean Morin mentioned him and the upcoming Great Canadian Cheese Festival in his acceptance remarks.

Canadian James Kraft churned out a giant, and other cheese news

 

Canadian James Kraft founded the second largest food conglomerate in the world.

Cheese makes news every day. That’s why we’ve started collecting links to the most interesting news reports of the week on a special page under the News tab at the top of the blog. Check it whenever you visit CheeseLover.ca.

Canadian James Kraft churned out a cheese giant

Agropur to make Boursin cheeses in Canada

Far Flung Foods: Cheesemonger to Windsor

A cheesy ad campaign in Portugal

Kraft launches an eBook to promote its Philadelphia cream cheese

An ode to Alberta cheese

Kraft strengthens Mac & Cheese brand with unified packaging

Madame Fromage: Monastic Cheese Board Redux

Natural Pastures Cheese in B.C. gets a loan from Ottawa

Springbank Cheese stars in Taste of Alberta

The secret to great fudge is . . . Kaft Velveeta?

Feds help New Brunswick dairy farmers explore specialty cheese

Brits introduce Blue Brew made with Stilton whey

Sue Riedl: Become a chairman of the (cheese) board

Video: Making mozzarella on an industrial scale

How an ex-policeman became a cheese man

U.S. cheesemakers may face more onerous safety regulations

Eating cheese helps combat dental problems

Video: How to build the perfect cheese board

Asian demand for cream cheese skyrockets

Grilled cheese: Slices of childhood, melted and mobile

Shrimp and grilled-cheese sandwiches make great gourmet fare for Grey Cup

Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival: Talk about craziness!

It’s got to be the wackiest way to promote cheese but the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival has proven to be highly effective—right out of the gate. About 5,000 people watched the inaugural event at Whistler, British Columbia, two years ago. Who knows how many will show up for the 2010 race this Saturday?

What’s really surprising is that the crazy afternoon of cheese rolling and other activities for the whole family is sponsored and promoted by Dairy Farmers of Canada, an organization generally seen as staid.

Cheese rolling is exactly that. A large wheel of cheese is rolled down a hill and daring men and women chase after it. The first contestant to make it down the hill wins. Vancouver Island cheesemaker Natural Pastures produced special 11-pound wheels of Cracked Pepper Verdelait cheese for the Festival. The winners get to take home the wheel of 100-percent Canadian cheese and a Whistler season ski pass.

“Last year, the attendance at the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival was above our expectations and many people from across the country and abroad have asked us to bring it back,” says Solange Heiss, a spokeperson for Dairy Farmers of Canada. “It’s a great activity for the entire family and a fantastic way to showcase the amazing 100-percent Canadian cheeses this country has to offer.”

The race course will be set up in Whistler’s Upper Village on Blackcomb Mountain. Free round trip transportation to Blackcomb Mountain Base 2 parking lot via Excalibur Gondola in Whistler village is available for everyone. Anyone over 19 years of age can participate and contestants can register on site on August 14. The downhill event will consist of six men’s and three women’s races. The winner from each round will compete in the finals. For the kids, there will be six uphill races that will be a little easier.

In addition to the races, spectators, families and contestants can take in a host of other fun activities including cheese bowling and cheese twister. Everyone will be able to sample delicious Canadian cheese, wander through a Farmers Market and participate in cheese seminars. Canadian comic and award-winning host, Jebb Fink, will be hosting the festivities.

For more information about the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, click here.

CheeseLover.ca has been unable to confirm that a cheese-rolling festival will take place this fall in Toronto’s High Park.