A delish potato gratin made with five artisan cheeses

Five-cheese Potato Gratin: Scalloped potatoes never tasted so good.

Five-cheese Potato Gratin: Scalloped potatoes never tasted so good.

If you like cheese and if you like potatoes, this Five-Cheese Potato Gratin is the dish for you. This Christmas, we served it with roasted turkey at a Boxing Day family gathering and it was a hit.

Our gratin is based on a recipe developed by Kelly Jaggers who runs the mouth-watering blog Evil Shenanigans, subtitled “Sometimes it’s good to be bad.” Her’s is a four-cheese gratin. We go the extra step with five cheeses, four of them made by Canadian artisans.

Kelly Jagger's dish looks better than ours.

Kelly Jagger’s dish looks better than ours.

The main cheese is Pionnier, a wonderful collaboration by Marie-Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France and Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère, made in the Jura style with a blend of sheep’s milk and cow’s milk.

The supporting cast includes two cheddars, Avonlea Clothbound and Pine River Aged, and for creaminess, the delicious Laliberté, a triple-cream cheese made by Jean Morin.

The final touch, as the topping, is 30-month Parmigiano-Reggiano, imported simply because no one in Canada comes close to matching the Italian classic.

Bon appétit!

Best cheeses in the “British Empire”

Cape Vessey, Grand Champion of the 2009 British Empire Cheese Competition.

Petra Cooper’s leap of faith into cheesemaking is being rewarded with much critical acclaim. Her Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, since it started operations in July 2008 in Prince Edward County, has won more awards than any other artisanal or homestead cheesemaker in Ontario, possibly in all Canada.

On the heels of Fifth Town’s Isabella being named Grand Champion Goat Cheese at the 2009 Royal Winter Fair Cheese Competition came news last week that Cape Vessey was named Grand Champion of the British Empire Cheese Competition.

What’s remakable is that in being named Grand Champion a goat-milk cheese beat cow-milk cheeses from many of Canada’s leading cheese producers. Kudos to Stephanie Diamant, the veteran cheesemaker at Fifth Town.

Additionally, Fifth Town took home first-places in Artisan Sheep Milk Cheese with Bonnie & Floyd, in Artisan Goat Milk Cheese with Petal Luna, in Sheep Milk Cheese with Wishing Tree and in Goat Milk Cheese with Cape Vessey. As a result of those four wins, Fifth Town also was presented with the overall award in goat and sheep milk cheesemaking.

Not a bad haul for someone who gave up a career as a high-powered book publishing executive a few years ago to put her all into cheese.

La Raclette was named Reserve Champion.

The Reserve Champion at the annual British Empire judging event in Belleville, Ontario, was Raclette du Village made by La Fromagerie 1860 du Village, a division of the giant Saputo conglomerate.

Here are all British Empire winners in specialty cheeses:

Artisan Goat Milk Cheese: Petal Luna, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Artisan Sheep Milk Cheese: Bonnie & Floyd, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Goat Milk Cheese: Cape Vessey, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Sheep Milk Cheese: Wishing Tree, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Hard Cheese: Romano Wheel, Saputo

Firm Cheese: Fontina Prestigio, Agropur

Swiss Cheese: L’Artisan, Agropur

Semi-Firm Cheese: Raclette du Village, La Fromagerie 1860 du Village

Fresh Cheese: Ricotta, International Cheese

Soft Rind Cheese: Roubine de Noyan, CDA Fromagerie

Smear Ripened Cheese: Le Formier, Alexis De Portneuf

Flavoured Soft Cheese: Red Wine Cold Pack, Maple Dale Cheese

Flavoured Firm Cheese: Double Smoked Cheddar, Parmalat

Blue Veined Cheese: Caronzola, Alexis De Portneuf

American Style: Monterey Jack, Bothwell Cheese

Pasta Filata: Bocconcini, International Cheese

Process Cheese: Smoked Gouda, Saputo

Reserve Champion: Raclette du Village, La Fromagerie 1860 Du Village

Grand Champion: Cape Vessey, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

The Grand Champion Cheddar comes from P.E.I.

British Empire Cheese Competition features judging in six categories of cheddar. The two big winners were:

Reserve Champion: Pine River Cheese

Grand Champion: Amalgamated Dairies

These are best cheeses as selected by experts in the dairy industry. I wonder who the winners would be if cheese lovers like you and me had our say?