Video Wednesday: Brief history of cheese

Award-winning cheese board for holidays, or any occasion

Here are five sure bets for an outstanding cheese board at Christmas. They are the five highest-scoring cheeses in the final round of judging at the 2018 Canadian Cheese Awards, the biggest cheese judging and competition in the land.

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Video Wednesday: How microbes make your cheese

Cows Creamery leads nominees for Canada’s cheese Oscars

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar: 2016 Canadian Cheese of the Year. Will it win again in 2018?

Cows Creamery of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, has a record-setting 12 nominations for its cheeses in the 2018 Canadian Cheese Awards, the biggest cheese judging and competition in the country. Two years ago, Cows Creamery won Canadian Cheese of the Year honours with its Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar.

Avonlea is again a contender for the prestigious award but competition is stiff from cheesemakers in Québec and Ontario.

Judging by a jury of 14 cheese experts took place at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science. A total of 117 finalists were selected from the 375 cheeses entered by producers from Newfoundland to British Columbia.

The 2018 Canadian Cheese of the Year and champions in 33 categories will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on June 6 at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto followed by an Awards Tasting Gala. The next day, winners will be featured at Canadian Cheese Expo for the trade followed by Canada’s first Artisan Cheese Night Market open to the public.

Information on the program and tickets is available at CheeseAwards.ca.

A complete list of finalists can be seen and downloaded as a Word document here: http://www.cheeseawards.ca/finalistsfinalistes2018/

Judging of 375 cheeses under way at University of Guelph, Food Science Department. Photo by Kenneth Armstrong of GuelphToday.com.

Fifty-six of the 117 nominations went to 22 Québec cheese producers led by Fromagerie La Station, 7 finalists, Laterie Charlevoix, 6, and Fromagerie du Presbystere, 5.

Sixty-one of the 117 nominations went to 23 producers in English-Canada, led by Cows, 12 finalists, Glengarry Fine Cheese, 5, and Amalgamated Dairies, Cross Wind Farm and Mountainoak Cheese, 4 each.

Canadian Cheese Awards is the only pan-Canadian cheese competition open to all milks used in cheesemaking—cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo—with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

“We aim to honour and celebrate 100% pure natural cheese that has achieved technical excellence and exhibits the highest aesthetic qualities,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, Awards Chairman.

The biennial Canadian Cheese Awards is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the support of Loblaw Companies as Marquee Sponsor and Dairy Farmers of Canada as Principal Partner, Cow Milk Cheese.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, is on hiatus in 2018 to allow resources to be devoted to the launch of Artisan Cheese Night Market and related events.

For additional information, mailto:awards@cheeselover.ca or telephone 1.866.865.2628.

 

How many nominees for Cheese of the Year have you tasted?

Le Baluchon: 2014 Cheese of the Year. This year, it’s nominated for Best Organic Cheese.

Here you have them, the 117 finalists in the 2018 Canadian Cheese Awards competition, the biggest independent judging of cheese in Canada.

Winners and all finalists will be introduced to the public at Canada’s first-ever Artisan Cheese Night Market on June 7 at historic St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.

MAIN CATEGORIES (19) CATÉGORIES PRINCIPALES

FRESH CHEESE – FROMAGE FRAIS

FRESH PASTA FILATA CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE FILÉE

SEMI-SOFT CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE  SEMI-FILÉE

FETA/CHEESE IN BRINE – Feta / FROMAGE EN SAUMURE

FIRM CHEESE –  FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME

FIRM CHEESE WITH HOLES (Swiss-style) – FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME AVEC OUVERTURES

WASHED RIND CHEESE – FROMAGE À CROÛTE LAVÉE

MIXED RIND CHEESE – FROMAGE À CROÛTE MIXTE

BLOOMY RIND CHEESE – PÂTE MOLLE À CROÛTE FLEURIE

LACTIC RIPENED CHEESE – Fromage Lactique à croûte fleurie

MILD & MEDIUM CHEDDAR (aged up to 9 months) – CHEDDAR DOUX & MOYEN (maximum de 9 mois d’affinage)

OLD CHEDDAR (aged from 9 to 18 months) – CHEDDAR FORT (entre 9 et 18 mois d’affinage)

AGED CHEDDAR (aged more than 18 months) – CHEDDAR VIEILLI (plus de 18 mois d’affinage)

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar— Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 2 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

GOUDA CHEESE – FROMAGE GOUDA

BLUE CHEESE – FROMAGE À PÂTE PERSILLÉE

FLAVOURED CHEESE – FROMAGE AROMATISÉ

FLAVOURED FRESH CHEESE – FROMAGES FRAIS AROMATISÉS

SMOKED CHEESE – FROMAGE FUMÉ

GRILLING CHEESE – FROMAGE À GRILLER

SPECIAL AWARDS (9) PRIX SPÉCIAUX

BEST COW’S MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE VACHE

BEST GOAT’S MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE CHÈVRE

BEST SHEEP’S MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE BREBIS

BEST WATER BUFFALO MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT DE BUFFLONNE

BEST BLENDED-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT MIXTE

BEST FARMSTEAD CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE FERMIER

BEST ORGANIC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE BIOLOGIQUE

BEST RAW-MILK CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LAIT CRU

BEST NEW CHEESE (introduced to market during 2017) – MEILLEUR NOUVEAU FROMAGE (Mis en marché en 2017)

  • Cows Creamery 2 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Mountainoak Farmstead 3 Year Old — Mountainoak Cheese, New Hamburg, Ontario

REGIONAL AWARDS (5) PRIX RÉGIONAUX

BEST B.C. CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE LA COLOMBIE BRITANNIQUE

BEST WEST CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’OUEST (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

BEST ONTARIO CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’ONTARIO

BEST QUEBEC CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DU QUÉBEC

BEST ATLANTIC CANADA CHEESE – MEILLEUR FROMAGE DES PROVINCES ATLANTIQUES

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery Appletree Smoked Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar — Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Cheese is listed alphabetically within each category or award. Where more than three finalists are shown, there were many entries and close scores. The Cheese of the Year was selected after several rounds of blind tastings of the best cheeses from the above 19 main categories.

For the 2018 competition, judging on technical aspects and aesthetics took place February 22 and 23 at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, with evaluation of cheese headed by Dr. Arthur Hill, Chair and Professor, Food Science.

The Awards Ceremony takes place June 6 in Toronto at historic St. Lawrence Market. The presentation of winners will be followed by an Awards Tasting Gala open to trade, media, and special guests. The following day, June 7, the inaugural Canadian Cheese Expo trade show for cheese industry, hospitality industry, chefs, media, food writers and bloggers takes place in the afternoon with the first-ever Artisan Cheese Night Market in the evening, open to the public.

The Canadian Cheese of the Year receives a prize of $5,000, thanks to Loblaw Companies, to support a marketing campaign to exploit being named the best cheese in Canada. Champions in each cheese category and provincial or regional champions will also be selected.

In 2018, a special prize of $5,000 for marketing also will be presented to the winner of the Best Cow’s Milk Cheese Award thanks to Dairy Farmers of Canada, our Principal Partner, Cow Milk Cheese.

It is the biggest cheese competition in Canada and the first open to all milks used in cheese making—cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo—with only pure natural cheese accepted for judging. That means with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.

Canadian Cheese Awards is produced by Cheese Lover Productions which also operates The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario. The Cheese Festival is on hiatus in 2018 to allow resources to be devoted to the launch of Artisan Cheese Night Market and related events.

For additional information, mailto:awards@cheeselover.ca or telephone 1.866.865.2628.

Best Bites: Outstanding cheese of 2017

Le Paillasson: squeaky, slightly salty, warm on the inside.

It’s time to bring the curtain down on another year—and to recall memorable cheeses of 2017, with the help of friends in fromage.

The year just ended has been quite a memorable one for Janice Beaton, what with the closing of Janice Beaton Fine Cheese in Calgary and other dramatic changes in her life: “There is no way that I can leave the cheese world; I just had to change the way I personally operated within it.”

After the closing of the shop, Janice focused on a more personal way of serving cheese lovers by operating a stall in the very busy Calgary Farmers’ Market.

Five Brothers: Best seller.

Five Brothers—Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, Woodstock, Ontario

“Our stall at the market was great. It was a combination of being Calgary’s first cheese shop and being the market ‘deli’! It was amazing. Lots of our downtown shop customers frequented the stall, and at the same time, we developed a new following, vis-à-vis being in the city’s busiest farmers’ market. I had two staff who worked in the stall from the time we opened there, and after we closed the shop in June, I was able to work in the stall a great deal.

“The number one selling cheese in the stall was Five Brothers from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese. We LOVE that cheese, and obviously, so too our customers. What I have noticed over the five years of selling Five Brothers (and let me say, I found it originally at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival) is how it has evolved. Deepened, grown, developed nuances. Like a good human evolution! It has gained complexity and depth in a way that causes me to take my hat off to Shep Ysselstein and his commitment to excelling at his craft. And learning and growing.

“I cast my most memorable cheese vote in Gunn’s Hill direction, due to the resounding response we received when we introduced Five Brothers to our customers, and to their returning in droves to come back for more.”

La Paillasson: Enjoy on the grill or fried in a pan,

Le Paillasson—Les Fromages de L’Isle d’Orléans, Sainte-Famille, Québec

While vacationing in the Quebec City region this past summer, Gurth Pretty, Senior Specialist, Deli Cheese, Loblaw Companies, returned to Les Fromages de L’Isle d’Orléans.

“I had not been back, since 2005, when researching for my first book, The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal and Fine Cheese. WOW! Lots of changes: bigger cheese production facility, cheese shop, sampling area, more cheese produced and sold. The shop was busy with customers.

“I sampled their Le Paillasson cheese, freshly grilled for us. It was squeaky, slightly salty, warm on the inside and yet retained its texture. YUMMY! We bought several to enjoy later on the grill or fried in the pan.”

Small Batch Cheddar: Sharp and creamy.

Small Batch Cheddar—Farm Boy, Ottawa

It’s the first cheese Farm Boy has sold under its own label, but it’s produced by Bright Cheese & Butter in Bright, Ontario, a small independent producer that has been making cheese since 1874. Arguably, that makes Bright Cheese the oldest continuing cheesemaker in Ontario.

The extra old cheddar is a collaboration between a cheese lover in the executive suite at Farm Boy in Ottawa and the tiny cheese plant located in farm land between Kitchener and Woodstock, Ontario.

As soon as it was introduced in Farm Boy’s 23 stores across Ontario, the Small Batch Cheddar became a best-seller, largely the result of the perfect balance between sharpness and creaminess—everything that a Canadian cheddar should be.

Full disclosure: Two days a week, I cheesemonger at the Farm Boy store in Pickering, Ontario.

Five more exceptional bites

Here are five exceptional cheeses savoured by Vanessa Simmons of Savvy Company,  Ottawa, our favourite cheese sommelier, during the past year:

Milkhouse Tomme: Meaty and rich.

Milkhouse Tomme—Milkhouse Farm & Dairy, Smiths Falls, Ontario

A raw sheep milk cheese from Milkhouse Dairy that has really come into its own with its meaty richness.

Five Brothers Reserve—Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, Woodstock, Ontario

Extra aged special release from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, a treat for the cheese lover on your list with its complex layers of butter over butter.

Zoey—Mariposa Dairy, Lindsay, Ontario

Grassy, herbal, with earthy aromas and flavours.

Brie—Golden Ears Cheesecrafters, Maple Ridge, B.C.

Buttery, mushroomy, soft, rustic, luxurious goodness, a hidden gem if you live in British Columbia.

Le Ménestrel—Les Fromagiers de la Table Ronde, Sainte-Sophie, Québec

A washed-rind cheese made with pasteurized organic milk. Pale straw to copper colour rind with a smooth paste, which tastes of butter, cream, nut and dried grass.

SAVE THE DATE!

The first-ever Canadian Artisan Cheese Night Market takes place June 7 in Toronto at historic St. Lawrence Market, in conjunction with Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens, the biggest cheese judging and competition in Canada.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, generally held on the first weekend of June in Prince Edward County, is on hiatus in 2018, so we can focus all our resources on developing the Night Market concept for consumers and the inaugural Canadian Cheese Expo for the trade.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheese-head-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, is the founder of Canadian Cheese Awards and The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Merry Cheesemas to one and all!

From our house to yours, all the best of Christmas! Cheese be with you in 2018!

—Georgs Kolesnikovs