Video: Cheesemaking at Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont

It’s Video Wednesday and time for a short PBS video on cheesemaking at Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. Enjoy!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/113559146″>Food Forward, episode 5: &quot;Modern Milk&quot;</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/amicapen”>ami capen</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Calling all home cheesemakers!

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There is no end to the variety of cheeses made at home by amateurs.

The cheese lovers who organize The Great Canadian Cheese Festival every June are planning to host Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards, the first-ever judging and competition for home cheesemakers.

The mission is to recognize and honour the best in amateur cheesemaking and to provide encouragement and feedback to home cheesemakers.

It’s possible the competition will be expanded to include home cheesemakers in the U.S.

Would you be interested in entering your cheese for judging? You won’t personally have be present to participate as you can safely ship cheese in a cooled box.

Please indicate your interest by emailing Ian Treuer at competition@cheesefestival.ca. Ian is acting as Competition Co-ordinator. He blogs about his adventures as a home cheesemaker at Much To Do About Cheese.

Jackie Armet, the Festival’s Cheese Co-ordinator, who also serves as Cheese Co-ordinator for Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens, will oversee the new competition.

Awards will be presented for best in each cheese category. Judging reports will be issued for each cheese entered. Subject to confirmation when rules are issued, the categories and awards will be as follows:

  • Fresh Cheese
  • Bloomy Rind Cheese
  • Washed Rind Cheese
  • Blue Cheese
  • Firm Cheese
  • Best of Canada
  • Best of U.S.
  • Best of Show.

The first-ever amateur cheesemaking competition takes place this June 6-7 in conjunction with the fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, two hours east of Toronto, three hours north of Syracuse, New York, four hours from Montréal.

If you’re interested in entering your cheese made at home, let us hear from you!

Photos by Ian Treuer/Much To Do About Cheese.

2014 in review at CheeseLover.ca

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for CheeseLover.ca.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 56,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 21 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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:

A Very Dairy Christmas to one and all!

From our house to yours, all the best of the holidays! May much cheese be with you in 2015!

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Baluchon: A love story

Childhood sweethearts Michel Pichet and Marie-Claude Harvey.

Childhood sweethearts Michel Pichet and Marie-Claude Harvey of award-winning Fromagerie F.X. Pichet. (Click on any image in the blog for an enlarged view.)

Baluchon is the story of a love lost and, two decades later, found again.

Marie-Claude Harvey and Michel Pichet were childhood sweethearts in the village of Champlain, Québec, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River near Québec City. But by the time they graduated from high school, they had drifted apart. She found a husband, he found a wife, they both had families before their marriages ended.

Twenty years later they met again. He owned an organic dairy farm. She wanted to make cheese. Obviously, their love was still there, now fired by a common passion for dairy farming and cheesemaking. Thus, they married and 10 years ago, Fromagerie F.X. Pichet came to be in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec. Baluchon was their first-born cheese.

Baluchon: Canadian Cheese of the Year.

Le Baluchon: Canadian Cheese of the Year.

The name in French refers to the small bundle of belongings travelers carried before the advent of mass transportation. Such a traveler, as a mouse character called Hapi, appears on all packaging for cheeses produced at the fromagerie on the 260-acre farm called La Ferme F.X. Pichet, after Michel’s father.

Michel and Marie-Claude are devoted to organic farming and cheesemaking. In Québec, the certification process is rigorous, but they cannot see proceeding otherwise. Michel says: “It’s our way of life.”

Their way of life lead them to dominate the 2014 Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens with Baluchon being named Canadian Cheese of the Year in addition to Best Organic Cheese and Best Semi-Soft Cheese.

In Sélection Caseus 2014, the prestigious competition for Québec cheese, Baluchon was awarded Prix du Public in the semi-soft category. Even five years ago, in the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, Baluchon was declared best organize cheese.

Even as Baluchon begins to curdle, already the sweet dairy taste is there.

Even as Baluchon begins to curdle, already the sweet dairy taste is there.

Baluchon is exquisite, exemplifying the best in an organic, semi-soft cheese with a washed rind. It is made with thermized cow’s milk and ripened for a minimum of two months. In Québec, thermized milk—heated to 60 degrees Celsius for 15 seconds—is considered raw milk.

Baluchon is a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth cheese that tastes of hazelnut, cream, butter and leaves a slight clover aftertaste, so you really do taste the terroir.

Tour the terroir at La Ferme F.X. Pichet and meet Michel Pichet and his cows in a pictorial we posted on Facebook after a visit in August.

The compact cheese plant is located on the farm in Champlain steps from the family home. Affinage rooms and the retail store are 20 kilometres away in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade.

Now is the time.

Fromagerie F.X. Pichet in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec.

When they were getting started more than a decade ago, Marie-Claude and Michel consulted André Fouillet, a cheese expert from France, who recommended they use a cheesemaking process he developed when working with Oka, the Canadian classic. Fouillet consulted with a number of Québec fromageries, witness the many semi-soft, washed-rind cheeses produced in the region. Jonathan Portelance, a collaborator at the time, was inspired by the fruity aroma and floral taste of the French Comté.

“But Balachon is unique,” says Marie-Claude, “because of our milk and our way of making cheese. Right from the start, we wanted to use non-pasteurized milk—for the taste. Good cheese starts with good milk. We prefer to use pure, organic milk because the integrity of milk is important to us. With conventional milk, you just don’t know what’s all in the milk.”

An organic milk producer and cheesemaker (who, incidentally, works at giant Saputo) suggested the name Baluchon as the cheese could be served on tables around the world. She still supplies some milk and remains a good friend.

Michel Pichet's talents as an artist are visible at the fromagerie.

Michel Pichet’s talents as an artist are visible at the fromagerie.

Why has Baluchon been so successful?

“Because of the distinctive aroma and taste that’s stems from a certain synergy,” says Marie-Claude. “Our milk comes from a mix of breeds, Holsteins, Swiss Browns and the Canadienne. In our pastures, we have a mix of five or six different plants, grasses, clover, sweat peas and so on. In the plant, we have a mix of talented people. All that ‘team work’ comes together in le Baluchon.”

Cheesemaker Remi Gélinas starts a new batch of Baluchon.

Cheesemaker Remi Gélinas starts a new batch of Baluchon.

Cheesemaker Remi Gélinas is a key member of the team. He’s been with the fromagerie less than two years but has 25 years of experience in cheese and milk production.

Click here for a pictorial of cheesemaking at Fromagerie F.X. Pichet.

What pairs well with Baluchon?

“Any tasty wine, red or white, that has a lot of aroma,” Marie-Claude says, expressing a preference for shiraz. In beer, she suggests a good amber or red.

Where is Baluchon available outside of Québec?

Baluchon now is widely available in cheese shops and Loblaws stores, especially since it was named Cheese of the Year in the spring. Baluchon and F.X. Pichet’s other cheeses are distributed by Fromages CDA which represents members of the Québec Artisan Cheese Guild. Telephone 1-866-448-7997 or 514-648-7997, email info@fromagescda.com.

Now is the time

Marie-Claude Harvey and Michel Pichet: poster children for organic dairy farming and cheesemaking in Québec.

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

Baluchon: Give it as a tasty gift for Christmas

Baluchon is exquisite, exemplifying the best in an organic, semi-soft cheese with a washed rind.

Baluchon is exquisite, exemplifying the best in an organic, semi-soft cheese with a washed rind.

Most years, we make cheese at home to give as Christmas gifts. This year, we are giving Baluchon, Canadian Cheese of the Year.

It’s a simple way to make a cheese lover happy, or to introduce a non-believer to Canadian artisan cheese.

  • Buy the Baluchon.
  • Buy a small slate or board.
  • Wrap Baluchon in plastic wrap so the cheese visible, add a handful of walnuts and apricots, and possibly a Christmas decoration.
  • Wrap in cellophane.
  • Attach a bright ribbon.
  • If your budget permits, add a cheese knife.

To really impress, add a wine or beer.

“Any tasty wine, red or white, that has a lot of aroma,” recommends Marie-Claude Harvey of Fromagerie F.X. Pichet, expressing a personal preference for shiraz. In beer, she suggests a good amber or red.

Voila! A great Christmas gift—easy peasy—and it be tasty.

Voila! A great Christmas gift—easy peasy and it be tasty.

Baluchon now is widely available in cheese shops and Loblaws stores. Baluchon and F.X. Pichet’s other cheeses are distributed by Fromages CDA of Montréal which represents members of the Québec Artisan Cheese Guild. Telephone 1-866-448-7997 or 514-648-7997, email info@fromagescda.com.

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