Cheese recommendations to enhance the holidays

Looking for last-minute ideas for delicious cheese to give as special gifts during the holidays—or to create an appealing cheese board?

Here are recommendations from the cheese lovers who work behind the scenes to make the Canadian Cheese Awards, the biggest cheese competition and judging in the country, happen every two years.

Awards Co-ordinator Jackie Armet picks Laliberté “because it is simply delicious. It has so many rich qualities for a soft bloomy rind cheese. Delicate but bold in flavour with a lovely creamy finish and always the first to go on a cheese board.”

Laliberté is made by Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick, Québec, by Cheesemaker Jean Morin and his équipe.

Awards Registrar Heather Robertson goes with Vacherin Mont d’ Or from Switzerland: “It’s a Christmas tradition! Pair it with some bubbly and fresh bread and you are ready for hibernation.”

Vacherin Mont d’Or is a seasonal cheese of Switzerland that delivers an amazing explosion of aroma and taste.

Nathalie Rollet Schofield, who serves as liaison with cheese producers in Québec, selects La Madelaine made by Fromagerie Nouvelle France.

“La Madelaine is an easy to love cheese. Rich and creamy, its mild taste will appeal to many. The unusual shape makes it readily identifiable. Made from sheep’s milk, it has a smooth and alluring taste.”

La Madelaine made by Fromagerie Nouvelle France of Racine, Québec, where Marie-Chantal Houde is cheesemaker.

Cheese Ambassador Roxanne Renwick has been sampling cheese at Eataly Toronto, the luxury Italian food hall that recently opened in Yorkville.

She recommends Northern Italy’s La Tur: “A lush rich cream dream with a three-dimensional complexity of the cow, sheep, goat milk mix. Sweet grass and funky tang. A heavenly cloud of a cheese that transports me every time I have it.”

Click here to read more about La Tur.

Georgs Kolesnikovs, founder and chair of Canadian Cheese Awards, is currently enamored with some of the finest examples of made-in-Ontario cheese.

—Waltzing Matilda, Monforte Dairy, Stratford, Ontario:

As Cheesemaker Ruth Khlasen puts it, “This Water Buffalo Camembert will make you decide where your loyalties to the name Matilda lay. Tom Waits’ gravelly rasp, or a patriotic love of Australia? For an elegant dinner party, choose the Waltzing Matilda with a delicate layer of ash under its bloomy rind.”

Pair it with a drizzle of honey to elevate the taste experience a notch.

—Abondance, Monforte Dairy, Stratford, Ontario:

Another delicious cheese from Ruth Khlasen, this one made with Ontario water buffalo milk. It offers a strong aroma and distinct, complex flavours. You might catch a hint of hazelnut as the cheese melts in your mouth.

We conclude with two seasonal stunners from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese near Woodstock, Ontario.

—Handeck Reserve and 5 Brothers Reserve:

Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese is a small artisan cheese dairy nestled within the rolling hills of Gunn’s Hill Road in Oxford County in Southwestern Ontario. The cheeses produced at Gunn’s Hill are truly unique, although you can taste the Swiss influence from techniques and recipes Cheesemaker Shep Ysselstein learned while making cheese in the Swiss Alps. Handeck is a handcrafted, washed-rind cow’s milk cheese that is produced using the same methods as a typical Swiss mountain-style cheese. Handeck Reserve is delicately aged for 36 months on cedar planks, adding robust quality to the cheese. It is a drier hard cheese with rich and complex flavours and nutty overtones. Available only at Christmas.

If your cheesemonger doesn’t carry Handeck Reserve, go with 5 Brothers Reserve. It doesn’t quite have the heft of Handeck but is delicious just the same.

Thea: Stunning new bandaged sheep cheddar from Mariposa Dairy

Award-wining Thea Bandaged Sheep Cheddar made at Mariposa Dairy.

The voicemail was brief and to the point: “Georgs, you must come and sample the new cheese from Pieter.”

The caller was Tammy Miller at Country Cheese in Ajax, my neighbourhood cheesemonger in Durham outside Toronto. I stopped by a few days later, and right away sent an email to Pieter van Oudenaren at Mariposa Dairy in Lindsay, Ontario:

“Wow, Pieter, Thea is a stunner! Tell me more so I can spread the word to Canadian cheese lovers.”

To the point, Thea is an outstanding bandaged cheddar made with Ontario sheep’s milk by the Lenberg Farms Classic Reserve division of Mariposa Dairy where Pieter has had a hand in developing aged cheese like Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar and Tania Toscano Sheep Cheese over the last nine years.

Hand-crafted in small batches using premium sheep’s milk from Miklin Farms near Georgina, Thea Bandaged Cheddar is made in the old world way by wrapping the cheddar wheel with cheesecloth which helps to age the cheese and preserve the flavour.

Cheesemaker Pieter van Oudenaren with young wheels of Thea in the aging room.

Aged nine months in a humidity-controlled aging room, the cheese yields a woody and buttery aroma, a sharp nutty profile with subtle caramel undertones. It has the sought after crystallization of a well-aged cheddar with a firm but creamy texture.

As Roxanne Renwick, a cheese specialist in Toronto, puts it: “Thea is rich and creamy yet full of tyrosine crystals. Sweet, salty and slightly tangy.”

The name Thea (along with the names Luuk, Taavi and Zander of truckles made at Mariposa Dairy) is a common Dutch name. It reflects the Dutch heritage of the VandenBerg family, Mariposa founders and owners, and the Dutch reputation for great cheese.

Cheesemaker Pieter van Oudenaren was born and raised in Bobcaygeon, a short drive from Lindsay. His parents emigrated from the Netherlands in the 1950s. The family name comes from Oudenaarde, a Flemish city in Belgium. Pieter’s father, Harry van Oudenaren, who is turning 95 this month, owned and operated an auto repair garage in Bobcaygeon for many years. Pieter took over the business and operated it for 27 years before the cheesemaking bug took hold nine years ago.

Since then, it has been one award after another for Lenberg Farms cheeses, including Grand Champion honours for Thea at this week’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

“What’s your secret in making such fabulous cheese?” we asked Pieter.

“A secret is a secret. In the words of Monty Python, ‘Blessed are the cheesemakers.’ I have been blessed with a great company and owners to work for and with. Good components, co-workers, a wife that supports and prompts me, and consultants that have helped me along the way to help me to tweak the recipes.”

Pieter describes himself as a learner: In recent years, he’s learned to sail a boat, drive a horse and carriage, and make maple syrup, in addition to making award-winning cheese.

He and his wife, Grace, who is executive secretary at Mariposa, have two daughters.

The Thompson family in the milking barn at Miklin Farms in Georgina.

Miklin Farms in Georgina is owned by Mike and Linda Thompson and operated with their children, Anna, Laura and Joe. The Thompsons have been farming sheep for 29 years. They currently have 1,000 breeding/milking ewes, milking 500 at a time year round. The breed of sheep is Rideau crossed with East Friesian.

Anna Thompson holds a lamb in her arms at Miklin Farms.

Thea is hand-made in relatively small quantities and thus is in limited distribution. Here are cheese retailers in Ontario that carry Thea:

Ask your cheesemonger to order Thea if she doesn’t carry it.

Distributors are Finica Food Specialties, Fromages CDA, Glen Echo Fine Foods, La Ferme Black River and Worldwide Specialty Foods.

Cheesemaker Jean Morin strikes gold again at Caseus

Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère, always joking, always winning.

Jean Morin has been the winningest cheesemaker in Sélection Caseus, the prestigious annual competition for Québec cheese producers, for the past decade.

Fromagerie du Prebystère won Caseus Gold with Bleu d’Élizabeth in 2018, 2013 and 2009, with Louis d’Or in 2012 and 2010, with Taliah in 2016, and with Pionnier, in collaboration with Fromagerie Nouvelle France, in 2017.

This year he struck gold again with Religieuse, a marvelous washed-rind cheese ideally suited for raclette or just plain eating.

Here are winners in the top six categories announced last night in a ceremony in Quebec City:

CASEUS GOLD

CASEUS SILVER

CASEUS BRONZE

BEST AGED CHEESE

BEST RAW MILK CHEESE

BEST ORGANIC CHEESE

La Tommette de Chèvre made by L’Atelier Fromagerie is distributed by Aux Terroirs. The other five big winners are distributed by Plaisirs Gourmets.

Zacharie Cloutier, the wonderful sheep’s milk cheese made by Marie Chantal Houde, won Caseus Gold in 2014 and 2011.

Click here for 2019 Caseus winners in all categories: https://www.caseus.ca/laureats

Taste and buy the best in Canadian cheese at Night Market

Canada’s Artisan Cheese Night Market will be a veritable showcase for the best in Canadian cheese. Among the 150 artisan and farmstead cheeses to sample and purchase on June 6 will be the three most recent winners of Canadian Cheese of the Year honours at Canadian Cheese Awards/Les Concours des fromages fins canadien:

Baluchon: 2014 Canadian Cheese of the Year.

Le Baluchon, Fromagerie Baluchon, Québec, 2014 Cheese of the Year

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar: 2016 Canadian Cheese of the Year.

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery, Prince Edward Island, 2016 Cheese of the Year

Louis d’Or: 2018 Canadian Cheese of the Year.

Louis d’Or, Fromagerie du Presbytère, Québec, 2018 Cheese of the Year.

 

Here’s the list of cheese producers who have confirmed to date. More are expected by show time on June 6.

Cows Creamery

Fromages CDA

   Fromage au Village

   Fromagerie Baluchon

   Fromagerie de L’Abbaye Saint-Benoît

   Fromagerie Domaine Féodal

   Fromagerie du Champ à la Meule

   Fromagerie du Terroir de Bellechasse

   Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser

   Fromagerie La vache à Maillotte

   Fromagerie L’Ancêtre

   Fromagerie Le Détour

   Fromagerie Rang 9

Fromage au Village

Fromagerie du Presbytère

Plaisirs Gourmets

   Fromagiers de la Table Ronde

   Fromagerie de l’Ile-aux-Grues

   Fromagerie Médard

   Fromagerie Nouvelle France

   Fromagerie Suisse Normande

   Fromagerie La Station de Compton

Aux Terroirs

   Laiterie Charlevoix

Blyth Farm Cheese

Ferrante Cheese

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Fromagerie Kapuskoise

Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese

Mariposa Dairy

   Lenberg Farms

Monforte Dairy

Mountainoak Cheese

Stonetown Artisan Cheese

Thornloe Cheese

   Sabana Canada

Quality Cheese

   Bella Casara

   Albert’s Leap

 

Canada’s Artisan Cheese Night Market is a unique sampling show where consumers can taste and buy cheese, charcuterie, chocolate, roasted nuts, shortbread, olive oil, drunken jams, gourmet butter, ginger tonic, chutney, and small-batch wine and craft beer and cider, and spirits, and much more. 19+

Tickets are still available for Session 1 (12 noon to 3 pm) and Session 2 (3:30 to 6:30 pm). Session 3 (7 to 10 pm) has SOLD OUT.

It’s all happening at historic St. Lawrence Market’s Temporary North Hall at 125 The Esplanade in downtown Toronto.

Information and tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/canadas-artisan-cheese-night-market-2019-tickets-56463973264?ref=ebtnebtckt

Let a fanatic and a poet deepen your passion for cheese

WARNING: Her passion for cheese is contagious!

Vanessa Simmons is crazy about cheese. The Toronto Star described her as being “openly fanatical about artisan cheese.”

She’ll demonstrate her passion during a Tutored Tasting on how best to pair artisan cheese with craft beer at Canada’s Artisan Cheese Night Market. It’s much more of a natural pairing than, say, wine and cheese.

Read more here: http://www.cheeseawards.ca/night-market-tutored-tastings/

Thousands follow The Cheese Poet on Instagram

Chef and Cheesemonger Erin Harris.

 

Learn to appreciate cheese, don’t just eat it! All you need to know about buying, storing and presenting cheese—and enjoying it to the max.

Your tutor will be Chef and Cheesemonger Erin Harris. Erin is a Red Seal Chef turned Cheese Specialist and Culture Magazine contributor with a huge following of curd nerds on Instagram @thecheesepoet.

Read more here: http://www.cheeseawards.ca/night-market-tutored-tastings/

Cheese experts to inform and entertain you

They’re informative, they’re entertaining—and you get to taste the very best in Canadian cheese at Artisan Cheese Night Market Tutored Tastings.

Each presentation features six to eight fabulous Canadian artisan and farmstead cheeses, selected artisan condiments, plus offerings of Ontario wine, craft beer or cider, all from Artisan Cheese Night Market vendors and exhibitors.

The two topics run concurrently from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., so pick the one topic that appeals to you most. Admission is $45 per person, 19+.

ORDER YOUR TICKETS TODAY!

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/canadas-artisan-cheese-night-market-2019-tickets-56463973264

Le Pizy: Truly outstanding Québec farmstead cheese

Le Pizy: Outstanding farmstead cheese from Fromagerie La Suisse Normande.

We’ll go for months without Pizy, and then, when we taste it again, we fall in love all over again.

There is no question Le Pizy, created by Cheesemaker Fabienne Mathieu at Fromagerie La Suisse Normande in St.-Roch-de-L’Achigan, Québec, is one of Canada’s best farmstead cheeses. When it comes to aroma, flavour and texture, Pizy is simply outstanding, and pretty in appearance, too.

We were first introduced to Pizy while spending too much money on cheese one afternoon years ago at Marché Jean Talon in Montréal in the company of Vanessa Simmons, arguably Canada’s leading cheese sommelier.

Try and buy Le Pizy at the upcoming Artisan Cheese Night Market in Toronto.

Vanessa’s tasting notes tell all:

Pizy has and remains one of my favourite top 10 Canadian cheeses, for sure. It’s even better if you keep it past the best-before date on the package by at least a week or two or more.

The cheese has more yeasty notes when it’s young which develops into more of a mushroomy, slightly nutty flavour as it ages. It’s very pretty, with the most delicate hue of champagne.

This small, soft, surface-ripened pasteurized cow’s milk cheese is fashioned after the Swiss Tomme Vaudoise, due to its shape (small wheel) and size (only ½-inch thick). Le Pizy has a thick bloomy ivory rind, with a rich, dense, paste coloring between ivory and pearl. Experience big milky, fresh field mushroom aromas and a fresh lactic taste with a sweet tang when it’s young, softening out as it ages.

The hand-crafted cheese produced at Fromagerie La Suisse Normande represents the marriage of two cultures, Swiss and French. Cheesemaker Fabienne Mathieu comes from Switzerland, husband Frédérick Guitel who manages the farm comes from Normandy in France.

Their resulting cow, goat and sheep’s milk products are a marriage made in heaven. Cheeses are made from animals raised on the farm, in true “fermier” (farmstead) fashion.

Meet the Suisse Normande family, left to right : Fabienne (mother), Magaly, Bénédicte (both daughters work at the fromagerie), Freddy (father) and Thibaut (son who works at the farm).

Of their five children, three want to ensure the continuity of their parents’ work: Bénédicte and Magaly at the fromagerie and Thibault on the farm.

The fromagerie began its activities in 1995 on the farm 50 kilometres north of Montréal.

Fromagerie La Suisse Normande will be represented by Plaisirs Gourmets at Canada’s Artisan Cheese Night Market on June 6 in historic St. Lawrence Market’s Temporary North Hall in Toronto.

 —Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheesehead-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, is chairman of Canadian Cheese Awards and director of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. He’s hardly ever met a cheese he didn’t like.

Artisan Cheese Night Market returns to Toronto on June 6

TICKETS ARE SELLING QUICKLY, SO DON’T DELAY ORDERING YOURS!

Canada’s only Artisan Cheese Night Market is a unique sampling show where you try before you buy, located in Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market Complex, one day only, Thursday, June 6.

  • Try and buy the best artisan and farmstead cheeses in Canada
  • Meet cheesemakers from coast to coast
  • Try and buy artisan foods, charcuterie, chocolate and more
  • Sample Ontario wine, craft beer and cider, and spirits
  • Purchase and enjoy tasty eats from specialty food vendors
  • Live entertainment will keep the celebration going all night long.

Order your tickets right away as the event is sure to sell out!

To avoid overcrowding, the Night Market runs in three three-hour sessions, 12 noon to 3:00 p.m., 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Strictly 19+.

Admission to the Early-Bird Session 12 noon to 3:00 p.m. is $30.00 per person. Regular admission is $40.00 per person for Session 2 or Session 3. Click on the Eventbrite button to begin your order.

Eventbrite - Canada's Artisan Cheese Night Market 2019

 

 

Many of Quebec’s outstanding cheesemakers will be represented at this year’s Artisan Cheese Night Market in Toronto, appearing under the Amour & Tradition umbrella of Fromages CDA, a leading distributor of fine cheeses.

Your ticket covers sampling of award-winning Canadian cheese, charcuterie, chocolate,  artisan foods, olive oil, plus Ontario wine, craft beer and cider, and spirits. That’s correct, sampling is included in the price of admission. PLUS: Also included is an insulated souvenir tote bag for your purchases.

Order tickets in advance online, avoid having to line up to buy a ticket at the event and quickly access all the deliciousness via the Night Market’s Express Entrance.

Click here for information on attending as a group, having more fun and saving money!

Stonetown Artisan Cheese of St. Mary’s, Ontario, will be sampling and selling its many delicious cheeses inspired by centuries of cheesemaking in Switzerland.

HOW TO GET TO ST. LAWRENCE MARKET

For the Artisan Cheese Night Market, historic St. Lawrence Market’s Temporary North Hall at 125 The Esplanade will transform into a celebration of the best in Canadian cheese and other deliciousness.

Using public transit to get to St. Lawrence Market is a snap. Union Station, with GO, Via Rail and TTC subway stops, is an 11-minute walk. The Yonge subway stop at King is a 12-minute walk. The Market is mere minutes from TTC streetcar stops at Jarvis on the King and Queen lines. There also is a Jarvis bus that stops steps from the Market.

Taxi and Uber will get you there even quicker.

If you’re coming by car, designate a driver for a safe trip home as there will sampling of alcoholic beverages at the Night Market, if you’re so inclined. There will also be a cash bar.

In its debut in 2018, Canada’s only Artisan Cheese Night Market was a sell-out success—and a huge hit with cheese lovers.

If you’re driving, best place to park is the Green P parking garage with entrances at south end of Church Street and south end of Market Street:

Carpark 43 ~ St. Lawrence Garage ~ 2 Church Street
Also enter from Market Street just south of St. Lawrence Market
Rate: $2.50 / Half Hour
Capacity: 2,008 spaces (Yes, 2,008!)
Payment Options: Auto Express Pay Stations, Credit Card at Entry & Exit, Customer Assistance Booth
Accepted Forms of Payment: Bills, Coins, Charge (Visa / Mastercard / American Express Only)

OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS

Available at all price levels within walking distance of St. Lawrence Market.

WHO WE ARE

Canada’s only Artisan Cheese Night Market is produced by Cheese Lover Productions Inc. which also produces Canadian Cheese Awards and The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. In 2018, Artisan Cheese Night Market was first held in conjunction with Canadian Cheese Awards. Given the enthusiastic response from cheese lovers, the Night Market returns in 2019 as a stand-alone event.

Eventbrite - Canada's Artisan Cheese Night Market 2019