Louis d’Or: Canadian Cheese of the Year 2018

Louis d’Or, made by Jean Morin of Fromagerie Presbytere, is the 2018 Cheese of the Year.

Louis d’Or, an outstanding Alpine-style cheese made by Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, Québec, was named the 2018 Cheese of the Year in the biennial Canadian Cheese Awards, the biggest cheese judging and competition in the country.

The 2018 Canadian Cheese Awards program, which started at University of Guelph, Food Science Department, with the judging of 375 submitted cheeses in late February, culminated June 6 with a presentation ceremony and tasting gala at historic St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.

Loblaw Companies is Marque Sponsor of Awards while Dairy Farmers of Canada is Principal Partner, Cow Milk Cheese.

Complete list of winners by categories:

CHEESE OF THE YEAR/FROMAGE D’EXCEPTION

BEST FRESH CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE FRAIS

BEST FRESH PASTA FILATA CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE À PÂTE FILÉE

 BEST SEMI-SOFT CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE À PÂTE  SEMI-FILÉE

BEST FETA/CHEESE IN BRINE/MEILLEUR FETA/FROMAGE EN SAUMURE

  • Krinos Traditional Feta – Krinos, Vaughan, Ontario

BEST FETA/CHEESE IN BRINE/MEILLEUR FETA/FROMAGE EN SAUMURE

—Private Brands Division—

BEST FIRM CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME

BEST FIRM CHEESE WITH HOLES (Swiss-style)/MEILLEUR FROMAGE À PÂTE FERME AVEC OUVERTURES

BEST WASHED RIND CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE À CROÛTE LAVÉE

BEST MIXED RIND CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE À CROÛTE MIXTE

BEST MIXED RIND CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE À CROÛTE MIXTE

—Private Brands Division—

BEST BLOOMY RIND CHEESE/MEILLEUR PÂTE MOLLE À CROÛTE FLEURIE

BEST BLOOMY RIND CHEESE/MEILLEUR PÂTE MOLLE À CROÛTE FLEURIE

—Private Brands Division—

BEST LACTIC RIPENED CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE LACTIQUE À CROÛTE FLEURIE

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

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

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

  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old CheddarCows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

BEST GOUDA CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE GOUDA

BEST BLUE CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE À PÂTE PERSILLÉE

BEST FLAVOURED CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE AROMATISÉ

BEST FLAVOURED FRESH CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE FRAIS AROMATISÉS

  • Chevrai Roasted Garlic Soft Fresh Goat Cheese – Woolwich Dairy, Orangeville, Ontario

BEST FLAVOURED FRESH CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE FRAIS AROMATISÉS

—Private Brands Division—

BEST SMOKED CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE FUMÉ

  • Appletree Smoked Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

BEST GRILLING CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE À GRILLER

  • Queso Fresco – Sabana, Oakville, Ontario

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

  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

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)

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

BEST WEST CHEESE/MEILLEUR FROMAGE DE L’OUEST (Alberta, Saskatchewan et 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

  • Cows Creamery 3 Year Old Cheddar – Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Biggest cheese competition in Canada

Judging by a jury of 14 cheese experts took place at University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, in February. 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 were announced at the Awards Ceremony on June 6 at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto followed by an Awards Tasting Gala. The next day, winners were featured at Canadian Cheese Expo for the trade followed by Canada’s first Artisan Cheese Night Market open to the public.

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.

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar: Canadian Cheese of the Year 2016

Baluchon: Canadian Cheese of the Year 2014

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.

Continue reading

For cheese lovers, all roads lead to Picton on June 3-4

Informative Cheese Seminars are included in the price of admission at #TGCCF.

Top 10 reasons why you won’t want to miss the seventh annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, on June 3-4, 2017.

  1. More than 500 foods and beverages for sampling and purchase, including 200 artisan and farmstead cheeses.
  2. Chance to meet Canada’s outstanding cheesemakers face-to-face, including many from Québec.
  3. Informative Cheese Seminars on a variety of topics.
  4. Express access to more than 100 exhibitors and vendors, including specialty foods, small-batch wine, craft beer, craft cider and—NEW!—spirits.
  5. SWAG! An insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases and a souvenir Festival glass for sampling wine, beer and cider (19+).
  6. Local VQA wines and cider available for purchase by bottle or case (19+).
  7. Dairy Farm, with animals and displays, including the sweetest water buffalo you’ll ever meet.
  8. Food Court, featuring—NEW!— J.K. Fries and Braised-Beef Poutine from Jamie Kennedy Kitchens.
  9. Live music by Starpainters trio in the Prince Edward County Pavilion.
  10. Ample FREE parking.

More than 5,000 cheese lovers are expected to attend, sampling and purchasing close to 200 different cheeses made by artisan producers from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It’s the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada, indeed, in North America, with an estimated 500 foods and beverages in total on offer.

Meet Canada’s best cheesemakers, including Armand Bernard of Cows Creamery in P.E.I., at Canada’s biggest cheese show.

Cheesemakers, specialty food producers, small-batch wineries, craft breweries and cideries, and other exhibitors and vendors have reserved 100+ booths making the event at the Picton Fairgrounds one of the biggest artisan food markets in Ontario.

TICKET OPTIONS:

  • Super Saturday (June 3) or Super Sunday (June 4): All attractions listed above PLUS EXTRAS such as informative Cheese Seminars, an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases, a souvenir Festival glass for sampling wine, beer and cider (19+), live music and more. Super Ticket $50 plus tax per day.
  • BEST BUY: Weekend VIP Pass (June 3 and 4): Admission Saturday and Sunday with VIP access at 10 a.m., one hour before show opens to public. PLUS reserved seating at informative Cheese Seminars. Includes all attractions listed above PLUS EXTRAS such as Cheese Seminars, an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases, a souvenir Festival glass for sampling wine, beer and cider (19+), live music and more. Weekend VIP Pass $75 plus tax.

Tickets can be ordered online in advance at http://cheesefestival.ca/tickets/ or purchased at the door.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is the only place where you can taste and buy 200 different Canadian artisan and farmstead cheeses—plus specialty foods galore.

The Festival’s main attraction, the Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair, is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4. Families are welcome. Children 15 and younger FREE when accompanied by an adult. Special pricing for groups of 10+.

There is so much to do at the Cheese Festival—and in must-visit Prince Edward County—that you’ll want to make a weekend of it. Check out featured accommodations in Prince Edward County, Belleville and Kingston at http://cheesefestival.ca/where-to-stay/

The Festival also offers special events like Gastronomy on the Farm with Jamie Kennedy, Cooking with Cheese Class with Cynthia Peters and a Quinte Cheese Tour. For additional information, visit CheeseFestival.ca. For assistance, email info@cheesefestival.ca or telephone 1.866.865.2628.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario. Prince Edward County is Gold Sponsor, Bay of Quinte Region is Principal Partner and Stonemill Bakehouse is Official Bread Supplier.

Picton Fairgrounds is located in the heart of Prince Edward County, south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region. One hour from Kingston, two hours from Toronto, three hours from Ottawa and New York State, and less than four hours from Montreal.

THE GREAT CANADIAN CHEESE FESTIVAL
June 3-4, 2017, Picton, Ontario
1.866.865.2628
http://cheesefestival.ca


 

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.

 

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

QC14: Festival des Fromagers Artisans du Québec

Some 10,000 cheese enthusiasts made the pilgrimage to Sainte-Elisabeth-de-Warwick.

Some 10,000 cheese enthusiasts made the pilgrimage to Sainte-Elisabeth-de-Warwick, population 374.

We begin our three-week tour of Québec with Festival des Fromagers Artisans du Québec, the annual celebration of fromages fins organized by the association of artisan-cheese producers. This year, the two-day festival was held at Fromagerie du Presbytere in the village of Sainte-Elisabeth-de-Warwick two hours east of Montréal.

With the support of Mayor Luc Le Blanc, Presbytere’s owner, Jean Morin, was able to convert the main street of the village into a cheese fair that attracted some 10,000 cheese enthusiasts. Morin’s cheese plant and shop—located in a former rectory (presbytere)—sits across the street from Ferme Louis d’Or, the dairy farm his family has operated for four generations.

A tiny bakery turns out wonderful breads adjacent to the cheese plant. Morin also invited local producers—a charcuterie specialist, a winemaker and a craft brewery—to complement the cheese available for tasting and purchase.

The annual festival rotates from one member producer to another. Next year’s venue will be announced soon.

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