Monthly Archives: June 2012

Curds and Eh eps 2: Quebec (get ready to change your summer vacation plans)

To read and introduction about this guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons click here.  For Eps 1, click here.

Hi Everyone,

I feel bad for telling you about my project and then disappearing for two weeks. Hopefully you can forgive me once you see how busy life on the road actually is.

Here’s a quick review of last week:

Sunday June 17th – I attended the Fine Cheese Festival in Victoriaville, Quebec, which was a great opportunity to meet cheese makers before I hit the road. I enjoyed meeting Michèle Foreman, author of the just released Fromages: Artisans du Quebec. La crème de la crème. It’s a beautifully photographed book with information on all the artisan cheese makers in Quebec. I’ve found the book to be incredibly helpful so far on my journey even though it is en français (and admittedly my French is limited).

Caseus Award for Le Baluchon

A real highlight of the day was seeing Le Baluchon win the people’s choice Caseus award. Le Baluchon is an organic, unpasteurized cheese with a washed rind and is so deserving of the award.

The raclette grill of my dreams (Sue)

On Monday I spent several hours at Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser near Noyan. Fritz Kaiser grew up in Switzerland and moved to Quebec at a young age where he began making cheese in 1981. He’s known for creating the first Canadian raclette cheese. What is raclette you ask? It’s the name of a cheese, the accompanying grill and the process of melting cheese and serving it on potatoes, meats and veggies. (ex. “Come on over to my raclette party and we’ll melt some Fritz raclette on my new raclette grill”)

l’Abbaye-Saint-Benoit-du-Lac

A highlight of my adventures so far occurred last Tuesday when I finally took the pilgrimage to l’Abbaye-Saint-Benoit-du-Lac. In 1912 French monks settled on the banks of Lake Memphremagog and began a Trappist monastery. In the early 1940s a cheesemaker from Denmark visited the monastery and taught the monks how to make a blue cheese similar to the French Bleu d’Auvergne. Their unique blue is appropriately called Ermite (Hermit in English) and was the first cheese created at their factory in 1943. Now their most popular cheese is Bleu Bénédictin, an earthy flavoured blue that previously won as a Grand Champion of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix (basically the Oscars of Canadian cheese).

Unpasteurized (less than 60 days) Le Pont Blanc, Fromagerie au Gré des Champs

Wednesday was a day full of new cheeses for me. Ruban Bleu, is a farmstead fromagerie located just outside of Montreal and it produces many sizes, shapes and varieties of goat cheese. There’s something for everyone here but my personal favourite was a fresh chevre mixed with caramelized onions. That day I also visited Fromagerie au Gré des Champs who produce unpasteurized, organic cheese made from the milk of their herd of Brown Swiss cows. Fromagerie au Gré des Champs is one of a handful of fromageries in Quebec that legally produce unpasteurized cheese aged for less than 60 days*. One of these cheeses is called Le Pont Blanc. It’s a small lactic cheese with a very thin rind, a yeasty aroma and a mild milky flavour.

Sheep at La Moutonniere

There’s never time to rest when you’re on a cheese adventure so on Thursday I headed to St.-Hélène-de-Chester to visit La Moutonnière and l’Atelier. Lucille Giroux, the cheesemaker behind La Moutonnière, initially raised sheep for meat but realized that she needed to get another product out of them to make a decent living. At the time there was no sheep being milked in Quebec so she imported dairy sheep from Sweden. I love her Fleur de Monts, an aged sheep cheese with fragrant floral aromas.

Ma Maniere (My Way)

Simon Hamel has 10 years of experience making cheese in Quebec and France and recently began creating his own cheeses under the name l’Atelier out of La Moutonnière. My new favourite cheese is one he creates called Ma Manière (the name roughly translates to ‘I’m doing it my way’). It’s a lactic goat cheese with a wrinkly rind and a flavour that will transport you to France. I’m willing to put money on Simon winning top awards with this cheese. Ma Manière has very limited production so it may be hard to get. (try Fromagerie Atwater in Montreal–Sue).

Working hard to make fresh cheese at Fromagerie Presbytere

Nothing makes me happier than seeing communities come together over food. Every Friday in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick people gather in the front yard of Fromagerie du Presbytère for a picnic dinner and to enjoy fresh cheese served at three stages of the cheesemaking process. Around 4pm bowls of a cottage cheese like product are sold. Cheesemakers Jean Morin and Marie-Chantal let the fresh curds (no, not cheddar curds) knit together into a single mass, which is then cut, stacked, flipped and restacked. Slabs of this fresh cheese are then sold at the shop and customers sprinkle salt on top. Next, blocks of fresh cheese are milled and salted and turned into squeaky cheddar curds. This is what everyone waits for! Throughout the afternoon and evening, hundreds of people attend the picnic and enjoy wine as they listen to live music.

Zacharie Cloutier, sheep’s milk

If you ever have the chance to try Zacharie Cloutier (produced by Fromagerie Nouvelle France at this facility), Louis d’Or, Laliberte, or Bleu d’Elizabeth, I highly recommend doing so. They are some of the finest cheeses in all of Canada.

(Kelsie is continuing on Quebec and will be posting again soon-Sue)

* The federal standard is all raw milk cheeses must be aged for 60 days before being sold. About 4 years ago, Quebec changed their regulations allowing for fresh unpasteurized cheeses to be sold but only if cheese makers met strict regulations

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More Cheesemakers and Shakers in Picton (C’est Bon, Primeridge Pure, Upper Canada, Fromagerie du Presbytère)

George Taylor and the Casa Gomez, organic cow’s milk Gouda style cheese

I walked inside the Crystal Palace during the Great Canadian Cheese Festival (the outside post is here) and there was George Taylor from C’est Bon Cheese.  Exactly in this pose.  Like at a wax museum (no, not really).

You may know the C’est Bon chevre but George is also making Cuban Breakfast cheese which is called Sunrise Caprea.  It’s a queso blanco style cheese and won’t melt when heated, it will actually caramelize and retain its shape.  George’s partner in Havana (yes Cuba) Raul Gomez helped him finesse the cheese to match the cheeses George had tasted in South America.  George spent three years developing it and in 2011 it took first place in the Artisan Goat Cheese Category at the British Empire Cheese show.

The firm cheese (George is holding)  Casa Gomaz, is an organic Gouda-style cheese from the milk of  Mr. Gomez’s own cow herd.  Even the wax exterior is organic (from a bee’s wax generated on his farm).  The cheese is made in Cuba and the cows are fed spent sugar cain and distiller’s waste from the Havana Club Rum Factory.

George only brings in small quantities so you might want to get on his “nice” list asap.

Scott and Steacy den Haan look  angelic in this photo, don’t they?  I snapped it in between the crowds snapping up their farmstead cream cheese (Primeridge Pure) which contains only natural ingredients and come in three flavours: natural, herb and hot chili (it is very hot, but good).  A typical week for them includes managing a dairy farm, cheese making, caring for a baby daughter and selling their cheese at local markets throughout the summer–so maybe they are a little supernatural?  To read more about them I recently interviewed Steacy for The Spread–the article also lists locations where they sell their cream cheese.

Smoked Comfort Cream–as if Cottage Gold wasn’t enough for a summer treat!

Upper Canada Cheese Company is now smoking their Comfort Cream.   It is cold smoked at Hansen Farms in Cayuga Ontario (same place that smokes Blue Haze and Provincial Smoke).  You might be wanting this for your cheese burgers this summer….

What product from Fromagerie du Presbytère to try first????

There was a lot of cheese to choose from at the Fromagerie du Presbytère table and cheesemaker Jean Morin  was a gracious cheese host.  Mr. Morin and his brother Dominique are fourth-generation farmers on La Ferme Louise D’Or, named by their grandfather.  Their award-winning cheeses Louis D’Or and Bleu D’Elizabeth had just been sent off to be served at the Queen’s Jubilee in England (so, I imagine they’d be good enough for our commoner’s palates too).

Louis D’Or at a 24 and 9 months.

And here is the Louis D’Or.  Both versions were seductive but I do like the more supple texture of the younger cheese.  But hey, I wouldn’t kick the older Louis out of bed (we all eat cheese in bed right?).

Tomme de Grosse Île

And I had to post a few old friends,  cheeses that will not let you down in a pinch.  Like the Tomme de Grosse Île..

Beautiful Baluchon

And aromatic and organic Baluchon.  After all the cheese eating I was so full but so thirsty…..and somehow craving a Buddha Dog…parked just out back!

I also sauntered over to grab a sparkling lemonade from Kevin at the Cheesewerks booth next door.

And then I plain fell over into a dead slumber…you can just see my sandal under the bottom of the Buddha Truck.

Just kidding.  I was wearing flats.

(For even more detailed reporting on this annual weekend of cheese antics check out this great report from Vanessa at Savvy.)

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Hey, there was a really cool Cheese Festival in Picton. You’ll wish you were there.

Felix shows an aptitude for milking at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival

The 2nd Annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival happened the first weekend of June and it was a grand ol’ time.  Even the dreaded rain did it justice and held off.  Though I missed last years event I will book my weekend for this event from now on.  Overhearing the conversations around me,  it was exciting to hear a real mix of industry people, cheese lovers, food lovers and just people looking for something tasty–all gathered in one spot.

Above are the tents set up all around the Crystal Palace where the main part of the festival happened over two days.

And here is the interior, it was pretty jam-packed.  You would buy tickets inside and use those to sample many delicious things such as cheese (of course) but also local wine, brew, preserves, breads and other fine food.  And as much as there were loads of people there was plenty of opportunity to chat with the producers and learn more about them.  It was very friendly and casual.

I used up many a ticket walking around with a sample of the 2009 Closson Chase Pinot Noir.

But a person does not want to ignore Chardonnay either so here I tried the 1812 from Palatine Hills Estate with Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar.  The wine is technically from Niagara Wine Country but it is a tribute to the anniversary of the war.  So, who can fault that?

Then I moved over to the Back Forty booth where Jeff Fenwick was sampling their Highland Blue and the Bonnechere (with its toasted rind).

Bonne Chere and Highland Blue

Jeff and Jenna Fenwick took over Back Forty from James Keith this spring.  The rind of the Highland Blue is very beautiful with a little bit of bloomy mold developing.  (or “bloody” mold if you copy my notes straight from my iPhone. Damn you autocorrect.)

From East coast to Ontario to West Coast, it is impossible not to recognize this beautiful trio from Salt Spring Island.  Romelia is the pale gold lady, Blue Juliette is next to her and at the back is elegant Juliette herself.  Some of my very favourite cheeses.  Blue Juliette was the subject of the very first Spread Column (2008) ever, so I am particularly attached.

I then slid over to sample the amazing Alpindon and Nostrala from The Kootenay Alpine Cheese company from BC.  Both cheeses showcase the raw, organic milk they are made from. If you see them while shopping make you try these guys.  They will become a staple.

And I could not resist sampling this sheep’s milk, bloomy rind cheese called “Commanda” as a tribute to the Algonquin elder William Commanda– by John Thompson of Kendal Vale Cheese.

And to cleanse the cheese palate I stopped by the Mad Mexican booth where they make authentic Mexican food from fresh local ingredients.  Everything was amazing.  Here is a little description of their Salsa Morita from their site:

Morita Salsa (a.k.a. Salsa Roja):

The dried and smoked morita pepper, a native of Mexico, give this salsa its distinct earthy flavor. Made from fresh charred tomatoes and sweet onions, it has a medium heavy body with a touch of heat. This morita salsa achieves complex flavors reminiscent of smoked and fire grilled foods. It boldly stands alone as a dip or adds the spark to grilled meats, shrimp and tomato base sauces.

And this is me and Janice Beaton, the passionate cheese monger, owner of Janice Beaton Fine Cheese in Calgary and FARM a restaurant showcasing the wealth of Albertan foods.  I had been dying to meet so was so happy to final talk face-to-face.

And I will continue this post tomorrow as I realized I have not even taken you INSIDE the building and already am going long!

Til then,  S.

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In case you forgot the pleasures of homemade lemonade

As I scurry around trying to get the “To Do list” checked off so I can leave for the cottage I thought I would leave you with a lemonade recipe which I made for the first time (this heat wave) for the foodnetwork.ca blog.  And you should try it too.

Because it is so very, very easy.  We’re talking the juice of 2 (maybe 3) lemons.  Add water.  You can sweeten with sugar but make a batch of simple syrup and it will last you jugs of lemonade into the future.   And it is delicious.  I used 6 tablespoons simple syrup (infused with spearmint leaves) for 2L lemonade and it took the sharp edge off but kept a refreshing tartness.

Here’s the recipe.  The full on directions with photos will be featured on my Family Fun blog.   With the simple syrup instructions too if you need them.

And PS–yesterday morning a real estate woman who was canvassing the ‘hood rang my doorbell and  looked just melty from the heat and I was able to say, “I just made lemonade.  Could I get you a glass?”.   How often does a gal get to say, “I just made a batch of fresh lemonade?”  Unless you’re in the South.   Sookie Stackhouse offers lemonade.  Though not to vampires obviously— but even to enemies.  But not enemy vampires.  Hmm, it gets tricky.

Ingredients for Lemonade

2-3 Lemons

2 L cold water

6 tbsp simple syrup

Juice the lemons til you have 1/2 cup juice. Add to 2 L cold water. Sweeten as desired with simple syrup (or super fine sugar).

Here is my Chef Basics video on making Simple Syrup if you are interested. (just re-watched it, informative but I’m very serious in it.  Simple syrup is no joke people.)

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Fruit Salad with Moutard A l’ Ancienne (mais oui!) for Father’s Day

Fruit salad and mustard, the best of both worlds: hot dog meet farmer’s market.  (Is that where you thought this was headed?)  Actually, what I will will be sharing with you is the easiest recipe for a dessert, brunch, baby shower or watching Nik Wallenda cross Niagara Falls on a tight rope.  In fact, I dare (devil) predict that you will keep this little recipe in the roster for so long that soon it will become, “that fruit salad with mustard that Jane always brings” followed by, “yes, with mustard, I know weird but so good, seriously.”  And then the other person will say, “you know they make chocolate with chilis too?” and so on….

It’s not the creamy mustard that you use for the salad (that you’re probably thinking of)  it’s the Old Style Mustard which is crunchy and so tangy and with an inviting bite.  This recipe came from the Maille company themselves actually.  They have a new campaign which is being promoted across Canada and a few weeks ago I popped down to check it out and taste some of their wares which included the Old Style Mustard (above), Dijon, Honey Dijon.

The French Maille mustard company was founded in 1747.  The original recipes used the mustard seed for medicinal recipes but by the time Antoine Maille Jr opened the Maille shop in Paris they were official “condiment suppliers” to Royal Courts in France, Hungary, Russia and England.  Roasted game begs for Dijon I imagine.

I inquired what made the Maille mustard different from other “dijon” brands. The distinction is that when Maille cuts the seeds for the mustard, they don’t crush them–they cut them, which gives the mustard a unique texture and pungency.  Which makes me want to do a side by side taste test.  (Hmmmm.  I’ll get back to you on that.)

But back to the recipe.

I chopped up the fruit beforehand and then made the dressing.

And I tossed everything together  just as Nic Welenda was stepping onto the wire to cross the Falls (aka just before serving).

We had friends over who acted as taste testers and we all liked it a lot.  There is not a lot of dressing and with a bit of honey in it you get a nice, crunchy, acid/sweet tang to the salad.

The original recipe is posted below as is, but I only used half the cantaloupe and 1 pear.   Which was a perfect size salad for us four (and a good ration of fruit to fruit).

Maille Fruit Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 pears, diced
  • 1 cantaloupe, diced
  • 20 strawberries, halved
  • 20 red grapes, halved
  • 2 kiwis, diced

Dressing

  • 15 ml (1 tbsp)  Maille Old Style Mustard
  • 10 ml (2 tsp)  Balsamic vinegar
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) Cider vinegar (I did not have this so just used a bit if white wine vinegar)
  • Salt and pepper

Mix fruit in a bowl.  In another bowl, mix dressing ingredients and pour over fruit.  Mix and serve.

Note: For a smoother creamier dressing, add 10 ml of 15% cream and 5ml honey.

*** don’t forget  you could use a grainy mustard for a great potato salad: boiled baby potatoes, olive oil, fresh herbs and some of the mustard, bit of vinegar and S&P.  At the Farm and Food Care tour the other day  we had mashed potatoes with this mustard mixed into them for lunch.  Quick meal with crispy roast chicken perhaps, or grilled chicken thighs.

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Find me on Foodnetwork.ca with some kid-friendly cooking ideas

The blue shape is a train. Really. Squint.

Happy Father’s Day to all ye dads.  And to my dad and to my son’s dad.  (You know who you are.)

I jut wanted to let you all know that I’ve started blogging weekly for The Food Network, so every Friday I’m posting a recipe or something to do with cooking that is easy for kids to participate but also that helps them start to learn about food, cooking and kitchen skills.

Today’s post is sugar cookies for Father’s Day.  Just the basic variety (cars, planes, trains).  If you want to see kick ass effort check out this link to a cookie “remote control”.

I know! Crazy. Someone loves their husband more than I love mine. (from somewhatsimple.com)

I encourage Felix to cook with me, and before I teach him about organic or local or grass-fed I really just want him to see meals come together.  A pizza made from scratch.  Stuff like that.

And I do not mean to be preachy (we are having friends over tonight and I will be ordering pizza and just making a quick salad to go with–or actually asking my friends to bring that–better idea!)  but  sometimes a simple lentil salad with lemon dressing (canned lentils) can go a long way when paired with fast meals like grilled cheese-or pasta with garlic and butter.

And Does Felix eat lentil salad?  Sometimes a fair bit, sometimes none but usually something in between.  But, he knows how to make it!  Though honestly, my cat could make it (it’s slightly more awkward whisking with paws we’ve found–and we keep electrical gadgets out of her reach).

You’ll see a new sidebar on the right side of the blog called Cooking With Kids and I will add links there as the blogs accumulate.  Thanks for checking it out.

Have a fantastic weekend.    S.

See the train shape now? What about the car? Maybe move back from your screen…

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Curds and Eh: A Cross Country Cheese Tour, episode 1

Kelsie Parson: Canadian Cheese Tourist

Hi everyone, here is the first blog in the Curds and Eh series. Welcome Kelsie!

Hello fellow cheese lovers!

By day I’m the Cheese Manager at Sobeys Ira Needles in Kitchener and by night I’m a curd nerd who can’t stop reading about cheese (and eating it too!). I started working at Sobeys nearly 2 years ago and I’m responsible for a 36′ long cheese wall, which is home to 350 varieties of cheese.

Sobeys Ira Needles

Several months ago I told Russ, my store manager, that I was planning on taking the summer off to travel across Canada and write a book about Canadian cheese.  He was incredibly supportive but wanted to make sure I’d return to Sobeys when I’m done. Of course I promised I’d be back. When I began my travels Russ wanted part of me to stay with the cheese wall so he hired one of my staff to carve my head out of St. Albert Mild Cheddar!

From here…

To here….It’s quite the honour having my head in cheese! I’m still amazed! It’s like looking in a cheese mirror!

With a Jean and a beautiful wheel of Louis D’Or at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

I’m currently on week 4 of my cross-Canada cheese adventure. Recently I’ve visited cheese makers around Ontario and attended the Great Canadian Cheese Festival and today I’m heading to Montreal.

I’ll be in Quebec for a full month but I’m afraid I’ll still only try a handful of all the cheeses produced there. After Quebec I’m headed to the Maritimes and Newfoundland(!) and then across Northern Quebec and Ontario. The longest   the road will be driving from Thornloe Cheese near Lake Timiskaming to   in Thunder Bay. Ontario is a massive province! I’ll then spend the month of August traveling the Prairies, Alberta and B.C. When I consider my journey as a whole, 3.5 months seems like a really long time to be on the road but breaking it down province by province it seems like a whirlwind adventure. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to sharing the journey with you.

Poutine from St. Albert Cheese on Ottawa. Can man live on poutine alone?

Why such an epic cheese adventure? I’ve always wanted to write a book about Canadian Cheese and I figure now is the right time. In many ways I’m modeling my book after Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins. The book is organized by region opposed to style and as a reader I felt like I traveled around Europe with Mr. Jenkins. I’m aiming for my book to be about individual cheeses as much as it is about the people behind them and the regions they’re from. Of course there will be loads of photos in the book; I just wish I could make it scratch and sniff (what a stinky book!).

One thing I’m missing though is a title for the book. I considered simply Canadian Cheese. It’s too the point but not very catchy. I find cheese people usually have a cheesy sense of humour so I also considered titles such as The Whey Across Canada and Curds & Eh! I like them but I think there’s a better title out there. Now this is where I ask for your help. If you can help me come up with the perfect title you’ll be recognized in the acknowledgements and you’ll get a free book (when it’s printed).

See you again in two weeks,  Kelsie

My favourite pic (says Sue) Kelsie in storage!

BIO

Kelsie Parsons worked as a cheesemonger for Cheese of Canada and Provincial Fine Foods in Toronto and his photos of Canadian Cheese are featured in Juliet Harbutt’s World Cheese Book (2009). He earned his Cheesemaking Certificate from the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese and has since apprenticed at Monforte Dairy. In 2010, Kelsie was selected as a delegate to represent the Toronto Slow Food convivium at Terra Madere in Turin, Italy. Kelsie is the Cheese Manager at Sobeys Ira Needles in Kitchener and is currently writing a book about Canadian cheese. He also blogs at Sobeys.com/foodiefeature

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