Category Archives: Cheese/Cheese Related

Cheese Related news and reviews

The Cheesiry’s Pecorino- one of Calgary’s Top 25 Foods

Pecorino from Alberta's The Cheesiry

Pecorino from Alberta’s The Cheesiry

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to taste some amazing pecorino from Alberta and speak to Rhonda Headon the cheese maker who trained in Tuscany to bring the recipe back home where she began her business The Cheesiry.

If you’d like to try some of the cheese you can have it shipped from the Cheesiry by contacting them and for now–read my piece about Rhonda for the Globe and Mail.  Enjoy!

 

 

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So that was an unplanned 4 month hiatus…but back with SALADS!

Ally's Thai Noodle Salad Recipe in bowls brought home from Thailand

Ally’s Thai Noodle Salad Recipe in bowls brought home from Thailand

So the last post on this blog was October 9, 2013 and had I realized it would remain so until the new year I probably would have posted a “GONE FISHING” sign or something.   Which is all to say had I been realistic I would have scratched Cheese and Toast off the TO DO list for a bit and sent it on holiday to the south of France instead of letting it languish, unrefreshed for so many months.  We have made up– and the blog has accepted, grudgingly, my apology.  (Though has threatened to  crash without saving my content over the next little while as payback….)

Setting up to shoot Pancetta and Fingerling Potato Salad with Horseradish Creme Fraiche

Setting up to shoot Pancetta and Fingerling Potato Salad with Horseradish Creme Fraiche

In a nutshell; we were reno’ing our bathroom and the kitchen ceiling (yes just the kitchen ceiling) and that was going swimmingly until a house up the street popped onto the market–and we loved the house–and then we thought maybe we should just put in an offer…and then we had this new house and needed to sell old house which still had hole in kitchen ceiling….and my job situation changed and everything was topsy-turvy.  Including my kitchen as we did a few upgrades for the sale–so no cooking for a while.

Shredded Brussel Sprout, Kle and Green Apple with Lemon-Agave Dressing

Shredded Brussel Sprout, Kale and Green Apple with Lemon-Agave Dressing

Anyway–we moved, I was teary saying good-bye to the old home but the people that bought it seem to love it just as much (and they don’t have the mauve bathroom we had for 11 years!) and we have a great new house that has a great backyard that tad has already built a luge track in this winter (you know a sled-luge track).  AND……..

Putting counter space to excellent use during the salad shoot day

Putting counter space to excellent use during the salad shoot day

Counter Space! My kitchen feels humongous compared to the 1.5 feet of counter space I had before.  It’s like a dream, really.  Plus it came with a dishwasher (I’ve never had one since I left home for university, I was addicted after the first time I pressed SMART CYCLE)….and an old stove that broke and we had no choice but to replace–so now I have a new gas stove and went with the double oven (GE).  Just starting to experiment but think I will love it.

Trying to make your mouth water--steak for the steak salad (rember Chevy Chase ordering that in Fletch?)

MMMMMMMM! Sirloin.  (Remember Chevy Chase ordering the Steak Sandwich(es) in Fletch?)

But that is way too much about me.  Let me start with a few salad recipes from the “Month of Salads” project that Tad and I have been shooting and creating for the Globe.  Each weekday is February we have teamed up with the Life section to create a salad (he shoots them).  The link for last week’s five is here….and you can even photograph and submit your own faves…

Ally--co-salad conspirator and partner in cheese

Ally–co-salad conspirator and partner in cheese

I could not have done the project without my friend Ally–truthfully a full month of salads after last Fall/Winter’s shenanigans was an amazing opportunity but was somewhat overwhelming– but Ally came over and helped me prep (and offered a couple great recipes) like Asian Noodle Salad and Fennel Pomegranate Salad  (coming up for Valentine’s Day!)

Pasta with Browned Butter and Sage- Quick Fix in the Globe Feb 10

Pasta with Browned Butter and Sage- Quick Fix in the Globe Feb 10

And I owe a huge THANK YOU and apology to my friends and contributors Kelsie Parsons (Curds and Eh!) and Joahnne DuRocher (who was also moving yet managed to keep blogging and working full-time!) who have each written an amazing post for me (Kelsie on Grilled Cheese and Johanne sharing her spaghetti sauce recipe) and gave them to me in the fall and so I will FINALLY be posting them still in the midst of winter when we need comfort food.  Thank you guys for being so understanding (I think they were understanding, I would be understanding if they were not).

Arugula and Sirloin with a squeeze of lemon and olive oil

Arugula and Sirloin with a squeeze of lemon and olive oil

And congrats to Kelsie who has been chose to be one of the two cheesemongers for the American Cheese Society Competition taking place in Sacremento this year.  Huge honour.

So in other news, Ally and I have a brand new website in the works for The Cheese Table and we love our new logo–it is pretty exciting–let me know what you think!

Our new Cheese Table Logo-- LOVE--guess what it is!

Our new Cheese Table Logo in three colours– LOVE–guess what it is!

We are also testing out a first run at a monthly cheese club, if you would like some more info you can shoot us an email.  We have about two spaces left.

Otherwise we are continuing our series of Cheese Talks at McEwans and doing some private events.

And last but not least I’d like to start sharing some articles about food that I find interesting and maybe you would too.  Here are a couple pieces from WIRED magazine to get you thinking—first is about PEAK UMAMI

The first piece is on UMAMI

The first piece is on UMAMI

And the second– well— read and see what you think about Monsanto Perfect veggies– and don’t judge yet–its quite interesting  read.

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So, hopefully we’re kind of caught up–thanks to everyone who emailed to kick my butt into blogging again.  It is a pleasure to be back!

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Pan Con Tomate– it just SOUNDS good

photo by Tad Seaborn

photo by Tad Seaborn

It’s getting close to Friday which at our house means we’re running out of food, and I’m running out of ideas and energy.

Enter tomatoes on toast–which sounds much nicer being called Pan Con Tomate.  Thanks to the Spanish for this recipe–you literally toast some buns, rub with a garlic cloves and add some tomato pulp.  But the sum of the parts…….oh boy!!

Recipe details here at the Globe and Mail, Quick Fix.

YUM!  (and with Manchego– even more so)

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I will surrender counter space for a Panini Press

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The Hamilton Beach Panini Press

It just hit me–I really would use a panini press!  I mean I would right?  I love grilled panini, when I’m out and about and hungry, what is a better crisp, oozy and portable meal that a panini?  You can easily sneak them into movies–or keep them in your purse in a pinch (just while you text or create genius Instagram photos).  Even Tim Horton’s can do a half-decent job (I discovered this after finding only chip and burger stands to eat from when driving around PEI).

So I’m wondering-anyone have one and use it?? Or perhaps you can tell me I’m disillusioned, it will have the same fate as my George Forman grill…which wait a second–couldn’t that press panini?   Excuse while I go dig around in my basement.

Meanwhile check out these “18 Surprising Things You Can Make in a Panini Press” from BuzzFeed.

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Curds and Eh: Is it cheating to make cheese with pre-pasteurized milk?

Harvest Moon, Tiger Blue, Naramata Bench Blue and Okanagan Double Cream

Harvest Moon, Tiger Blue, Naramata Bench Blue and Okanagan Double Cream

CHEESE FOR THOUGHT–ANOTHER POST FROM KELSIE.  PLEASE LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS!

One of my favourite blogs that I follow is Much To Do About Cheese. It’s written by Ian Treuer a home-cheesemaker from Edmonton, Alberta who maintains an honest and uncommon look into the world of a DIY cheesemaker. Recently he posed a question on his Facebook  page.  He asked, “Can a Cheese Maker be considered an Artisan Cheese Maker if they use pre-pasteurised milk? Why or Why Not?”

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Purchasing pre-pasteurized milk is a cost saving option for many small producers as High-Temperature Short-Time (HTST) pasteurizers cost a ton of money and even vat pasteurizers can be time consuming. Heating milk to 162F and holding it there for 16 seconds (or 145F for 30min) isn’t where the art of cheesemaking comes into play.

There are three small-scale professional cheesemakers that I know of in Canada that use pre-pasteurized milk. The cheesemaker at each factory produces every cheese by hand, adjusts the recipe according to the weather, the feel of the curds, and the taste and smell of the milk. Their cheeses are all unique. Not only do I consider them all to be artisans but they are also some of this country’s best.

The Stove-top where magic happens at Five Brothers

The Stove-top where magic happens at Five Brothers

Surrounded by vineyards in Penticton’s wine region are two cheese companies – Poplar Grove Cheese and Upper Bench Creamery. Both purchase jugs of pre-pasteurized milk and also cream from D Dutchmen Dairy, which is located 190km north in Sicamous on Shuswap Lake.  This isn’t a secret – Upper Bench proudly states the source of their milk on their website. D Dutchmen Dairy is known for their high-quality milk, flavoured cheeses, and their ice cream, which causes lineups that extend to the parking lot on a hot day. Their milk comes from their own herd of cows.

Adam Blanchard of Five Brothers

Adam Blanchard of Five Brothers

Five Brothers Artisan Cheese is the only artisan cheese company in Newfoundland. Cheesemaker Adam Blanchard actually purchases cartons of milk from his local Sobeys grocery store and then transforms it into cheese in stock pots on the stove-top. He started by making cheese in a friend’s kitchen but then decided to make a living doing it. He rented a commercial kitchen and the rest is history. There’s no way he could have afforded a pasteurizer when he started. Why give up on a dream if you can’t afford a $12,000 piece of equipment?

Perhaps several decades ago we could have asked whether cheese makers that use commercially available cultures instead of a mother culture could be artisanal. The industry has changed so much and now using mass produced culture is the norm. The basic ingredients have changed over the years too but as long as the figurative ‘hand of the cheesemaker’ is present in the cheese then I believe they deserve the title of artisan.

I’m not fond of debating the semantics of a term but I feel that labelling a producer as an artisan or not also suggests level of respect for producing a handmade product. Cheesemakers that use pre-pasteurized milk work incredibly hard, just like those that pasteurize on-site. I believe both deserve respect for labouring for long hours and transforming milk into my favourite food.

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For some reason I feel many people also associate a certain level of quality with the term artisan. That’s one aspect that is usually not debated when it comes to defining the term but it is just as possible for ‘artisan’ cheese makers to produce poor quality products as much as it’s possible for them to create extraordinary ones. What really matters, is not the label ‘artisan’ but the story of the cheese company (is it something that excites the customer and the owner is proud of?) and the quality of the products.

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Easy Pickled Cherries for Your Charcuterie Board

Home made pickled cherries in a jiff!  Photo by tad Seaborn

Home made pickled cherries in a jiff! Photo by Tad Seaborn

Why pickle pickles when you can pickle cherries? I know, I know you pickle cucumbers but it flowed better.  Anyway, this jar of pickled cherries has disappeared fast—with pate, with cheese, on burgers—-and so simple to make.  Pitting the 2 cups of cherries will be a slight pain in the butt, yet still speedy.  Honest.

And they’re ready to serve once chilled.  So you can enjoy them the same day–the same afternoon even.  After your workout that you didn’t want to do,  or once you’ve finished reading the last chapter in your book club novel (that being a reminder that I need to read some novels).

Ingredients  (recipe from my Quick Fix piece in the Globe)

2 cups (about 350g) pitted cherries

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cups water

1/8 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

pinch of chili flakes

sprig of rosemary

Method

Prepare 2 cups (about 350g) pitted cherries. In a small pot combine 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cups water, 1/8 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds and 1 teaspoon black peppercorns. Add a pinch of chili flakes if desired. Bring to a boil. Add in the cherries and a sprig of rosemary and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Scoop the cherries into a sealable container (they will fit a 500 ml mason jar) and top up with the pickling liquid. Allow to cool slightly and refrigerate. They’re ready to serve once cold and will last in the fridge for a few weeks.

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Go East for Cheese! Meet Adam Blanchard, Newfoundland’s one-man cheese stop

Adam Blanchard with his smoke Cheddar

Adam Blanchard with his smoked Cheddar- photo by Tad Seaborn

In 2011 Adam Blanchard bought a two-pound cheese press online and taught himself cheese making, initially for friends and family but he eventually set up a stall at the St. John’s Farmers Market in 2011. He sold out in two weeks.

Five Brothers Smoked Cheddar

Five Brothers Smoked Cheddar

The response from customers was enthusiasm mixed with a bit of shock.  “The look on some people’s faces, I’ll never forget. ‘Cheese?’ they would say. And I would say, ‘Absolutely.’ ”   No one had ever come across hand-made cheese in Newfoundland before- until Five Brother’s Cheese came along.

I was lucky enough to meet Adam and catch up with my friend Julia Bannister (Five Brother’s retail manager) at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton.  He was sampling his smoked cheddar, queso fresco and fresh mozzarella but he also makes a Monterey Jack and looking to make some chevre in the future (maybe in his new space??).

You can read more about Adam in my Globe piece (get that thing tweeting for the East Coast!)  and also get Kelsie Parson’s perspective on cheese and the food scene from his visit to Newfoundland last year.

Canadian Cheese Festival Wide

A packed house Saturday AM–can you find Felix and I?

I’d also like to share some pics from the amazing Great Canadian Cheese Festival this year, 4000 people and 3 dozen cheese makers from across Canada.  It was so much fun, there was so much great food–cheese, sausages, condiments, wine, cider and beer that I just kept running out of sampling tickets!  This is such an amazing event–there are  tutored tastings run through the weekend and I always learn so much while eating amazing cheese (thanks Julia Rogers and Cheese Culture).

I also got out to do some wine tasting at Clossen Chase (love their chardonnay) and Hinterland (love all their sparkling wine-amazing).  But sounds like Norman Hardie’s was the place to party that weekend.  He was hosting a bunch of people including the whole Five Brothers crew.

Albert Borgo of Quality Cheese Holds his Grand Prix Winning Ricotta

Albert Borgo of Quality Cheese Holds his Grand Prix Winning Ricotta

One of the amazing things about the festival is that it is a place you can meet all the people who make the amazing products we all salivate over during the year.  For instance, here I am with Albert of Quality cheese and below…

Felix riding Yvette

…  is Felix riding Yvette, the water buffalo who lives on one of the two water buffalo farms in Ontario.  She supplies milk for our fabulous, local buffalo mozzarella.

Sampling wine and cheese

And this could be you next year, sipping wine, eating cheese, wandering around the county….( hopefully not aimlessly wandering, its good to have a destination–even if it’s just bed).

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

One of my all-time favourites.  The Avonlea clothbound cheddar, gorgeous as always.

Samples at the Cheese Fest

Or perhaps you prefer a bloomy rind?

Tania

Or tasting the “new aged”- like the latest cheese from Finica (makers of the Lindsay Clothbound Cheddar) called Tania.

Days end at the Picton harbour Inn

And finally back to kick back on a patio chair outside the Picton Harbour Inn–where are the cool people stayed.  Unless you were staying at Norman Hardie’s–then that was cooler.

But best breakfast in town right here, or so they say…..

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Fifth Town is back (and Cape Vessey with it!)

Fifth Town a platinum Leed facility is set to reopen its store in June

Fifth Town, a Platinum Leed, facility is set to reopen its store end of May

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Patricia Secord, one of the new owners of Fifth Town Cheese.  They are set to reopen the store on May 31, in time for the Great Canadian Cheese Festival.  As the fate of Fifth Town remained unknown after going into receivership last summer, I don’t think anyone in the cheese community wanted to believe this award-winning cheese company with so much heart (and so much delicious fromage) could be kept down .

For my full piece and more details see The Wedge- Fifth Town article in Globe Food today.

CAPE VESSEY (image from dobbernationloves.com)

CAPE VESSEY (image from dobbernationloves.com)

Due complicated regulatory paperwork to re-register the dairy to it new owners, cheese making will not begin until earliest September (for fresh cheeses).  There are also renovations to be done ranging from general maintenance to expanding the existing waste water, solar, geothermal functionality and ageing areas to be more efficient.

In the meanwhile, Ms. Secord who has access to amazing artisanal farmstead cheese through her import business (Bertozzi Importing) will be selling those at the store just to get momentum and begin to bring the business back to life.  (cool fact: Ms. Secord’s grandfather had been a Parmesan Reggiano producer in the Parma region before WWII broke out and her father came to Canada and bought his first Parm wheels to sell here with gold he had saved and brought from Italy).  The business has offices in Montreal and Toronto.

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The upcoming Italian cheese line-up sounds pretty mouth-watering and ranges from fresh cheeses, washed rinds and cave-aged varieties–all artisanal, goat, sheep and cow’s milk products-some raw and some organic. Ms. Secord was a little hesitant in the beginning about bringing in international products knowing Fifth’s Towns reputation had been built on its support for local product but says the community has been very supportive, “everyone wants to get the place up and running and this is going to help us get through the period of reconstruction.”

YES WE DO!   (And btw–they are hiring!  Check the website.)

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Asparagus Season–make pesto with your spring veggies

photo by Tad Seaborn

photo by Tad Seaborn/ click to enlarge  (not to enrage)

Here’s a recent favourite for the Globe “Quick Fix” column.  The recipe is with the article HERE.

It’s so hard not eat a whole lot of pine nuts when making pesto–almost mindlessly–and then I keep reminding myself that they’re a kazillion dollars for a handful–probably worth more than Jack’s beanstalk seeds.  But so yummy.

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And a little reminder if anyone is thinking about attending the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton June 1-2, you can get a discount through the blog.  Hope to see you there!

SR

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Best in Show: Quality Cheese Ricotta almost like eating cream–and why fresh cheese is trendy

The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Champion

The 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Champion

Trying to spread the word about all the Grand prix winners and especially about the Grand Prix Champion, the first time a fresh cheese came out on top and a first for Ontario as well.  This really opens the door in all categories at the Grand Prix for any cheese to win and is a fantastic sign of the quality we should be looking for as all sorts of fresh cheese become more popular with all the different cultures and their cuisines permeating our country-especially as Latin American styles of cheese become more available.

Here is a bit from my article in the Globe, click on the link below to read the whole thing and please spread the word!

There was a dark horse contender at the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. In February, I was part of an eight-member jury that blind-tasted 225 cheeses over two days with unexpected results: When the individual scores were totalled, the top prize went to a simple ricotta. This unpretentious cheese had garnered exceptional grades in technical and aesthetic evaluation, surpassing the bloomy rinds, the washed rinds and the aged Goudas.

Read the whole article to find out more about how this cheese was made from a traditional Italian recipe and the first in Canada to be sold in individual molds purchased from Italy.

You can see the basket the ricotta comes in behind the cheese.

You can see the basket the ricotta comes in behind the cheese.

If you would like to hear a little more about the judging I wrote about it in this piece.   Thanks for supporting Canadian cheese.

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