Tag Archives: Canadian Cheese Grand Prix

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix -Behind the Scenes as a Judge

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The Jury for the 2013 Cheese Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

There we are, all eight soft-lit happy cheese eaters.  I thought I would introduce you to my co-jury members from our Grand Prix judging last weekend and mention how proud I was to be a part of this team!

Left to right:  Moi, Chef Michael Howell, Allison Spurrell (owner Les Amies du Fromage in BC), Gurth Pretty (Cheese Buyer for Loblaw), Chef Danny St. Pierre, Reg Hendrickson(with Dairy Farmers of Canada), Ian Picard (VP of Fromagerie Hamel in Montreal) and Jury Chairman Phil Belanger who has been with the competition since its beginning in 1998.

Cheese Grand Prix 3

Can you guess what cheese I am about to taste? Your guess is as good as mine!

For a behind the scenes report on tasting 225 cheeses in 48 hours check out today’s Spread column.  And here are some more photos of the event.

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Photo Courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Here we are evaluating the soft bloomy rinds and Allison is trying to convince me it is normal protocol to pick up the wheel and take a bite from the edge (hazing for the newbie).  No, not really, but it it was tempting.

Judging the firm washed-rinds.  Photos courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Judging the firm washed-rinds. Photos courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

All of the Nominees have been announced and you can find the list here 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Finalists.

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Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Travel and Food, Uncategorized

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Judging Weekend

My uniform for the weekend.

My uniform for the weekend.

Hello from Montreal.  If you have seen any of my tweets from the last day or so you will know that I have had the honour of being on the jury for the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.  The event takes place every two years and is organized by The Dairy Farmers of Canada (so it is all cow’s milk cheese).  Cheesemakers across Canada can enter.

Sue poses with Washed Rinds

Here I am (kind of blurry) standing in front of two (of 4 total) tables which were being prepared for the Washed Rind category.  See how goofy happy I look!  You would not believe how many lovely cheeses we were surrounded by.  And smelled of by the end of the afternoon.

Washed Rinds set up

This is a bit of a better view.  Recognize anything?  We taste everything blind so have no idea which cheese has won until the results are tallied up.

Tasting Washed Rinds

Judges Allison Spurrell of Les Amies de Fromage in Vancouver, Chef Danny St Pierre (QC) and Chef Michael Howl (Nova Scotia).

Above are some of my co-jury members very seriously tasting cheese.  We all want to respect the work the cheese makers have put in so we do out best to be objective and analytical—as well as look for that “WOW” factor (amongst over 200 cheeses!).

Today we judged from 9 until about 4:30 and covered two cheddar categories (defined by age), washed rinds, fresh cheeses, semi-soft cheese and blue.

Blue Cheese

In a funny way though blue would seem the most challenging category (for palate fatigue) young cheddars are also tough–they are mild and subtle and you must really concentrate to not miss flavour and nuance when tasting many at a time.

I will write no more as we’ll all be going out to dinner soon (what? we had a 2 hour break after 7 hours of cheese eating, time to eat.)  Tomorrow we finish choosing the category champions and ultimately decide on the Grand Prix winner.

Will write more about the experience hopefully for Swallow and perhaps even for the Globe.

Meanwhile, I just sit here and think, “How cool is this!”   (But also, “no I don’t want yogurt for breakfast or no cream in my tea please.”)

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Toast Post: Louis D’Or

Louis D'Or from Quebec reclines on avocado from Mexico

I first had Louis D’Or last fall.  I was smitten fast.  I wanted to move the relationship forward, make it more permanent but our fling was brief.  Louis D’Or was one hard cheese to track down.

It entered my life again this April, at the same time as Ben Mulroney who was hosting the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Being in cocktail attire, at an event where wedges of cheese are being flashed onto giant screens while Ben Mulroney is announcing, “and nominees in the fresh cheese category are…” is slightly like being at a Star Trek convention for cheese lovers (geeks, OK, geeks) or (as my friend pointed out) being in an excellent mockumentary.

Louis D’Or swept the night. I wondered what Louis was thinking about all the fuss around him.  Maybe, “If I win this category will Ben Mulroney’s hands touch my rind? Ok, I’ve now won two categories, this is going well, now will he touch me?   Maybe if I sweep the awards, surely he’ll glance my way.  Nothing?!  Are you serious?  There’s my maker–he’s shaking hands with my maker!  OMG, please come over here and wash my rind before I ferment myself!”

Louis D’Or in 11 words or more:  Firm, washed-rind. The producer is Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick, Quebec.  They also make the excellent blue cheese Bleu D’Elizabeth. Made with raw, organic cow sourced from the cheese maker’s farm.  When I first had the cheese last fall I loved its complexity and fruity, caramel and herbal notes which reminded me a bit of Comté.   I think I may have had the 9 month old version because when I tasted it at the Grand Prix it seemed further aged (further sleuthing has me thinking 18 months)–more crumble, less suppleness and though complex, perhaps a little less fruity or “fresh”.  It was still lovely but I think I prefer the younger wheel.

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Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Ruminations on the Edible, Toast Posts