There’s always too much good cheese and not enough space in my Globe column to include it all so I’ve listed a few other cheesy ideas below (with advice from our local cheese mongers in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver).
Fiscalini, Clothbound Cheddar:
Andy Shay, the cheese buyer at Sobeys has just brought this California cheese into stores within the last week. Made in traditional English style, this cheddar is a world-class award winner (including “outstanding Cheese of the Year”). I’ve been looking forward to this one like, well, like a kid at Christmas. (Also ask for it at Les Amis du Fromage in Vancouver)
Juliet Harbutt’s Line of British Cheese:
(For a detailed list of the whole line see my post on British Cheese)
Specially picked for best quality (and also keeping in mind being stored at a larger retailer) all these cheeses are fairly hardy and can be left out for an afternoon of nibbling. The Stilton is made by Cropwell Bishop who make some of the most outstanding examples of this product.
A TASTE OF QUEBEC (Toronto)
Located in the beautiful Distillery District the store carries only Quebec products. Aside from amazing cheese you can get Quebec honey, charcuterie, preserves and lots of other easy to prepare nibbles. Suzanne at the store recommended the following:
The name of this cheese refers to the sun’s rays peeking through the clouds. It has a copper-coloured rind and buttercup yellow paste. Until recently, Pied de Vent was only available in Quebec. This luscious cheese has a supple paste with a full, meaty aroma. The flavours are buttery, robust and nutty. A great after-dinner cheese all by itself. (Also at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, and Les Amis de Fromage, Vancouver)
A hard pressed cheese aged more than 6 months with salty and fruity flavours. Made by the producers of Pied-de-Vent and also raw milk.
The scoop from Tania and Lydia at this great new (just over a year old) cheese shop in Edmonton is the following:
This decadent double-creme is made in France’s Champagne region and is the perfect pairing for your bubbly.
Gingha Fruit Cheese
This “Scottish Pear” is made with a mix of Scottish cheddar, cream cheese and pear Schnapps. It is formed in the shape of a pear and covered in wax. (See how easy it is to eat more fruit?)
They also carry Shropshire Blue and classics like Epoisses, Valencay (so gorgeous on a cheese board), and Robiola (Heaven is a gooey Robiola).
LES AMIS DU FROMAGE (Vancouver)
Allison at Les Amis was kind enough to stop and email me some ideas in between the holiday rush. I’m putting my money on the Ported Stilton– apparently it’s going very fast!
The right way to marry your port and Stilton–have a professional do it. “We pierce the outside of the Stilton and pour Port into the wheel, we start at the beginning of November and give it at least 6 weeks,” says Allison.
They have lots of fabulous little goat cheese with fresh ash, Espelette peppers, aged pyramids, logs buttons, leaf-wrapped and soaked in Marc.
(these types of goat cheese are so lovely they must be seen to be appreciated, go immediately)
My favourite cheese category–they’ve got lots reports Allison, including Abondance from Savoie and Le Marechal from Switzerland.
Today’s column, The Spread was based around Stilton and Roquefort and blues in general. It was quite a struggle to whittle down, and here are a few other blues that you might consider (amongst dozens! I know!)
Blue Juliette, pasteurized goat, BC
This soft, creamy, shadow of a blue is made from goat milk and hails from Salt Spring Island, BC. There ‘s no oxygen allowed into the interior of this soft-ripened cheese so the mold only develops in a lace-like blue/green pattern on the rind. Beautiful on a cheese board and only mildly feisty.
Montbriac (also known as Roche Baron), pasteurized cow, France
If Cambozola’s been your blue cheese compromise, ditch it for a sexy French ally. A brie-like bloomy rind cheese that gets silky and runny when ripe, its exterior is a striking charcoal colour due to the ash covered rind. Blue mold is minimal but creates a rich, tangy flavour with a hint of spice.
Erborinato al Cacao e Rum, raw cow, Italy
Tis the season of pampering, and if you’re hoping to indulge your guests look no further than this Erborinato from Italy’s Piedmonte region. This blue is Infused with 8-yr old rum and coated in cocoa powder. A hard-to-get cheese with an appropriate price tag, it’s currently available at Toronto’s Cheese Boutique.