Category Archives: Cheese/Cheese Related

Cheese Related news and reviews

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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Great Canadian Cheese Festival only 40 days away! Get a 25% discount on tickets here.

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Hey everyone– just a reminder that the annual cheese festival taking place in Picton on June 1-2 is not so far away.  Perhaps farther than Spring…..but perhaps not.  Sigh.

It’s an amazing weekend where you can sample cheese from across the country (Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair) while sipping local wine or cider and there are some fantastic seminars about everything from pairing beer and cheese, wine and cheese, different types of milk, Quebec cheese and so on.  Plus all the dinner—Jamie Kennedy’s shin dig is sadly sold out–sorry.

Anyway–if you’re thinking of going to website has accommodation suggestions too (some lovely Inns and B&Bs in the area) and of course wineries to be toured and tasted.

As a special promotion for Cheese and Toast I can offer you a promo code to get yourself a discount on the event—just a little THANK YOU to all the people who follow the site.

 Get 25% off tickets for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival by entering the promotional code CF13TOAST before starting your online ticket order ONLINE here. Good only on tickets purchased online in advance of the Festival on June 1-2. Visit cheesefestival.ca for information on the Festival.  
Maybe I will see you there!
Sue

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Curds and Eh: TGIF at Fromagerie du Presbytère (get the scoop in Kelsie’s video)

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Kelsie is back with an amazing video about the festivities at Fromagerie Presbytere and some cool viz of cheesemaking taking place.  If you want to read more search “Curds and Eh” in the sidebar.  Or focus on Kelsie’s favourite new Canadian cheesemakers from 2012.  -SR

People often ask me what my favourite cheese is and I find that it’s such a hard question to answer. I usually change the question and respond, “Oh there are so many, but right now I’m enjoying ___________” or “well, if you were to limit my choices to goat milk blue cheeses from the Gulf Islands in British Columbia then I’d have to choose_______.”

But I wouldn’t hesitate if someone restricted all my future cheese consumption to only one fromagerie (ie. cheese factory). Before the challenge left their mouth, I’d blurt out “Fromagerie du Presbytère!”

Making cheese at Fromagerie-du-presbytere

Making cheese at Fromagerie-du-Presbytere

The aptly named Fromagerie du Presbytère is based out of a renovated Presbyterian rectory in Ste-Élizabeth-de-Warwick in the Centre-du-Québec region. It is home to two cheese companies, Fromagerie du Presbytère, maker of the multi award-winning Louis d’Or (among others); and Fromagerie Nouvelle France, producer of the multi award-winning Zacharie Cloutier.

There are three main reasons why I’d choose this fromagerie: the passion of the cheesemakers, their extraordinary cheeses and the community that comes together to support them.

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Jean Morin serves samples of Louis d’Or at the party

The Cheesemakers

Jean Morin (Fromagerie du Presbytère) and Marie-Chantal Houde (Fromagerie Nouvelle France) are always smiling. They are welcoming and playful and their passion and love of cheese is obvious. Together, they are on a mission to make the best cheese in the world and seem to be having a great time doing it.

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Laliberte cheese  triple cream cheese

The Cheeses

Between the two cheese companies, they make every style of cheese that I need. There are fresh cheddar curds, a rich triple cream, a sweet and creamy blue, a raw alpine style cheese, and a raw sheep cheese similar to Manchego. Both companies make extraordinary cheeses, the names of which often evoke the rich local heritage and culture.

Laliberté is named after Alfred Laliberté, a sculptor from Ste-Elizabeth-de Warwick who became a founding member of the Sculptors Society of Canada. Unlike his sculptures which were typically made from marble or bronze, the cheese is soft and melts in the mouth like butter. Laliberté is a triple cream with a bloomy rind and boasts flavours of vegetables, fresh mushrooms and cream. It’s a truly indulgent cheese.

Louis d’Or is named after a French gold coin and shares its name with the Morin family farm. This cheese is made in 40kg wheels, has a nutty flavour similar to a Swiss Gruyere and seems to win every competition in which it’s entered. It was crowned the Grand Champion of the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, earned a 3rd Place (Best of Show) spot at the 2011 American Cheese Society competition, and won five awards at the 2012 Selection Caseus in Quebec.

Zacharie Cloutier

Zacharie Cloutier

Zacharie Cloutier has the same braided reed patterned rind as Manchego but lacks the wax coating of its Spanish ancestor. This washed rind cheese has flavours of nuts and hay and is one of my favourites (I have many favourites but sheep cheeses have a special place in my heart). Zacharie Cloutier shares its name with an early settler of New France who happens to be a distant relative of Marie-Chantal Houde (and other Canadian celebrities such as Alanis Morisette, Louis St Laurent, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion and Shania Twain, seriously).

Marie-Chantal separates the curds and whey

Marie-Chantal separates the curds and whey

Recently, Jean and Marie-Chantal collaborated and released a cheese made from a combination of their milks, raw Holstein and Jersey milk from Presbytere and raw sheep milk from Nouvelle France. The resulting cheese is named Le Pioneer, weighs in at 40kg and has been aged for a year. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m anxious too. It promises to be another outstanding product from two of the very best cheesemakers in Canada.

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The Community

The population of Ste-Élizabeth-de-Warwick literally doubles on Friday evenings during the warmer months of the year. Hundreds of visitors set up tables and chairs on the yard of the rectory where they enjoy fresh cheese with wine and beer. A retired baker bakes breads and sweets on site, musicians play from the balcony of the rectory, and people make new friends and catch up with old ones.

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The Friday gatherings are, in a way, a celebration of fresh cheese. While visitors to the fromagerie eat, drink and are merry on the grounds of the rectory, Jean, Marie-Chantal and their team are busy making cheese inside. The fresh cheese is available at three stages during the production process:

4pm – Fromage de petit lait – curds in whey. To be eaten from a bowl with a spoon.

5pm – Slab cheese – unsalted, unmilled, slabs of cheese (this isn’t cheddar yet!). Customers can sprinkle salt to add extra flavour.

6pm – Fromage en grain – AKA cheddar curds. Straight from the vat to the customers! Warm curds are a real treat.

Louis D'Or at the American Cheese Society Competition

Louis D’Or at the American Cheese Society Competition

This past summer I spent a Friday evening at Fromagerie du Presbytère. Their Friday parties are, perhaps the most honest celebration of cheese I’ve witnessed. There’s no corporate sponsorship, no advertising, no pretension, and no need to buy tickets. It’s simply a bunch of cheese lovers coming together to celebrate the work of two talented cheesemakers.

Here’s a little video my buddy Ian Langohr and I put together about our experience.

Weather permitting, Fromagerie du Presbytère will host the first Friday fête of 2013 on April 19th and they will continue EVERY Friday afternoon until the autumn.

I seriously hope no one will actually restrict all my future cheese consumption to just one fromagerie but if they did I think Fromagerie du Presbytère would be a great pick.

Now, if you were challenged to only eat cheese from a single fromagerie (it doesn’t have to be French), who would you choose and why? (You can be sneaky like me and choose two if you want)

And seriously, how can you actually choose one cheese to be your favourite!?

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Homemade Ricotta, Easier than Pie (guest post by Ally Chang)

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How did I get so lucky to have two of my talented friends blog recipes on Cheese and Toast this spring?  First Johanne Durocher made Saag Paneer and now my friend Ally Chang (another cheese obsessed cohort) will show you how to make homemade ricotta–it is SO GOOD–especially warm, and Ally  also added her ricotta pancake recipe.  How good is it to live at her house?  Enjoy,  SR.

How to make Ricotta Cheese      by Ally Chang

Making ricotta cheese is so incredibly easy and it tastes so much better than store-bought too.  I have modified a couple of recipes to make it even easier – I like recipes that call for things I have on hand, not specialty items that I have to buy.  So if you have milk, cream, salt and lemons you are in cheese making business.  We eat some of this warm, fresh ricotta in the morning for breakfast with fresh fruit.  I then use the rest to make Lemon Ricotta Pancakes the next day.  The pancake actually freeze well so the left-overs go into a Ziplock and into the freezer and I have a quick and easy breakfast option for my kids during the busy weekday mornings.

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If you do not have cheese cloth is available at most grocery stores or the bulk store.

Ricotta

Bring the following ingredients to a gentle simmer:

1 litre (4 cups) of 3.25% milk (I use organic but you can use non-organic)

1 1/2 cups whole (35%) cream

1 tsp salt

Then add:

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp white vinegar

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Draining the ricotta through cheese cloth.

Let this cook for 1 minute and you will see the curds separate from the whey.

After 1 minute, drain the cheese through a cheese cloth (doubled) that has been placed in a colander.  Let it sit in the colander to further drain for a few minutes.

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Enjoy warm with fruit or let cool then store in a container in the fridge.  The next day you can make Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes 

Whisk the following ingredients together:

3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups Red Fife flour (which will add a lovely nuttiness or use all purpose)

2 tsp baking powder

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp sea salt

1 1/4 cups milk

1 egg

2-3 tsp lemon juice

Then fold in 1 cup of homemade ricotta.  Cook pancakes on a medium low heat (you can keep them warm in the oven set at 200).  Serve with blueberries and warm maple syrup.

**Ally has also told me that these freeze really well for make-ahead, instant breakfasts.

RICOTTA

Originating in Italy, the name “ricotta” comes from the Latin recocta or “recooked,” reflecting the fact that the whey is reheated after being “cooked” once already when separating the curds and whey.Ricotta can be made from sheep’s, cow’s, goat’s or water buffalo’s milk and is a fresh, loose cheese with a mild flavour that can sometimes have a slightly granular texture (ripened and smoked varieties also exist). Some ricottas are made with skim or whole milk, which increases fat content and makes them more moist and creamy.  (Like Ally’s recipe)

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Making Saag Paneer with guest hostess Johanne Durocher

Saag Paneer for dinner-YUM!

I am absolutely thrilled to have my friend Johanne do a guest blog for me!  She has so much going on and yet made time for Cheese and Toast.  Her bio and pic (including a pic of donuts) is here and her blog Fashion in Motion is a fave–not only because of the fabulous content but I love Johanne’s witty and fun writing style.  You shall see as you read from this point on…..  ENJOY, SR.

As a gal who likes to improvise in the dressing room and in the kitchen, following a recipe to the letter is an exercise in restraint. I can’t resist substitutions, additions, modifications. I’ll use a silicone spatula instead of a wooden spoon. I’m such a rebel. Cue the music: I did it my way.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve always enjoyed cooking Indian food: it’s so flexible to adding more of this, less of that, turn up the heat or throw in an extra veg. But every now and again and I take on a new recipe and force-feed myself a little discipline. I do my best to follow it to the letter and not dispute salting the water or measuring only one teaspoon of vanilla.

And so it was with this in mind that I rolled up my sleeves and made Saag Paneer. Most people look shocked and a little scared when I tell them I made Saag Paneer. It is fitting that we reveal the mystery of the saag right here right now.

I followed the recipe here at Active For Life and it boasts a healthy take on the Indian classic. Having made Indian dishes before, I thought, piece of cake. It is very easy- but not necessarily a project I recommend undertaking on a weeknight unless you’re up to eating at 9pm. It will be an event: so pour yourself a drink and start washing your spinach.

I set a very large pot of salted water to boil and while that was heating up, I washed and dried just over two pounds of fresh spinach. That in itself took a long time and when I make this recipe again, I may just buy it pre-washed.

Fresh Spinach

I prepared just over two pounds of fresh spinach that I chopped into 3-inch long segments

Before blanching the spinach, I coarsely chopped it in half or thirds depending on the length of the leaves. I figured that this way when I would blend them there wouldn’t be a chance of having long strings of spinach filaments- imagined or real, the anticipation caused a coarse chop (see- I just can’t help myself throw in extra steps.)

Okay, when the water is at a full boil you drop your spinach in it, stir to get it all wet and then you wait and watch with the lid off (helps tremendously).

Spinach in Water

Blanching spinach is easy- just let the water come back to a boil and you’re done

When the water begins to boil again, strain the spinach and discard the water. In my case, I was hesitating about blanching it all at once because I had so much spinach and perhaps had not chosen a large enough pot, so I blanched in batches. To do this, just delicately scoop out the blanched spinach from the water and let the water come back to a roaring boil before throwing in the next batch. Worked really well for me.

Blanched spinach

The goal of blanching is to soften the spinach, not kill it to mush

After that bring in the high-powered machine: blend the spinach in a food processor at high speed. It won’t be super smooth so you’ll want to add water at the rate of one tablespoon at a time, then blend again, then add water until it’s looking smooth to you. It won’t be like a creamy-smooth, but it should be well-blended and the spinach particles quite small. No chunks, no filaments.

Food Processor

I was using my mini-food processor and had to blend my spinach in batches. See? Anything is possible

After that comes the fun stuff: on medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large pan with high sides. Add ¾ tsp of cumin seeds and cook until slightly browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Careful not to let these babies burn. Add 1 diced cooking onion and sauté until golden, roughly 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cloves of grated garlic and 2 tea spoons of grated ginger root. Cook for one minute.

Onion and Cumin

By this time it will smell so good in your house you’ll be thinking you can do this

When the onions are nice and golden, stir in ¼ cup of cilantro finely chopped, ½ tsp each of salt, ground coriander and turmeric. Stir in ¼ tsp of cinnamon and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add ½ cup of fresh chopped tomatoes and cook until they reduce and break down, roughly 5 minutes.

Paneer in Pan

I made the execute chef decision to pan-fry the paneer cubes at this step in the game

Set aside the tomato mixture in a bowl and return the frying pan to the stove, adding one teaspoon of oil and set that to medium heat. Dice 1 package of paneer into bite-sized cubes and add that to your hot pan. I added two cloves of grated garlic to them and flipped the cubes until golden crispy on two or more sides and then pulled those aside. This paneer-frying is a deviation that is perfectly acceptable (weeks later I discussed this with chef Vikram Vij who said it’s okay, but you can also just add your paneer later as the recipe instructs and that way it will be more melt-y, less-cube-y in texture. Your choice.).

Golden Paneer

Mmm paneer- a pressed cheese much like cottage cheese brick and commonly used in Indian cooking. I didn’t make the paneer and you don’t have to, either; it’s found at most large supermarkets.

I returned my pan to the heat and picked up where I left off: in it went the tomato mixture which I brought back to medium heat while stirring, and then added the reserved spinach. Cook for 3 minutes.

Spinach and Tomato

See me using a wooden spoon! I’m not breaking all the recipe rules

After that you should be looking at it and asking yourself if the mixture is saucy. If too thick, add water a few tablespoons at a time and stir. Stir in 1/3 cup of plain yogurt (I used fat-free Greek yogurt and threw in a little extra), the paneer cubes, and 2 tsp of lemon juice.

Yogurt Paneer

Watching this coming together is like waiting for the finale to a figure skating routine and you will get a quad

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, cut the heat, stir and admire your work.

FInal Saag Paneer

Ta-da! It will be magic and even the international judges will give you full points

Serve with rice or naan bread, or in my case, eat it straight up with a side of Panch Churan chutney (see top photo).

Thoughts on leftovers….

For me it was the best on the night-of, the leftovers were delicious but the creaminess never matched the same bliss as when the sauce came out of the pan. Chef Vikram Vij told me that flavours will intensify over time, too.

Come over here to see the full instructions to make this Saag Paneer and feel like an Indian figure-skating sensation.

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Cheese Appreciation 1 Starting April 29 at Culinarium Toronto

Food-slice off the wheel-Tad Seaborn

photo by Tad Seaborn

Cheese Education Guild is the first cheese school dedicated to cheese appreciation in Canada. It
is patterned after international wine education programs and is a registered Canadian
education institution.

Cheese Appreciation 1
Results: certificate of achievement
Prerequiste: none
This thorough introduction on the topic of cheese provides the base for future study, discussion
and tasting in Cheese Appreciation 2 & 3.

Through the study program you will learn to:
 Taste, compare, discover, and explore the world of cheese.
 Gain understanding and deepened appreciation for cheeses from every category,
country and type of milk.
 Obtain knowledge to speak confidently about cheese with customers, patrons, and
associates.
 Build a network with other experts in cheese.
 Achieve a certificate of achievement for each level you complete from your
participation, research, reading and final testing during the course.

Venue and time for Cheese Appreciation 1
Venue: Culinarium, 705 Mt. Pleasant Rd., Toronto, Ontario (east side of Mt. Pleasant Rd,
south of Eglinton Ave.)
Next class starts: Monday April 29, 2013 and runs every Monday to June 24, 2013. ( no class
on Monday May 20, 2013)
Time: 6-9pm.
Cost: $575 +HST (Includes: cheese, course material, testing & certificate.)
CA1 is a total of 24 hours, 3 hours per week for 8 weeks.
Visit us for more information and registration
www.artisancheesemarketing.com
www.cheeseeducationguild.com

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Baby Potatoes with Normandy Butter and Roquefort …at midnight?

Roquefort and Fingerling Potatoes

It midnight–past midnight.  And I was checking email when I found this picture on my desk top.  It’s from a Lazy Gourmet piece I did a few weeks ago for the Globe.  OK, I may not make at 1 am in the morning but I am seriously thinking I might make it tomorrow night for some girlfriends coming over.   YUM.

Ingredients

Red fingerling potatoes (four to five per person)

Normandy butter (about a teaspoon, melted, per serving)

Fleur de Sel

Roquefort (about 100 g, crumbled)

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Method

Try to find red-skinned fingerling potatoes – they add a burst of colour to the plate. Allow for four to five whole fingerlings per person and drop them into a pot of salted cold water, then bring to a simmer. Cook until fork tender and drain. Cut in half lengthwise and arrange on a platter. Drizzle with enough melted Normandy butter to flavour each wedge (about a teaspoon per serving) and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel. Crumble room temperature Roquefort over the dish (about 100g for four people, adjust to your own cheesy taste). Serve immediately.

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Finally I respond to my 11 Liebster Award questions

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Thank You WEDGE IN THE ROUND for nominating me for the Liebster Award.  What could be nicer than having a fellow writer with a great cheese blog think of you for something like this.  I don’t even know exactly what happens after this (I think the spirit of the award is to spread the Blog Love)  but I love random questions and random questions coming up below….  SO THANKS WITR.

By the terms of the award:

  • When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (make sure you tell them you nominated them!) and ask them 11 questions.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated you!

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I have been slacking and just cruising California, but finally here are my answers.

11 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT SUE:

1. I used to work in Visual FX.

2. I really cannot stay up much past 11pm.  I do but I don’t like it.

3. I am a morning person (see above).

4. I love tap dancing.

5. I never really cooked anything til 2006.

6. I am watching Smash and Nashville.  How did this happen?

7. I am dying for Breaking Bad to return and I miss Eric from True Blood. (I say that as if we’re together)

8.  Can’t wait for the last Sookie Stackhouse novel in May though I feel it will suck.

9.  Just read The Sisters Brothers and hope that someone is making it into a film right now.  NOW.

10.  I have a weakness for Fleuvogs.

11. Chez Panisse was shut down by a major fire  a week before I was supposed to eat there.  I know it’s not all about me–but really?

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LA from the Palisades-time lapse by Tad

And now to answer the questions from Wedge in the Round:

  1. What is the number one reason you started your blog?  To write how and about what I felt like.
  2. And what is the number one reason you continue it?  FUN.  Except when it’s after 11pm.
  3. What have you learned from the blog? How to take decent food photos.  And less is more.
  4. How much time do you spend per week on your blog? Not enough.
  5. What has surprised you about the blog?  That I kept it up!
  6. If you could start over, what would you change?  The design.  Blah. Someone help me, pleeze.
  7. When not blogging, what do you do for fun?  Go to the movies.  Read.
  8. Your favorite place to eat out?  Chantecler.
  9. Favorite PRINT magazine? Saveur.
  10. Your next big thing?  Hopefully a burrito.
  11. Guilty pleasure?  Smash and Nashville.  I think Smash is better, but Nashville-I can’t quit you.  Though Scarlett’s hair is taking on a life of its own.  And I love Connie Britton.
Brain on vacation

Brain on vacation

BLOGS I NOMINATE:  (I am supposed to have 11 but my vacation brain has stunted and here are 3 from my witty friends)  Mostly because I want to see their answers to my questions!

Food Anthology

paulatiberius.com

strollingthecityinheels

My questions:

1. What is a food you hate but secretly pretend to like to be cool?

2. What vegetable do you like raw but never cooked?

3. What is a name you hate based on a bad grade school experience with someone?

4. Where do you think you slack on your blog?  (if at all)

5. What advice would you give new bloggers about sticking it out?

6.  Do you upsize your popcorn and drink at the movies?

7.  What is your favourite romantic comedy?

8.  What is your favourite commercial about food?

9. Are you punctual or tardy?  Be honest.

10.  What is your idea of heaven?

11.  What meal or dish do you make that kicks ass?

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Canadian Cheese Grand Prix -Behind the Scenes as a Judge

Jury1

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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Curds and Eh: Crannog Ale-organic, farmstead and from BC

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A “Growler” of Crannog Ale

Another post by Kelsie Parsons from his amazing cross-country pilgrimage.  Read more here or just look for “Cheese and Eh” in the Categories drop-down menu to your right.  SR

Crannog Ales

While traveling across Canada last summer I was chatting with a cheesemaker in Alberta about my love of farmstead cheese and I mentioned that I wished there were farmstead breweries in Canada. It turns out I was talking to the right person because she replied, “Oh, well you should check out Crannog Ale!”

Crannog Brewery

On the Crannog Ales website, brewer Brian MacIsaac states, “The grudlann (brewery) is old world (no push button computer driven factory)…”

Two days later I was in Salmon Arm, British Columbia visiting Gort’s Gouda and took a brief detour to Crannog Ale, located in Sorrento, BC. When pulling into the driveway of the Crannog Ale and Left Fields Farm, I was struck by the beautiful landscape.

Crannog Hops

Crannog Hops

The farm is surrounded by green hills and consists of fields full of produce, towering hop vines that seem to grow into the clouds and Shuswap Lake is just a stones throw away. The farm is also home to pigs, sheep and a hive of bees. What a perfect place to live and work!

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The second thing I noticed was the striking hand painted Celtic artwork on the walls of the brewery and surrounding buildings (which the owners built themselves).

Crannog Mural

Crannog Mural

The interlaced celtic knots and symbols reflect brewer Brian’s Irish background and suggest a connection to the land and animals.

Crannog's Wheat and Barley

Crannog’s Wheat and Barley

At Crannog Ales, Rebecca, Brian and Greg produce unfiltered, unpasteurized Irish ales that are sold in growlers, party pigs (8.5L) and kegs. Some of the ingredients such as hops, herbs, fruit, berries and honey come from their own Left Fields Farm, which is pretty awesome if you ask me. Even the water for their beer comes from a well on their property. I get really excited when producers  have control of their ingredients all the way down to the soil in which they’re grown. That level of commitment requires true passion and dedication.

To top it off, Crannog Ale is also certified organic. That means no GMOs, pesticides or degradation of the environment is necessary in the making of this beer! They also use grain waste from the beer production as compost and feed for pigs and they treat and reuse wastewater to run a zero emissions facility. Most breweries have a lot to learn from Crannog Ale.

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Ian Langohr (my travel buddy this summer) and I enjoyed a growler of their Insurrection Pale Ale as we camped beside Kalamalka Lake. We probably didn’t drink the beer under the proper conditions. It was admittedly quite warm (think back seat of a car in the August sun kind of warm). After an afternoon spent diving off a dock and swimming we enjoyed every last warm drop of our growler of Insurrection Pale Ale while we played dice games with neighbours at our campground.

Old Grizzly Gouda

Sylvan Star’s Old Grizzly Gouda

Of course we had cheese to snack on too! The hoppy bitterness paired exceptionally well with the caramel nutty flavours of Sylvan Star’s Old Grizzly Gouda and surprisingly with Gort’s Gouda tamer mild Gouda.

That day was the perfect mix of sun, swimming, beer, cheese and shooting stars. It turned out to be one of the most memorable days of the summer. With the short days and somewhat cold weather we’re experiencing now, I’ve begun longing for the summer.

Hand of God Stout

Hand of God Stout

Next time I’m in BC I’ll be sure to visit Crannog Ale again and refill my growler. I think I’ll try the Back Hand of God Stout next…

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Crannog Ales and Left Fields Farm is both a home and a small business so it’s important to call ahead to book a tour. Workers here are usually quite busy brewing and working in the fields.

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