Tag Archives: calgary

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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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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Toast Post: Alberta’s Farmstead Buffalo Mozzarella

I had the pleasure of not only feasting on the above delicacy from Old West Ranch in Alberta, but I also had an amazing conversation with farmer and cheesemaker James Meservy.  At the end of it I was convinced he should host his own radio show, the man is a natural story teller.   But part of it is that he has an amazing story to tell.

You can read the piece in my article  in today’s Globe and Mail, but I never have the space I wish I had to full tell a cheesemaker’s story…….so here’s a little bit about James, his wife Debbie and their journey to cheesemakerdom (they started off as beef farmers) which didn’t make it into the piece.

Patch the Water Buffalo, in the rain. Photo by James Meservy.

In 2003 “mad cow disease” had killed the beef industry and by 2007 the Meservy’s were selling off cattle to make bank payments (therefore cutting revenue at the same time).  They had to do something drastic, “So naturally I thought, we’ll get water buffalo, isn’t that what everyone does?”  says Mr. Meservy.  He’d been fascinated with the animals since he discovered mozzarella was made from their milk during a childhood game of Trivial Pursuit and had already been researching the idea for a number of years. The couple encountered many stumbling blocks—from difficulty sourcing the water buffalos and once acquired, losing precious animals to illness.  When he finally saw his big, spunky beasts for the first time, Mr. Meservy only half-jokes that his stomach sank “ I thought, I’m going to get killed, I can’t survive that.”

With no formal training other than a home cheese book and a half-day spent at a Vermont mozzarella plant he made his first batch of cheese in March 2010.  Popping 10 balls of mozzarella into a jar he started canvassing Calgary restaurants.  The response was overwhelmingly positive, his mozzarella is now on the menu at the renowned River Café (among others) and sold at Janice Beaton Fine Cheese

James’ (and his family’s) perseverence seems like it could move mountains.  Perhaps typical of many agricultural families.   His cheese is pretty amazing.  James says he’s not trying to replicate the Italian version, he’s doing his own thing.  His goal was to create a more robust expression of the flavours normally found in buffalo mozarella and I think he really succeeded.

Take the lid off one of the containers of his cheese and just the wonderful, fresh, milky aroma will convert you.

Contact James Meservy at farm@oldwestranch.ca

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