Tag Archives: clothbound cheddar

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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Toast Post: Cravings for the Fourth of July-California’s San Joaquin Gold

San Joaquin Gold shaved onto toast

As the Beach Boys sang on a forgotten B-Side, “Wish they all could be California Cheese”.  And you will hum along too after a taste of the Fiscalini San Joaquin Gold from Modesto, CA.

It’s the salty buttery combo that is so seductive when balanced perfectly in a cheese and this one had me at first bite of this firm, aged wedge.  It will keep you captive well into a long, smooth finish.

In fact, I had to laugh at myself because I took a piece and held it up to my nose to get a sense of the aroma when suddenly it was gone! I ate it on impulse.  It was like holding a piece of ham up to my cat.

I’d better lay my cards on the table-you can’t get the San Joaquin Gold in Canada right now, but as many of us travel to the US I figured it might be a good one to enter into you TO DO list on the iPhone or Blackberry (or jot on a piece of paper that you will find 2 years from now in your denim capris).

Above is the label for your shopping reference.  You can see the cheese is farmstead, made from the milk of the Fiscalini’s own cows.  They are very proud that their milk standards exceed even the California State Standards and “cleaner” than organic.  The farm is animal welfare certified, environmentally certified and powered by renewable energy produced on-site.  This cheese is made from raw milk in 32 pound wheels and typically aged about 16 months.  The one I had was a bit older–from March 30, 2010.

The slightly “blueing” on the far edge of the cheese is simply a small crack where oxygen and natural bacteria snuck in. Nothing to worry about.

The cheese has a similarity to Parmigiano Reggiano and was originally created to be a Fontina-style product which ended up evolving into something rather unique.  The Fiscalini’s refer to the Joaquin Gold as their “Gold Medal Mistake” (winning Gold at the World Cheese Awards in London 2004/2005).  As it ages the cheese develops the tasty and crunchy tyrosine crystals and develops some toasted nutty notes.

Snack on it, grate it, melt it, travel with it.  This cheese is extremely versatile.

Fiscalini Clothbound Cheddar, 18 month–Fred Lum, The Globe and Mail

And while your mouth is watering you CAN get the amazing Fiscalini Clothbound Cheddar here in Canada (Sobey’s carries it).  For more details you can read my ravings in this Spread piece (because it really deserves to be raved about.).  Cheesemaker Mariano Gonzales, who honed his skills at Shelburne Farms in Vermont (where he created one of the first American clothbound cheddars) is responsible for the Fiscalini clothbound but credit for the San Joaquin’s creation goes to Tom Putler.

The San Joaquin gold is vegetarian friendly as it is made with a microbial rennet (and has a natural rind).  (The clothbound is also made with microbial rennet but rubbed with lard before being bandaged).

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Toast Post: Cheese Wedges to Fill Your Stocking Toe


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).

SOBEYS (Ontario)

Fiscalini Ageing Rooms (photo from Fiscalinicheese.com)

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)

Pied De Vent (photo from fromagesduquebec.qc.ca)

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:

Pied de Vent

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)

La Tomme des Demoiselles

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.

EVERYTHING CHEESE (Edmonton)

Chaource (photo from aritisinalcheese.com)

The scoop from Tania and Lydia at this great new (just over a year old) cheese shop in Edmonton is the following:

Chaource

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)

Cropwell-Bishop Stilton

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!

Ported Stilton

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.

Goat Cheeses

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)

Mountain Cheeses

My favourite  cheese category–they’ve got lots reports Allison,  including Abondance from Savoie and Le Marechal from Switzerland.

BLUE CHEESE

Blue Juliette (photo from Provincial Fine Foods)

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. 

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Bacon Jam: The Edible Hairball You Don’t Want to Miss

You see what I'm saying?

BaJeaven.  Also known as Bacon Jam Heaven and actually better than heaven.  Used in a sentence, ” Man I was in BaJeaven after that gluteal massage.”

I dropped the hairball on Bacon Jam (aka Skillet Original Bacon Spread).   I am way behind the sizzle that has hit the Toronto bacon scene.

The Toronto Star and The Globe have written about it.   All the Best Fine Foods (read Jane Rodmell’s blog entry for some Bajeaven ideas) had the inspired idea to host a bacon jam-a-thon…with three Toronto chefs creating recipes using this scoopable bacon.  They included Claudio Aprile (Origin and Colbourne Lane), Chris McDonald of Cava/Xococava, and Nick auf der Mauer of Porchetta and Co.

And Nick Auf Der Mar achieved BaJeaven by adding excess to indulgence in a bacon jam, porchetta and crackling panini (seriously CRACKLING + BACON JAM–no one has tabulated how many people died from happiness yet..)

Ready to Hit the Heat

I made my own simple combo– Grilled cheese (caraway rye) with Cheese Boutique’s Vintage 7- Year Old Clothbound Cheddar, bacon jam and some arugula from the garden.

The salad in the BG is for display purposes only.

The arugula, which tasted BaJeavenly as part of the combo also made me feel like I had some health inserted into the grilled cheese.  Just throwing a bone out to the arteries.  BaJeaven is not always their favourite place.  Losers.

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