Tag Archives: Kelsie Parsons

Curds and Eh, Episode 6: Cheese Rolling and 3000 tonnes of curd

These people are chasing wheels of cheese down the Whistler slopes

This post is part of a guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons.   See the recent Globe and Mail piece about his travels.

Summer is the time for festivals. I’m not talking Lollapalooza and Osheaga here. I’m talking cheese festivals such as The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, Victoriaville Fine Cheese Festival, Festival des Fromages Artisanaux Quebecois and American Cheese Society’s Cheese Rally in Raleigh.

Although we’re half-way through August the festival season isn’t over yet. Here are a few cheesy festivals to keep you busy.

St. Albert, Festival of Curd

Festival de la Curd – St. Albert

St. Albert Cheddar Co-op makes some of the best cheddar curds in Canada. Fortunately for us they created a festival to celebrate squeaky cheddar curds. The annual festival began in 1994 when St. Albert Cheddar celebrated its 100th anniversary. This year’s festivities include a giant corn maze, an antique tractor show, beach volleyball, a magician, plenty of live music, wine and surprise, surprise…CURDS!!! Over the course of the 5-day festival, St. Albert typically gives away 3 tons of cheddar curds for free. 3 TONS of curds!!! That could make a lot of poutine!

I have never been to the curd festival but I’d love to go sometime! If you’ve been (or are going) I’d love to hear all about it!

Festival de la Curd takes place August 15-19 in St. Albert, Ontario. For more info visit the Festival de la Curd website. .

More cheese rolling–view from the bottom of the hill!  Helmets! Knee pads! This is intense.

The Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition

Where will you be on Saturday August 18th from noon-4pm? I’m planning on attending the Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition in Whistler, BC and I’m super excited to see it! As you may know, I’m spending my summer visiting cheesemakers in every province and will be writing a book about Canadian cheese. I’ve actually planned my whole trip so that I end up in British Columbia for this competition!

This guy for Pope. Just a thought (by Sue).

The Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition is based on the legendary cheese rolling competition in Gloucestershire, England but with a Canuck twist. All the cheese at the festival (and there’ll be a lot) is made from 100% Canadian milk.

Cheese rolling is pretty straight forward. Basically, cheese is rolled down a hill and people attempt to catch it. The lucky winners get to keep an 11-pound wheel of cheese and they receive two ski season passes to Whistler Blackcomb. Last year’s festival saw over 165 participants and 12,000 spectators! There’s more than just cheese rolling and running though. The festival also includes a costume contest, cheese seminars and a market featuring cheesemakers from Courtenay, BC to Charlottetown, PEI.

This event is sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and aims to bring attention to great cheeses made from 100% Canadian milk. As someone who is eating different Canadian cheese every day I have to say there’s a lot of great cheese made here!

UPDATE FROM KELSIE:  The winner of the 2012 cheese rolling is Tyler Belan, front end manager at Highland Sobeys in Kichener, ON.  Congrats Tyler!

Cheese Rolling winner

For an up-to-date countdown until the festival  check out canadiancheeserolling.ca

Come out and taste the best grilled cheese of 2012.

The Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off

The start of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto is always a bittersweet time. Around this time you’ll hear people exclaim, “The CNE is opening! I can’t believe summer’s almost over!” But that sentiment doesn’t last long as they indulge in tasty treats and then attempt to hold them down while on dizzying rides.

One of the hot food events at the CNE will be The Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off held in the All You Need Is Cheese booth. At this event top chefs from around Canada compete to create the “gratest” grilled cheese sandwich.

In 2010, Michael Howell (chef and owner of The Tempest in Nova Scotia) won for his Panini Toscano which featured Canadian Havarti, prosciuto, baby arugula, fresh figs, lemon aioli, and balsamic vineagar. Whoa! I’ll be cooking this up when I return home in September.

Michael will be defending his title against three top chefs from across Canada: Jason Bangerter, executive chef at O&B Luma and Canteen restaurants in Toronto; Ned Bell, executive chef at the Yew Restaurant at The Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver; and Liana Robberecht, executive chef at the Calgary Petroleum Club in Calgary. Each chef has created two recipes featuring cheeses made from 100% Canadian milk and the winning chef will walk away with the 2012 Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese trophy. Recipes from the event will be posted on the All You Need Is Cheese (www.allyouneedischeese.ca/grilledcheesecookoff) website after August 29th.

Chef Melissa Craig at the 2010 competition.

One the judges who will taste all these gooey creations will be Cheese and Toast’s very own Sue Riedl! I’m sure Sue makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich too! (Awwww, stop. SR) What’s your favourite grilled cheese sandwich? Personally, I like mine with horseradish cheddar (go on!  me too…SR)…or maybe a triple cream mixed with a Swiss style cheese. There are infinite possibilities!

The competition will be held on August 29th at 11am in the All You Need Is Cheese  booth at the CNE in Toronto, ON.

For Curds and Eh 1 (the itinerary), click hereCurds and Eh 2 (Quebec), Click Here, Curds and Eh 3 (Quebec) , click here and Curds and Eh 4 (St.John’s).

**Photo of the grilled cheese from http://theinterrobang.com

Advertisements

4 Comments

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

Curds and Eh, Episode 4: the growing food scene in St.John’s Newfoundland

  Jellybean Row of colourful homes, St. John’s

This post is part of a guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons.   

The purpose of this trip was to learn the ways of the locals and to visit Newfoundland’s two cheese factories. Both Central Dairies and Five Brothers began production within the past 2 years and from talking with residents, no one can remember any commercial cheese factories ever existing in Newfoundland before.

Brad Quaile from Central Dairies shows off young Friulano.

Central Dairies mainly produces fluid milk but they recently decided to create value added products by making cheese. Their cheesemaker, Brad Quaile has an impressive resume with 21 years of experience split between St. Albert, Skotidakis, and Pine River cheese companies. Brad has developed their Edam, Gouda, and Swiss, which is Central’s specialty. The recipe calls for the Swiss to be aged for 50-80 days at 20˚C and flipped often. This creates an even eye (hole) formation and develops the nutty flavour typical of this style. To me, the Central Dairies Swiss is a decent cheese because it’s firmer and more flavourful than other commercial Swiss style cheeses, which too often seem to be flavourless and full of water.

Adam Blanchard of Five Brothers Artisan Cheese

Despite the name, Five Brothers Artisan Cheese, the company consists of only one guy making cheese (cheesemaker Adam Blanchard does have four brothers though). After my visit to Central Dairies, Adam and I met up at Yellowbelly brew pub to enjoy some of the best brews produced in Newfoundland. That was followed by dinner at Duke of Duckworth (as seen on Republic of Doyle), Adam’s pick for the best fish and chips.

Fish and chips and…dressing.

The fish was served with fries covered in dressing (stuffing) and gravy; a classic Newfie dish.

There are many things that are awesome about Five Brothers Artisan Cheese. Adam is a trained chef but when it comes to cheesemaking he’s totally self-taught. Not only is Five Brothers the only artisanal cheesemaker in Newfoundland but it’s also North America’s Easternmost cheese factory and perhaps the smallest. Adam actually buys up to 150L of milk per week in 2L cartons from Sobeys grocery store and makes cheeses on a stove top. Wait, what? Is that even possible? It sure is but due to the small batch size it requires a lot of work. Adam began making cheese at home it was a huge hit with his family and friends. With their support, Adam built a commercial kitchen in a rented space where he hand crafts the cheeses and ages them in a series of fridges.

Five Brother’s Mozza, goat cheddar, queso fresco, rhubarb

Adam Blanchard and I finally sat down to try his cheese a mere two hours before my flight off the island. On Adam’s desk sat a jar of bottled moose given to him by his Grandma, which he explained was a Newfoundlander specialty. I was eager to try it but due to the time constraint we skipped it and headed right for the cheese.

Handstretched mozzarella is one of Five Brothers’ most popular products. It’s firmer than Italian mozzarella but has a lovely layered texture and a flavour of cream. This is a cheese that I could just keep eating. Up next we tried the Latin-American style Queso Fresco, which has a taste of cream with a citrus tang and can be crumbled in salads or fried in oil. Five Brothers also produces goat and cow milk cheddars aged in yellow wax. I tried the goat cheddar and was amazed at the intensity of the flavour that developed after only 2 months. You sure can’t compare this cheese to your typical mild cheddar! The flavour lingers on your palate and would be perfect in pesto or grated in savoury dishes.

St. John’s, Newfoundland

Adam has a loyal following and sells out of all his cheese every week at the farmers market. His cheeses can also be found on the plates of the finest restaurants in St. John’s such as Aqua Kitchen|Bar and Chiched Bistro. I think it’s awesome that Brad and Adam are producing cheese for the Newfoundland market but the real thanks go to the people of Newfoundland for supporting these ventures.

Rocket Food cookies on display (from the Rocket Food Facebook page)

I fell in love with St. John’s. It is at the top of my list of cities to return to. With new restaurants popping up, a relatively new farmers market (this is its 5th summer) and 2 cheese companies the food scene seems to be blooming. One of my favourite foodie spots is Rocket Food, a café and bakery with delicious food and friendly staff (though I really didn’t meet anyone in St. John’s that I’d consider unfriendly). Downtown St. John’s is full of young people, hip shops, hangouts and of course the legendary George St. which boasts the most bars per square foot on any street in North America. I spent a couple of nights out on George St. but details are still a little hazy and best not recorded.

Yellow Belly Brewery and Public House

The cheese movement in St. John’s is very much still in its infancy. The local cheeses aren’t perfect and the producers are continuing to learn and experiment with new products. Customers are vital to the development of a food community and local products so please give your cheesemaker feedback and ask for local cheese where you shop and eat. There’s something special happening in St. John’s right now and I can’t wait to return. To all those supporting local cheese I raise a pint of Yellowbelly Pale Ale in your honour!

For Curds and Eh 1, click hereCurds and Eh 2, Click Here, and Curds and Eh 3 , click here.

10 Comments

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

Curds and Eh: A Cross Country Cheese Tour, episode 1

Kelsie Parson: Canadian Cheese Tourist

Hi everyone, here is the first blog in the Curds and Eh series. Welcome Kelsie!

Hello fellow cheese lovers!

By day I’m the Cheese Manager at Sobeys Ira Needles in Kitchener and by night I’m a curd nerd who can’t stop reading about cheese (and eating it too!). I started working at Sobeys nearly 2 years ago and I’m responsible for a 36′ long cheese wall, which is home to 350 varieties of cheese.

Sobeys Ira Needles

Several months ago I told Russ, my store manager, that I was planning on taking the summer off to travel across Canada and write a book about Canadian cheese.  He was incredibly supportive but wanted to make sure I’d return to Sobeys when I’m done. Of course I promised I’d be back. When I began my travels Russ wanted part of me to stay with the cheese wall so he hired one of my staff to carve my head out of St. Albert Mild Cheddar!

From here…

To here….It’s quite the honour having my head in cheese! I’m still amazed! It’s like looking in a cheese mirror!

With a Jean and a beautiful wheel of Louis D’Or at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

I’m currently on week 4 of my cross-Canada cheese adventure. Recently I’ve visited cheese makers around Ontario and attended the Great Canadian Cheese Festival and today I’m heading to Montreal.

I’ll be in Quebec for a full month but I’m afraid I’ll still only try a handful of all the cheeses produced there. After Quebec I’m headed to the Maritimes and Newfoundland(!) and then across Northern Quebec and Ontario. The longest   the road will be driving from Thornloe Cheese near Lake Timiskaming to   in Thunder Bay. Ontario is a massive province! I’ll then spend the month of August traveling the Prairies, Alberta and B.C. When I consider my journey as a whole, 3.5 months seems like a really long time to be on the road but breaking it down province by province it seems like a whirlwind adventure. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to sharing the journey with you.

Poutine from St. Albert Cheese on Ottawa. Can man live on poutine alone?

Why such an epic cheese adventure? I’ve always wanted to write a book about Canadian Cheese and I figure now is the right time. In many ways I’m modeling my book after Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins. The book is organized by region opposed to style and as a reader I felt like I traveled around Europe with Mr. Jenkins. I’m aiming for my book to be about individual cheeses as much as it is about the people behind them and the regions they’re from. Of course there will be loads of photos in the book; I just wish I could make it scratch and sniff (what a stinky book!).

One thing I’m missing though is a title for the book. I considered simply Canadian Cheese. It’s too the point but not very catchy. I find cheese people usually have a cheesy sense of humour so I also considered titles such as The Whey Across Canada and Curds & Eh! I like them but I think there’s a better title out there. Now this is where I ask for your help. If you can help me come up with the perfect title you’ll be recognized in the acknowledgements and you’ll get a free book (when it’s printed).

See you again in two weeks,  Kelsie

My favourite pic (says Sue) Kelsie in storage!

BIO

Kelsie Parsons worked as a cheesemonger for Cheese of Canada and Provincial Fine Foods in Toronto and his photos of Canadian Cheese are featured in Juliet Harbutt’s World Cheese Book (2009). He earned his Cheesemaking Certificate from the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese and has since apprenticed at Monforte Dairy. In 2010, Kelsie was selected as a delegate to represent the Toronto Slow Food convivium at Terra Madere in Turin, Italy. Kelsie is the Cheese Manager at Sobeys Ira Needles in Kitchener and is currently writing a book about Canadian cheese. He also blogs at Sobeys.com/foodiefeature

14 Comments

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

Introducing “Curds and Eh” A new Cheese and Toast Blog series by Kelsie Parsons

This is Kelsie Parsons.  Well, it’s Kelsie if he were to be made of cheese (St. Albert Mild Cheddar in fact). Kelsie is the cheese manager at Sobeys Ira Needles in Kitchener.

As you can see from his cheese doppelgänger, Kelsie is not only compact and shelf-stable but he’s amazingly passionate about cheese and knows a lot about it.

Kelsie speaks to his cheese peeps at Sobeys.

I bumped into him at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival at the beginning of June and told me he’s taking the summer off  to  write a book about Canadian cheese.   He’ll be touring Canada over three months and researching his book along the way.

If any of you cheese lovers own a copy of the great cheese reference book by Steve Jenkins “Cheese Primer” this is Kelsie’s blueprint for his own writing.

I was instantly smitten with his cause and also dying to hear about his adventures.  I figured the people reading Cheese and Toast would probably love reading about this too.

So Kelsie has agreed to write a series over the summer for my blog that we’re calling, “Curds and Eh”.  It will be published every two weeks on Wednesdays–starting tomorrow.

I’m proud to be a part of chronicling this massive effort,  and impressed with the personal time Kelsie is putting into this book. I hope all the cheese makers, cheese mongers and us cheese eaters across the country can support him along the way.

Supportive cheese mongers.

If you have some insider “cheese info” Kelsie should know about in your province leave a comment on this–or his future other posts–he in currently in Quebec and then heading to Newfoundland and the Maritimes.

Enjoy this series, I know I will.

Sue

Kelsie Parsons Bio (not messed up by Sue’s opinions as above)

Kelsie Parsons worked as a cheesemonger for Cheese of Canada and Provincial Fine Foods in Toronto and his photos of Canadian Cheese are featured in Juliet Harbutt’sWorld Cheese Book (2009). He earned his Cheesemaking Certificate from the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese and has since apprenticed at Monforte Dairy. In 2010,Kelsie was selected as a delegate to represent the Toronto Slow Food convivium at Terra Madere in Turin, Italy. Kelsie is the Cheese Manager at Sobeys Ira Needles in Kitchener and is currently writing a book about Canadian cheese. He blogs at Sobeys.com/foodiefeature

12 Comments

Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Curds and Eh, Uncategorized