Tag Archives: Louis D’Or

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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Curds and Eh eps 2: Quebec (get ready to change your summer vacation plans)

To read and introduction about this guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons click here.  For Eps 1, click here.

Hi Everyone,

I feel bad for telling you about my project and then disappearing for two weeks. Hopefully you can forgive me once you see how busy life on the road actually is.

Here’s a quick review of last week:

Sunday June 17th – I attended the Fine Cheese Festival in Victoriaville, Quebec, which was a great opportunity to meet cheese makers before I hit the road. I enjoyed meeting Michèle Foreman, author of the just released Fromages: Artisans du Quebec. La crème de la crème. It’s a beautifully photographed book with information on all the artisan cheese makers in Quebec. I’ve found the book to be incredibly helpful so far on my journey even though it is en français (and admittedly my French is limited).

Caseus Award for Le Baluchon

A real highlight of the day was seeing Le Baluchon win the people’s choice Caseus award. Le Baluchon is an organic, unpasteurized cheese with a washed rind and is so deserving of the award.

The raclette grill of my dreams (Sue)

On Monday I spent several hours at Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser near Noyan. Fritz Kaiser grew up in Switzerland and moved to Quebec at a young age where he began making cheese in 1981. He’s known for creating the first Canadian raclette cheese. What is raclette you ask? It’s the name of a cheese, the accompanying grill and the process of melting cheese and serving it on potatoes, meats and veggies. (ex. “Come on over to my raclette party and we’ll melt some Fritz raclette on my new raclette grill”)

l’Abbaye-Saint-Benoit-du-Lac

A highlight of my adventures so far occurred last Tuesday when I finally took the pilgrimage to l’Abbaye-Saint-Benoit-du-Lac. In 1912 French monks settled on the banks of Lake Memphremagog and began a Trappist monastery. In the early 1940s a cheesemaker from Denmark visited the monastery and taught the monks how to make a blue cheese similar to the French Bleu d’Auvergne. Their unique blue is appropriately called Ermite (Hermit in English) and was the first cheese created at their factory in 1943. Now their most popular cheese is Bleu Bénédictin, an earthy flavoured blue that previously won as a Grand Champion of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix (basically the Oscars of Canadian cheese).

Unpasteurized (less than 60 days) Le Pont Blanc, Fromagerie au Gré des Champs

Wednesday was a day full of new cheeses for me. Ruban Bleu, is a farmstead fromagerie located just outside of Montreal and it produces many sizes, shapes and varieties of goat cheese. There’s something for everyone here but my personal favourite was a fresh chevre mixed with caramelized onions. That day I also visited Fromagerie au Gré des Champs who produce unpasteurized, organic cheese made from the milk of their herd of Brown Swiss cows. Fromagerie au Gré des Champs is one of a handful of fromageries in Quebec that legally produce unpasteurized cheese aged for less than 60 days*. One of these cheeses is called Le Pont Blanc. It’s a small lactic cheese with a very thin rind, a yeasty aroma and a mild milky flavour.

Sheep at La Moutonniere

There’s never time to rest when you’re on a cheese adventure so on Thursday I headed to St.-Hélène-de-Chester to visit La Moutonnière and l’Atelier. Lucille Giroux, the cheesemaker behind La Moutonnière, initially raised sheep for meat but realized that she needed to get another product out of them to make a decent living. At the time there was no sheep being milked in Quebec so she imported dairy sheep from Sweden. I love her Fleur de Monts, an aged sheep cheese with fragrant floral aromas.

Ma Maniere (My Way)

Simon Hamel has 10 years of experience making cheese in Quebec and France and recently began creating his own cheeses under the name l’Atelier out of La Moutonnière. My new favourite cheese is one he creates called Ma Manière (the name roughly translates to ‘I’m doing it my way’). It’s a lactic goat cheese with a wrinkly rind and a flavour that will transport you to France. I’m willing to put money on Simon winning top awards with this cheese. Ma Manière has very limited production so it may be hard to get. (try Fromagerie Atwater in Montreal–Sue).

Working hard to make fresh cheese at Fromagerie Presbytere

Nothing makes me happier than seeing communities come together over food. Every Friday in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick people gather in the front yard of Fromagerie du Presbytère for a picnic dinner and to enjoy fresh cheese served at three stages of the cheesemaking process. Around 4pm bowls of a cottage cheese like product are sold. Cheesemakers Jean Morin and Marie-Chantal let the fresh curds (no, not cheddar curds) knit together into a single mass, which is then cut, stacked, flipped and restacked. Slabs of this fresh cheese are then sold at the shop and customers sprinkle salt on top. Next, blocks of fresh cheese are milled and salted and turned into squeaky cheddar curds. This is what everyone waits for! Throughout the afternoon and evening, hundreds of people attend the picnic and enjoy wine as they listen to live music.

Zacharie Cloutier, sheep’s milk

If you ever have the chance to try Zacharie Cloutier (produced by Fromagerie Nouvelle France at this facility), Louis d’Or, Laliberte, or Bleu d’Elizabeth, I highly recommend doing so. They are some of the finest cheeses in all of Canada.

(Kelsie is continuing on Quebec and will be posting again soon-Sue)

* The federal standard is all raw milk cheeses must be aged for 60 days before being sold. About 4 years ago, Quebec changed their regulations allowing for fresh unpasteurized cheeses to be sold but only if cheese makers met strict regulations

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More Cheesemakers and Shakers in Picton (C’est Bon, Primeridge Pure, Upper Canada, Fromagerie du Presbytère)

George Taylor and the Casa Gomez, organic cow’s milk Gouda style cheese

I walked inside the Crystal Palace during the Great Canadian Cheese Festival (the outside post is here) and there was George Taylor from C’est Bon Cheese.  Exactly in this pose.  Like at a wax museum (no, not really).

You may know the C’est Bon chevre but George is also making Cuban Breakfast cheese which is called Sunrise Caprea.  It’s a queso blanco style cheese and won’t melt when heated, it will actually caramelize and retain its shape.  George’s partner in Havana (yes Cuba) Raul Gomez helped him finesse the cheese to match the cheeses George had tasted in South America.  George spent three years developing it and in 2011 it took first place in the Artisan Goat Cheese Category at the British Empire Cheese show.

The firm cheese (George is holding)  Casa Gomaz, is an organic Gouda-style cheese from the milk of  Mr. Gomez’s own cow herd.  Even the wax exterior is organic (from a bee’s wax generated on his farm).  The cheese is made in Cuba and the cows are fed spent sugar cain and distiller’s waste from the Havana Club Rum Factory.

George only brings in small quantities so you might want to get on his “nice” list asap.

Scott and Steacy den Haan look  angelic in this photo, don’t they?  I snapped it in between the crowds snapping up their farmstead cream cheese (Primeridge Pure) which contains only natural ingredients and come in three flavours: natural, herb and hot chili (it is very hot, but good).  A typical week for them includes managing a dairy farm, cheese making, caring for a baby daughter and selling their cheese at local markets throughout the summer–so maybe they are a little supernatural?  To read more about them I recently interviewed Steacy for The Spread–the article also lists locations where they sell their cream cheese.

Smoked Comfort Cream–as if Cottage Gold wasn’t enough for a summer treat!

Upper Canada Cheese Company is now smoking their Comfort Cream.   It is cold smoked at Hansen Farms in Cayuga Ontario (same place that smokes Blue Haze and Provincial Smoke).  You might be wanting this for your cheese burgers this summer….

What product from Fromagerie du Presbytère to try first????

There was a lot of cheese to choose from at the Fromagerie du Presbytère table and cheesemaker Jean Morin  was a gracious cheese host.  Mr. Morin and his brother Dominique are fourth-generation farmers on La Ferme Louise D’Or, named by their grandfather.  Their award-winning cheeses Louis D’Or and Bleu D’Elizabeth had just been sent off to be served at the Queen’s Jubilee in England (so, I imagine they’d be good enough for our commoner’s palates too).

Louis D’Or at a 24 and 9 months.

And here is the Louis D’Or.  Both versions were seductive but I do like the more supple texture of the younger cheese.  But hey, I wouldn’t kick the older Louis out of bed (we all eat cheese in bed right?).

Tomme de Grosse Île

And I had to post a few old friends,  cheeses that will not let you down in a pinch.  Like the Tomme de Grosse Île..

Beautiful Baluchon

And aromatic and organic Baluchon.  After all the cheese eating I was so full but so thirsty…..and somehow craving a Buddha Dog…parked just out back!

I also sauntered over to grab a sparkling lemonade from Kevin at the Cheesewerks booth next door.

And then I plain fell over into a dead slumber…you can just see my sandal under the bottom of the Buddha Truck.

Just kidding.  I was wearing flats.

(For even more detailed reporting on this annual weekend of cheese antics check out this great report from Vanessa at Savvy.)

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American Cheese Society Conference: Cheese a Go-Go

Setting Up the Festival of Cheese

This is what 1676 cheeses look like set-up for nibbling.  The Festival of Cheese which is also open to the public concludes the events at the ACS conference.

I was lucky enough to get a peek while the room was being set-up.  This is only one side of a giant conference room.

It smelled pretty amazing in there.  Fresh, milky and rich.  Cheese land.  And the roller coaster was awesome.

Here are a few more images of the room to make you wish you were there.

This is the soft, bloomy-rind table underway.  Some of the really rich yellow ones were made with Jersey milk.  Comfort Cream from Upper Canada Cheese Company is in there–it won a ribbon.

Ontario also had winners from Glengarry Fine Cheese (Aged Lankaaster), Monforte (Abondance) and Best Baa Dairy for their yogurt (a no-brainer, especially if you’ve had the maple flavoured one!) and Mouton Rouge, a washed-rind wheel.

Here is the part of the blue table.  One of the Quebec winners was one of my absolute faves–the sheep’s milk Bleu Moutonnière .  YUM. YUM. YUM.

Finally-we had 44 Quebec ribbons over all and here are a few of the winning Fromageries:

La Moutonnière (5) Fritz Kaizer (3) Maison d’affinage Maurice Dufour (2) and of cour La Presbytere whose Louis D’Or took third prize for Best in show.

Cheesed out yet?   Someone get me a green salad.


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Toast Post: American Cheese Society Conference, Day 2

Oka recipe creates Fromage de la Trappe in Manitoba.

Remember that film The Notebook?  The one starring Ryan Gosling that’s about a monk who made washed-rind cheeses and kept secret notebook of brining techniques?

That version of the film is actually an NFB doc called A Monks’ Secret.  (You won’t recognize Ryan Gosling–he plays the actual notebook.  Amazing immersion into a role.)  The doc is a story of Fromage de la Trappe, the cheese you see above.

Fromage de la Trappe comes from Manitoba and is made by Brother Alberic at the Cistercian Abbey Our Lady of the Praires.  The old recipe was passed to him by the Trappist monks in Quebec (at Oka Abbey de Notre-Dame-du-Lac).

The original Oka recipe was sold to Agropur in the 1981 when the Oka Abbey in Quebec could no longer sustain the demand for the cheese.  The factors may have been more than economical–monks do not want to be known as cheese makers, cheese making is simply a means to an end so perhaps the business was in conflict with their values.  It may have also been hard to find people to keep making cheese in general as they got older and their numbers got smaller.

Fromage de La Trappe (left) and Agropur Oka (right)

One of the original Oka cheesemakers, Father Oswald had kept a  notebook that was passed on to the Manitoba monastery when they started to make cheese as a source of income.  The caveat that came with the hand-written notes was that should the Monks ever go out of the cheese business or the Abbyy close, that notebook would be destroyed (never to fall into a non-religious hand).  This cheese is God’s business and no one else’s..Due to the craft secrets in notebook, what started out as a mediocore cheese, became something unique and flavourful.

Celebrating a ribbon for Louis D'Or

Celebrating Louis D’Or.

And I cannot sign off before leaving you with a picture of Jean Morin, celebrating after his raw, organic milk cheese Louise D’Or received 3rd place in the Best of Show category.  And we’re looking at over 1600 cheeses entered.  That’s right he’s feeling smug.  He damn well should!

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Toast Post: Louis D’Or

Louis D'Or from Quebec reclines on avocado from Mexico

I first had Louis D’Or last fall.  I was smitten fast.  I wanted to move the relationship forward, make it more permanent but our fling was brief.  Louis D’Or was one hard cheese to track down.

It entered my life again this April, at the same time as Ben Mulroney who was hosting the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Being in cocktail attire, at an event where wedges of cheese are being flashed onto giant screens while Ben Mulroney is announcing, “and nominees in the fresh cheese category are…” is slightly like being at a Star Trek convention for cheese lovers (geeks, OK, geeks) or (as my friend pointed out) being in an excellent mockumentary.

Louis D’Or swept the night. I wondered what Louis was thinking about all the fuss around him.  Maybe, “If I win this category will Ben Mulroney’s hands touch my rind? Ok, I’ve now won two categories, this is going well, now will he touch me?   Maybe if I sweep the awards, surely he’ll glance my way.  Nothing?!  Are you serious?  There’s my maker–he’s shaking hands with my maker!  OMG, please come over here and wash my rind before I ferment myself!”

Louis D’Or in 11 words or more:  Firm, washed-rind. The producer is Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick, Quebec.  They also make the excellent blue cheese Bleu D’Elizabeth. Made with raw, organic cow sourced from the cheese maker’s farm.  When I first had the cheese last fall I loved its complexity and fruity, caramel and herbal notes which reminded me a bit of Comté.   I think I may have had the 9 month old version because when I tasted it at the Grand Prix it seemed further aged (further sleuthing has me thinking 18 months)–more crumble, less suppleness and though complex, perhaps a little less fruity or “fresh”.  It was still lovely but I think I prefer the younger wheel.

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