Tag Archives: travel

Curds and Eh: Kelsie Parsons video blogs from Fromagerie Pied de Vent

Hello everyone–both Kelsie and I are excited to post the first video from his cheese adventures this summer.   I am sure you’ll love (and learn) from it as much as I did.  I’ll let Kelsie take it from here.

Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent recently switched from making their cheese from raw milk to thermized milk. Thermization, also known as heat treating, is the process that inactivates psychrotrophic bacteria by heating milk to about 65°C for 15 seconds and then cooling it off. This is below the temperature used for pasteurization so the cheese is still technically considered a unpasteurized cheese. The change in milk processing has altered the flavour of Pied-de-Vent. It’s not quite as strong as it was previously but still has a wonderful depth of flavour.

I should mention that the video was recorded and arranged by Ian Langohr, my co-pilot for this crazy cross-Canada adventure. I’m super happy with how our first video turned out. We’re currently working on putting together more videos and will release them here. I think the Pied-de-Vent video does a good job showing how cheese is made but here are a few highlights of our visit to Îles-de-la-Madeleine that I didn’t get to show in it.

Red Sand Beaches of Îles-de-la-Madeleine

Ian and I arrived in Souris, PEI at the ferry terminal at 10pm to buy our tickets for the 8am departure. I must’ve been confused because there was no ferry scheduled for that time but they decided to do a 2am crossing. We left the car in Souris and I spent the 5 hour trip to Îles-de-la-Madeleine sleeping on a seat in the dining room. We arrived at 7am and started our hike to Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent. Along the way we passed a student protest (Charest was in town), a carnival and many colourful homes.

Dominique Arseneau and a vache Canadienne

After visiting Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent to see how their cheese is made, we met up with Dominique Arseneau who is the son of the owners and the farmer who looks after the vache Canadienne.  The three of us got along well so he took the rest of the day off to show us around the islands. We spent the afternoon taking in the sights and enjoying the red sand beaches where I enjoyed a quick dip in the water (and avoided all the jellyfish). It felt as if we were in the tropics! I kept my eyes open for palm trees and margaritas but couldn’t find either.

Brews at À l’abri de la Tempête

We did however find some amazing brews at À l’abri de la Tempête, a microbrewery whose name means ‘shelter from the storm’. I find it fascinating how the names of both the fromagerie and the brewery refer to a sense of optimism despite invoking images of harsh weather. It really demonstrates the attitude of the locals towards the climate. Anyways, Ian and I stopped at a lot of breweries this summer and the beer at À l’abri de la Tempête is by far my favourite of everything we tried. I really enjoyed their ginger wheat beer.

The Sea Platter

To accompany our beer we ordered a ‘land platter’ and a ‘sea platter’. Both were delicious but I devoured the land platter before I could snap a photo. The sea platter featured a smoked oyster, jackknife clam jerkey, smoked mackerel and herring, a skewer of salmon and seal, and sweet pickled herring. After a few beers, Dominique asked us if we want sushi. Ian and I were actually roommates back in the day in Toronto’s chinatown so we’ve had some good sushi and I foolishly thought to myself: we’re on an island in the gulf of the St. Lawrence, there must be some good local food here besides sushi.

I should never have doubted our wonderful host. We walked into the fishmonger shop I immediately understood why Dominique was so excited about sushi! There were rows of beautiful rolls made with freshly caught fish, lobster, crab, shellfish and even smoked fish. The sushi was as delicious as it was unique.

At 7pm Ian and I caught the ferry to return to PEI. We were only on the island for 12 hours exactly but if you ask me what my favourite experience was this summer…this was it. I totally recommend a trip to Îles-de-la-Madeleine and if you’re not in a rush, stay for longer than I did. There’s so much good food and culture to take in.

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

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Soupstock Needs Volunteers-and not just the soup-slurping types

You may have heard about the SoupStock event happening on October 21.  Hopefully you’re thinking “200 kinds of soup, hell yah”.  And you probably know the event is trying to raise awareness about the fight to stop the Highand’s companies proposed mega-quarry just 100 km northwest of Toronto.

Or perhaps you’ve seen “Stop the Megaquarry” signs but you don’t quite know the scope of what is being planned, in which case please take the time to watch this short video.  It is eye-opening.  It’s 6 minutes long and it is riveting as you realize what exactly the environmental impact will be.  On us.

The Highland Companies proposes to blast a pit deeper than Niagara Falls from beneath a landscape of great agricultural and ecological importance.

Soupstock is being organized by the Toronto Chefs’ Congress and the  David Suzuki Website (click to read more): Joining Chef Stadtlander are well-known culinary champions like Lynn Crawford, Jamie Kennedy, Brad Long and Donna Dooher. Up-and-coming chefs like Jon Pong of Hoof Raw Bar, Craig Harding of Campagnolo, and Calgary’s Connie DeSousa of Charcut, will also showcase their talents

THEY NEED VOLUNTEERS!  (INCLUDING CHEFS TO MAKE SOUP!)

They are looking for volunteers to play multiple roles during the Soupstock event including:

  •  Helping chefs unload their equipment and supplies during the morning of the event
  •  Selling soup tickets and swag at visitor tables
  • Cleaning up the park and ensuring everything is recycled properly
  • Answering questions about the host organizations and the mega-quarry campaign
  • Supporting speakers and musicians at the main stage
  • Helping direct media questions
  • Skills and Knowledge Required:
  • Great people skills – friendly, professional and outgoing
  •  Energetic, enjoys working in a team
  • Flexible, comfortable in fast-paced environments
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Strong interest in environmental issues and commitment to sustainability
  • Must love soup!

    Time Commitment:

    8 hours during the Soupstock event on October 21 (approximately 9-5:00) and a 1 hr orientation on October 17 at 7pm.

    Volunteer benefits:

    An opportunity to try original soup recipes from some of Canada’s greatest chefs  Morning coffee and muffins to energize you for the day
    Soupstock volunteer t-shirt
    Information about critical environmental issues in our province

    The opportunity to be involved in the largest culinary protest Ontario has ever seen!

    If you’d like to volunteer please email Aryne (asheppard@davidsuzuki.org) describing yourself and your interest in supporting Soupstock.

     

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Curds and Eh, Eps 8: Home Curdy Home, Kelsie Parsons reflects on his cheese tour

Say Hi to Kelsie if you see him around–he’s easy to spot.

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

As August came to an end so did my cheese travels. I now keep my food in a fridge, know exactly where I’ll sleep each night and I spend my days on my computer writing about cheese. There is a certain comfort to being home and having a work routine but I do miss being on the road driving every day, interviewing cheese makers and meeting their cows, goats and sheep.

Checking out Brendan’s beehives

The drive home went quicker than expected. I started in Naniamo, took a ferry to Vancouver, visited two cheesemakers then drove to Nelson, BC to visit my brother. We spent a day together checking out his beehive and watching Kokanee (fresh water salmon) spawn. The next day I hit the road again and visited Kootenay Alpine Cheese in Creston, BC then drove to Regina.

Calf at Kootenay Alpine Cheese

The next day I drove from Regina to Thunder Bay, slept in the Walmart parking lot and then did a long haul home to Stratford, ON. Three and a half months on the road sounds like a long time but it meant I only had a couple of days to spend in each city. To me the summer was a whirlwind tour of Canada but I discovered many cities that I’d love to return to.

Kokanee spawning in BC

While in a café in Winnipeg, I learned their wifi password is “every day I live my dream” (without the spaces). That phrase really stuck with me. I’m so fortunate to be studying something that I love and to work towards a book that up until now I’ve only dreamt about writing. It may sound strange (to some people) but I actually think about cheese all day and occasionally I dream about it at night. It’s kind of an obsession.

When I started in the cheese business I worked for Gurth Pretty, author of The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal and Fine Cheese. In 2006, when Gurth’s book was published it was groundbreaking. No one had ever written such a comprehensive survey of Canadian cheesemakers. I was inspired by Gurth to follow my passion for cheese and to write a book of my own. By writing a book, my goal is to help others discover the world of cheese made in Canada. There are amazing cheeses, cheesemakers and mongers across the country and they deserve to be recognized!

Forms filled with Curds at Salt Spring Island Cheese

Over the past 3.5 months I visited cheesemakers in all 10 provinces and drove over 25,000km. I sampled cheese from 118 Canadian cheese producers and took thousands of photos. I flew to St. John’s, Newfoundland to visit 2 new cheesemakers and took a five hour ferry to Iles-de-la-Madeleine just to visit a cheesemaker. Every single day this summer was an adventure. Every day I learned something new and every day I lived my dream.

By nature of my adventure I ate a lot of cheese (it’s a perk of the job really). Many people have asked me what my favourite Canadian cheese is but it’s so hard to pick just one. Could you? I’ve narrowed down my list to about 30 favourites. What are they? Well, you’ll have to wait for the book! I can’t give it all away here.

A dark and Stormy cheese he means…..Illustration by Dave Donald.

Now it’s time to write a book.

For Curds and Eh 1 (the itinerary), click hereCurds and Eh 2 (Quebec), Click Here, Curds and Eh 3 (Quebec) , click here ,  Curds and Eh 4 (St.John’s), Curds and Eh 5 (Thunder Oak Gouda), Curds and Eh 6 (Cheese Festivals) and Curds and Eh 7 (Cheese Rolling ).

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Almost Perfect Frozen Foods…wait, what?!

Doesn’t this sign just beg for a caption contest?   I just love it.  From the name itself to the visual image of the word PERFECT deteriorating and falling apart.

Time and time again Tad and I are baffled  at the name of this frozen food store when we drive by it on the way to Apsley (and the cottage)  along Hwy 7.

It’s just…well, when it comes to frozen chicken….I’d actually like it to be fully perfect.

I am thinking that whoever came up with this name is no longer in advertising.

(I just now noticed the sign for GUNS below the food sign.  See?  They advertise “Accuracy PLUS….not “pretty good accuracy, almost perfect”)

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Snacks in Halifax–beer… lobster… beer and lobster….Wayne’s World

Lobster’s from Wayne’s World. Really. Keep reading, eh.

We were on holidays in Nova Scotia and PEI for 10 days and had an outstanding time.  I was disappointed to be such a terrible blogger in the last couple weeks as I had so many delicious moments, but between problems uploading pics and just travelling with child, I kind of gave up.  But, I will now start sharing.  One huge thing for me was my conversion to beer over wine for most of the trip.  You would switch sides too if you tasted how good the local brews were.  Perfect with our food and the sunny, hot weather.

Like a fish to water, Tad and Propeller IPA

I had planned on branching out ever since Heather Rankin at the Obladee Wine Bar in Halifax (along with beer and wine writer Craig Pinhey) organized a local cheese/beer pairing post on this blog which featured Canadian brews (and Canuck cheeses), three of them from out east.

In Halifax Garrison’s brewery right beside the Seaport Market was our second stop after a quick bite of some amazing, and well spiced, Indian food in the market itself.  Tasting glasses were only $2 each and we tried several, leaving with bottles of the Tall Ship Amber Ale and Raspberry Wheat Beer (very subtle in fruity qualities, which I liked).  We drank these with some spicy tapenade that evening before donning old T-shirts to dig into the lobster fest (see the first picture) on a backyard patio.  Butter, white wine and nothin’ else.  Well, a lot of paper towels.

The Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia

Which brings us to Wayne’s World via the Eastern Passage (where the weather is apparently really different than nearby Dartmouth-sweater vs T-shirt I hear, on some days).  It’s a little fishing community with many “I must take a picture…or 20” worthy little coves and piers.  We were there on an especially beautiful evening as the sun was on its way down.

Wayne’s World—of Lobster!

But enough sightseeing.  Back to Wayne’s World. This is where the locals go for lobster.  They don’t cook it themselves–heck no.  They do take-out.  Truthfully, I don’t know about all locals, but I do know about at least two locals who have Wayne on speed dial….we had some damn good lobster at their house later that night.

Fish cake and beans at Henry House.

I’m getting all ahead of myself talking about lobster when the first meal I had on the east coast was fish cakes and beans.  And here’s a good laugh for you Atlantic natives, when I saw this I thought, “how novel!  Beans with the fish cakes”.   Ha ha ha ha.  Only to see this on every menu everywhere.  This delicious plate was eaten on the patio of Henry House in Halifax.

Henry House in Halifax

Henry House was built in 1834 and has some great pub food and quite a beer menu (see how easily my beerification began?)

Uncommon Ground, Halifax

Right across the street I had steaming after-lunch coffee from Uncommon Grounds.  Felix was a little boisterous and may have pissed off some customers but I just smiled in embarrassment and looked at him as if he was the cutest imp I had ever seen.  Denial works.

Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market

Which bring us back to the Seaport Farmer’s Market (I know, I’m too excited and jumping all around!) we visited on a weekday so not quite as bustling as it must be on Saturdays but still–wild blueberries for $3/pint!  And truthfully, tonnes of great food to be looked at, admired and purchased when you’re a tourist like me.  And when one has a stroller–NOT CROWDED is awesome.

Butcher Seaport Market

I checked out the grass-fed steaks at the butcher…

And veggies to go with the steak..

Or maybe you just want to grab some lobster poutine to eat by the water?

Lemon Ginger lovely-ness.

And wash it down with this locally made soda (grandma’s recipe!).

Forget chocolate and peanut butter.

And I found this at the Garrison brewery.  And we hadn’t even gotten to the sno-cones we had after the Theodore the Tugboat tour.  (Man, sno-cones aren’t as good as I remembered them.)

So what did I learn in my first 24 hours in Nova Scotia?  Fishcakes come with beans, the beer out East is great and don’t take the light pink crayon if you want to properly mark anything on your Theodore and Friends map.

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Curds and Eh: Episode 7 How to Roll Cheese and Kick Butt at Whistler

Check out lots of photos at canadiancheeserolling.ca

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

August 18th, 2012 was a super hot day on the slopes in Whistler, BC but that didn’t stop the 137 competitors and over 13,000 attendees of the Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition.

This photo of Kelsie has not been retouched or manipulated in any way.

This was the 5th annual competition and it coincided with Crankworx – a downhill mountain biking festival that attracts fearless athletes from around the world.

Crankworx 2012, photo by Blake Jorgenson (umm, where’s the cheese?)

The Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition is sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada and promotes cheese made from 100% Canadian milk.

You need a fast shutter speed not to blur the action in this photo.

What happens at a cheese rolling competition? Basically, cheese is rolled down a hill and the first person to the bottom wins. The winner qualifies for the finals and the grand champion heads home with an 11lb wheel of Cracked Pepper Verdelait cheese and a season’s ski pass to Whistler Blackcomb.

Staying strong through the pain.

After 7 qualifying rounds, 10 men lined up at the top of the hill. The horn blew and people flipped and tripped and stumbled down the hill but Tyler Belan stayed vertical and won the race with a time of 5.03s beating his competitors (including last year’s champ) by only a fraction of a second.

Tyler Belan celebrates.  CONGRATS TYLER!

I was excited to learn that Tyler is actually a cashier supervisor at the Highland Rd. Sobeys in Kitchener, Ontario which is only 5 minutes from the Sobeys where I’m a cheesemonger. If you’re in the Kitchener-Waterloo area stop in to say hi to Tyler, the cheese rolling champ, and maybe he’ll even have a bit of his 11lb cheese left to share. Tyler explained that his technique was to not focus on the cheese but to just run as fast as possible. He actually ran so fast that he beat the cheese to the bottom of the hill! Way to go Tyler for bringing home the gold (or cheese in this case)!

A bachelorette at Cheese Rolling!  I need to get remarried tout de suite. S.R.

And then there is this pic also from The Canadian Cheese Rolling site’s gallery…..

Am assuming this is the costume component and that that is Kelsie in the mask. S.R.

The woman’s finals saw Joslyn Kent of Australia take the prize with a time of 7.08s. For the costume contest, a team from Washington won a $500 gift certificate to local restaurants for their costumes of a cow, farmer, wheel of cheese and milk bucket featuring the 100% Canadian milk logo. One of the other attractions was a busy farmers market featuring cheesemakers from BC to PEI. Festival goers sampled cheese and brought home their favourites.

Spectators keeping a safe distance from hurtling cheese (and people)

Although I didn’t compete (the above action photos of Kelsie were just promo shots and did not involve a stunt double whatsoever S.R.) , witnessing the Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition was one of my most memorable days this summer.

Salt Spring Island’s Romelia, Juliette and Blue Juliette.

What’s next for this cheesy adventurer? A trip to Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island and then I’ll be ending my 3.5 month road trip and taking the long drive home. Not to worry, I’ve got enough cheese stories to keep me writing for a long time.

For Curds and Eh 1 (the itinerary), click hereCurds and Eh 2 (Quebec), Click Here, Curds and Eh 3 (Quebec) , click here, Curds and Eh 4 (St.John’s), Curds and Eh 5 (Thunder Oak Gouda)and Curds and Eh 6 (Upcoming Cheese Festivals).

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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

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