Farm Markets

The tradition of buying fresh cheese at markets has been around since before the medieval times. Cheesemaker’s would shape and mold cheese to capture the attention of the wealthy passerby’s at riverside markets throughout central Europe. It was the only way to sell the soft, sweet cheese without the convenience of store refrigerators and the modern packaging we have now. I still value this tradition…meeting and talking to the person who made your cheese and brought it fresh from the dairy to be consumed within the following days. You may discover cheese you would never find in the supermarket.

For a list of farm markets close to the hood, check out Farmer’s Markets Ontario or your provincial, local farmers market listings.

I bought sheep Taleggio from Monforte this past weekend at Brickworks. It was fresh, light and lactic with flavours of sour cream. The texture was like putting a mini marshmallow on your tongue and letting it roll around and melt. We consumed the entire piece within one night with the help of friends. I would like to try this cheese again as an addition to a summer salad alongside a bottle of Vino Verde.  Photo by canadiancheese


Tomme du Haut-Richelieu

Photo by canadiancheese

Remember what this cheese looks like now…the wedge may not last very long.

With a natural craggy rind and a contrasting ivory paste, Tomme du Haut-Richelieu is a knockout on a cheese plate. It boasts a barnyard aroma and the primary taste is a sure bet that it’s a goat cheese, however, people who do not like goat won’t be able to resist this one…The paste is rich and milky, melting easily in the mouth. The finish is short, fresh and grassy.

This is the second cheese I have profiled from Fritz Kaiser. His ability to make his cheese consistent and uniform each time makes it easy to buy.

Pair with a wheat beer or pilsner on the patio.


Photo by canadiancheese

As much as I love cheese, justifying a piece priced at more than $90/kg takes some convincing. I have been to the Kootenays in B.C and I know that it is one of the most pristine places in the world. The air is fresh and views are breathtaking. As the cheese monger at About Cheese explained that this is a true farmstead cheese, made from raw, organic milk, lovingly rubbed by hand, I could picture it perfectly. After letting it come to room temperature, I cut up some of my wild boar salumi and went to work on the cheese. Although it was a young piece, the sweet, nuttiness came through and paired well with the fatty, peppery meat.

Made using the age old recipe of a Beaufort d’Alpage from France, this could be a cheese worthy of it’s own designation. The list of wonderful things about this cheese is long and warrants visiting the Kootenay Alpine Cheese Co. website for the full details.

Monforte Dairy, Stratford On

The course I am currently taking is all about the cheese making and affinage process…a subject I find quite daunting. As a visual learner it’s hard to imagine all the steps to making the final product without seeing it first hand. Thanks to the team at Monforte, and my new teacher Ruth Klahsen, we were able to experience a day in the life of a cheese maker.

Monforte Dairy has faced many challenges as a small scale sheep dairy. Let’s just say if you’re not making cheese with cow milk, most government funding is out of reach. Ruth’s ingenuity to implement CSA subscriptions, or advance payment for future deliveries of cheese, allowed her to receive a grant from the government to renovate her facilities and continue producing amazing cheese.

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After a long day, I welcomed a hot meal of prime rib and asparagus topped with one of Monforte Dairy’s hard, aged sheep cheese. This cheese has a dark, craggy rind and a sweet, golden paste. It has been rubbed in olive oil which creates another level of umami and a perfect, meaty addition to the sweetness of the asparagus. And now to bed…

Hard, aged sheep cheese rubbed with olive oil.

14 Arpents

Photo by canadiancheese

As you may know by now, I am a huge fan of soft washed rind cheese. The history of trappist cheese is always rich with tales of tradition, taking your time and reaping what you sow.

14 Arpents and other cheese by Fromagerie Médard started production in 2006 but the history of the dairy dates back to 1881. As per their website the following is an account of the farms history. “The ancestor of the family, the widow Emilie Claveau Charlevoix, settled with his family on lot # 21 at St. Gedeon in Lac-Saint-Jean. This land was given to him by the state under the law of Honoré Mercier, legislation that was established at the time to populate regions. It included giving $ 100 (an astronomical sum at the time) or 50 acres of land to families with 12 living children and more. That’s when the son of Emilia, (MÉDARD side) cleared the land, constructed buildings and began to cultivate the land.
Since, from generation to generation, the farm was transferred from father to son. In 1986, Normand Côté (fifth generation) acquired the title. In 25 years together, Madeleine Normand formed several companies including two farms and a nursery.”

Thankfully, there are still two children in succession who are interested in keeping the cheese making tradition alive because I would really miss this cheese. It has an aroma of baked, fresh white bread, yeast and malt with a super creamy soft paste that ranges from mild nuttiness to light fruity such as pear skin. The picture above does not do justice to the lovely, soft peach coloured rind.

The Médard dairy is located north of Quebec City and welcomes visitors. It’s on my list of places to drop by.

Cheddar île-aux-Grues

I love Le Riopelle de l’Isle and Le Tomme de Grosse-île  but I didn’t realize Fromagerie Ile-aux-Grues made cheddar too!

Ile-aux-Grues is a very special co-op based on the principal of sustainability, not only for the islands community of workers, but also for the land, environment and the animals. The small herds of Swiss Brown cows graze on the marshy grasses that grow around the island giving all of their cheese a unique flavour. Allowing the cheese to stay in it’s raw form also aids in the ability to taste the terroir.

One cold afternoon, I stopped in to visit Grain, Curd & Bean in the Dundas West and Dufferin neighbourhood, and was pleased to find a piece of their 2yr old cheddar in mint condition. Upon first bite I felt like I was eating a wad of cold butter. Lactic, sweet flavours filled every corner of my mouth, coating my tongue. After rolling it around for a bit, you could taste some of the light nutty undertones common with grass fed, raw milk cheese. They didn’t have the milder version but I’m assuming it has less of a bite. Without even chewing, the piece melted away, leaving a tangy feeling and teasing my taste buds for more. This cheddar may be too good to melt, so use it create flavourful sandwiches or just eat it alone, on a cracker or with some fruity chutney.

Photo by Canadian Cheese

Thunder Oak Gouda

Photo by canadiancheese

Who knew Thunder Bay made cheese? I didn’t until I tried Thunder Oak Gouda. This cheese is available in a variety of different styles and ages all of which are made using traditional techniques from the Schep families award winning recipes.

About Cheese in Toronto has the full line of these Goudas. I chose the standard 2yr old for my cheese plate and it was a hit!   We served it along side a peach and garlic chutney with grainy crackers and a nice bowl of red grapes. This cheese has a fudge-like consistency with strong caramel and burnt sugar flavours followed by savoury caramelized onion and umami soy undertones. It’s complexity and richness would pair well with a lighter, bitter pilsner beer or a darker ale.

The Schep family immigrated to Canada in 1981. Margaret Schep’s mother was a World Champion Cheese maker in the 70’s and her brother still continues the cheese making business back in Holland. This cheese is a fine example of traditional, old world cheese style continuing in a new world environment.

Louis d’Or 12 months

May I present Louis d’Or. “Best in Show” at the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, 3rd place for “Best in Show” at the 2011 American Cheese Society Awards. This cheese is a show stopper. It also happens to be a cheese that you can feel good about eating.

The Morin brothers collect fresh, raw milk from Ferme Louis d’Or, a neighbouring organic farm that houses 85 cows, ranging from Holstein, Jersey and Canadienne. The milk is then brought back to their creamery that once served as a Roman Catholic rectory. Here each 40 kg wheel is carefully crafted by cheesemaker, Dany Grimard, using traditional methods derived from the French Comté recipe.

After searching the city, I was able to pick up both the 12 month and the 24 month at The Village Cheesemonger in Liberty Village. The 12 month is lighter, fudge-like and tastes of roasted hazelnuts. The 24 month old is a darker golden yellow, harder, and tastes of caramelized onions and garlic with a lingering nutty persistence.

Fromagerie de Presbytére is located in the farming region of Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick two hours east of Montréal. It is still a farmstead cheese and according to Jean and Dominic, it will stay that way.

Photo by canadiancheese


Quebec Fondue

It’s taken me this long to post my “All Canadian Cheese Fondue” because this winter really has not inspired the craving I usually get every month during the long, cold Toronto winters. We finally got a cold, below zero, snowy evening today so I decided to jump on the opportunity to try out some cheese combinations.

Since the Swiss have a fondue for every canton or region, I thought this fondue should rightfully be named “Quebec Fondue”. To the pot I added: lemon, garlic, white wine, kirsch, and a combination of Miranda from Fritz Kaiser, Louis d’Or from Fromagerie de Presbytére and Mont St.Benoit from The Abbey at St. Benoit- du -Lac.

The primary taste was salty (more so than the Swiss fondue) but then when it mellowed out I was left with a sweet, highly buttery impression. Small pickles and Quebec duck prosciutto from The Village Cheesemonger in Libery Village was perfect alongside. The richness was cut with some fruity white wine from Italy although I wish I had a Pinot Gris from Organized Crime Winery in Niagara.

If you’ve ever seen an older publication of food books from Switzerland, they usually look something like this.

Photo by canadiancheese


Quebec Fondue Recipe

Serves 4 people (each person will need about 150 grams of cheese)

300 grams of Mont St-Benoit
150 grams of Louis d’Or 12 month
150 grams of Miranda

Lemon, garlic, dry white wine, Kirsch, cornstarch, nutmeg, pepper

Shred cheese in a food processor and add a tablespoon of cornstarch, mix.
Place fondue pot on stove and turn heat to medium.
Rub pot with cloves of garlic and a squirt of lemon juice.
Pour almost half of the bottle of white wine in the pot. Add a 1/2
ounce of Kirsch.
Let heat until warm and start adding shredded cheese, stirring in an 8.
Once all the cheese is melted, add some nutmeg and pepper to taste.
Start the burner and serve with chunks of stale bread !
Accompaniments could be gherkins, pickled onions, beets, cabbage, cured meats, etc.

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

Photo by canadiancheese

It seems after a short disappearance, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is back. I absolutely love this cheese. True to the traditional techniques of making cheddar, this truckle is wrapped in cloth to age for a minimum of one year, creating a classical blue mold marking on the rind. The colour is golden yellow and the texture is fudge like. I get butterscotch, caramel, and mineral earthiness on the palate. The sweet is dominant but there is just the right amount of salt to wet my mouth.

Avonlea Cheddar is made on P.E.I Island in the east coast of Canada.The head cheesemaker at Cows Creamery, Armand Bernard, makes Avonlea with milk from Holstein cows and uses a traditional cheddar recipe from the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland, which he learned when he worked in the U.K.

This cheese recently won best “Aged Cheddar 1-3 years” at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.