We are so proud of the way this country’s cheese scene is growing. Our cheese selection at the store is a big place of pride, to see so many varied Ontario cheeses when we used to just be known for cheddar is a thrill. The winners of the 2015 CCGP have been announced and from the winner’s list here are some of our favourite cheeses in the country…
The winner if the Fresh Cheese category is the Ricotta Bella Casara from Quality Cheese Inc. in Ontario. This is a fourth generation of family cheesemakers and this particular ricotta made history at the 2013 CCGP as the first fresh cheese and the first Ontario cheese to take the title for Grand Champion. I love to use ricotta to make savoury dips and this time of year my favourite savoury ingredient is wild leek – those crazy garlic-y bright green ramps and delicious. Just blitz them up with some olive oil and lemon and stir into the ricotta for a super quick dip for crudité.
Winner in the Cream-Enriched Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind was the Laliberté from the Fromagerie du Presbytère in Quebec. This farmstead cheese is made with the milk of a mix of Jersey and Holstein cows. Named after the famous sculptor Alfred Laliberté, from Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, this aromatic triple crème cheese, with its tender bloomy rind, encases an unctious paste. Laliberté has flavours of mushrooms and cream when young and, as it ages, it stuns with hints of grass and root vegetables.
The Washed or Mixed Rind Firm Cheese category went to Alfred Le Fermier from Fromagerie La Station in Quebec. It is named after the family’s great grandfather, Alred Bolduc. Bolduc emigrated to Canada from France at the beginning of the 20th century and founded the farm.This cheese is distinguished by its hazelnut flavour, it is aged for 18 months on wooden boards which results in a pleasant woodsy aroma.
In Mozzarella (Ball, Brick, or Cylinder) the winner was Oaxaca cheese from Local Dairy Products in Ontario. The Singh family has been making cheese in Ingersoll, Ontario for 16 years, breaking new ground in the ethnic cheese business. The Oaxaca is a Mexican mozzarella-type that is light and stringy, which is great for melting. It is hand stretched in boiling water and sold in a distinctive knotted ball.
The top Farmhouse Cheese went to Handeck from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese Ltd. in Ontario. Owner and cheesemaker Shep Ysselstein studied cheese making in Switzerland and it influences all of his cheeses. Handeck, aged 16 months, is firm with rich, complex flavours and a nutty aroma. All the milk used to produce this cheese comes from the family’s dairy farm.
Since Ontario is known for its cheddar heavy past then it is with great happiness that we see in the Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years) category that the winner is Extra Old Cheddar 5 Years from St-Albert Cheese Cooperative Inc. in Ontario. Five generations of farmers and craftsmen have been part of this cooperative that was originally founded in 1894. Five years of natural aging develops the crumbly rich texture and fully mature, sharp cheddar taste with a complex spectrum of nutty, salt and slightly fruity flavours.
And in the Flavoured Cheese with Added Particulate Solids and Flavouring the title went to the Pepper Raclette from Fromagerie Fritz Kaise Inc. from Quebec. Fritz Kaiser moved to Canada from Switzerland in 1981 and established his fromagerie where he’s been leading the way in the creation of Canadian Raclette. This semi-soft, washed-rind cheese with green peppercorns has a prominent hazelnut aroma followed by a sharp peppery and fruity flavour.
There you have it – a fine selection of some of the best cheeses in the entire country.Time to get out there and taste them all.