If you love cheese, especially Canadian Cheese, and a friend asks you if you want to try a selection of winners of the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix including the Grand Champion what do you do? You say yes of course!
As you can see we had a great selection of cheeses to go through and I really honoured to try them. I won’t be talking about the Cherry Bocconcini, from Natural Pastures Cheese Company which won the Fresh Pasta Filata category and Le Bleu d’Élizabeth, from Fromagerie du Presbytère. Both were great cheeses, but I had to pick a few to write about, the Cherry Bocconcini was soft and delicious, Le Bleu d’Élizabeth was creamy but my blue palate is still young.
I just want to remind you, that cheese tastings can be subjective, based on people’s palate and experience, I had the pleasure of my good friend Addie’s company and he will be blogging his comments for The Tiffin Box. We picked up different flavours while we tasted the cheeses.
First up is the Pepper Raclette, from Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc. (Winner -Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavouring)
This washed rind cheese surprised me, I have to add this to the list of flavoured cheese that I actually like.
Appearance: The rind was a light rust/orange colour and was a nice contrast to the cream colour paste of the cheese. The peppercorns dotted the paste in an uneven manner. I liked this as it allowed you to choose if you wanted to try one or not.
Nose (aroma): I was expecting a more pronounced aroma from the rind, it was earthy and a bit like a musty room. This really worked for me.
Overall Taste: There was a certain lactic sweetness to this cheese, then a nice nuttiness that when mixed with the pepper really gave a nice flavour. We did note that it finished on a slight bitterness almost barnyard flavour, but in a good way.
Sweet to Salty: The salt levels were perfect, the pepper was a perfect counterbalance to the it
Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): This cheese was nice and robust.
Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): This cheese seemed to melt in your mouth, even the peppercorns. It was great.
I will be looking for this cheese.
Next up is Heidi, from The Farm House Natural Cheeses (Winner-Firm Cheese (except Cheddar and Gouda))
Appearance: This seemed to be a natural rind cheese, with a lovely orange/yellow rind and a brilliant yellow paste (This cheese is made from summer milk and it shows)
Nose (aroma): This cheese had a distinct fruity smell to it, almost tropical, but it finishes with a hint of pasture.
Overall Taste: I was surprised that tasting this cheese reminded me of caramelized onions and grass. I could imagine eating a bowl of French Onion Soup with this cheese melted on top whilst sitting in a field.
Sweet to Salty: I would say that this was a middle of the road kind of cheese, it had a good balance of salt and sweetness.
Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): Given its age you would think this would be a robust cheese, but the flavours were not as bold as expected.
Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): I found the texture reminiscent of a Beaufort style cheese, I had hoped for a bit more moisture, it was a bit chewy but not rubber, it just had some bite to it.
This cheese would be worth the trip to the lower mainland to get directly from the farm.
Next was Traditional Clothbound Cheddar 9 to 12 months, from The Farm House Natural Cheeses (Winner-Old Cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year))
Appearance: The bandaging had the pale greys and greens of a traditional
Nose (aroma): I was surprised to find this cheese did not have much of a nose, it smelled very clean, not even a hint of that cheddar smell that I love.
Overall Taste: The flavour was pretty standard for a cheddar, you got the traditional cheddar taste followed by some nice earthiness towards the bandaging. It finished with a bitterness that I found quite unappealing, and it kind of ruined the cheese for me.
Sweet to Salty: I found the salt levels lacking, which could have led to the bitterness.
Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): I had hoped for a more robust cheese, but it was quite mild for its age
Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): It could have been the age of the cut piece that we had to try but it was a little on the dry side, but it still had great texture and…..Tyrosine!!!!!!!!!
This is definitely a try again cheese, just to see if was this wedge that was a bit off and not the actually the way it is all the time.
The penultimate cheese is Handeck, from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese Ltd. (Winer-Farmhouse Cheese)
Appearance: Just look at that rind! I love the colour! The paste was a nice ivory colour and looked quite firm.
Nose (aroma): It has a nice earthy aroma, I was expecting a “stinky feet” smell when I found out it was a washed rind, there was a slight hint or ammonia but it could have been due to storage issues.
Overall Taste: I really loved the nuttiness of this cheese, it had hints of almonds that paired well with the slight lactic sweetness and the hint of pasture that it finished with.
Sweet to Salty: The salt was well-balanced, but the cheese did have a slight sweetness that really worked well.
Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): This is a fairly robust cheese, the complexity of the flavours help make it one that stands out and quite memorable.
Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): I expected this to be a fairly firm cheese, but it was so melt in your mouth creamy.
This was my second favourite on the board, and I will be seeing if I can pick more up when I go to Ontario in June.
Lastly we were lucky to have a sampling of the Cream-enriched soft Cheese with bloomy rind and Grand Champion -Fromagerie du Presbytère’s Laliberté
Appearance: At this time it wasn’t in the best condition, it had been in transit for a bit. Even with a bit of the bloom buffed off the rind, it is still one good-looking cheese. Look at the colour it is like looking at some sort of magic butter-cheese hybrid.
Nose (aroma): It was fairly earthy and grassy with hints of mushrooms. I also got a scent that was so familiar. It reminded me of a wine my parents would have from time to time. This is a good memory so I had high hopes.
Overall Taste: Oh my, I can still taste this cheese, it was oh so buttery and creamy with hints of mushrooms. You could pick up some grassy notes and possibly some vegetable.
Sweet to Salty: I always try the paste of a triple cream first, the salt was quite balanced, but when you add the rind into the mix you get a wonderful saltiness that makes the paste taste so much sweeter.
Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): At first you think that this cheese would be mild, but I would not call it robust. The flavours are complex and not “in your face”
Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): It is as advertised. Creamy and gooey and amazing.
I can see why this cheese is the 2015 Grand Champion, my hat is off to the cheesemakers at Fromagerie du Presbytère!