When you get an email from a PR person wanting to send you samples of this year's best Canadian cheeses, you just say yes. When the basket arrived at my office, my co-workers were more than happy to help me out with the more than generous slabs of dairy goodness. Thanks to Olivia from DDB for this very special delivery.
The Dairy Farmers of Canada have been holding the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix since 1998, which celebrates the best in our country's cheese making industry. All entries must be made in Canada using only Canadian milk and are judged by a jury of cheese specialists, chefs and food writers in a blind tasting.
The event’s goal is to make Canadian cheeses better known and appreciated by consumers, as well as the food industry and hotel and restaurant professionals. It also aims to support cheese makers in their search for excellence and in the development of new productHere are the winners and I got to sample, with heavy representation from la belle province. The full list of winners can be found here.
- Ricotta Bella Casara from Quality Cheese Inc. (Ontario) - Winner, Fresh Cheese
- L'Origine de Charlevoix from Laiterie Charlevoix Inc.(Quebec) - Winner, Washed or mixed-rind soft Cheese
- Alfred Le Fermier 18 Months from Fromagerie La Station (Quebec) - Winner, Washed or mixed-rind firm Cheese and Organic Cheese
- Le Bleu d'Élizabeth from Fromagerie du Presbytère (Quebec) - Winner, Blue Cheese
- Pepper Raclette from Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc. (Quebec) - Winner, Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavouring
- Extra Old Cheddar 5 Years from St-Albert Cheese Cooperative Inc. (Ontario) - Winner, Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years)
- Laliberté from Fromagerie du Presbytère (Quebec) - Grand Champion and Winner, Cream-enriched soft Cheese with bloomy rind
|Using leftovers, I grated a mix of the Charlevoix, Alfred Le Fermier and Extra Old Cheddar to make a fancy grilled cheese.|
I do confess to not trying the Bleu d'Élizabeth. I just can't do blues. There's something about their particular funk that literally sticks in my craw. And this was a particularly moldy and wet representation of the style.
While I enjoyed all the rest of the cheeses (because, cheese), my far and away favourite was also the judge's choice for best Canadian cheese. Ridiculously and lusciously creamy, Laliberté is an intriguingly mild brie with a slightly vegetal taste that was unlike any other brie I've tried before. If you see it at your local cheesemonger's, get it and thank me later. Another favourite was one I'd tried before. The L'Origine de Charlevoix is also a thing of beauty.
Actually, wile you're at your local cheesemonger's you may as well pick up any of the other category winners. There's just no going wrong.