33 Pieces of Cheese Tasting Notebook

    Hi Cheese Lovers!

Welcome to my new cheesy obsession: The 33 Pieces of Cheese Tasting Notebook! I was browsing around on other cheese blogs and I came across someone who had blogged about these notebooks and given my occasional tendency to be a design nerd, I was immediately drawn to them! If you’re the type who loves good cheese and good design, these tasting books are for you!

33 Pieces of Cheese was developed by Dave Selden, who first created a Beer
Tasting notebook and has since expanded into cheese, whiskey, coffee and
more! Now, great design is nice, but a cheese tasting notebook would never get 2 thumbs up from me if it wasn’t useful, practical and highly functional!

Take another second to admire the exterior (printed on recycled heavy-weight kraft paper)… done? Ok, now on to the inside

Flip open the cover and find a well-designed, minimalistic and clear page, perfect for jotting down your notes on all of the cheeses you taste! There are various ways on each small page to record what you think about the cheesy-goodness you’re munching on! You are given spots to record the name, the dairy the cheese is made at, origin, rind type, price and the date you tasted on. There are also checkboxes for what type of milk the cheese is made from as well as stars to colour in based upon your rating, and a texture meter that lets you remember how soft or firm the cheese was. Jot down some quick notes on the few lines provided and then move on to my favourite part – the Flavour Wheel. The flavour wheel is what makes the 33 Pieces so amazing. The flavour wheel is a little circular graph with various flavour profiles encircling the border. To fill out the graph, look at each specific flavour profile and rate it on a scale of 1 through 5 (5 being the outer perimeter of the circle, where the flavour is most intense). Make a dot on where you think your cheese belongs for each flavour and then connect all the dots together – and there you have it, a unique graph for each cheese you taste!! Eventually you will get to recognize certain shapes and how they are associates with certain types of cheeses and flavours.

Now all that there is left to do is try 33 different cheeses to fill up my book – and then maybe buy the 33 Beers book and go for that, too!

If you’re interested in these great booklets, check out 33beers.com or keep your eyes on tasteofcheese.ca because as soon as we receive our shipment of books, they’ll be up for sale! Hoorah!

Good night and happy eating!

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Cottage Gold

I forgot to take a picture of the cheese before I ate it all!! This is the label!

One of Ontario’s finest cheese makers has developed a new winner! Upper Canada Cheese has released a limited edition cheese called Cottage Gold!! I had the pleasure of tasting this cheese and can’t wait to tell you all about it.

The Upper Canada Cheese Company is located in Jordan Station, Ontario and they are best known for providing us with the esteemed cheese, Niagara Gold. Upper Canada Cheese prides itself on creating cheeses from the milk of the herd of Guernsey cows that they maintain on their farm. Their herd is one of very few Guernsey herds in Canada. The Comfort family does all that they can to create cheese of the highest quality for all of us to enjoy.They create cheese using traditional methods and no mechanical intervention. All of their cheeses are hand-made, hand wrapped and hand salted.

If you are a Canadian cheese lover, you have likely tasted Upper Canada’s most well-known cheese, Niagara Gold. Niagara Gold is an Oka style cheese, semi-soft with an orange tinted washed rind. The new release, Cottage Gold, is an updated version of its predecessor. Cottage Gold is also a hand-made, washed rind cheese, however, it is aged for a longer period of time (5 months). Cottage Gold is more like a cheddar, with a lower moisture content and more salt. From the outside, the Cottage Gold still looks very similar to the Niagara Gold – with an orange washed rind. Once the cheese is cut into, the visual differences are clear. This cheese has a darker coloured paste with a few more eyes (or holes!) spattered throughout. The aroma is a bit warmer and smells toastier and nuttier. There does not seem to be as much of the pungent aroma that I am used to finding on the Niagara Gold. With my first bite, it is clear Cottage and Niagara Gold are quite different from one another. The paste of Cottage Gold has more firmness to it, slightly like a cheddar as the official tasting notes suggest. The flavours are deeper and ring clear with notes of toast, nuts, salt and even a bit of butterscotch! The cheese smoothly melts, though it does so with a bit of resistance, which I expect to find in a firm cheese. Overall, I was VERY impressed with this new Upper Canada cheese. It did occur to me that the cheese reminded me of an aged gouda-style cheese, such as the Glengarry Lankaaster, as well as traditional cheddar. This was a delightful conclusion as gouda-style cheeses are amongst my favourite in the vast world of cheeses!

How to eat it:
Aside from eating a whole block on its own – which is what I did with my piece of Cottage Gold, there are lots of fitting places for Cottage Gold. Upper Canada Cheese suggests putting it on your burgers, crumbling it over a salad and using it to make Mac and Cheese. The last suggestion is one I intend to try – how did they know that Mac ‘n’ Cheese is my favourite food? I do want to emphasize that how I chose to taste Cottage Gold is not to be overlooked! This cheese will be a great addition to a cheese board, paired with jams, spreads, fresh baguette and local charcuterie. It will be even more perfect if you take that cheese board down to the dock at your cottage (or a friends!) and enjoy by the sparkling lake on a warm summer day!!

I hope they have Cottage Gold featured at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival this weekend in Picton, ON!

Here is Upper Canada Cheese’s website: www.uppercanadacheesecompany.com

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Life on a Farm: Milking Sheep, Making Cheese. Part 2

My trip to the farm continued…

Thanks for coming back to read the second part of my blog post about my trip to La Moutonniere. Lets continue with day #3!!

Lucille, Straining fresh Ricotta!

Day 3:
I awoke again, super-early to head over to the Fromagerie to make cheese with Lucille. Today we were going to be finishing off the Ricotta started the night before and making the Fromagerie staple, Bleu de la Moutonniere! When I arrived at the plant, Lucille was busy preparing the milk for cheese making and the vat of ricotta was being rapidly heated. Once the vat reached the desired temperature and bubbled about for a little while, it was time to scoop it out and strain it. It was amazing to see the snow-white curd floating atop the vat of excess whey and it came out smelling warm and salty. We scooped away until the whole vat was emptied and the large cloth bags Lucille held open were full as could be!

Cutting Curd for Bleu de la Moutonniere!

Next up was making Bleu de la Moutonniere. This process started similarly to the day before. We waited for the milk to coagulate and once it was done so, the curd was cut. Then came the first change in cheese making. Today, the curd was cut into small cubes as opposed to tiny, uneven spheres. Making blue cheese requires a few changes from the firm cheese we had produced the day before. The curd is cut into larger cubes, then aerated on a large tray and finally packed loosely into moulds, in order to provide spaces where mould growth would be promoted. Once the whole vat had been dissected, I was privy to a new experiment. A new machine  was being test driven to pipe out the curd cubes, air them out along a conveyor belt and the plop them into waiting moulds. The experiment was mostly successful, however, a few required tweaks made us revert back to the hand-scooped method.

Scooping Curd into Moulds

We hauled out the huge amount of curd onto a cloth-covered table and then scooped the curd into moulds. Once we were done and cleaned I was given the task of turning and salting cheese that was residing in the aging cave. I took a tablespoon of salt and rubbed it all over each of the cheeses ready for a flip over! Once that was complete, all that was left was cleaning up!

Day 4:
On day 4 I worked on the farm with Al. There isn’t too much new information to report about the day other than that I got a bit more proficient at milking sheep! During my stay on the farm, I was waiting to see lambs birthed by any of the very pregnant sheep in the barn. Each morning and night we would check out the pen of ready-to-pop sheep and each time I was disappointed to find that no lambs had arrived. On day 4, I took to observing one sheep that seemed to be showing the signs of labour which Al told me to look out for, such as getting up to turn around, finding an isolated spot and not chewing on hay like the other sheep. Unfortunately the sheep didn’t appease me by popping out a lamb, and so I went to sleep knowing that I would be leaving the next morning and it would be my last chance to see a lamb being birthed.

Mama Sheep and Baby Lamb!

Day 5:
I awoke to the sun, bright and early and went down to the barn. To my excitement, Al let me know that the sheep I had been watching the day earlier really was about to give birth. He went over to the sheep to assist it along and before I knew it, a little lamb (which was admittedly kinda gross looking) had fallen out of the sheep – literally it fell out! Al took a look at the sheep and informed me another lamb was on the way. As Al went back to work, I stayed to watch and saw the sheep give birth to the second lamb all on its own!!! And so I felt my trip was complete.I had made 3 types of cheese, milked sheep, seen a sheep give birth.. what else could I ask for! And so, after saying Au Revoir I headed out on the road to drive the 7 hours home, ready to tell the story of my life on a farm to anyone who would listen!

Thanks to Al and Lucille for graciously hosting me and for really letting me get my hands dirty!

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Le Migneron de Charlevoix

Good Morning!

It’s a true Canadian spring out there (aka a mushy rainy/snowy day), so what better time to start a season of endlessly tasting cheese! Early this afternoon I pulled out a piece of a Canadian cheese that I had never tasted before, though I know I most certainly should have!

Today I tasted a Canadian Classic, Le Migneron de Charlevoix. Here are my tasting notes!

Le Migneron de Charlevoix is a pasteurized cow’s milk made from a herd of Holstein cows. It is produced by Laiterie Charlevoix and Maison d’Affinage Maurice Dufour in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec. This semi-firm, washed rind cheese has been in production since being created by Maurice Dufour 1995 when it became one of the first artisanal Quebec cheeses to gain notoriety in Canada. Over the years it was refined and by 2002 it was deemed worthy of winning the overall grand prize at the Canadian Grand Prix Competition. What helps to make this cheese fantastic is the care that the House of Maurice Dufour puts into the aging of every wheel of its cheese! 9 years after Le Migneron de Charlevoix won the title of Canada’s best cheese it still holds up to the award!! Here are tasting notes for this scrumptious cheese:

The Look:
Le Migneron de Charlevoix is a washed-rind cheese with pale straw-coloured paste and a rind that varies in hue, from golden brown to peachy pink to tangerine orange. The cheese looks dense and solid – like a frozen solid ice cream cake topped by a thin protective skin. The rind has a bit of texture created by the mold that the cheese is aged within.

The Smell:
The cheese has contrasting smells, pungent from the rind and mild and fruity from the paste. The rind smells strong and barnyardy, and as though the cheese was aged right near the cows that provided its milk. Though barny, the rind is not overpowering – just perfectly pungent and farm-like. The paste is milder, with a bit of lingering barnyard but also ripening fruits and hay. The floral smells of the animal’s feed wafts from the cheese. I find that I become more accustomed to the aroma as I continue to stick the piece inches from my nose, over and over!

The Feel:
Le Migneron de Charlevoix has just the kind of texture I like in washed rind cheeses. I don’t actually die for goopy, runny stinkers – I like a little bit of firmness (unless I have amazing bread to spread goopy paste on!). This cheese has a dense paste which bends and folds before breaking. I put a slice over my tongue and let it start to melt away, which it does slowly while drooping at the sides. It is creamy and smooth (even silky) and cool on my palate and has no granular feeling at all! yummy!

The Taste:
So how does Le Migneron de Charlevoix Taste? Splendid – if you ask me! The complex mix of fruity, nutty, barny flavours are expressed in a well balanced way that makes me think of each flavour profile as the cheese wilts over various parts of my tongue. The slightly piquant aftertaste of each bite clears the way for the sweeter flavours to come through in the next bite! I feel like I can taste the land that the herd lives on and I keep taking more bites to try and distinguish more flavours. The most addictive part of the cheese is the salty smack that makes me eat piece after piece, just like how I eat a whole can of pringles once I’ve popped the top!

How to eat:
How would I eat this cheese? As a table (or desk) cheese that I can lob hunks off of! Either I would eat it alone or with fresh baguette or salty but plain crackers. The Migneron website suggests cooking with it!

Pair with:
A Pinot Noir

Check out the Migneron Family Website CLICKITY CLICK HERE!

 

 

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You’re Hot then you’re Cold: What’s the perfect temp for cheese?

How long do you leave your cheese out of the fridge for before chowing down? If the answer is “no time at all,” it’s time to change your ways!

Cheese is a food that deserves all the respect in the world! One of the ways to truly appreciate your amazing cheese is to serve it up at room temperature. The way that we perceive and enjoy food is often greatly affected by the temperature that we eat it at. Think about how much more scrumptious your apple pie would be warmed up! Or maybe you enjoy a crisp granny apple chilled, right from the fridge – like I do! In those cases, temperature can certainly affect your experience, and this idea proves truthful more clearly in cheese than in any other food that I can think of!

While temperature of food tends to vary from one to another due to personal taste, it is generally accepted by most notable cheese sources that room temp is the way to go for cheese. When eating well-made, gourmet or artisanal cheese, the difference in experience between a fridge-cold and a room temp cheese can be mind boggling! When you take cheese out of the fridge, it is generally at about 1-2 degrees Celsius. When a cheese is this chilly the flavours are often muted and although you can choose to eat it this way, you’ll have to put in a lot more work (if you can call eatin’ cheese work!) to grasp the flavours, aromas and textural qualities of the cheese – and you may Never get to taste it the way that you were intended to by the cheese makers. Like in the case of a good red wine, leaving your cheese out to adjust to room temperature allows for intense, complex flavours to emerge and for aromas to become more pronounced. Don’t sell your cheese short – let it get to room temp (from about 15-20 deg. Celsius) to really eat it at its best!

Check out my review of the fine French cheese, Chaource, eaten at 2 time intervals: 5 minutes out of the fridge and 1 hour and 45 minutes out of the fridge. Its right here! Just scroll down!

CHEESE TEMPERATURE COMPARISON
Chaource: Cow’s Milk, France, Double cream with bloomy rind. Perfect with Champagne!

Chaource: Out of the Fridge for 5 Minutes

CHAOURCE: 5 Minutes out of the fridge
Appearance: The cheese looks firm and matte. No shine and no wobble. No melting at any edges.
Aromas: The aroma of the cheese is faint and muted. I can smell a bit of cream, a bit of mushroomy, earthiness. It is hard to make out the smell unless the cheese is within about 2 inches of my nose.
Texture: Very firm for a soft, little cheese. The paste can be snapped when bent. The pieces do not melt in my mouth – they require lots of chewing. Spreading on a cracker is near impossible. The paste is literally like almost hardened glue that builds up in Elmers bottles left open.
Flavour: The flavours that I expect to find in this cheese are not easily apparent. The buttery, creamy and mushroomy flavours I expect to come along with a Chaource do not stand out at all. All are faintly there. The rind is a huge contrast to the paste – it is mushroomy, earthy and a bit bitter. It overpowers the rest of the cheese to the point that I may as well just be eating rind!
Final Thoughts: My first and foremost thought was that the cheese “tasted cold”

Chaource: out of the fridge for 1 hour and 40 minutes

 

CHAOURCE: 1 Hour & 45 Minutes out of the fridge
Appearance: The cheese is glistening. It is drooping from the top of the rind. The cheese is still a little cool to the touch.
Aromas: The mushroomy, earthy, milky aromas are now clear and defined. Creamy and Buttery now emerge as clear aromas. I can now make out the smell of the cheese from up to 4-5 inches of my nose.
Texture: Overall, the cheese is softer. The paste has become more elastic, stretchier. I can lightly press a knife into the paste and it almost entirely reforms. The paste in the mouth is much smoother and easily spreads over the tongue. The paste feels rich and a bit oily on the lips.
Flavour: The flavours that I had previously been searching for – buttery, creamy, mushroomy and rich are now in full force. The tastes are clear and complex. I took note that the rind now tastes much earthier, and spicier. Overall, the flavours are much more pronounced and they leave a lingering after taste that hangs around until your next sip of wine/water!
Final Thoughts: I wish I had some champagne to pair with this amazing, rich cheese!

The next time you get a new cheese, try a comparison like this one to understand the difference between cold and a bit-warm cheese… and comment to let me know how it goes!!

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Finding Comfort in Comfort Cream

Comfort Cream

Good Afternoon Cheese Lovers! I hope that you are all having a cheesy day! I’m hanging around the office, snacking on a yummy cheese called Comfort Cream.

Comfort Cream is produced by Upper Canada Cheese Company (Hereby refered to in this post as U.C.C.C.), which is located in Jordan Station, in the Niagara Region of Ontario. Upper Canada Cheese is well known for its famous, washed-rind cheese, Niagara Gold.

Comfort Cream is a white, bloomy rind cheese that has a smooth, creamy golden-coloured paste. The aroma is light and mushroomy and the flavours are rich and buttery, with notes of truffles. The cheese is ultra-smooth over the palate and leaves a long, lingering tangy flavour at the finish. The soft white rind is salted by hand and the cheese is carefully hand-wrapped.

Comfort Cream is produced from the milk of Guernsey Cows that have a milk production which is lower in volume than many other breeds, however, it is higher in protein and various vitamins. The U.C.C.C. ensures that their herd feeds only on specially grown grains from right on their farm. Their cheeses are made using traditional timing procedures, and so it is produced as soon as possible after the cows are milked.

I love this cheese! It is similar to a Camembert, and the qualities of this cheese makes me wonder how it would stand up to being baked like a brie. The Upper Canada Cheese Company aims to produce cheese of the highest quality, and I think that it definitely shows. The Comfort Cream is a luscious, rich cheese experience! Now I just need to convince myself out of eating the second big hunk left on my plate!

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Mystery Cheese!

How brave are you when it comes to cheese? I work at a job where I often hear people tell me, without certainty, that there are certain types of cheese that they absolutely hate! At Taste of Cheese we are often lucky enough to exhibit at trade shows where lots of cheese-lovers come to visit us. At these trade shows we often give away free cheese samples, but when people see a scary looking cheese (like a colourful blue, or an oozy stinker) out on the table, they won’t go near it – even though it’s free!!

My tastes in cheese have changed drastically from only a few years ago, when the only cheese on my radar was Parmigiano Reggiano and good cheddar. Now, I’ll eat any cheese put in front of me, at least once! I try to be adventurous and make sure that smell or appearance never keeps me from giving a cheese a little taste!!

I am getting ready to post on our website a new product that will test people’s sense of adventure – a Surprise Cheese Box! That means I get to select 3 cheeses that I think you’ll love, pack them up and send them right to you!! It is like sending a gift to someone, only the someone is you! For as much as I love cheese, I rarely wander into a cheese store and ask them to recommend cheese and then buy it without any question. I’m wondering how you feel about getting 3 “mystery” cheeses to try… would you let someone choose your cheese?

I am going away to Washington DC this weekend and my goal is to find a store that sells amazing American cheese, have their cheese monger give me some suggestions and try them without hesitation!! I can’t wait to report back with what I taste!!

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Cheese Lovers!

Happy Valentine’s Day my fellow cheese lovers!
I do hope that this lovely holiday is treating you well and that you have been eating lots of chocolate.. and lots of cheese! Due to my Valentine being far, far away, I have been consoling myself by eating the prettiest cheese that I could find this February 14!

My Cheese of Valentine’s Day 2011 is Tommette aux Baies Roses, a small, fresh pat of chevre seasoned with herbs and sprinkled with pink peppercorns. The Tommette comes from France and is produced by the Fromagerie Banon in small, artisanal batches. The cheese is served up in a little paper cup, like a cupcake liner, and in a small wooden box… it is almost too pretty to eat!!

The aromas are fresh and lactic, so pure and sweet!  This chevre is perfect for spreading, but I wanted to eat it all on its own at first, so I took a big hunk on a knife and took a big bite!! The texture is smooth and rich, with a full, creamy residual mouth feeling. The tart flavours are accented by the herb which dot the goaty flavours delicately. I can’t wait to try this on a fresh piece of baguette!! I also look forward to crumbling it into a salad and drinking it with tangy, acidic chardonnay or sauvignon blanc – maybe i’ll have to have a post-Valentine’s Day cheese celebration! Now, I know it isn’t quite as fantastic as real, human love… but the Tommette aux Baies Roses sure comes close! Yummmmm

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Winners of the 2010 American Cheese Society Competition!

Good Afternoon!

As many of you cheese lovers probably know, the announcement of the winners of the 2010 ACS took place earlier this week and i wanted to mention a certain cheese that took a big prize!!!

The Soeur Angele from QC by the Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser came in FIRST PLACE in the Open Category for cheeses made from sheep’s or mixed milks.

I am secretly super excited because the Soeur Angele is one of the cheeses that I chose a few months back to be featured in the Taste of Cheese September Taster Box… I must have known it was destined to be an award winner!! I can’t wait for you all to try it!!!!

Congrats to Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser!

Here is a link to the full list of winners!

WINNERS OF THE 2010 AMERICAN CHEESE SOCIETY COMPETITION

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New Page…. Yeah, up there ^

I just created a new page for the blog where I can link to lots and lots of articles and waste the least amount of space! Checks it out!!!!! (Its in a tab on the top of the page!)

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