Profiles

Fromage Friday: Laliberté by Fromagerie du Presbytère

Laliberté, like a lot of champions, breaks the mould. Pun intended, as per usual on Cheese the Day.

The bloomy rind cheese was crowned the Grand Champion of this year’s Canadian Cheese Grand Prix back in April. I scored myself a wedge at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and it was the first of my haul I dug into.

Laliberte-above-side

It smells like any other slightly-stinky soft cheese – I think smell has a lot to answer for in turning people off more pungent soft cheeses and blue cheese, but that’s part of the deal, I guess – but one morsel, and it becomes clear why it’s a favourite.

It’s backwards in the best sense.

Immediately at first taste, you get a hit of mushrooms like you’ve been smacked by an oyster mushroom with a grudge. That’s closely followed by strong sidekicks of herbs and hay, and pungent vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower. But the flavour isn’t mouldy.

Laliberte-side-CU

Then, when you’re expecting it to become bitter, like any other strong, soft cheese in its position would be, it goes easy on you.

It becomes milky, creamy and light. The texture dissolves like cream masquerading as cotton candy. You don’t want to chew it, or even interfere too much with what happens when you let it sit on your tongue. It’s even better when slightly cooler than room temperature, so it doesn’t disappear too quickly and its creaminess stands out.

There is no aftertaste that comes to collect; just something reminiscent of cheese curds, mixed with surprise. The only bitterness comes from its rind.

Laliberte-above-side2

Usually, the flavours are in reverse for strong soft cheeses. A shy, delicate beginning, followed by a bit of brash bitterness. Perhaps because it’s a cream-added bloomy rind, the milkiness carries more weight – I’m not sure how that works. But it’s something to witness. I’d bet even non-cheese-nerds would appreciate the surprising turn of events that it has to offer in terms of flavour.

Honeycomb is usually a reliable wingman for any cheese, and it does its due diligence here, but I found it too sweet, really, for Laliberté. It deserves to partner with something that makes it truly sing, which in this case, is baked baguette rounds with olive oil and herbs – it becomes butter in its’ nonexistent hands, kinda like you by the end of your bite.

Laliberte-side-M

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Cheesy musings

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix: The winners

Two out of the eight cheeses I tried won in their categories, of which I’m ridiculously proud, even though my choices were completely based on availability and nothing more. Stillll.

Matthew McConaughey

Here is the full list of winners from the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix:

  • Fresh cheese: Bella Casara Ricotta, Quality Cheese Inc., ON (one of my picks)
  • Fresh pasta filata: Cherry Bocconcini, Natural Pastures Cheese Company, BC
  • Fresh cheese with grilling properties: Le Paillasson de l’isle d’Orléans, Les Fromages de l’isle d’Orléans, QC
  • Soft cheese with bloomy rind: Comox Brie, Natural Pastures Cheese Company, BC
  • Cream-enriched soft cheese with bloomy rind: Laliberté, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
  • Semi-soft cheese: Fleur de Weedon, Fromagerie P’tit Plaisir, QC
  • Washed- or mixed-rind soft cheese: L’Origine de Charlevoix, Laiterie Charlevoix Inc., QC
  • Washed- or mixed-rind semi-soft cheese: Raclette, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc., QC
  • Washed- or mixed-rind firm cheese: Alfred Le Fermier 18 months, Fromagerie La Station, QC
  • Firm cheese (except cheddar and gouda): Heidi, The Farm House Natural Cheeses, BC
  • Swiss type cheese: Louis D’or, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
  • Mozzarella (ball, brick or cyclinder) or pasta filata: Oaxaca, Local Dairy Products, ON
  • Brine-ripened cheese: Feta Cheese, Tiras Dairies Inc., AB
  • Gouda (aged 1 to 6 months): Gouda Medium, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
  • Aged gouda: Gouda Aged, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
  • Extra aged gouda: Mountainoak Farmstead Premium Dutch Gold, Mountainoak Cheese Ltd., ON
  • Blue cheese: Le Bleu d’Élizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC
  • Flavoured cheese with added non-particulate flavouring (except smoked cheese): Griffon Raclette, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc., QC
  • Smoked cheese: Gouda Smoked Natural Cheese, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
  • Flavoured cheese with added particulate solids and flavouring: Pepper Raclette, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc., QC
  • Mild cheddar (aged 3 months): L’Ancêtre Organic Mild Cheddar, Fromagerie L’Ancêtre Inc., QC
  • Medium cheddar (aged 4 to 9 months): L’Ancêtre Organic Medium Cheddar, Fromagerie L’Ancêtre Inc., QC
  • Old cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year): Traditional Clothbound Cheddar 9 to 12 months, The Farm House Natural Cheeses, BC
  • Aged cheddar (1 to 3 years): Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery, PE
  • Aged cheddar (more than 3 years): Extra Old Cheddar 5 Years, St-Albert Cheese Cooperative Inc., ON (one of my picks!)
  • Farmhouse cheese: Handeck, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese Ltd., ON
  • Organic cheese: Alfred Le Fermier 18 months, Fromagerie La Station, QC
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Cheesy musings, Profiles

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix: It’s on like Donkey Kong

That’s probably how I would open the awards if I were hosting, which is likely why they chose Ben Mulroney and Genevieve Borne instead. Totally fine, guys, wise choice.

I’ve profiled like Diddy Kong (that is, a speedy foil to the former DK) the last few days to marshal my thoughts on the nominees I was lucky enough to find and try ahead of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix – the country’s biggest national cheese competition!

Here are the cheeses I profiled:

Le Baluchon
St-Albert’s Extra Old Cheddar
Le Mamirolle
Muenster by Bothwell
Raclette au poivre
Appletree Smoked Cheddar
Albert’s Leap Brie
Ricotta by Quality Cheese Inc.

Let’s take a moment of appreciation for the fact that Canada even has a national cheese competition. We’re becoming more internationally recognized and renowned as producers of fine ass cheese, and that warms my patriotic, cheese-lovin’ heart.

I’ll have a recap of the winners of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix tomorrow (Eeeeeeee!), but if you, like me, can’t hardly wait, follow along with their live-blog on Twitter @100CanadianMilk!

Here’s how I’ll be enjoying the awards:

Tina Fey night cheese
Giphy

But if you want me to host next year, I’ll totally dress up and stuff. Snuggie-free.

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Profiles

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix: Ricotta by Quality Cheese Inc.

I am not a ricotta person. Despite past posts that may suggest otherwise, it’s always been more of a tool or sidekick to me in the past. It’s a crucial component in my lasagne; I love it as a vehicle on crostini for all manner of herbs and sauces, but ricotta on its own is generally my equivalent of a beige blazer (that is, boring).

Until I met Bella Casara Ricotta by Quality Cheese Inc. from Ontario (nominated in the fresh cheese category for the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix). I have to admit, I am not sure if this is the same ricotta as the one that one the overall Grand Champion title the last time the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix was held, in 2013. Both are made by Quality Cheese Inc., so it’s very possible, but this year’s nominee carries the Bella Casara label.

In any case, if it is the same cheese or similar, I can see why it won the overall title in 2013.

Bella-Casara-ricotta

It was my favourite of the eight cheeses I tasted. And I say that as someone who doesn’t even like ricotta.

It boasts an incredible juxtaposition of somehow being light and weighty in an indulgent manner that you don’t often find with ricotta – my problem with it in the past is that so many ricottas just taste and feel like nothing in my mouth.

This ricotta has bold hints of sour cream and citrus (and not just because it’s decadent with lemon zest, above) and tastes almost floral. But the real win is in its texture. It has some density to it; it doesn’t feel as whipped and airy as other specimens, which can be both good and bad, but judging on its standalone merits, is fantastically good.

It’s almost like a tribute to cottage cheese, elevated.

How many snacks are built and packaged around the concept of indulgence for 100 calories or mouthwatering flavour with the calories of just three breaths of oxygen? I don’t know what the caloric content is like, so don’t misunderstand me and think I’m promoting it as a light snack, because I don’t know that it would be accurate.

But damn, the marketing geniuses hawking low-cal indulgence can learn a lot from this little baby’s repertoire. Never have I tasted a cheese with flags so firmly planted in the lands of both decadence and lightness.

This is the eighth profile of eight cheeses I tried ahead of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Click here for more on the awards.

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Profiles

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix: Albert’s Leap Brie

I had a moment while eating this Brie when I actually thought to myself: This is heaven on earth. To be fair, it was the first time I had ever smothered a slice of Brie with honeycomb and hadn’t realized how mind-blowing that would be. But it was also in no small part a testament to this gentle Brie.

Fans of bloomy-rind cheeses with stronger flavours like La Sauvagine won’t take to Albert’s Leap Bel Haven Triple Creme Brie by Quality Cheese Inc. from Ontario (nominated in the cream-enriched soft cheese with bloomy rind category for the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix). But devotees of straight-up creamy cheeses like Délice de Bourgogne will fall in love.

Brie

The rind is not mouldy or bitter in the slightest. It is almost chalky, but in an appealing way. I described it as “crisp” in my notes, adding that I find that to be a rare description for a Brie, but there you have it. It has faint hints of sour cream at its peak but is far less heavy than other creamy soft cheeses.

The flavour is overwhelmingly milky, which may not impress some tasters, but I think it should be noted that complexity and conflict of flavours is not indicative of quality – at least to me. I enjoy bold-flavoured cheeses and sometimes fail to appreciate simpler tastes. There is beauty to be found in stripper-down flavours, too (or else why would caprese salad be on every menu come summertime?).

Albert’s Leap has that clean simplicity in spades and makes it easy to appreciate. It would be a great gateway cheese for Brie-ophobes (they’re real and they’re out there). I served my boyfriend, one such Brie-ophobe, a similar straightforward baked Brie a few weeks ago and he is now a convert.

Albert’s Leap is understated – to be paired with a classic like a jean jacket or flowing cotton skirt, and a sunny patio.

This is the seventh profile of eight cheeses I tried ahead of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Click here for more on the awards.

Brie

My slathering game could use some work, but honeycomb is so delicious I just can’t be arsed to care.

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Profiles

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix: Appletree Smoked Cheddar

Smoked cheese is the Neil Patrick Harris (pre-Oscars-host) of the fromagerie. It can do no wrong. Give a slice of the smoky stuff to a cheese snob and a layman and they’ll both smile – the snob will probably have to teach you something about the wood it was smoked on, though.

But like NPH hosting the Oscars, smoked cheese is a surprisingly-difficult balancing act. The very thing that makes it appealing can also be its downfall. Smokiness tastes deliciously sinful after a few bites, but it get old really fast if it’s too strongly smoked. (Freaks like me who’ve OD’d on heavy smoked cheese know this all too well.)

Appletree Smoked Cheddar by Cows Creamery from PEI doesn’t have this problem. It’s nominated in the smoked cheese category for the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.

Smoked cheddar

It’s dry and crumbly, but not so dry that the smokiness is left to its own devices and becomes pasty in your mouth (sorry for that visual, but that happens sometimes). Instead, it melts into a deliciously creamy texture, like magic. Its flavour is pure smoke, rather than bitterness or dryness inspired by it.

I was watching a Friends rerun while I tasted it, so that was the main influence for me comparing Appletree to Ross and Rachel’s relationship, but I do think my reasoning stands up. You be the judge.

It has a smoky, sexy bite at the rind (like R&R’s first kiss at the coffee shop! Watch it below), but sweet (aww, he was going to take her to prom) with caramel and whiskey notes. Leaves a good flavour in the cheeks (also a side effect from smiling when they finally get together). I used six Os in my “soooooo good,” and I would use the same number for R&R.

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Profiles

Canadian Cheese Grand Prix: Raclette au poivre

Raclette was a frequent meal in my family growing up, but it was always a treat. It was only slightly tarnished by my parents telling me later that its appeal was mainly because it was cheap, filling, and the kids did most of the cooking. Despite my mom’s French-Canadian roots, though, we never had it with raclette cheese.

I didn’t plan to have raclette when I bought Raclette de Compton au poivre by Fromagerie La Station from Quebec (nominated in the flavoured cheese with added particulate solids and flavourings category for the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix), but I did once I realized raclette would be a great way to sample all the cheeses.

Turns out, I didn’t even know from what a treat raclette can be. Even if the raclette au poivre didn’t have it in the name, it’d be clear that it’s perfect for raclette at the first taste.

Raclette au poivre

The creamy consistency is irresistible as the glue that holds the topping, bread and cheese gang together. It’s key. But it’s also rich and tangy with hints of strong flavour you don’t always find in semi-soft, melty cheeses. It reminds me of a softer Louis D’Or.

But then comes the pepper. It challenges the rich creaminess in the way a good partner does: by supporting rather than combatting. It offsets the tanginess, makes it taste sharp and clean, and there’s a small undercurrent of extreme bitterness in that layer, like a raw cacao nib, if you’ve ever had one.

Hit it with some acid – wine, anyone? – and you’ve got yourself a trifecta. Now that is a treat.

This is the fifth profile of eight cheeses I tried ahead of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Click here for more on the awards.

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