Taste Talks, that is!
The second seminar in our ongoing Taste Talks series focused on Quebec artisan cheeses, and we were very lucky to have expert Lise Morissette from Plaisirs Gourmet lead our two sessions.
We were lucky enough to have nine of the best Quebec cheeses available here in Ontario. Differing somewhat in style from our European seminar, all were treated to wonderful anecdotes and personal stories of the creation of many of these cheeses. Plaisirs Gourmets have been on the forefront of the Quebec artisan cheese movement for many years, and were actually instrumental in helping to create some of the cheeses we enjoy today.
A new arrival to our warehouse was the Petits-Vieux from Fromagerie Medard. A firm, brushed rind cheese that has a nose heavy with mineral notes and engaging mustiness, a hallmark of actually being aged in a stone cellar. With a texture reminiscent of the large traditional cheese of the Auvergne region in France, Cantal, its flavour is like a fine, mildy piquant cheddar blended with cultured butter.
While both of the below blue cheeses; Rassembleu & Fleuron, hail from the Laurentides north of Montreal, the pale ivory Tomme des Demoiselles in the back has a slightly longer journey to your table. Made from the milk of a single herd of vache Canadienne in the Madeleine Islands by Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent, this cheese would require a five hour ferry, and then a twenty-ish hour drive to Quebec City…. Fortunately, it arrives by boat and gets to skip the whole Nova Scotia-New Brunswick-Gaspe Peninsula road trip we would have to endure.
I would be quite remiss not to discuss Fleuron, the simply wonderful blue pictured above. I have a special place in my heart, as it is my favourite Quebec blue cheese. Using their own certified organic milk, it is one of only four cheeses made by the Alary family at Les Fromageries de la Table Ronde. Soft, creamy, and with subtle blue veining, Fleuron has a complexity not often rivaled. It has a grassy bitterness similar to that of the highest quality Spanish olive oils, and a salinity that reminds one of the ocean… so one could easily be forgiven for wanting to melt a wedge into a bowl of new crop baby potatoes…and then having a long nap.
The full list of cheeses from the tasting plate above are as follows: Rang des Iles, 14 Arpents, Belle-Mere, Petits-Vieux, Tomme des Demoiselles, Menestrel, Zacharie Cloutier, Rassembleu, & Fleuron. As a nice treat to end the tasting, we were all given a healthy chunk of Riopelle d’Isle, the venerable stalwart of Quebec artisan cheese.
The milk for the cheeses of Fromagerie Medard that Lise is passionately describing in the above photo come from the family farm that has been in the possession of the Medard family for five generations, since 1881. As the story goes, they acquired the 100 acres for farming from a grant from the Quebec government, giving land to families with 12 living children… TWELVE!
Another Taste Talk in the books… I have it on good authority that the next few will feature some of our some of favourite meats… so check back for details soon!