At the 27th Annual American Cheese Society (ACS) Judging and Competition in Montreal, Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue was crowned Best in Show, beating out 1675 other entries. The ACS is the largest cheese competition in North America and often is referred to as the “Academy Awards of Cheese.”

This is the second time in three years that Rogue Creamery and its signature blue cheese, Rogue River Blue, have won this prestigious award. The creamery is owned by Cary Bryant and David Gremmels and in Central Point, Oregon.

“We are honored by this recognition of Rogue River Blue, an American blue that represents the flavors of our region,” says Co–owner and Cheesemaker Bryant. “We enter the ACS Competition and Judging annually for the score sheets. Both technical and aesthetic cheese judges from around the world take part in this competition and provide invaluable feedback on the cheeses they score. The Best of Show for us not only celebrates Rogue River Blue as the finest cheese in North America, but it showcases our teams’ dedication to quality from the dairy, to the make room, aging caves and packaging.”

Co-owner and Cheesemaker Gremmels adds, “It takes a lot of hard work, planning and passion to make Rogue River the most distinctive blue cheese in the world. The recognition from ACS affirms this effort put forth to achieve the distinguishing flavor character, texture and quality inherent in a raw milk cheese.”

Rogue River Blue is handmade using autumnal equinox milk from Brown Swiss and Holstein cows’ milk, certified sustainable by Food Alliance. The cows graze in 1,650-foot elevation pastures along the Rogue River and in 5,000-foot elevation pastures along the Klamath River, where they eat a variety of grasses, wild herbs, and wild flowers supplemented with grass hay, alfalfa and grain grown on the ranch. The 5-pound (2.2-kg) wheels are made by hand and aged in specially constructed caves. The cheese ripens from naturally occurring molds found in the Rogue River Valley and, therefore, reflects a deep connection to the land. After maturation, the cheese is wrapped in Syrah grape leaves from Carpenter Hill Vineyard, which have been macerated in Clear Creek Pear Brandy and tied to the wheel with raffia. The cheese is released annually starting in September.

This year the ship date is scheduled for on or about September 13th. It should be in your favorite specialty cheese shop by the end of the month.

Rogue River Blue was honored as World’s Best Blue at the 16th World Cheese Awards in London, beating out entries from all over the world. That was the first time that an American blue cheese has won the title. The creamery also made history in 2007 by becoming the first American exporter of raw milk cheese to the European Union; its cheese is carried in Whole Foods Market, Neal’s Yard Dairy, London and Fromagerie Laurent Dubois, Paris.

Rogue Creamery was founded in 1928. The Vella family from Sonoma, Calif., acquired it from a co-op in Southern Oregon in 1935. In the 1950s, it began making some of the country’s best blue cheese. In 2002, Ig Vella selected Cary Bryant and David Gremmels as the new owners, and it now produces a variety of award-winning cheeses. It offers the only vertically integrated third-party certified sustainable cheese in the U.S. Its local dairy, Rogue View, and creamery, Rogue Creamery, both are certified sustainable by Food Alliance and Steritech, and certified organic by Oregon Tilth.

In the Pacific Northwest, you can buy Rogue River Blue in late September at select Fred Meyer Stores. Year round, you can find other Award-Winning Rogue Creamery Cheeses at most Fred Meyer Stores. For a location near you, please click here.

Rogue River Blue will also be available at Murray’s Cheese in Manhattan and Murray’s Cheese Shops in select Kroger Stores nationwide. For a list of Murray’s Cheese Shops in Kroger Stores, please click here.

Source: Rogue Creamery

Full FTC Disclosure: The Lady has been invited to “make” (remember… this means hang around in the make room and do things that won’t ruin the cheese…) cheese at Rogue Creamery August 24-26… so… Rogue Creamery has a special place in her heart…
Member, Association of Food Bloggers

Bayley Hazen Blue

July 3, 2011

Made Using Raw Milk

Let’s face it; the good folks of Vermont, for the most part, travel to the beat of a different drum. Despite their unbridled sense of independence, Vermont citizens also possess a great responsibility to each other and the land they call “The Kingdom of Vermont”. .. This attitude has also spilled over to my fellow observers who watch over that Quadrant in the NE United States and SE Canada. The Brain constantly finds himself spending precious time whipping those pesky, independently-thinking felines into line… not unlike herding cats… but I digress…

In the mid-1990s, Andy and Mateo Kehler, just out of college, headed to Vermont, land of many pleasant summer childhood memories spent at their grandparents’ home, with just one dream… to grow hops and make beer. What newly-graduated college guys don’t dream of making beer? In my younger days, I dreamt of my own endless fields of catnip, organically grown using sustainable farming practices… ah the good ole days…

The Brothers Kehler bought two hundred acres of farmland near Greensboro, Vermont and began studying the practicality of making beer. It just wasn’t there. Then came tofu; again it was a no go. They looked around and bam!! The light went on; they were in the middle of Dairyland. So… what do you do in the middle of Dairyland? You buy cows and become dairy farmers. Luckily for cheese lovers everywhere, that’s just what they did.

In 1998, Jasper Hills Farm was born and the brothers began to educate themselves on sustainable farming. Mateo, who had a degree in economic development, spent three years working with farmstead cheesemakers in the U.S., England, France and Spain. One of those years was spent working at Neal’s Yard Dairy in England. He also began to develop recipes for making cheeses appropriate for their dairy in the Northeast corner of the Kingdom of Vermont.

Andy has a degree in poli sci and philosophy… philosophy, now I finally know how you use a degree in philosophy… you make cheese… did I say that out loud??? (Andy, no disrespect… please forgive my free association… J) In 1993, Andy worked on a sustainable agriculture project in Chile, which included dairy operations. He is a building inspector and contractor which provided him with the knowledge and skills to design and build a state of the art dairy facility. And that’s exactly what he has done.

In 2002, the brothers bought a herd of 15 Ayrshire heifers and began their adventure making some great cheeses. And then another dream became reality… The Cellars at Jasper Hills… state of the art aging caves where the brothers take the young cheeses of their fellow cheesemakers, age them and prepare them for the consumer.

The Lady and I greatly admire the accomplishments of these two brothers who truly care for the land, the animals and also for other dairy farmers.

The brothers make two cheeses and one is Bayley Hazen Blue. This natural rind blue cheese, made from whole raw Ayrshire milk, primarily uses morning milk with less fat.

The Lady, The Man and I love this cheese. Because it is made with raw milk, the tastes of grass and hints of nuts are stronger than the blue mold making a well-balanced cheese. You get the best of both worlds; raw milk delight and kick from the blue. This cheese is a little drier than many blues and crumbles well. Your next cheese plate should finish with Bayley Hazen Blue.

I give Bayley Hazen Blue 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). 

Serving Suggestions: Even though it crumbles well, I would be reluctant to “waste” this wonderful cheese on a salad… of course, that being said, you’d be talking a superior salad. The Lady served it naked with a warm baguette. The Man swooned and while he was swooning I pawed off an extra serving for myself. The Lady noticed the paw marks but thankfully she was still feeling guilt at leaving me home while she was gallivanting in New York… so she merely smiled… You might drizzle a little honey on this cheese and serve with hazelnuts.

Wine Pairing: Tawny Port or a sweet, chilled dessert wine.

Beer Pairing: A chocolate stout would pair well with Bayley Hazen Blue.

Awards: 2007 ACS 2nd Place in the Open Farmstead Category.

Trivia: Bayley Hazen is an old military road that traverses Northern Vermont. Our first U.S. President, still a General, commissioned the road to carry troops to fight the British on the Canadian front, should one open up. No battle ever took place, but the road carried the first settlers into the Greensboro, Vermont area. The road is still used today.

Number 1 premium imported Blue Cheese

Castello Blue Cheese launches its new name and label in stores this month.
Shoppers are invited to celebrate the official name change from Rosenborg to Castello by entering to win one of five brand-new iPad 2s or one of 10 sets of Orrefors crystal glassware with a signature blue drop. The promotion launched in stores on May 1, and the sweepstakes will be open for online entry through the end of June.
The imported blue cheese and winner of 33 worldwide awards for taste and quality is transitioning its name to Castello. New packaging for the Rosenborg line of blue cheeses, including the Traditional Danish Blue and Extra Creamy Danish Blue in their signature tablepacks, will feature a new logo. The prize-winning cheese inside will not change.
Castello is owned by Arla Foods Inc., which is based in Denmark with production facilities in Michigan and Wisconsin. For more information, visit castellocheeseusa.com.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada held their bi-annual cheese awards this past week and announced winners in seventeen categories plus the grand champion:

Grand Champion:

Louis D’or!! A nine-month aged farmhouse and organic cheese from La Fromagerie du Presbytere located in Quebec. This cheese also won in two categories: Firm Cheese and Farmhouse Cheese. Congratulations!!! La Fromagerie du Presbytere also took the Blue Cheese Category with their Bleu de l’Elizabeth.

The Lady and I have not had the pleasure of tasting this cheese but you can be sure, The Lady is already ferreting out a way to get a wedge into the manse. According to Phil Belanger, Chair of the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Jury and President of the New-Brunswick Chapter de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, ‘’The milky richness of this cheese is a tribute to the organic milk with which it is made. The cheese has a smooth texture, warm nutty and floral notes in aroma and taste’’.

Category Winners:

Fresh Cheese: Mascarpone Tre Stelle, Arla Foods Inc. (ON)

Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind: Island Bries, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks Ltd. (BC)

Semi-soft Cheese: Lankaaster Traditional Gouda, Glengarry Fine Cheese (ON)

Washed-Rind – Soft and Semi-soft Cheese: Le Mont-Jacob, Fromagerie Blackburn (QC)

Firm Cheese: Louis d’Or, Fromagerie du Presbytere (QC)

Swiss-type Cheese: Fromage Suisse Lamaire, Fromagerie Lemaire (QC)

Mozzarella: Bocconcini Santa Lucia, International Cheese Co. Ltd (ON)

Blue Cheese: Le Bleu d’Elizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytere (QC)

Flavoured Cheese with Added Non-particulate Flavouring: Naturally Smoked Boerenkaas, Natural Pastures Company (BC)

Flavoured Cheese with Added Particulate Solids Flavouring: Gouda Herbs & Garlic, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd. (AB)

Mild Cheddar: Mild Cheddar, The Black River Cheese Company Ltd. (ON)

Medium Cheddar: Cheddar moyen Biologique, Fromagerie L’Ancetre (QC)

Old, Extra Old Cheddar: Le Jersey du Fjord, Bergeries du Fjord (QC)

Aged Cheddar (1-3 years): Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery (PEI)

Aged Cheddar (4years+): Cheddar Doyen 4 ans, Fromagerie Perron (QC)

Farmhouse Cheese: Louis D’or, Fromagerie du Presbytere (QC)

The Lady and I congratulate all the winners and hope to soon taste each and every one of them…

Grand Margaux 70% Brie

April 10, 2011

The “Send Marcella to France” Contest (aka officially called the French Cheese Contest) has entered the second period of three, which means The Lady is featuring new cheeses in the contest for four weeks. We will review these cheeses over the next few days. The Kiosk carried some of the newly featured cheeses but there are a few new ones as well.

(Period one of the contest featured Bleu d’Auvergne, Forme d’Ambert and Roquefort, three of the world’s finest Blue Cheeses.)

We will begin with Grand Margaux 70% Brie… just 5% more butterfat and this cheese would be a triple cream. This cheese is nothing short of luscious; creamy, buttery and mild with just a whiff of mushroom. It’s also gorgeous: the bloomy rind is snow white and billowy; the inside edge is slightly oozy and the paste is creamy and dreamy…

 

The Interloper

The Lady baked a French Baguette and The Man and I fought paw-for-paw over who would get the bigger share… if I had that opposable thumb thing going for me, I might have won; but The Lady did intercede and made him share. Even though she has allowed an Interloper to invade my deck, she still has her good points… although she treads on thinner ice every day she feeds that fat cat… but I digress…

 

The next day she delighted us further with Grand Margaux Grilled Cheeses, featured on our Recipe Blog as part of our series “April is Grilled Cheese Month”.

I give Grand Margaux 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: All you have to do is schmear this on a slice of French bread and you’ll be in heaven. You can get creative and add a little Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves. And as mentioned above, you can make a decadent grilled cheese with Grand Margaux.

Wine Pairing: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne

Beer Pairing: French Biere de Garde

Source: Cow’s Milk

 


Made From Raw Sheeps’ Milk

The third featured bleu cheese in the “Send Marcella to France” contest is the quintessential of French Bleu Cheeses: Roquefort. The first AOC-designated cheese, Roquefort received this protection in 1925, was mentioned in history as early as 79AD when Pliny, the Elder, spoke of its rich flavor… who knew, I’d  follow in the steps of one of the great as I sit here today “mentioning Roquefort”…

Legend claims that Roquefort was discovered when a young man, eating a sheeps’ milk cheese sandwich, saw a lovely lass passing by… he abandoned the sandwich in the cave where he sat to chase the girl. Time passes, the boy returns to find that the cheese has molded and voila… Roquefort Cheese was born. It’s almost always about women or money with humankind of the male persuasion… why am I not surprised???

Today, Roquefort is the only bleu cheese still made using the mold grown on rye bread. The mold, Penicillium roqueforti, is found in the soil of the caves where the cheese is aged. The bread is molded for several weeks, ground up and injected into the cheese. It can be added to the curd or later as an aerosol injected into the aging cheese. One of the AOC rules is that this bleu cheese must be aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. 60% of Roquefort is produced by Societe and that is the brand that The Lady sells at her kiosk. Prior to the AOC-designation, a small amount of cow or goat milk was added to the cheese. Now, the cheese is made exclusively from the milk of Lacaune, Manech and Basco-Bearnaise breeds of sheep.

The Lady brought a modest wedge home that she served in two ways. The first was at room temperature and schmeared on French (naturally) bread and then the following day she served a simple romaine salad with Roquefort dressing and Confit of Chicken, sautéed fresh veggies with pasta. This chicken dish came along after watching Emeril Live on the CookingTV Channel, a favorite around the manse.

Roquefort’s veining is more green than “blue” and makes a dramatic presentation. Simply put, this cheese is just as pretty to look at as it is to consume… well, that may be a bit hyperbolic, but not by much. This cheese brings such pleasure to the palate: it starts mild, moves to sweet, then smoky and ends with a salty finish… it just doesn’t get any better than this…

I give Roquefort 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestion: Schmeared on French Bread makes a perfect way to start a meal. You can make a perfect salad dressing using Roquefort or you can add it to tarts, pasta sauces and if you really want to impress family or friends, use it for a specialty mac n cheese.

Wine Suggestion: The Lady served a favorite of hers, Chateau de Sancerre.

Beer SuggestionBrasserie Saison Fantome

Source: 100% Raw Sheeps’ Milk

Trivia: Before the discovery of penicillin, it was common for shepherds to apply this cheese to wounds to avoid gangrene.


The second featured bleu in the “Send Marcella to France” Cheese Contest is also from the Auvergne region of France.

This cheese is considered one of the oldest of cheeses, possibly dating back to the Druids. This cheese may have hung out at Stonehenge for all we know…

It is also one of the mildest of blues and for those who claim they “hate” blue cheese; this makes a good “starter” cheese into the wonderful world of bleus.

The naturally bloomy rind of this cylindrical cheese is gray with a strong, earthy smell. Inside, though, is a mild and delicate fruity paste. It is not as weepy as Bleu d’Auvergne but just as creamy with lots of blue veining. The Lady served this cheese with Dare Water Crackers and drizzled honey on top while Edith Piaf sang Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien in the background… BTW, I was familiar with Edith before Francophilia invaded the manse… now, some days I think I have become Edith Piaf… but I digress…

So revered is this cheese that a statue in the shape of Fourme d’Ambert graces the door of the Chapel at Chaulme in Auvergne. However, let’s be honest here, this cheese looks like a blue cheese log, the statue might be homage to the logging industry… just saying…

Like Bleu d’Auvergne, Fourme d’Ambert is AOC protected earning this prestige in 2000, seventy-five years after the third bleu featured in the contest and the next cheese I will review, Roquefort.

Let me end this review with “Pour le peuple de Paris, aujourd’hui et à jamais, je suis français!!”

I give Fourme d’Ambert 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: This cheese goes well with chocolate, although The Lady refuses me to allow me to verify this pairing… but with honey and crackers, it is a winner. Personally, I find that it pairs well with Castor canadensis, especially the Oregon variety (with apologies to The Lady’s boss man, Rob…)

Wine Pairing: A glass of Port goes quite well with this cheese

Beer Pairing: Chocolate Stout and the world is perfect.

Source: Pasteurized Cow’s Milk

Whole Foods’ Cheese Plate

February 17, 2011

The Lady and The Man stopped in the local Whole Foods to buy some White Truffle Oil and while there, The Lady couldn’t resist checking out the cheese counter. Whole Foods carries many cheeses that The Lady doesn’t carry at her kiosk. She went through the small morsel basket and came up with six small pieces she used to make up a Valentine’s Day Cheese Plate:

Before I begin, let me express a bit of disappointment that two of the pieces had mold under the label side although the dates were well in the distance. We all realize this can happen, but when cheeses are in the $10-$40 a pound range, you’d prefer to know they are freshly wrapped. Also, a couple of the pieces were on the dry side which also indicated more age than the label dates indicated… The Lady simply trimmed the mold away; but had these been larger sizes, she would have returned them. Do NOT hesitate to return cheese to your cheesemonger when you feel its quality is lacking in any manner…

Now for the cheeses we sampled:

Boschetto al Tartufo Il Forteto Coop: this semi-soft cheese from Italy is a mixed-milk cheese using cow and sheep milk and added to it are black truffles. The cheese is both sweet and savory with just a touch of salt. The truffles add a pleasant earthy and garlicky flavor. Neither the cheese nor the truffles over-powered the other and actually were complimentary. The Man was quite taken with this cheese, although he didn’t swoon… ($38.99 a pound)

Next on the plate was Cypress Grove’s Lambchopper: A sheep’s milk Gouda made in Europe exclusively for Mary Keehn’s Cypress Grove. In keeping with Mary’s sense of humor, her website states that this cheese is “Born to be mild”. This was the favorite of the three of us, particularly The Man who actually did swoon while eating this sample. The Lady had to go through the “Sharing is a Virtue” drill… This cheese was sweet and tangy and although mild, the sweetness lingers. This is a cheese that The Lady calls “Kid-friendly”. And it is Vegetarian suitable. ($27.99 a pound)

Tumalo Farm’s Rimrocker: Named after the rocky cliffs that surround Tumalo Farms, this semi-hard cheese is a mixture of organic cow’s milk from a neighboring farm and Tumalo’s own farmstead goats’ milk. As it ages, the flavor becomes more full-bodied. The piece we sampled was a little drier than we felt it should be and The Lady plans to buy another piece at another WF and taste it again before making a final decision on that issue. The flavor was mild with just the right touch of goat tang. ($21.99 a pound)

Leyden with Cumin from Best Uniekaas: Leyden in a Dutch Gouda seasoned with cumin and caraway seeds. In Holland it is called “komijnekaas” which means cumin cheese but due to its popularity in the region around Leiden, it is exported as Leyden. This was our least favorite; none of us cared for the cumin flavor in the cheese even though we love cumin in Mexican dishes… ($12.99 a pound)

Cordobes Mitica: A Merino Sheep milk cheese imported exclusively from Spain for Whole Foods by Mitica. This cheese is similar in taste and texture to Manchego which is a favorite around the manse. Again, this piece was a little drier than we like but the flavor wasn’t diminished by the dryness and with Vintner’s Kitchen’s Port Cherry Marmalade, the taste sensations were delightful. One thought about the Port Cherry Marmalade; a little less liquid would be better. The taste, however, was perfect; just tart enough and just sweet enough. ($16.99 a pound)

Reggianito Argentina from Provvista: The last sample was Parmesan from Argentina. Reggianito, which means “small Reggiano”, is a hard cheese similar to Parmigiano Reggiano and was first made in this South American country by the Italian immigrants who missed the parms of their homeland. This cheese is produced in smaller wheels rather than the huge wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is aged 5-6 months and generally used in cooking or grated on pasta dishes. However, serving it at room temperature and as the last cheese of the plate was a perfect end to our cheese plate. The Man topped this cheese with a little dollop of Vintner’s Kitchen’s Raspberry Mimosa Gelee and then he swooned… ($9.99 a pound)

It’s actually hard to rate this cheese plate when the quality (due to post-cheesemaker care) of a couple of the cheeses is in question… but I’ll go with 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). However, I have to give the Cypress Grove Lambchopper 4 Paws out of 4 Paws…


Like most cheesemongers we had a cheese drawer in the fridge (recently, we “upgraded” to our own mini-fridge just for cheese) filled with various cheeses that are acquired through samples sent our way and cheeses The Lady buys to taste and get to know. She also visits cheese shops and combs through their markdown baskets* looking for gems at bargain prices. As a result, she can put together a respectable cheese plate most any evening or throw together a yummy mac n cheese or au gratin when the fancy strikes.

However, we also keep a staple of cheeses on hand that The Lady calls her “everyday” cheeses. With these cheeses, you are never at a loss regarding lunch or a snack.  The two criteria in choosing “everyday” cheeses are: accessible taste-wise and cheeses that won’t kill the budget.

These are the cheeses you will find in “my” fridge everyday of the week:

Cheddar. This is a “universal donor” cheese; you can never go wrong with this cheese and it pretty much goes with anything: fruits, nuts, on sandwiches and for snacking. My personal favorite is from the local Tillamook Co-Op: 2-year Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar. This is a full-flavored cheddar. If you want something milder, go with a medium sharp cheddar. You’re looking at under $5.00 a pound and if you’re a member of Costco or another Club Store, the price will be even lower. (This cheese may have been discontinued by Tillamook – still awaiting confirmation… what a travesty for the cheese world, if true… will advise…)

Swiss. Another must-have cheese in the house. For kids, Jarlsberg is almost always a winner and again the price is right. You can move up to a cave-aged Swiss but the price will rise considerably.

Gouda. Aged Goudas are among the best hard cheeses in the world and many of them are quite affordable. You can also find smoked Gouda and young Gouda for a very fair price and again, Gouda can be used in so many ways.

Parmesan. If you enjoy making pasta dishes, then you have to keep a Parm in the house and a couple of the domestic Parms can go toe-to-toe with the Italian greats and when it comes to price, hands down domestic is the way to go. BelGioioso’s American Grana is a terrific Parm as is Sartori’s SarVecchio. Both are multiple award-winning cheeses and often half the price of Parmigiano-Reggiano. And don’t ever forget Parrano, the Dutch Gouda that thinks it’s parmesan; this is another of the great cheeses that we always have on hand…

Blue Cheese. The last cheese you want to keep around the house, especially if you are into making salads, is a quality blue cheese. Wisconsin’s Black River Blue and Gorgonzola cheeses are high quality without the high cost. You can buy Black River for under $10 a pound and it has a nice shelf life.

Alpine-Style Cheese. A new addition to the “everyday” “must-carry” cheese around the manse. Gruyere and Comte are the most popular in this category. You may recall The Lady went to Wisconsin as a guest of The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and made Gran Cru Gruyere at the Roth Kase plant in Monroe.

To maximize your cheese’s life, wrap in waxed paper and place inside a zipper-style bag, leaving a bit of the zipper open. Cheese is living and needs to breathe. If the cheese develops mold, slice it off. While you don’t want to eat the mold, the mold doesn’t hurt the taste or quality of the cheese. We joke about knowing when blue cheese has gone bad… not to worry… you’ll know. If it doesn’t smell and taste “right”; then it’s probably time to toss it. But most cheeses, when wrapped properly, can live and thrive in your fridge for weeks or even months with harder and low-moisture cheeses, assuming you don’t eat them quickly.

*Most cheese departments have baskets where they put cheese that has a close-to-expiring selling date. Most cheeses have long shelf lives (brie and triple creams being exceptions) and many get better with age. These baskets are a great place to find cheeses to make up a very proper cheese plate. At The Lady’s cheese island, the cheeses will be marked half price; you can’t beat the bargain price for specialty cheeses. Also, many cheese shops, including The Lady’s Kiosk, have baskets of small morsels of cheese – usually under $3.00 each – great way to try specialty cheese without taking out a loan…

For more information regarding the types of cheese made, please check out Cheese 101: The Eight Faces of Cheese.

(Stay Tuned: we are only 6 posts and pages away from our 500th post here (doesn’t include our sister recipe blog, cheesemonger recipes). We have big plans for 500!!)

This past August (2010) The Lady, The Man and I took our well-documented road trip to Seattle for the 2010 American Cheese Society Conference held at the Downtown Seattle “No Pets” Sheraton.

While The Lady attended the festivities, The Man and I hung out at our Cheese Bunker located somewhere in the suburbs where pets were welcome. Unfortunately, we chose a motel in the same neighborhood where a dog show was also being staged. In addition to being banned from attending the ACS because of the Sheraton “No Pets” rule, your humble Feline Foodie was forced to endure the cacophony of hundreds of dogs who all had inflated egos… after all… they were “Show Dogs”… This may seem minor to humankinds, but dogs smell, well, like dogs and to the felines of the world, that smell signals trouble with a capital T which rhymes with C and stands for Canines…

My first clue that travail was afoot came when the room next to us became occupied…yep… with dogs… and I mean lots of dogs… I was napping when I heard a burst of activity next door. Then I heard sniffing at the communal door between the two rooms… at first I ignored the sniffing, but it became louder as more and more dogs joined the chorus… no doubt, they had caught my scent and were clearly curious. Finally I could stand it no longer and wandered over to the door and took a whiff myself… the scent almost knocked me over… there is nothing sadder than dogs who have been pampered with sprays and powders to make them smell like a bunch of doggie pussies…

To make matters worse, when I decided to lay up against the door, to annoy the yappers their scent took on fear as well as peaches and wet, doggie fur… sheesh… isn’t it a requirement that “show” dogs still have their balls??? As I would later discover there were eight of them next door and yet, they were afraid of one little feline lying by “their” door…

But I digress… seriously digress and I extend my most sincere apologies to the cheesemakers and the cheeses we are about to review…

On Friday of the conference, the Foods of Quebec sponsored the last luncheon. The 2011 ACS will be held in Montreal and it was a chance for the French Canadians to showcases the foods and cheeses of Quebec. As I was not able to attend, the following reviews are those of The Lady.

The menu was developed by Chef Paul Little of the Westin Hotel Montreal. (Although the Montreal Ritz-Carlton claims he has been their Executive Chef since 2000.)

The luncheon began with Smoked Trout and Salmon Tartar with Dill Crème Fraiche. This was served with freshly baked artisan breads and Sweet Cream Butter. The entrée was seared Lake Brome Duck with apple/cranberry chutney. The duck was served with a mulled port wine reduction on couscous and mini market-fresh vegetables. The Lady said the duck was divine… had I been consulted by Chef Little, I would have suggested that the duck be part of a Quebec Mixed Grill to also include Coccothraustes vespertinus and Rangifer tarandus.

After the entrée, the Quebec Cheese plate was served, accompanied by Neige Apple Ice Wine, a dessert wine that The Lady loved. She will review it at a later date.

From Fromagerie Tournevant, the first cheese on the plate was Chevre Noir, award-winning goat cheddar that derives its name from the black wax that protects the starkly-white cheese. This sharp and slightly herbal cheese was a terrific start for the plate.

Next on the plate was a Sheeps’ Milk Blue Cheese from Fromagerie La Moutonniere located in Ste-Helene de Chester, Quebec. The rind is craggy and definitely rustic and the cheese inside is buttery and mellow. Not only a gorgeous cheese, but one that delights the palate. The cheese has an earthy pungency; the paste is slightly yellow and the veining is more green than blue. The flavor is big, bold but not sharp. It’s more complex than over-powering. Another terrific cheese from Quebec. This cheese took home a 1st Place in its Class at the 2010 American Cheese Society Awards.

The third cheese on the plate was a Swiss-style cheese, Frere Jacques from Abbaye St. Benoit du Lac. This cheese has large eyes, is a mature, hard cheese that is halfway between Jarlsberg and Emmenthaler in taste intensity. The Lady liked this cheese and called it “Kid-Friendly”. This cheese took home 2nd Place in Class at the 2010 American Cheese Awards.

The fourth cheese was Le Guillaume Tell, Brie from Fromagerie de Domaine Feodal. This cheese is washed with ice cider and tastes like cream and fermented apples. The aroma is a combination of mushrooms and apples. It melted on The Lady’s palate; she was in heaven. This cheese took home a 3rd Place Award in its Class at the 2010 American Cheese Society Awards.

The last cheese on the Quebec Cheese Plate was from Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, Tomme du Haut Richelieu, a goats’ milk cheese that was created out of necessity. The cheesemaker had more goat milk than needed to make its Chevrochon and opted to make a longer-shelf life cheese. Tomme du Haut Richelieu has a thin washed-rind in shades of pale orange, covered with a thin white mould. The paste is beige at the rind and fades into a creamy white at the center. It smells like wet earth and grass after a spring rain. The rind has a mineral taste and the paste has a nice, tangy goat taste without that bucky-aftertaste that sometimes comes with aged goat cheese (such as that dreadful English hard goat cheddar that I soooo dislike…)

But that was not the end of the cheese course… in the center of the table was the 2009 Best Cheese in the World as declared at the 2009 World Cheese Awards: Le Cendrillon produced in Quebec by La Maison Alexis de Portneuf. This is a goats’ milk cheese covered in vegetable ash and surface-ripened with a slightly sour taste, again with just a nudge of goat tang. The cheese comes in a small log shape and the table shared this treasure.

The Lady gives the French-Canadian Cheese Plate 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got to share with her).

After the cheese plate, a pear and maple tart was served with Sortilege English Cream. You can never go wrong with pear and maple…

The Lady hopes to attend the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference so that she can taste and enjoy more Flavors of Quebec…