Starting with the first edition, Daily Farms of Canada have spared no effort in order to make the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix an outstanding event. The Grand Prix generates ever-increasing interest, as much from cheese makers as from cheese lovers. With this competition and the prizes offered, Dairy Farmers of Canada contributes to the development of the Canadian Cheese market and offers continuous support to the dairy industry. The DFC represents approximately 12,965 dairy farmers.
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 markers in their search for excellence and in the development of new products and gives them a chance to benefit from the many positive outcomes of a Grand Prix victory. The Grand Champion is chosen among the Category Champions taking into account points attributed to each category winner and other weighting factors determined by the jury. Champions chosen in each of the 18 categories, as well as the Grand Champion, were awarded their prizes on April 20th 2011 at the Palais Royale in Toronto during the Gala of Champions.
From the point of view of economic activity generated, the Canadian Cheese industry is mostly concentrated in Ontario and Quebec with 76.5% of cheese varieties produced in Quebec. Cheddar is the heavyweight champion at retail, followed by processed cheese and Mozzarella. In the fine cheese category, Feta sells the most, followed by Brie/Camembert, Havarti, Swiss and Gouda.
The Dairy Farmers of Canada were ever so kind to send me their favorite cheeses from the competition as I was unable to attend the event. I decided to invite a few of my favorite people over to sample Canada’s “Fromage Prix” paired with the “Porsche of German Beer,” Krombacher Pils.
We sampled the following award winning cheeses:
Awarded Grand Champion, Firm Cheese, Farmhouse Cheese and Organic Cheese
Louis d’Or by Fromagerie du Presbytere in Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick Quebec
Awarded Flavoured Cheese with Added Non-particulate Flavouring
Smoked Boerenkaas by Natural Pasture Cheese Company in British Colombia
Awarded Semi-soft Cheese
Lankaaster Gouda Traditionnel by Glengarry Fine Cheese in Ontario
Awarded Blue Cheese
Le Bleu d’Elizabeth by Fromagerie du Presbytere in Quebec
Awarded Aged Cheddar 1-3 Years
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar by Cows Creamy in Prince Edward Island
The Perfect Pairings:
Krombacher Pils is a hoppy, champagne bubbly, premium lager which pairs well with many cheeses. We conducted our tasting with glasses of water, crisp apple slices, rustic flax rye bread, cocktail onions and bottles of Krombacher Pils. We first sampled the cheeses (at room temperature) from mild to strong (starting with the Gouda and finishing with the Blue). We first assessed the cheeses in appearance, aroma, texture, mouth feel and flavour using apple and water to cleanse the palate between each cheese tasting. Once each cheese had been reviewed we cracked open ice cold bottles of Krombacher Pils and assessed how this premium German Pilsner pairs with Canada’s Award Winning Cheeses. We have used a classic 5 Star system to indicate the agreeableness of each pairing.
Naturally Smoked Boerenkaas was our clear winner with 5 Stars. This cheese was not just our favorite cheese sampled but it had us falling over when paired with Krombacher Pils. The intense natural smoke of this cheese is reminiscent of the aroma of chacuterie. The paste when warmed on the palate was reminiscent of thick cream cheese icing and featured heaven sent lactose crystals. This cheese is perfectly paired with Krombacher on a slice of German rye bread, grainy mustard and pickles.
A close second was the Louis d’Or, with 4 Stars, which is stylistically very much like Gruyere of Switzerland. The hop of the Pils cuts through the sweet caramel notes of this Grand Champion.
Coming in at 3 Stars the Lankaaster Gouda Traditionnel was a pleasant pairing with the bubble and hop of Krombacher Pils.
Le Bleu d’Elizabeth and Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar both received 2 Stars when paired with Krombacher Pils. The bubble and hop of the Pils did nothing for the mustiness of the Blue and Cheddar. These excellent cheeses would be bettered enjoyed with port, sherry or a creamy ale.