Cheese: Tomme de Grosse-Ile

The cheese dairy of Ile-Aux-Grues in Quebec was inspired by the rich history of Grosse Ile, one of the twenty one islands that make up the Ile-Aux-Grues archipelago. It is a national historic site that commemorates the importance of Canadian immigration between the beginning of the 19th century and WW1.

Tomme de Grosse Île travels either by boat or by air to reach mainland Quebec from its island home. Contained in its rough, warm brown rind, the cheese has a rugged appearance and looks ready to weather any perilous journey. The growing cheese industry on the Île-aux-Grues was created by necessity. The island’s inhabitants had originally been exporters of potatoes, but low profits spurred farmers to switch to dairy. There was only one problem – how to get the milk across the St. Lawrence River to the Quebec mainland. Transportation was limited to a ferry in summer and a small plane in winter. The solution was to turn the island’s milk into something more portable – cheese.

The cheese is made from the milk of Swiss Brown cows raised on hay from the Island’s Tideland. This unpasteurized cheese has a perfect, uniform, semi-soft paste strewn with “eyes.” This surface ripened cheese lasts longer than a soft cheese. Its brushed rind and its uniform texture with small cavities bring a woodsy flavour with a slightly acidulous and fruity taste.

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