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Saturday, May 4, 2013
Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Luncheon, April 22, 2013
The Date and Time: Monday, April 22, 2013
The Event: Canadian Cheese Grand Prix 2013 presentation of winners in 19 categories. Plus the Grand Champion of 2013.
The Venue: TIFF Bell Blue Room
The Target Audience: wine and food media
The Availability/Catalogue: all cheeses are for sale by their respective producers. We sampled the biennial winners, as presented by Chef Michael Howell, former owner of Tempest Restaurant, Nova Scotia, and current spokesperson-chef for the Dairy Farmers of Canada.
The Quote/Background: It was a small group, about 32 invitees. In February, 225 cheeses (cow milk only) were rated out of 100 points over two days in Montreal, and winners were later announced. Today was a presentation to food writers. The Grand Champion was the ricotta from Quality Cheese Inc. of Ontario. The categories, of course, included many levels for cheddars (depending on age), different styles of fresh cheeses, hard cheeses, blues, flavoured cheeses, and now organic cheeses.
The Cheeses: some of the more interesting cheeses were Le Mamirolle (Quebec, a washed-rind cheese), Grizzly Gouda (Alberta), Louis D'or (Quebec, a Swiss-type), Bleu d'Elizabeth (my overall fave, a blue from Quebec that was unpasteurized and organic), Applewood Smoked Cheddar (PEI), and a Five-Year Old Cheddar from Black River (PEC in Ontario). There were comments back and forth between Chef Howell and the audience. Dairyfarmers.ca is the DFC website, with more data on the cheeses and the competition.
The Wines: we were served Cave Spring Meritage (bottled for Biff's) and Cave Spring Riesling (bottled for Canoe).
The Food: we sampled all the cheeses (with seconds) and breads. In addition, we had some great wild BC salmon tacos, an Indian ball, and some veggie sushi. For dessert, there was an excellent Grand Champion ricotta pannacotta with strawberries. Chef Jason Bangerter of O & B prepared the food; he won the DFC Grilled Cheese competition at the CNE last year (Chef Howell had won it the year before).
The Downside: it was lightly attended, which was a shame for such an important food event. Also, I have always disagreed with the biennial time period one really needs an annual event to keep up and to maintain a forward motion. On the other hand, it may be useful for the sheep and goat cheese producers to step in during the alternate years, and do their own version of prize-winning cheeses using goat/sheep milks.
The Upside: hey, a chance to see my son-in-law, Chef Michael Howell (minor conflict-of-interest noted).