Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cheeses save!

Okay I'll stop with the corny titles soon, but friends and I came up with this one last night (admittedly we had been drinking a lot of wine) over our "Maritime cheese plate." Now admittedly, dairy is one area where we really don't have any problem finding local products. Sussex is of course a dairy capitol and between the two big daries (although Baxter's is owned by the big Italian conglomerate Saputo) in the province and the big cheese and butter producers both there and in PEI (ADL) it isn't too hard. So people, put down that no-name cheddar and reach slightly to your right in the cheese cooler and you'll find Maritime products. Not that hard, not that big a price difference, generally much tastier, they haven't travelled that far and they keep jobs and farms going in the Maritimes etc.

Even better, you can get amazing cheese and dairy products, "naturally produced" (but I'm not sure what that means yet, I'll try to drop in on the farm, but I'm quite sure you're avoiding additives and hormones) from Armadale in Roachville. Armadale's many cheeses are pretty widely available - Saint John City Market, Dieppe Market, Boyce's Farmer's market in Fredericton, Kredl's, Cochrane's, to name a few places. They do great cheddars, goudas, curds, yoghurt, quark, buttermilk, butter - you know your go-to dairy stuff. What I like to think of as everyday cheese - although maybe not everyone consider cumin gouda "everday" - I do however. Armadale is also doing a cow's milk feta (again, an everyday cheese to me). It's a nice dry feta. Great for cheese plates and salads. (For melty, pasta feta I still like Homestead feta from NS - you can actually get it at the Super Store).

However, there are also some artisanal cheese producers in NB and NS doing amazing things. So on our lovely cheese plate last night were some great goat cheeses - fantastic if you have trouble with cow's milk - made in the traditional way that is hard to find even in France these days. In NB, starting with the furthest away is the "Fromagerie au fond des bois" in Rexton, which does amazing goat cheese - beautiful little washed rind, soft goat cheese the like of which I've only since in France and Portugal - oh, and BC. They do ash-rolled soft goat cheese, and hard goat cheese and you name it. Things of beauty and amazing flavour. Now I used to have to go to Dieppe or Moncton to find these cheeses - or you can go to Les Gourmands in Moncton - but now they're being brought in to Kingston's Farmers market (Homestead Cheese Shoppe). Beautiful. And so are some of the cheeses from our incredible fromagerie - Bergerie de 4 vents - which puts out a camembert to die for (La Dune) and other sheep, cow and goat cheeses. Indeed, their first cheese - the semi-pressed, sheep's cheese, Le Sieur de Duplessis - is getting national recognition. See the write up in the Globe and Mail
(Apparently the Sieur is also available at the new Costco in Saint John)
For more on the Fromagerie au fond des Bois see:
Au fond des bois You can visit them on Tues, Thurs and Sunday afternoons in the summer. So if you're up that way check it out.

Both the Sieur de Duplessis and a "Barbizon" soft goat cheese from au fond des Bois were on our platter last night as well as a camembert from 4 vents and a "gris blue" coming from a fromagerie in Bouctouche (I'll have to find out more on this one) - ash covered, mixed blue and soft goat. Fantastic. However I must admit the salt addicted, high-flavour seeking folks at the table (okay that includes me) couldn't past the Dragon's Breath blue from That Dutchman in Economy, NS. The Dragon's Breath is the Dutchman's (famous for his amazing goudas) favourite cheese, and one can see why. It's a black wax wrapped blue that knocks the socks off you - and you just can't help going back for more. Bring on the Newman's Port (Newfoundlanders will know what I'm talking about).
You don't have to go to Lower Economy however - the Dutchman's stuff is usually available at the venerable Masstown Market (just off the Trans Canada before you hit Truro in well, Masstown, 2 mins from the highway - the Masstown Market prides itself on providing local products so it's a good place to check in on your next drive through to Halifax).

Nova Scotia of course has a number of cheese places, Fox Hill Farms in the Annapolis Valley, for example: . But for goat cheese I think NB has it wrapped up. In any case, this is one food group for which there are absolutely no excuses for not buying local.... (okay, maybe parmesan, but I'll get back to you on that...)

1 comment:

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