Bastille Day, and its focus on French cheese, may be over – but how about a visit to French-speaking Canada? Via cheese, of course.
I traveled to Vancouver recently for the wedding of some college friends, and our quick visit had to include a stop at a local cheese shop. Les Amis du Fromage, run by the mother/daughter team of Alice & Allison Spurrell, carries cheeses from a number of countries, but I took the opportunity to pick up several Canadian cheeses since they are scarce in Minneapolis. I was particularly impressed with two specimens from Quebec – a nutty, Swiss-style cheese called Miranda and a raw sheep’s-milk beauty, Zacharie Cloutier.
Miranda, pictured above, is the creation of La Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, who has been making cheeses in Noyan, Quebec, near the New York border, for more than 30 years. A pasteurized cow’s-milk cheese aged for eight to 12 months, Miranda won the prestigious Grand Prix des Fromages Canadians in 2006. I’d put Miranda up against many of the top Alpine cheeses I’ve sampled – it’s creamy and full-bodied, coating the palate with its slight almond undertone. It could pair with either a red or white, but I’d be more apt to enjoy Miranda with a medium-bodied red from the Pacific Northwest.
Zacharie Cloutier, pictured right, offers a more delicate taste than Miranda – not surprising for a younger cheese. Made from raw sheep’s milk at La Fromagerie Nouvelle France, it’s aged for four to 6 months and features a kicky zig-zag orange rind. Though the cheesemaker describes Zacharie Cloutier as buttery, I found it to have gentler, floral flavors than rich, buttery ones. It doesn’t come across as strongly as a Manchego – I could detect no residual oiliness that sheep’s-milk cheeses often feature. Pair with a Chablis or another dry white wine – or, if you’re like me, break all the rules and go for a Spanish red like Tempranillo.
Stay tuned later this week to learn about deux fromages from British Columbia that I brought across the border, too. O Canada! Who knew you had such fantastic cheese?