Recently I was lucky enough to be the recipient of a "care package" of Grand Prix cheese from the Dairy Farmers of Canada. With this offering in hand I hastily organized a modest cheese tasting at my house with S., my sister, her boyfriend, Randy, Leith and myself in attendance. While Leith offered little more to the situation than a few mmms, ahhs and more, pleases, I don’t think it is ever too early to nourish an appreciation for cheese.
The beautiful, warm spring day was coming to a close with a flash thunderstorm as our guests arrived. We gave them the official tour of our house (Randy had never been to our place before), as Leith ran circles around everyone offering toys and potties and cookies whenever a break in conversation allowed. After the niceties we adjourned to the living room and settled into some serious cheese tasting.
The rather generous sampling included 5 selections:
1. Kenogami from Fromagerie Lehmann in Quebec (the 2009 Grand Champion and winner in the washed-rind cheese category).
2. Le Ciel de Charlevois from La Maison D’affinage Maurice Dufour Inc. in Quebec (winner in the blue cheese category).
3. Cows Extra Old Cheddar from Cows Inc. in Prince Edward Island (winner in the Old, Extra Old Cheddar category).
4. Evanturel from Thornloe Cheese in Ontario (one of the finalists in the soft cheese with bloomy rind category).
5. Island Bries from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks Ltd. in British Columbia (one of the finalists in the soft cheese with bloomy rind category).
I have to be perfectly honest here: I adore cheese. I could probably live off it if it wouldn’t kill me to do so. I like soft cheeses and hard ones, mild cheeses and moldy, stinky ones. Every time I walk into a cheese shop it takes me a very long time to make a choice and I will often have to take a small sampling of at least five or six before narrowing the list down to a scant two or three. Cheese goes with everything and does truly make just about anything taste better.
My name is Jennifer and I am a Cheese-aholic.
So what did we think of these three award winning and two finalist cheeses? To put it in a nutshell (mmmm, nuts go well with cheese) we liked them all. They were all delicious and well rounded in their flavours. It was a fantastic selection. If you want a few more detailed comments, I am, of course, happy to oblige.
1. The "Kenogami" has a mild aroma filled with herbs and flowers. It has a mild buttery flavour and a soft, supple texture. It was the "Grand Champion" in the Cheese Grand Prix and I believe it held up to this title in my own cheese tasting. We all really enjoyed it and thought it was definitely a cheese we would want to try again and would likely recommend it to friends in the future. I think it would be delicious melted on a roast beef sandwich and did in fact manage to save a few small bits to melt on a hamburger the next day, which was amazing.
2. The "Le Ciel de Charlevois", a fairly mild blue, was creamy and had a lovely and not over-powering bite. My sister loves blue cheese and this one certainly did not disappoint. It would be the perfect cheese to use in an onion tart or in blue cheese biscuits where the flavour would not be too overwhelmed.
3. The "Cows Extra Old Cheddar" was the only disappointment in the group. I am a HUGE fan of old cheddar, and I was expecting more from this award-winning sample. It was milder than expected and simply did nothing for us on any level. I did melt it on some crusty foccacia a day later and though it looked deliciously brown and melty (is that even a word?) it still just didn’t measure up in terms of flavour.
4. The "Evanturel" was an interesting brie-style cheese with a line of edible vegetable ash running through its centre. It had an aroma of mushrooms and earthiness and an especially smooth texture. I did a little research and Brian O’Connor, the executive director of Thornloe Cheese, is quoted as saying, "We think the ash makes the cheese a bit creamier – that it has a hygroscopic effect and draws moisture into the cheese itself." Whatever it does, this cheese was creamy, delicious and definitely something I would want to eat again, and again, and again.
5. The "Island Bries", with its quirky name, was quite possibly the creamiest brie I have ever tasted. Brie is hardly an exciting cheese next to the alternatives; it has been around forever and hasn’t really changed much. As Randy said, we’ve been eating brie since it was "cool" in the 80’s – what more can they possibly do with it?! We all ate our words once we tasted this creamy, buttery cheese with a velvety white rind. It is officially my new favourite brie.
It was a great evening and we all really enjoyed the selection of cheeses we tasted. I’d love to do it again – but I don’t think that comes as a surprise, considering my addiction admission from earlier. A big thank-you to the Dairy Farmers and their honorable judges for shedding some light on the fantastic cheeses available across Canada.Read More
Jasmine and I have spent the last month receiving and reading emails about what Canada tastes like to our fellow Canadian (and honourary Canadian!) bloggers. I asked for sweet recipes and Jasmine solicited savoury ones. I think that between the two of us we have officially taken Canada to new gustatory heights. And now it’s your turn to read about these fabulous Canadian sweet (andsavoury!) treats.
I am going to do this round up geographically. I’ll start on the east coast, head west and then go south to our American friends who begged to be honourary Canadians for this celebration. After that I’ll head over to Europe for a few more honourary Canucks and a few Canadians living abroad.
Ready? I want everyone to say it with me: Mmm… Canada!
Ruth of Once Upon a Feast used to live in Toronto but moved out east to Nova Scotia recently. Loving everything the beautiful east coast province has to offer she has written an entry mentioning many of the amazing foodie-oriented benefits that come with living there. From cheeses to wines to herbs and vegetables to vinegars and oils, they are there for the consumption! For her Mmm… Canada Sweet Edition recipe Ruth has graciously submitted her very own Super Strawberry Tart, made with gorgeous local strawberries.
Wandering west we stop in Quebec and are tempted by Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction and her Maple Syrup stories and mentions of Maple Sugar Ragga Muffins. She has also baked up a delectable Maple Syrup Pecan Bundt Cake (that has 2 whole cups of Canada’s delicious “liquid gold” in it!).
Jenny of All Things Edible from Ottawa teases us with tales of Beaver Tails. She then goes on to make something even more delicious with an ingredient that many people consider a rich part of Canadian food culture: Rhubarb. Jenny made a scrumptious batch of Rhubarb ice cream to top a yummy Rhubarb Cobbler. I’m headed out now to scour the neighborhood yards for rhubarb!
Traveling west (probably battling long-weekend traffic on the 401) we stop off in for a pit-stop in lovely Oshawa to see What Smells So Good?. Sarah is baking up a storm, adding the extremely Canadian Crispy Crunch bars, to a batch of brownies to create what might be my new favourite breakfast(!).
Heading a bit further west we hit the ‘big smoke’…Toronto(!) for a couple of bloggers in my area. First up, Candace of Mmm, Tasty! prepares a Maritime sweet treat – Blueberry Grunt (a wild blueberry sauce topped with a sweet biscuit dough, and the dough is steamed until puffed up and cooked through.)
Elizabeth (who was born in Manitoba, grew up in Alberta and now lives in Toronto) of Blog from OUR Kitchen is revisiting memories of her youth and rhubarb with her fabulous Rhubarb Pie recipe. I only wish my own backyard sprouted the delicious Ontario “weed”!
My own creation for this warm Canada Day is Maple Ice Cream with fresh Ontario Blueberries and Strawberries. I think S. and I will be eating it right out of the tub while sitting in the backyard this evening while the fireworks peek through the trees.
Heading about an hour and a quarter west of Toronto, we stop off in picturesque Paris (Paris, Ontario that is!) to see that MsC of My Sweet Cupcakes has been baking up a storm, making batch upon batch of Butter Tarts. Although these little sugar tarts are very much a Canadian confection and there are a million and one recipes for them, Msc wanted to rely on a slightly more “original” version. Her recipe is from a cookbook produced by the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Women’s Auxiliary in Barrie, Ontario in 1900. Obviously this recipe stood the test of time because her tarts look delicious!
Expanding into the province of Ontario we find another group of bloggers who joined in on Mmm… Canada.
The first person we pop in to see is none other than Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict. I figured she would be too busy with her own savoury side of Mmm… Canada to concoct a sweet dish but of course she came through. And what a deliciously tempting dish it is: her very own Spiced Blueberry-Maple Syrup. I am dying for some of this syrup right now…perhaps she and I can do some sort of an Mmm… Canada amalgamation. My ice cream smothered in her syrup? (And of course her Savoury Ramp Rolls would go great alongside my Maple Mustard Moose Wings).
After that we head on over to Kaitlin’s (of Kait’s Plate) in beautiful Essex County and indulge in yet another sweet treat. Her Strawberry-Rhubarb French Toast both looks and sounds like the perfect sweet-tooth breakfast for any patriotic Canadian.
Another fellow Ontarian, Natashaya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies, comes through with her mouth-watering recipe for Mini Maple Cakes. Go and check out the picture she took – it’s an especially “sweet” version of the Canadian flag!
Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs also hails from Ontario and has brought us another delectable version of Butter Tarts (hers are “Glorious and Free” [of Eggs and Dairy]) and look surprisingly close to the real thing.
And our last Ontario-based blogger, Shari of Whisk: a food blog, is giving me cavities with her delicious individual serving-sized Sugar Pies (cooked in a jar!) but I want to eat them all anyway. She even added maple syrup to her recipe to make it even more Canadian…and because (lucky girl that she is) she lives 45 minutes from a maple syrup manufacturer (I think she should send me some, don’t you?).
Skipping across the country we wind up in Alberta with Jackie of Gasterea’s Table who has made a delicious Queen Elizabeth Cake. This is a date and walnut cake, covered in a wonderfully sticky caramel sauce. I’ve had it once I loved it – and never have I seen it since.
Moving a little further west across the country we end up in beautiful British Columbia with a former Ontario resident, Deb of anm8rchick: the miss underpants project who talks of her memories of Sugar Bush trips. She has made a fine-looking batch of Maple Cookies, filled with a delectable maple cream icing.
Next up, Liz of Bits ‘n Bites who lives in BC but was ‘born and bred’ in Quebec, offers up her recipe for Sugar Pie. She also provides us with a great recipe for Nanaimo Bars to represent her present geographical location.
From the Okanagan Valley (in BC) comes Val of More than Burnt Toast. She has made Strawberry Shortcakes Val says: “In Canada, as a general rule, we are given a British based short-“cake” and in the States they make a biscuit out of “short”-ening. Is it “short” or is it “cake”…who cares…both versions are delicious.”
And the last of our west-coast entries is from Vera of Baking Obsession who gives us another version of Canadian Butter Tarts. Her presentation is a bit different than I’m used to but I think I like them better this way!
Now let’s visit our neighbors to the south and a bunch of honourary Canadians.
First up is AS of Life’s too Short for Mediocre Chocolate. She has definitely earned herself the title of Canadian-for-a-day with a genuine love of ice hockey and her two versions of Nanaimo Bars: Nanaimo Pie and Nanaimo Cheesecake Bars.
Moving right along we have Heather of Diary of a Fanatic Foodie who introduces us to her tasty Cherry Maple Cupkins. Oh, and just so you know Heather, we also grow Cherries in Canada (mainly in Ontario and British Columbia)!
Moving right along we head up to New York City, where Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives has stolen my heart with her Polka Dot White-Maple Mousse Nanaimo Bars. Her inspiration was a Canadian-produced television show of my own childhood, The Polka Dot Door.
Now we head to Chicago to see what a former resident of Toronto makes as an honourary Canadian. Janine of Rustic Kitchen has made a taste bud-tempting Apricot almond tart to celebrate her Canadian friends and all the joy — and delicious tastes – they’ve brought her through the years.
Next we shoot on over to the west coast of the United States and head north of Seattle, Washington where Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody makes our teeth ache (in a good way) with her recipe for Maple Syrup Pie.
After that particularly sweet concoction let’s see what Rachel of Vampituity has in store for us. She has used a semi-savoury ingredient to create a new version of an old favourite: Gingerbread Cake. Except that this cake is aptly named The Cake of the Damned, because it is made with Maudite, a Canadian Beer.
Remaining in the US for just a bit longer we stop in at Foodblogga where Susan has made a luscious looking Blackberry Oatmeal Cake. Her memories of rainy days in Vancouver, sipping lattes and eating this cake have me longing for a few lazy, rainy mornings myself.
Next up, Texas! Where The Apron Queen (of Confessions of an Apron Queen) has us drooling over a batch of Maple Walnut Fudge. She also has this great Canada-themed apron with the changing of the guard on it that I love!
The last American who wanted to be Canadian-for-a-day is Zilla of Climbin’ the walls who wows us with her Tantalizing Berry Tarts. The recipe comes from The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook (written by L. M. Montgomery, a Canadian).
And now we head overseas to England, where we have two wannabe-Canadians and one Canadian-living-abroad…
First up we have George of Culinary Travels Of A Kitchen Goddess who treats us with a gorgeous Rhubarb and Maple Bundt Cake with Maple Icing. She has also suggested a wine pairing of an Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine.
Our last British entrant is someone who used to live in Toronto. Sands of All Things Dolce is the only person who managed to concoct a both a savoury and a sweet recipe all in one! She made her childhood favourite: a Strawberry Sandwich. This is exactly what I will be making my son for breakfast tomorrow – he LOVES strawberries!
Our next stop is in Northern Germany where see that Ulrike of Kuchenlatein has made a truly delicious-looking batch of Nanaimo Bars, which were “love at first taste”. And I love the European flair the lady fingers add to the crust!
Our second-to-last Mmm… Canada participant comes to us from Milan, Italy (also originally from Toronto). Joanne of Frutto della Passione made her favourite Canadian dessert, Butter Tarts. Apparently, whenever she comes back to Canada she eats one everyday for breakfast and another one just before going to bed…now that’s a true Canadian!
The last stop we make is all the way over in Australia where we see what Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen is cooking up. For someone who has never been to Canada, she has hit the nail on the head with her very Canadian-esque Oat S’mores.
Thank you so much for joining in on Mmm… Canada, the Sugar High Edition. I don’t think Canada Day has ever been quite so sweet. If you have an entry that has been over looked or you are so inspired by the above list that you want to make something now, please let me know and I will add you to the list.
And be sure to check out Jasmine’s savoury Mmm… Canada round-up…I can hardly wait to see what everyone has come up with on that side of the table!
My Canadian roots stretch back further than I know. I have great, great grandparents who were born here, so though I always say I’m of British/Irish/Scottish descent, that is only from the males in the family. My grandmothers parents were born here I believe (on both sides)…so I’m a Canadian girl, through and through.
Until very recently I would have scoffed at any thought of good "Canadian" food (as would I’m sure, most people). But think about it. Canada produces lots of gorgeously delicious fruits and vegetables. There are farms that produce free-range chickens, milk-fed veal and some of the best grain-fed cattle in the world. We have road-side stands that sell corn and berries and pumpkins and tomatoes. We have farmer’s markets dotting every green space in the city of Toronto that will support a few trailers and their owners (there is even one outside of The Hospital for Sick Children every Tuesday morning now!).
When I think about what flavour best encompasses the country for me it has always been Maple. We proudly display the tree’s leaf on our flag, one of our favourite hockey teams (that we love and also love to hate) wears it with honour on their jerseys and it is the symbol of our country. Right next to the beaver. But beaver meat, while apparently sweet and tender – like corned beef – is not readily available (and no, I have never eaten it myself).Read More
One of the very first true loves of my adult life was an older man. Correction: a rather tall, lanky older man, who happened to be missing a few of his more significant front teeth. I have always been a sucker for those hunky Canadian hockey players…
Tim Horton was a professional hockey player, and in 1949 signed on to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Over the next 20 years he worked on the kind of career that got him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977, three years after his death in a car accident. Before he left us, Horton started his doughnut and coffee shops; of which there are over 2,200 outlets in Canada and the northeastern U.S. today.
What you get at “Timmy�s” is certainly not gourmet coffee, and you certainly can’t order a ‘skim milk latte’ or an ‘espresso con panna’. Their coffee is very plain and very simple, but it is delicious. I’ve had many Saturday morning discussions over Tim’s coffee and doughnuts about what they could possibly be putting into their coffee to make it so addictive. Being the poor detective that I am, I think it all boils down to quality coffee and fresh brewing, plain and simple. And that simple formula has worked for them.
My relationship with this brawny hockey player began in the summer of 1990. I was working for my father, painting hallways and stairwells in a condo in Scarborough, just outside Toronto proper, saving up money for university. My older brother was working with me and he introduced me to the coffee shop around the corner. Every morning we would go to the drive-through with my dad, who ordered us each a coffee (small with milk only for my dad, a large double-double for Dave, and a large with a-little-coffee-with-my-cream-and-loads-of-sugar for me) along with a pack of Tim-Bits for sharing. This was the breakfast of champions and hallway painters, alike.
Now, fifteen years later Tim Horton’s is still my coffee house of choice – I am always hoarding little piles of $1.46 in change (S. has no idea where all the coins from his pockets disappear to!) for my morning caffeine fix. Luckily for me there is a Tim’s in the hospital where I work. There are also two within walking distance from my parent’s house – so I’m always calling ahead to find out what people want when I stop on my way. While my dad still has a small with milk, David has stopped drinking coffee altogether and I have switched to milk only in mine. But the coffee remains the same – and for my money the doughnuts rival Krispie Kreme’s any day of the week… but especially this month, because it’s Mmm…Canada this month and Tim Horton’s is Canadian, through and through (even if it happens to be American-owned).Read More
How Sweet is Canada?
Our lives revolve around it, our dreams are punctuated by it and our families are pulled together by way of it. Food is the essence of everyday life, the thing that we can’t live without and the reason we get up in the morning and why we sit down at the table every night (even if it is sometimes in front of the television!).
Even though it unites us all, it also marks, almost like no other part of life, our varieties and distinctions. I have wondered on more than one occasion what food in Canada tastes like to someone who isn’t me. What does Canada taste like to someone who perhaps didn’t grow up here from childhood, or someone who left here and then returned having experienced other places and other cultures? Or what would it taste like to someone who grew up in the Prairies or the East or West coast of Canada rather than in Ontario as I did…? There are so many diverse food cultures in this country that it seems almost impossible to experience even a fraction of them in a lifetime.
That is where food bloggers are essential. I can visit a web site any time of any day and see what someone in Vancouver meticulously made for dinner, what vineyard someone in Niagara frequents or what bakery someone in Ottawa prefers over all others. I can learn about Middle Eastern-Canadians, Irish-Canadians, Asian-Canadians and Aboriginal Canadians (and the list certainly doesn’t stop there!) and what they prefer to eat and what they love specifically about Canada’s food culture. I am no longer limited to what is available in my own neighborhood, city or province – I can experience the entire country, with a click of my mouse, via all the amazing Canadian food blogs out there.
That is what Taste Canada was all about. In 2005 we asked Canadian food (and non-food) bloggers, ex-pat Canadian bloggers and even a few "wish-they-were-Canadian" bloggers to share what Canada tastes like to them. To make and write about their favourite Canadian meal, the meal that most said "Canada" to them. We had dozens of eager participants who shared their favourite Canadian foods, meals, markets and restaurants. It was amazing to see the diversity and yet also the similarity between so many different people across such a huge country.
This year let’s make our proverbial pot a little bigger; a little sweeter, if you will. Let’s get together as many bloggers as we can to share their favourite Canadian confection, indulgence, dessert, sweet…anything really! As long as says Canada to you and you can get some sort of Sugar High from it, we want to know about it.
What do Canada’s Confections taste like to you? From the butter tart recipe your mother handed down to you through generations to the recipe for Beaver Tails you came up with after visiting Ottawa last winter and skating the canal, we want to know! If you have found the ultimate way to showcase Maple Syrup or the greatest Donut recipe or the best accompaniment to a great Ice Wine or even the most delicious way to make strawberry shortcake with the juiciest, most enormous Ontario strawberries, we want to round them up in one big post. Or perhaps you have a favourite dessert that just screams Oh Canada! to you and you alone. Well then make it and write about it so we can all indulge in it along with you.
Write and post your Mmm… Canada entry between June 23rd and 28th. Then send me an email at jennifer[at]domesticgoddess[dot]ca with the following information:
– Your name
– Your blog name and URL
– Your post’s title and URL
– One photo (if applicable), sized to 150 pixels wide, with your blog name as the filename
– If you are a Canadian blogger, which province or territory you are living in
– If you are an ex-pat Canadian blogger, which province you are from and what country you are living in now
– If you want to be an honorary Canadian for this event, what country you are living in
– If you aren’t a blogger and would like to participate, please post your contribution (along with the above info) in my comments on the day I post the round-up (July 1st of course!)
For those of you who want to use the Mmm…Canada, The Sweet Edition image, feel free to steal away!
And if sweets aren’t your thing (or you want to make something sweet and something salty or spicy, head on over to Jasmine’s site to participate in the savory version of Mmm… Canada. She is asking bloggers to contribute a regional savory dish, a meal their family brought to the country or something they think of when they think of Canadian cuisine. It can be any course (starters, soups, breakfast etc), a reminiscence or a photo essay or a recipe.
Let’s take this Canada Day to new gustatory heights! I want everyone to say it with me: Mmm…Canada!Read More
Last week I asked you to all examine your own accident-prone past in your own kitchen(s). For your effort I promised to award one The Next Food Network Star prize package to the most disastrous (but believable) kitchen horror story anyone could come up with.
The scariest stories (yes, she had many) came from Holly of Phemomenon (see below for a copy of her kitchen disaster story).
The prize package, courtesy of The Next Food Network Star includes the following:
1. Cookbook – "Bobby Flay’s Grill It!"
2. Food Network Keychain
3. Next Food Network Star Poster
4. Next Food Network Star Postcard
5. Next Food Network Star T-shirt
I have so many stories I could share, but I’ll just concentrate on this past winter.
I have been in quarantine with our preemie son since his birth (2 months early) last October (until abou 1 week ago). Anyway, baking has been my salvation this winter – but sleep deprivation and baking don’t mix very well. I usually end up doing something stupid, or that I just know isn’t going to end well… and then doing it anyway.
So, my story is all about the week before Christmas – and I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’m not exaggerating here. First I cut two fingers by not paying attention while cutting up tomatoes, then I put a hot from the oven pyrex pie plate into the sink and started to run not hot enough water over it – it exploded, literally (thank goodness it mostly stayed in the sink).
Then, sticking with the exploding glass theme, on Christmas morning I had forgotten to chill a bottle of sparkling cider we were given, so I put it in the freezer and promised myself I would remember it was there… but I didn’t. It exploded and left frozen, sticky slushy cider and green glass shards all over the freezer (still cleaning up after that one).
Finally, also Christmas morning, I had decided to make a new sticky bun recipe. It seemed too big for it’s pan, but I decided it would be alright. Well, then I forgot to put a sheet pan under it to catch any drips. Well, the drips became flat out overflow – and since I have a gas oven and burnt sugar is flammable – I set the oven on fire.
I am still trying to clean this mess up as well – and I even had to unscrew and remove the floor of the oven – which I got to spend the rest of Christmas day trying to clean. (Oh, and I still haven’t been able to get the oven floor screwed back in correctly either. It is being held in place with my heavy pizza stone. I should probably stay out of the kitchen, but I try not to let it get me down!)Read More