2014/11/28

BellaVitano

BellaVitano is an award winning, firm, pasteurised cow-milk cheese produced by Sartori Cheese located in Plymouth, Wisconsin.

BellaVitano cheese

BellaVitano is an Italian style cheese that combines the rich and creamy flavour of cheddar cheese with the tasty, fruity, nutty flavour and the gritty texture of parmesan.

Sartori Cheese is a fourth-generation family owned and operated company that's been in operation since 1939. Sartori Cheese produces various Italian style cheese; from a classic Parmesan, Fontina, Asiago, Romano and their award-winning line of Sartori Reserve Bellavitano cheeses.

Sartori Cheese

The Sartori Reserve BellaVitano artisan cheeses include a spellbinding lineup of BellaVitano cheeses that have been skillfully combined with various flavours. Sartori's Master Cheesemakers have perfectly combined a diversified selection of rich, fruity, Old World flavors with the original texture, creamy with the crystalline crunch of the BellaVitano.

The award-winning line of Sartori Reserve BellaVitano artisan cheeses includes; Balsamic BellaVitano, Black Pepper BellaVitano, Chai BellaVitano, Espresso BellaVitano, BellaVitano Gold, Merlot BellaVitano, Raspberry BellaVitano and their latest limited edition addition, the Cognac BellaVitano. 

Regardless of whether you prefer the spiciness of Chai, the berry and plum notes of Merlot, the tart Raspberry ale, fresh roasted Espresso, BellaVitano is a cheese that pleases everybody.

BellaVitano pairs well with Chardonnay, Merlot or Pinot Noir wines.



2014/11/07

Le Chèvre Noir

Le Chèvre Noir

Le Chèvre Noir is an excellent pasteurized goat-milk cheddar that was created by cheesemaker Louise Lefebvre in 1988 for Fromagerie Tournevent in Chesterville, Quebec. It was introduced to the market as an aged cheddar in 1989. Fromagerie Tournevant, a goat dairy was started in 1976 by Lucie Chartier and René Marceau. The Fromagerie Tournevent has been operated under Damafro for the past several years; they in turn have recently been acquired by the Agropur cooperative.

Le Chèvre Noir goat-milk cheddar

What distinguishes this cheddar Le Chèvre Noir at first glance is the beautiful snow-white colour of its paste that is emphasized by the contrast of its outer black wax coating. It has a firm and crumbly texture just like real aged cheddar with its crunchy protein crystals. Chevre Noir has a sharp taste with a bit of tang, but it is balanced out by the creamy texture of the cheese. Chevre Noir reveals many flavours; butter, nuts and a wonderful lingering finish of caramel with a pinch of salt.

Le Chèvre Noir is produced in different size formats and also available in different stages of aging from 1, 2 or 3 years. My favourite version of Chèvre Noir has been aged for 3 years; I find it has just that extra little bit of zing.

Like all aged cheddars, Chevre Noir should be served rather cool. Long exposure to dry air causes its fat to evacuate to the edges. Le Chèvre Noir is ideal served with fruits and nuts accompanied with a full-bodied white, a rich red wine, a Port or premium beer.


2014/10/16

Le 1608

Le 1608 is a cooked, pressed paste, surface ripened, semi-firm cheese made with thermized cow milk produced by La Laiterie Charlevoix in Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec. Le 1608 was launched in 2008 in honour of Quebec City's 400th anniversary; hence the name 1608, the year Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City. 

 Le 1608

Le 1608 is made exclusively with the milk of the "Canadienne" cow. This breed of cow is unique to Canada; it owes its origin to bovine imported from France between 1608 and 1660. The natural and ongoing inbreeding led to a new breed of cow called the "Canadienne", the only dairy breed developed in North America. Unfortunately, during the 20th century this breed of cow was gradually replaced by the Holstein. Of the estimated 500,000 head herd in 1900, less than 500 of the "Canadienne" cow remain today.

Canadienne breed of cows

Le 1608 is fabricated in a large 8 kg (17.5 lbs.) wheel, measuring about 35 cm (14 in) in diameter and (3.5 in.) in height and aged for 2 to 6 months. 1608 has a strong barnyard aroma; it has a slightly sticky pinkish-orange coloured rind with a yellowish coloured paste. The milk from the Canadienne cow has higher butterfat content, resulting to the yellow colour in the paste. 1608 has a smooth and creamy melt-in-the-mouth texture with a pleasant fruity, buttery flavour with lingering hints of apples and nuts. 1608 is a great choice for grilled-cheese, raclette and fondue since it melts very well. 1608 pairs well with a fruity medium bodied white wine or rosé or try it with a Québec sparkling cider.

Laiterie Charlevoix

The Laiterie Charlevoix was founded in 1948 by Stanislas Labbé and Elmina Fortin in Baie-St-Paul. For many years the Laiterie Charlevoix was almost exclusively devoted to the production of cheddar cheese. But the new generation of the Labbé family; brothers Jean, Paul, Bruno and Dominique have added some fine award winning cheese to the Laiterie Charlevoix's repertoire; Le Fleurmier (a soft bloomy rind), L'Origine de Charlevoix (a soft washed-rind 'Reblochon' type cheese), L'Hercule de Charlevoix (a firm cooked paste aged cheese) and Le 1608.

Le 1608 and L'Origine de Charlevoix cheese produced at the Laiterie de Charlevoix as well as the Tomme des Demoiselles and Pied de Vent produced by the Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent in the Magdalen Islands, are the only four cheeses currently being made with 100% from the milk of the "Canadienne" breed of cow. These four cheeses will soon be the first to receive an AS (Appellation de Spécificité) which is a Designation of Specificity issued by Quebec's CARTV (Conseil des appellations réservées et des termes valorisants).


2014/09/18

Beaufort d'Alpage

Haute-Savoie production area of Beaufort cheese
Beaufort d'Alpage is an alpine cheese from the Rhone-Alps region of France. The production area of the Beaufort covers the high mountains of Savoie in the three valleys Beaufortain / Val d'Arly, Tarentaise and Maurienne.
Tarine and Abondance cows
Beaufort is a very large cooked pressed firm cheese made exclusively with the raw milk of Tarine also called Tarentaise and Abondance breed of cows. These cows are agile and strong and perfectly suited for the rough terrain of the high pastures.

There are three different types of Beaufort; Beaufort, Beaufort d’été (which is a summer Beaufort) and Beaufort Chalet d’Alpage. Beaufort d'Alpage is only a small part of the summer production (about 10,000 wheels). Beaufort d'Alpage must be manufactured using traditional methods, in a mountain chalet that is 1,500 meters minimum above sea level and with the milk of a single herd of cattle. The AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) specifications impose an annual production limit of 5000 liters of milk per cow or a daily production of 16 liters. Keep in mind it takes about 500 litres (130 gallons) of milk to make a Beaufort of 45 kg (99 lb).

Wheels of Beaufort cheese
To make Beaufort, the milk is heated and then the curd is pressed into a beech-wood hoop mold which gives the cheese its distinctive concave shape on the side (heel) of the wheel. A large wheel of Beaufort can measure up to 76 cm (30 in) in diameter and 16 cm (6.3 in) in height. The wheels are aged for a minimum of 5 months to upwards of 12 months in a mountain cellar that maintains a high humidity and cool temperature.

Beaufort cheese
Beaufort d'Alpage is without a doubt one of the finest firm cheeses in the world. It has a wonderful aroma of milk, butter, flowers and honey. A young Beaufort will have a mild, fruity taste while an aged Beaufort has a stronger aroma and more complex flavours that linger on the palate.  The paste of a winter Beaufort has a pale whitish colour while the summer versions have a more yellow paste due to the cows munching on the alpine flowers. The chlorophyll from the grass and carotene from the alpine flowers give the summer cheeses its beautiful colour and grassy and flowery aromas. Beaufort is richer and creamier than other mountain cheeses.

An excellent way to serve Beaufort is with smoked salmon. It pairs nicely with a Chablis or a white Burgundy wine. Beaufort melts well and is a great choice for a cheese fondue. You must try the exquisite Fondue Savoyarde; made with equal parts of 3 cheeses from the Savoie region; Beaufort, Abondance and Tomme de Savoie.


2014/09/04

Taliah

Taliah is a beautiful English-style, cloth-bound cheddar, aged for one year, made from unpasteurized sheep-milk, produced in the Centre-du-Québec region.

The name Taliah comes from the Hebrew origin meaning female lamb.

Taliah - Sheep-milk cheddar

Taliah has a lovely golden butterscotch coloured firm paste with a rustic crystalline texture and a light musty cave smell. Taliah has a natural rind that is covered with cheesecloth. Unlike most cheddars, Taliah has a nutty flavour with a caramel sweetness, not too salty and a lingering robust flavour that is perfectly balanced.

Taliah's complex flavours go perfectly with those ripe crunchy fall apples. It pairs wonderfully with a sparkling cider, brown ale, an oaked Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Taliah cheddar freshly made 
Taliah cloth-bound cheddar aging

The full bodied complex flavours you receive with cloth-bound cheddar is one of the reasons cheesemakers are returning to this old-school method.  The cloth that is applied on the exterior of the wheel allows the cheese to breathe and promotes microbe germination that provides those wonderful flavours to disperse into the cheese. Block cheddars that are either waxed or plastic sealed give a sharper saltier bite unlike the rich complex flavours of cloth-bound cheddars.

Taliah was conceived by Valérie Brousseau and Alastair Mackenzie of Saint-Christophe-d'Arthabaska, which is located at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. They run a farm with pure-bred East-Friesian sheep which provides the milk for the cheese. All their animals; sheep, beef, pork, rabbit, duck and chicken are fed only prime quality food, free of antibiotics, hormones and chemicals. 

East Friesian sheep

They have established a partnership with cheese-maker Olivier Ducharme at Fromagerie Du Charme to produce their cheese. They are currently working together on a Stilton-style blue cheese which should be available soon.


Check out these two cloth-bound cheddars also made here in Canada; The Lindsay Bandaged GoatCheddar and the Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar.

2014/08/20

The First Grader

The First Grader
Based on a true story, The First Grader is about a Kenyan man in his 80's who is determined to learn to read after hearing that the Kenyan government is promising free education for all. The story is about Maruge (beautifully played by Oliver Litondo) an old Mau Mau freedom fighter who fought for the liberation of his country and now feels that he too is entitled of the chance of an education that was denied to him.

The movie takes place in a primary school in a small mountaintop village in Kenya. The school's head teacher Jane (played by Naomie Harris) is quite moved by Maruge's passionate plea and decides to help him to get admitted to the school.

The First Grader is quite a heart-warming, uplifting movie that explores the relationships Maruge develops with the young children at the school. Through this adventure we are taken back 50 years to the dreadful period of British rule in Kenya, when Maruge fought for his country and ended up in extreme and harsh conditions in the British detention camps.


The film is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) and written by Emmy-winner Ann Peacock (The Chronicles of Narnia).

The First Grader is an inspiring story of one man's fight for what he believes is his right.



2014/08/12

Brebirousse d’Argental

Brebirousse d’Argental is a soft-ripened, bloomy rind, pasteurised sheep's milk cheese made in the Rhône-Alpes region of France.

Brebirousse d’Argental

Brebirousse d’Argental is an eye-catching cheese, it has a bright orange bloomy rind, which has been tinged with annatto (roucou). The creamy buttery ivory-coloured paste is rich and sweet. Brebirousse is aged one month, but as the cheese matures, nutty, earthy flavours develop into a stronger more complex flavoured cheese.

Brebirousse is available in two different square shaped sizes; a small 125 g and the larger 1 kg format that you will find at your favourite cheese shop.

Brebirousse d’Argental pairs nicely with a Sauvignon Blanc or a more delicate light bodied Pinot Noir.

Brebirousse d’Argental is made exclusively for Fromi Group by Fromagerie Guilloteau which is located south of Lyon along the Loire River in the small town of Pélussin, La Fromagerie Guilloteau also produce Chèvre d’Argental another eye-catching hexagonal shaped goat-milk cheese and the popular Le Fromager d’Affiinois an excellent double-cream cheese.


2014/07/31

Evening Primrose

(Oenothera biennis)

Oenothera biennis is a species of Oenothera, an herbaceous flowering plant native to America which can be found from Newfoundland to Alberta. Common names for the Oenothera biennis include; evening primrose, evening star, suncups and sundrops.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Oenothera biennis is a biennial (as the name suggests) or short-lived perennial herb producing strong fleshy roots and a basal rosette of lance-shaped leaves in the first year. In the second year, the stems grow and develop beautiful yellow, tubular flowers.

The "evening" in the name relates to the fact that it is a night blooming plant that will produce a succession of short lived blooms from late spring until mid-summer if the dead flowers are removed promptly. The flowers are hermaphrodite, produced on a tall spike and only last until the following day. The flowers open-up visibly fast, every evening producing a lovely spectacle. Their flowers open in the evenings for night flying moths to pollinate them. The Evening Primrose isn't a "primrose," a name best applied to the genus Primula.

The Evening Primrose has eye-catching bright, lemon-yellow, cup-shaped, flowers that measure 2 to 3 inches across and have a mild lemon-scented fragrance. The glossy rich green lance-shaped leaves surround spreading red stems. The seed pods are 4-winged and 2 to 3 inch long and are often used in flower arrangements. It has a spreading growth of 6 to 12 inches in height and 2 to 3 feet wide. The evening primrose is a great plant for borders and rock gardens. It is hardy in zones 5 to 8.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
The Evening Primrose prefers to be grown in full sun but will tolerate some light shade in the afternoon.
It is an easy plant to take care of; it spreads enthusiastically and might need control. The evening primrose attracts butterflies and birds.

Evening primrose extracts were used medicinally by both Indians and early settlers. The oil from the seed of the evening primrose plant is a gamma-linolenic acid, which is an omega-6 essential fatty acid. The oil is used to treat skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Evening Primrose oil is also used for treatment of many ailments among them; rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, premenstrual syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome. In foods, evening primrose oil is used as a dietary source of essential fatty acids.


2014/07/11

Club des Belugas featuring Brenda Boykin - Straight To Memphis

Club des Belugas

Club des Belugas is one of Germany's leading Nujazz projects.

They combine contemporary European Lounge & Nujazz styles with Brazilian Beats, Swing and
American Black Soul of the fifties, sixties and seventies using their unique creativity and intensity.

The core of Club des Belugas consists of Maxim Illion and Kitty the Bill; they are supported by various jazz singers and instrumentalists; including the German trumpet players Reiner Winterschladen (Nighthawks) and Thomas Siffling. Guest vocalists include Swedish singer Anna.luca, London based Jazz singer Iain Mackenzie, Anne Schnell from Germany (Jojo Effect), Ester Rada from Israel and San Francisco Bay Area’s Jazz Lady herself, Brenda Boykin a masterful interpreter of jazz and blues.

Club des Belugas - Straight To Memphis featuring Brenda Boykin

It's fresh, it’s fun, it’s infectious!


Straight To Memphis appears on Club des Belugas album Forward released in 2012 on ChinChin Records.


2014/06/19

Frittata

Frittata is an egg-based Italian dish similar to an omelette but with added ingredients such as cheese, meat and vegetables. The word "frittata" is derived from fritta and roughly translates to "egg-cake". It is also very similar to the Spanish 'tortilla de patatas', which is a thick egg omelette made with potatoes and onions.

Frittata (with asparagus, potatoes and goat milk cheese)

The difference between a frittata and a traditional omelette is the frittata is served open-faced like an egg-pizza. It is not folded over like an omelette to enclose its contents, but rather it is either turned over or even baked in the oven. A frittata always contains additional ingredients that are cooked in the skillet and combined with the raw egg mixture, rather than being laid over the nearly-cooked egg mixture before it is folded as in an omelette. Also, a frittata is cooked over a very low heat, slower than an omelette and is usually also baked for several minutes or grilled briefly to set the top layer. Unlike an omelette which is served whole, a frittata is served divided into sliced wedges and can be served hot, warm, at room temperature or even cold.

The range of possible ingredients for a frittata is limitless; from broccoli, potatoes, zucchinis, onions, asparagus, mushrooms, leeks, peppers, spinach, etc. A frittata is quite the versatile dish as it can be served for breakfast, lunch or for dinner accompanied with a salad.

A frittata is also an excellent quick meal, as long as you have a few vegetables and any cheese on hand. It's also a great way to use up leftovers, from cooked pasta to any cooked or raw veggies to throw together in a skillet and you have a frittata on the table in 20-30 minutes.

One frittata makes roughly six servings.  Don't worry the leftover frittata is nearly as good as when it's straight from the oven. Many people actually believe that the flavour of a frittata improves as it sits. 


Below is a recipe for a potato, onion, asparagus frittata using one of Quebec's finest little artisan goat-milk cheese, the Chèvre À Ma Manière. I love it. Hope you like it.


Chèvre À Ma Manière, Potato & Asparagus Frittata Recipe

-  2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound of potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/4-to-1/2-inch cubes)
- 1 small onion, or more to taste, chopped
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
-  4 to 6 eggs (depending on how many servings you need, or if you prefer more veggies than egg)
- 1 Chèvre À Ma Manière cut into small cubed pieces (if substituting with another cheese you can use 1/2 cup to 1 cup of grated cheese)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For additional flavour to your frittata you can add fresh herbs or spices. Either chopped fresh basil, parsley, rosemary, turmeric or tarragon can be added to your vegetables when cooking.

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 10-inch heavy ovenproof skillet, preferably non-stick or cast-iron, generously with oil, about 1 to 2 tablespoons. It is recommended to use a cast-iron pan or an oven-safe non-stick skillet. If you are using a stainless steel pan, you'll need extra oil to make sure the eggs don't stick to the pan, but remember it must be oven safe.

Peel potatoes and cut them into 1/4-to-1/2-inch cubes.


Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the cubed potatoes in the hot oil until the potatoes begin to brown lightly, about 10 - 12 minutes. Add your onions and cook another 4 more minutes. Season the frittata with salt, pepper and herbs. Add the asparagus and continue cooking until the asparagus is tender, another 5 to 7 minutes;


If you're in a rush you may want to shred your potatoes instead of cutting them in cubes, to save time on cooking the potatoes in the skillet. Or you can also save time by boiling your potatoes.(Put the diced potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water, about an inch above the top of the potatoes. Cook over medium-low heat, until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, 5 to 7 minutes; drain and pat dry. If using boiled potatoes you will add the cooked potatoes to your frittata only after any uncooked veggies that you include have been cooked. Add potatoes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to brown slightly, cook about 4 minutes more in the skillet.) You will be saving time but your potatoes will be missing that little crispy crunch.


Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, herbs or spices (optional) in a large bowl. Eggs for frittata should be beaten vigorously to incorporate more air than traditional omelettes, to allow a deeper filling and a fluffier result.

Evenly pour the egg mixture over the vegetable mixture in the skillet. Cook, over medium heat, tilting the pan and lifting the edges with a spatula to let the uncooked egg flow underneath. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat and cook, covered, until it appears mostly set with a moist center and top. Add cheese to top of frittata and cook covered for 3 to 5 minutes more. 


Remove lid and place the skillet in the pre-heated oven for approx. 5 to 8 minutes. Until the eggs puff and are set in centre and the cheese is golden brown.

Remove from oven and cut in 6 to 8 wedges. Serve straight from the skillet.