I’ve been eating farmhouse and artisan cheese from Quebec for years, and yet I had a profound discovery at the Fromagerie Atwater counter last week in Montreal. I was at the market to tape an interview, with the CBC Radio program C’est la vie, about the chapter in my book that tells the history and story of cheese in the province. The charming host, Bernard St. Laurent, interviewed both me and Gilles Jourdenais, owner of the fromagerie. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview, particularly hearing what Gilles had to say, but my cheese discovery began after the microphone was put away.
Gilles took his place behind the cheese counter and started to introduce the group of us to different cheeses. It’s one thing to go the cheese counter and point to blocks of curd that look good and it is quite another to have an expert share with you his favourite cheeses. What an experience! I discovered Bleu D’Elizabeth, creamy but with an edge, that equals my favourite Quebec blue, Bleu Benedictin, made by monks in the Eastern Townships. Creamy Grey Owl with its thick black exterior.
The pink-hued soft cheese 14 Arpents that recalled for me the women who used to make a quick farm cheese, a “faisselle,” hundreds of years ago in the province (for more, see chapter seven of Locavore). The scrumptious Louis D’Or–I could eat this cheese every single day, at every single meal. And the most heavenly of all, 1608, made from the milk of the breed of cattle that Samuel de Champlain raised when he first arrived–the Canadienne. I could taste the flowers in that cheese that the cows themselves had munched in the first step in cheesemaking.