Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ontario Cheese Adventures

Last weekend I drove from Buffalo, NY, to Ottawa, ON, to attend the Canadian Society for Epistemology's conference on New Directions in Epistemology. I had hoped to visit some Canadian cheesemakers along the way. Of course, my plan was to do more than merely visit these places. I also wanted to write up nice blog posts about them.

However, it turns out that none of the cheesemakers I contacted that are listed on the Ontario Cheese Map are open to the public. So, although the Ontario Cheese Society has put together an interesting map, it doesn't appear to be very useful to the average cheese lover. (We'll assume that the Ontario Cheese Retailers map they made actually lists places that one can visit.)

When I did arrive in Ottawa, I had an equally disappointing cheese experience. I had searched the internet ahead of time in order to find the city's best cheese shops and thought that The House of Cheese in Ottawa's historic ByWard Market would be one of them. However, the owner was not at all interested in answering any of my questions about Canadian cheese--even simple questions like "Which of these Canadian cheeses do you think are the best?" or "Who makes the cheese you allowed me to sample?"

After giving me samples of two cheeses, the owner of the House of Cheese brusquely informed me that he would not be giving me any more samples--as if I was a mooch who was out to make him lose money by sampling everything in the display case. I had previously told him that I was interested in learning about and buying the best Canadian cheeses he had. One would have thought that he would have been more engaged by my interest in his caseic wares.

In spite of the various obstacles I encountered in searching for good Canadian cheeses in Ontario, I did manage to find some, which I will tell you about in my next post.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Domaine de Givaudan

I recently opened a bottle of Domaine de Givaudan's Cuvée Léa, which is made from 70% Grenache Noir, 30% Syrah, and is aged 12 months is stainless steel tanks. Domaine de Givaudan is a small wine producer located in the Côtes du Rhône in southern France.

The Cuvée Léa has a very dark purple color, a fruity, crushed berry nose, and a peppery finish. The vines that produce the Cuvée Léa are an average of 30 years old, and the soil underneath their 49 acres of vines is a unique combination of crushed sandstone, grit soils, red clay, sand, iron and limestone clay. All of these components combine with other aspects of their terroir to give the wines complex, yet balanced flavors.

At $15 or less, the wines of Domaine de Givaudan are great deals.

Friday, November 7, 2008

NY Farmstead Cheese

A growing number of New York cheesemakers are creating high quality handcrafted cheeses. Six NY farmstead cheesemakers had cheeses place in the top 3 of their categories at the most recent American Cheese Society competition.

Many of these cheesemankers united in 2003 to form the New York State Farmstead and Artisan Cheese Makers Guild in order to "foster a strong and vibrant farmstead artisan cheese-making sector in the state and to support its growth." The guild advocates the continuation and preservation of family farms and farm management practices that nourish and sustain the soil and the surrounding landscape and community.

The NY Farmstead & Artisanal Cheese Makers Guild has produced a downloadable brochure and map that shows where to find the state's artisanal cheesemakers. Consider taking the map along with you on your next driving trip across the state of NY.