While I am in the states this July 1st, the Canadian spirit is still very much present on today’s cheese board. Since starting this blog, I’ve tasted so many outstanding Canadian cheeses. My current favorites are the Trappist cheeses from Québec, but I’ve also enjoyed discovering different types of local cheese produced here in BC. This plate features four Canadian cheeses along with Canadian accompaniments.
The first cheese on the board is Salt Spring Island Cheese’s Flower Chèvre. This is a stunning cheese out of BC’s Salt Spring Island. Edible flowers adorn the top of the round and the contrast between vibrant pink flowers and the bright whiteness of the goat cheese is quite striking. The flavor is mild and fresh with notes of citrus and just a hint herbaceousness.
The second cheese is OKA Classique, a brine-washed rind, semi-firm cheese from Fromagerie d’Oka in Québec. It has a pungent aroma typical of washed rinds. I’m almost ashamed to admit that this aroma used to make me shy away from trying a cheese. For those of you intimidated by the assertive smell of these cheeses, just go for it – you won’t regret it. In the case of OKA Classique, your effort will be rewarded with a delicious taste that is fruity and nutty.
The third cheese, Pacific Rock, is a firm, washed-rind cheese from Alexis de Portneuf in Québec. The texture is crumbly and its bright orange color really pops on the plate. The flavor of this cheese is buttery and nutty with caramel overtones. It’s actually fortunate I am able to write about the flavor of this cheese since my brother nearly ate the whole thing himself.
The last cheese on the plate is Little Qualicum Cheesework’s Caraway Jill from Vancouver Island, BC. This is a semi-firm, grass-fed cow’s milk cheese that is flavored with caraway seeds. The cheese itself is creamy and tangy and the caraway seeds add a pleasant crunch and delightful rye-bread flavor. What I really enjoyed about this cheese was that, while the flavor was distinct, it didn’t overpower any of the cheese on the board.
Food pairings for this board include a sausage, fresh figs, and crackers. The sausage is the Rosette de Lyon produced in Québec by Le Sauciflad. It adds a nice savory component to the plate. The crackers on the plate are two types: Reko Artisan Italian Crackers and Sabine’s Collection Baguette Crisps.
The Reko crackers have a wonderful neutral flavor (just a touch of sea salt) and went well with the fuller flavored cheeses, like the Pacific Rock and the Caraway Jill. What makes these crackers especially interesting is that they are individually baked in molds that produce a lovely design on the cracker. Visually, it matched the beauty of the chèvre and added a feminine look to the board.
The other crackers were Sabine’s Collection Baguette Crisps in the garlic, chives, and parsley flavor – they were perfect with the chèvre!
The fresh figs are mission figs and are the only non-Canadian items on the plate (transporting fruit across the border is difficult). Fresh figs are one of my favorite things about summer – they are so beautiful, like little gems of the fruit world. In addition to looking good, figs generally pair well with any cheese, especially goat cheese.
For this cheese plate, I decided to pair it with Whistler Brewing’s Grapefruit Ale. It’s a light, refreshing blonde ale that’s a little hoppy with grapefruit zest. It went well with each cheese, but its refreshing and citrusy characteristics made it a standout with the chèvre.
What Made the Plate
- Salt Spring Island Cheese’s Flower Chèvre (British Columbia)
- OKA Classique, Fromagerie d’Oka (Québec)
- Pacific Rock, is a firm, washed-rind cheese from Alexis de Portneuf (Québec)
- Little Qualicum Cheesework’s Caraway Jill (British Columbia)
- Rosette de Lyon Sausage (Québec)
- Reko Artisan Italian Crackers
- Cabine’s Collection Baguette Crisps
- Fresh figs
- Whistler Brewing’s Grapefruit Ale