February can be a cheesy month. For one thing, there's Valentine's Day. For another, there's the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, where cheese makers across the country showcase their choicest Brie, Gouda and the like.
The annual competition takes place in two weeks and judges will consider more than 200 entries made only from cow's milk. Vancouver cheese shop owner Allison Spurrel has been a judge at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix four times.
She predicts the industry will continue to grow as young cheese makers with a passion for small-batch craft cheese enter the market.
While Spurrel won't be judging at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix this year, she's offering a tasting of some of her favourite award-winning Canadian cheeses at her shop Les Amis Du Fromage. The event has already sold out, but Spurrel shared some of her favourite cheeses with The Early Edition's Rick Cluff:
Comox Brie - "This is a great soft, ripened cheese from Natural Pastures on Vancouver Island. The cheese is tasty, but not too strong with a great creamy texture. This Brie has been Gold and Silver medallist at the World Cheese Awards as well as a category finalist at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix."
Louis d’Or – "This was the 'Best in Show’ at the 2011 Grand Prix and has won in its category a number of other times. This is an amazing example of how Canadian cheese makers are pushing forward and trying harder to make new styles that are less traditional in Canada. This is a mountain-style cheese with a beautiful pate that is smooth and dense with a nutty, sharp finish."
Zacharie Cloutier - "This is a fabulous sheep’s milk cheese from a small company in Quebec. The cheese makers at Fromagerie Nouvelle France really know how to bring out the delicate fruity flavour that makes sheep’s milk cheese so special. This is a unique Canadian cheese and has won countless Caseus awards in a number of categories."
The judging at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix takes place on Feb. 21 and 22. Winners are announced at the Gala of Champions in Toronto on April 22.