Pumpkin spice craze inspires a new Canadian cheese

The pumpkin spice craze, often associated with seasonal coffees and teas, is influencing the world of specialty cheeses. Cheese expert Afrim Pristine helped create a pumpkin spice cheese, which will be on offer at the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival from Nov. 4 to 6.

Pumpkin spice cheese debuts at Ottawa Wine and Food Festival

Afrim Pristine at his family's cheese shop, Cheese Boutique, in Toronto. (courtesy Afrim Pristine)

The pumpkin spice craze, often associated with seasonal coffees and teas, is influencing the world of specialty cheeses. Afrim Pristine helped create a cheese inspired by the popular flavour — called the "Senator" —  which is making its debut at the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival this weekend.

"We juiced some pumpkins, we added tonka beans, we added coffee, some herbs and spice...to create this beautiful goodness," he told host Alan Neal on CBC Radio's All in a Day on Thursday.

Pristine, the world's youngest cheese master — or maître fromager — said he wanted to create a cheese that reminded people of fall. "I think cheese, you should eat in seasons, just like everything else," he said. 

Afrim Pristine has created a 5,500 square foot Cheese Vault featuring 24 cheeses from four countries for the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival. (courtesy Afrim Pristine )

"The cheese is orange naturally. That pumpkin gives it a little more of that fall flavour," he said. "It's nutty, it's sweet. This a great dessert cheese."

Pristine has been surrounded by cheese his entire life. His father and grandfather opened the Cheese Boutique in Toronto in 1970. Pristine said he's worked all over the world but he learned everything about cheese from his family.

"I've done nothing else in life other than absorb from my family, absorb from my brother, cheese knowledge."

Pristine will be bringing more than 10,000 kilos of cheese to fill a 5,500 square foot cheese vault for the Ottawa show. There will be 24 cheeses from four countries, including a six-kilo, $1,200 wheel of caciotta, a rare goat's milk cheese created on a Tuscan farm where the cheeses are dipped in chestnut beer and wrapped in chestnut leaves for 18 months.

 The Ottawa Wine and Food Festival runs from Nov. 4 to 6 at the EY Centre.