I went to Toronto this Thursday to stay with the bf for the weekend. While he was at work on Friday, I went out to do some grocery shopping. Stopping at the St Lawrence Market, I couldn’t stop myself from picking up a small haul from Olympic Cheese. I’ve never paid much attention to the artisan cheese scene in Toronto, but St Lawrence Market seems like the place to go. The selection at this small shop is impressive, and I found myself overwhelmed by all the different colours and varieties of cheese on display. Next time, I’ll have to ask to try some samples before making selections.
To be honest, I’ve been trying to cut back on dairy recently. It’s been pretty successful: I’ve only bought milk once this term and no cheese at all until now! Which makes me feel better about my spending $35 on cheese all at once. Why buy crappy processed cheese at the grocery store when you can treat yourself to interesting new varieties of artisanal cheese?
Pumpkinseed & Carrot Boer’n Trots
This cow cheese hails from Deurningen in the Netherlands. It has a black wax rind and a natural-looking yellow flesh. The cheese is firm but not crumbly, with a good chew. The special characteristic of the “boer’n trots” cheeses is that they are washed in honey caramel. If I hadn’t known that, though, I wouldn’t have tasted it at all. The flavour is strong but not overly intense. It’s saltier than most of the processed cheeses you’d find at the supermarket, but not very salty compared to the other cheeses in this post.
I personally didn’t like the pumpkin seeds, but they added a fun textural contrast, and the carrot flecks were great.
Mizotte is a soft French cheese. The rind is edible, with a golden orange colour. The flesh is very pale. A bite containing rind and a bite without rind will yield very different flavours. The rind is sticky and salty (reminds me of natto somehow), with coarse grains of salt you can feel on your tongue, and a hint of the wine that it’s washed in. The flesh is soft, not quite melt-in-your-mouth—a bit firmer than brie and a bit softer than camembert.
Overall, it’s a fairly strong cheese, so I thought it might work well as a sort of spread. I cut a slab onto a slice of my homemade English muffin and put it in the oven for a few minutes to soften it up. The cheese spreads quite nice and thick over bread, but the resultant taste was just fine. Certainly a brie would have been more satisfying.
Majorero with Paprika Rind
Majorero is a goat cheese from Spain. This one features a crumbly white flesh and a dark burnt orange rind rubbed with paprika. The rind tastes way better than the cheese itself!
Overall, the paprika flavour is not present at all in the flesh, and is barely detectable in the rind.
I prefer soft goat cheeses way more than mature cheeses like this one. In my opinion, some of that distinctive “goat-y” flavour I’m looking for gets lost as the cheese ages.
This is the cheese I was most excited to try!
First, the colour itself is so eye-catching. Then, the idea of a spicy, pungent wasabi flavoured cheese is too alluring to resist!
First impression: the flavour isn’t nearly as captivating as the colour. You can definitely tell the wasabi is there, but it doesn’t add that kick to the back of your throat or make your eyes tear up. All it does is add a slightly bitter taste. It would be hard to place the flavour as wasabi if I were to have tasted it blind. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to taste how this non-conventional flavour works with the creamy gouda, and I think it’s definitely worth buying just to try a bite.
Since Kevin is the real wasabi lover in the family, I would’ve loved to get his opinion on this one as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to try this one together before I had to go back to Loo. I’ve saved him a piece and will update this post when I’ve gotten his opinion on it!
Chili Sambala Gouda
Made by the same producers of the wasabi cheese, this gouda, again, doesn’t have a very strong flavour. In general, it’s pretty forgettable.
I melted a couple of slices on a grilled cheese sandwich and it worked pretty well, but there are less expensive cheeses you can do that with! When I start using artisanal cheese for my grilled cheese sandwiches on the regular, you’ll know I’ve made it.
One perk of this and the wasabi gouda that I should mention: both are vegetarian (made with microbial rennet) and lactose-free! A very inclusive cheese.
Irish Guinness Cheddar
The interesting thing about dairy is how international it is. Without having left Toronto, we’ve tasted artisan cheese varieties from Spain, France, and the Netherlands, and now Ireland, too!
This was surprisingly one of my favourites of the bunch. I’m not big on aged cheddar in general, but the beautiful colour and marbling on this cheese caught my eye.
It turned out to be fun to eat, too. It’s entertaining to pick the cheese apart by the marbled lines and eat each piece on its own. I don’t think I’ve ever had Guinness beer, so I have no idea how much of it I was tasting. It definitely has a flavour distinctive from your regular plain cheddar.
Overall, this cheese isn’t very sharp and is good for snacking on its own or with crackers.
Although I don’t feel strongly about any of the cheeses I purchased, I’m happy to have been able to taste so many new varieties, and plan to make my Toronto artisan cheese shopping experience a recurring one. You can look forward to more posts like this in the future!