I can’t think of many better ways to spend an afternoon, than in a room filled with free cheese!
The eighth edition of La Fete de Fromages d’Ici was open all weekend as part of the Montreal en Lumiere festival. Held at Complexe Desjardins, this speciality cheese exhibition focussed on a range of classic and new Quebec produce providing a golden opportunity for the public to try and buy local cheese from the producers themselves.
Boasting twenty stalls with cheeses ranging from creamy bries to sharp cheddars to bold blues, it was quite the selection to discover. People “ooh’d” and “ahh’d” as they circled the vendors discovering (and rediscovering, I am sure!) the selection available. As they milled and moved about, it would certainly seem there was no shortage of cheese enthusiasts waiting to taste test the “hot off the grill” crumbed haloumi. I am almost certain this was one of the favourites by far. However people were lined up at every stall speaking with the cheese makers, tasting their samples and deciding their favourites to take home.
Beyond the cheese itself there were opportunities to discover local beers and wines as part of the festival offerings and even enjoy a cheese and wine degustation to learn about the produce and pairing to achieve the most complimentary flavours.
Although it was nearly impossible to decide, my favourites this year came from Le Canotier de L’Isle. Creamy and soft ripened, this cheese had slight notes of nuttiness. Beautifully paired with a white wine and fruit, or enjoyed simply on fresh baguette. The cheese was delightfully smooth and absolutely addictive. The second cheese offered was a firm ripened option. It was bold and equally as delicious. The rind was much stronger than the cheese itself giving a nice kick as you captured a little slither in each bite. Aged between nine and twelve months this pasteurised cheese was a nice contrast to the soft cheese above.
After spending the afternoon wandering and speaking with the cheese makers, tasting their wonderful produce and wanting to purchase a piece of every cheese to take home, I decided the time had come to call it a day. One of the many wonderful events held thanks to Montreal en Lumiere, which we all hope to see again next year!
La Fete de Fromages d’Ici was a part of Montreal en Lumiere Festival held from February 20 to 23, 2014 at Complexe Dejardins.