B.C. hungry for Canada's best camembert and brie
VICTORIA - Imagine the 70-kilometre area where Canada's best brie and camembert are made. Picture the fields of grazing cows, barns and cheesemakers that produced all three finalists in the "soft cheese with bloomy rind" category at the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. But don't envision the Quebec countryside. Canada's best brie and camembert are made on Vancouver Island.
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks' Island Bries won the category with judges raving about the taste, texture, and even the little wooden cheese boards on which Island Bries are sold. Island Bries, like each of the 16 cheeses produced by Clarke and Nancy Gourlay at their Parksville area farm, are made only from the milk of their own dairy cows. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks produces about 100,000 wheels of Island Bries each year. Island Bries are available at stores, restaurants and farmers' markets throughout B.C.
Natural Pastures Cheese Company's Comox Brie and Comox Camembert were the other category finalists. Natural Pastures produces 17 types of cheeses from milk produced on Heritage Dairy Farms on Vancouver Island. Natural Pastures cheese has won more than 40 national and international awards, including their Smoked Boerenkaas -that won a flavoured-cheese category at this year's Grand Prix, and their Comox Brie -that won the gold medal at the 2008 World Championship Cheese Contest.
The 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix was the seventh since 1998 and featured more than 200 entries. The Grand Prix is organized by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and included a seven-member jury of cheese and culinary experts, chefs, authors, cheesemakers and cheese-lovers.
Don McRae, Minister of Agriculture -
"B.C. is Canada's most diverse food producing province, and regional specialities like Island cheeses are becoming mainstays in kitchens, markets, and restaurants, as well as item number one on tourists' shopping lists. Congratulations to Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Natural Pastures for their success at the Canadian Grand Cheese Prix, and for sharing the great flavours of British Columbia."
Ron Cantelon, Parksville-Qualicum MLA -
"Local food is very much a part of life in and around Parksville, and we are very fortunate to have Little Qualicum Cheeseworks contributing to our economy and daily meals. Not only does LQC support local business and make world class cheese, they have the highest levels of product quality, animal care and ecological diversity built into their farming and business practices."
Nancy Gourlay, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks owner and head cheesemaker -
"I was thrilled with the Grand Prix's acknowledgement of our little-brie-on-a-board. What a great addition to our 10th-anniversary celebrations! I invite everyone to come and visit us on the farm. I am sure you'll like what you see, and love what you taste!"
Doug Smith, Natural Pastures Cheese Company Operations manager and part-owner -
"The secret to making a great cheese is simple: have great milk and a top team of people to create the cheese. I believe the milk we get from the herds here in the Comox Valley is some of the very best. We also have many hard working, dedicated people who really care about the cheese they make every day."
· Farm tours and gate sales are available year-round at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Natural Pastures Cheese Company.
· The two cheesemakers also produce many other kinds of cheese including blue, cheddar, feta, fromage frais, gouda, mozzarella, raclette and verdelait.
· B.C. has 26 cheesemakers, ranging from small artisan craftsmen to large-scale processors.
· B.C. has 540 dairy farms with 70,000 cows. B.C. produced over 650 million litres of milk in 2009, with farm gate sales of about $500 million.
· B.C.'s dairy industry employs over 13,000 people on farms, in processing and in related industries and is highly respected for its product safety, environmental stewardship and animal health values.
Source: BC Ministry of Agriculture