Frere Jacques – The Cheese, Not the Song

Frere Jacques Cheese

According to wikipedia: Frère Jacques is one of the most widely-known songs on earth, and it can be found many places in modern world culture.

It also happens to be the name of a Canadian cheese.

Frere Jacques is produced in Quebec by the Benedictine Monks at the Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac. I have already written about the Abbey when I reviewed Mont St. Benoit cheese. Check out that blog post for more information about the Abbey.

I found this cheese at the Goat Inc. Cheese Shop in Port Credit, Ontario.

The Frere Jacques cheese is a firm cheese that is made from cow’s milk. It has an orange coated rind. The cheese looks a little like Jarlsberg with it’s large air holes which are also called “eyes”. It has 32% Milk Fat and a 42% Moisture Content.

What does Frere Jacques cheese taste like?

It has a faint hazelnut flavor with a chewy, almost squeaky, texture. It is quite mild and it is a cheese that my children like. It melts nicely and would be a good choose for making a grilled cheese sandwich.

This cheese ends up ranking in the middle of the pack for me. But it does give me yet another reason to plan a visit the Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac in Quebec.

Mont St. Benoit Cheese is made by Monks in Quebec

Mont St. Benoit Cheese

I found some Canadian Mont St. Benoit cheese at the Gouda For You cheese store in Barrie, Ontario.

Mont St. Benoit is a Canadian version of “Swiss Cheese”. I thought it looked similar to Emmental but several web sites describe it as a mild Grueye.

This cheese is produced by the only cheese dairy in North America run by Benedictine Monks. The Monks reside at the Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac which is located in the municipality of Saint-Benoit-du-Lac on the border of the Memphemagog lake, in Quebec. It is East of Montreal and a short distance North of Vermont.

Saint-Benoit-du-Lac - image from Bing Maps

The Monastery is beautiful.

Abbay Saint Benoit - image from their website

This Benedictine Abbey, which was founded in 1912, is a working Catholic Religious order with fifty eight monks (2009) who live according to the monastic rule written by Saint Benoit.

The first cheese was created at the Abbey in 1943. There are currently ten cheeses made at the Abbey.

The Cheeses of Abbey de Saint Benoit - image from their website

In the image above, cheese #1 is the Mont St. Benoit. More information about the cheeses of the abbey can be found on their website.

Mont St. Benoit is a firm cow’s milk cheese with 31% MF and 42% MC.

The Fromages CDA Inc. website describes the cheese as follows.

The Mont St-Benoît is rindless. It is firm yet supple and elastic. It is scattered with holes or “eyes” and emits a hazelnut smell that is lightly accented by the scent of fermentation, which is typical of a Swiss cheese. Its delicate hazelnut and butter flavours will charm you. It is also an excellent cheese to cook with as it melts and browns at high temperatures.

I found the cheese mild and pleasant. I think this cheese would be delicious melted on a ham sandwich. Frankly, I found the story behind the cheese to be more exciting than the cheese.

What I really enjoy about my cheese adventure is discovering and learning. I am so glad that I tried this cheese since it introduced me to some history and geography of which I was unaware. When I have the opportunity to travel in Northern Vermont or East of Montreal I am definitely going to visit the Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac.

Their cheese factory is not open to the public, however, they do maintain a store on the grounds of the monastery.  According to my research, the store also offers other products made by the monks, including: apple sauces and ciders, chocolate products, crafts and gift items.

I am so impressed by the Monastery that I’ve attached a short video showcasing the building and the grounds. It’s narrated in French but you will get the message regardless.

Abbaye De St-Benoît-Du-Lac is a beautiful place, with a wonderful story, that also produces a good cheese. It doesn’t get much better than that.