Oka is a Canadian cheese. It is made in the Province of Quebec, in the village of Oka which lies on the Northern bank of the Ottawa River just southwest of Montreal. Oka is a small village with a population of 3,300.
The Oka cheese that made the town famous has an interesting history. Oka cheese originated in 1893. It was derived from an altered recipe of French Port Salut cheese brought to Quebec from France by Trappist Monks. The cheese was made in a Monestary in the village of Oka. The resulting cheese was named after the village. In 1996 the Les Peres Trappists sold the rights of Oka cheese to Agropur. The cheese is still made in Oka but is also made in the town of Holland in Manitoba, Canada.
The picture I took of the Oka L’Artisan does not show the small air holes very well that are part of the character of this cheese. Here is a picture from Google images that shows the holes better.
Oka cheese is classified as a firm cheese made from cow’s milk. It is a washed rind cheese with a fat content of 28% and a protein content of 22%. Oka L’Artisan is a variation of the traditional Oka. It has more honeycomb than the classic Oka.
Oka L’Artisan was the Grand Champion cheese of the Royal Winter Fair 2009. It also won a 1st place award in the 2009 American Cheese Society Cheese Competition in the category of Emmentaler Style Made from Cow’s Milk with Eyed Formation
How does it taste?
I found the cheese mild with a smooth and pleasant texture. It has a faint hazelnut and buttery taste. It is slightly nutty and slightly fruity. It is light and refreshing. I think it would be a good first cheese on a cheese board.
I have tried the Oka classic and I prefer the Oka L’Artisan.
Because the Oka is part of the Agropur product line it appears to be well distributed and available at most better grocery stores. The Oka L’Artisan is a pretty safe bet if you are looking for a cheese for your cheese board, or to serve to guests. You will also have a nice story to tell about monks, Monasteries and Quebec.
Oka L’Artisan is OK!