Cheddar Aging by the Cheddar Chief at Daniel’s Cheese and Deli

My cheese adventure has led me to Cambridge, Ontario for a meeting with the “Cheddar Chief”.

Daniels Cheese Entrance

George Batarsch is the owner of Daniel’s Cheese and Deli in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. He is also know as the “Cheddar Chief” by his Twitter followers. Displayed on the front door of his store is a sign proclaiming that Daniel’s is “Home of the Cheddar”.

Daniel’s Cheese and Deli is a small specialty store specializing in cheese, deli meats and dips but most notably cheddar cheese … Canadian cheddar cheese. He does carry cheddar imported from Wisconsin (The cheddar capital of USA) as well as Australia. But the cheese case was full of Canadian Cheddar cheeses and organized by age.

Daniel's Cheese Case

The Cheese Case at Daniel’s Cheese

George offered me a cheddar tasting experience of aged cheddars from 3 years to 12 years. I understand that the flavour of cheddar changes with age. But it was the chance to actually experience cheddars, from the same cheese makers at different stages of aging.

Daniels Cheese Cheddar Selection

Daniels Cheese Cheddar Selection

The Cheddar Chief has a passion for aging. He buys his cheese old and then continues to age it further in aging coolers set at optimal temperature. George explained that the conditions in which the cheese age is critical. If the storage area is too cold the cheese does not improve. It’s frozen in time. The cheese might be 8 years old but if it doesn’t mature because it’s too cold then you may be getting an 8 year old cheese that has missed a few years.

I could probably write an entire book describing and explaining the tasting experience that I had during a few hours pillaging George’s cheese case. But I’ve decided to boil it down to this … George has nurtured his cheddar from mild to wild and everything in between.

It was interesting to discover how the cheddar cheese texture shifted at different ages. As a rule, older was drier and more crumbly. I tried to determine my preference for texture alongside taste. Admittedly, I tried so many cheeses that I became a bit overwhelmed. The result? I left with a new appreciation of texture, but no conclusions. Texture is component that I will work to focus on and appreciate more during  future cheese tastings.

Three Year Organic Cheddar

Three Year Organic Cheddar

Did I come away with a favorite Cheddar cheese at Daniel’s? The answer is no. Because I truly liked them all and appreciated each one for it’s subtle difference. It’s like trying to decide which child is your favorite … it’s impossible. My kids are different and I love them each for their uniqueness. Did I love them more when they were younger or as they grow up? Again, impossible to decide because I love them at each stage. And so it is with Daniel’s cheddars.

My suggestion is to spend some time trying the Cheddar at each stage of aging, young through old. I think that is the only way to gain any perspective.

Thank you to George, the Cheddar Chief, and Daniel’s Cheese Store for that opportunity.

C’est Cheese Please

Cest Cheese Please Sign

This past week I visited C’est Cheese Please, a cheese store in Cambridge (Ontario, Canada). I was visiting the area and did a search for “cheese” on my iphone maps app. C’est Cheese Please popped up and I decided to check it out.

C'est Cheese Please Store Front

I enjoy visiting different cheese shops because it is a process of discovery. Having never been to this store before, I was wondering if C’est Cheese Please would be a large cheese supermarket or a small cheese boutique. It is the latter, a small specialty cheese shop.

The inside is inviting, warm and decorated in such a way that you just know the owner has a passion for all things cheese. Although small, I found myself browsing for several minutes, soaking up the variety of merchandise on display. C’est Cheese Please sells cheese boards, knives, books, chocolates, jams, bread, etc. There is a lot of cheese stuff packed into such a small store.

C'est Cheese Please - Interior

The purpose of my visit was to see if C’est Cheese Please would have any interesting cheeses that I have not yet tried. I drifted to the cheese case.

C'est Cheese Please Cheese Case

C'est Cheese Please Cheese Case

I asked for any recommendations. The salesperson started asking me a few questions in order to steer me in the right direction. Before long she was slicing off some samples of several new cheeses that I have only read about. I narrowed my decision down to a few to bring home to enjoy.

There were business cards on the counter. I picked one up and asked the woman if she was the owner, Wendi Yates. She responded yes. I decided to introduce myself and reveal my cheese adventure and blog hobby.

Wendi remained warm and welcoming. I wanted to talk a lot more about the cheeses that she was carrying since they were so uncommon. She answered all of my questions and explained about many of the cheeses in the case and stories about them … where they came from, how they are made and why they are special. I was fascinated with her depth of knowledge.

I noticed a reader’s award on the wall.

C'est Cheese Please - Cambridge Times 2011 Readers Award

After spending just a short time in the store it was easy to understand why C’est Cheese Please was a local favorite.

As with many small business’s the success of the store is reflection on the person behind it.

Wendi Yates - C'est Cheese Please

Wendi Yates - C'est Cheese Please

I left with three amazing new cheeses and I will post reviews on them soon.

If you live anywhere in the vicinity of C’est Cheese Please, it is worth a visit if you enjoy cheese. Wendi is very knowledgeable and provided a comfortable and enjoyable shopping experience. This was cheese shopping at it’s best for me.

C’est Cheese Please
12 Water St. South
Cambridge Ontario

A Visit to Upper Canada Cheese Company Store – Jordon Ontario

Upper Canada Cheese Store

Upper Canada Cheese Store

I traveled to the United States over the holiday. On the drive back I decided that we needed a rest stop aka. a cheese break. I decided to check out The Upper Canada Cheese Company store in Jordon, Ontario (Canada). The store is just off of the QEW highway, exit 55.

Upper Canada Cheese Store

Upper Canada Cheese Store

I was traveling from Niagara Falls towards Toronto. The cheese store was about 3 minutes off of the QEW with easy off and easy on.

The store is attractive and nicely decorated. The staff was friendly and greeted me as I entered the store with my children. From within the store they have a couple of viewing windows where you can see cheese being made and stored.

Upper Canada Cheese making room

Upper Canada Cheese making room

Upper Canada Cheeses Aging

Upper Canada Cheeses Aging

There was not any cheese being made while we were there, probably because of the holidays.

The staff offered us samples of several cheeses. My son and I thought the Nosey Goat Cheese samples were particularly good.

Nosey Goat Cheese

Nosey Goat Cheese

I have previously tried and reviewed Upper Canada’s Niagara Gold and Comfort Cream cheeses. Today we bought some Guernsey Girl and Nosey Goat … reviews to follow.

The store also carries many other quality cheeses besides their store brand. They sell compotes, jams, vinegars and other things cheese related. It was definitely worth the short detour off of the QEW and our visit ended up being the perfect rest stop before finishing our drive home.

I recommend stopping at:
Upper Canada Cheese Company Store
4159 Jordan Road
Jordan Station, Ontario L0R 1S0

Store Hours:
Sunday to Thursday – 10 AM to 5 PM
Friday to Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM

Telephone: 905 562 9730

Cheese Man finds Cheese Lady Online

Oh what a ride I am taking with this cheese blogging thing! Just today, after many months of reading and researching online, I discovered a cheese store in Muskegon, Michigan called The Cheese Lady.

The Cheese Lady - Muskegon MI

The Cheese Lady Store Inside - Image from their website

It was bound to happen. Fate has brought together two fromagephiles (that’s a fancy term for cheese-lovers) across the land, proving that cheese has amazing power.

It would take the Cheese Man about 6 1/2 hours to drive to visit the Cheese Lady.

The Cheese Lady has been doing cheese since at least 2005 as she has newsletters on her website dated that far back.

Evidently her business is doing well as the following YouTube video describes a recent relocation of the store to a larger space.

The Cheese Lady store carries over 100 cheese varieties along with other gourmet food products. If I’m ever passing through Muskegon I will definitely be stopping in … it’s destiny.

Taste of Cheese – Canadian Online Cheese Store

I am building a list of Canadian cheese stores for this blog, one store at a time. Since I am fortunate to live very near Toronto there are a fair number of “brick and morter” specialty cheese stores near me.

If you don’t live in an area with a specialty cheese store nearby then you don’t have to miss out. I have discovered a Canadian online cheese seller that will ship artisanal and world famous cheeses anywhere in Canada … so says their website.

The company is called Taste of Cheese and their website is here. They operate out of Pefferlaw, Ontario.

Their website is well designed and easy to navigate. There is really no point in me copying and pasting their information here. Just go to their site to check it out.

One of their employees, Stacy Atlin, also maintains a blog for their virtual cheese store as well. The blog is here. It is one of many blogs that I follow with Google Reader.

I have not bought product from them so I cannot comment on the purchase experience or service. If anybody reading this blog has bought from them post a comment and let us know your opinion of the experience.

Disclosure: For clarity, I am in no way associated with Taste of Cheese, nor was I remunerated in any way for this post.

Dags and Willow Cheese Shop – Collingwood

Ontario has enjoyed a lot of snow this year. It put me in the mood for some skiing at Blue Mountain which is a ski resort about two hours north of Toronto.

Blue Mountain - Image from Google Images

I visited Blue Mountain a few weeks ago to ski with my family. Skiing is hard work for an old guy like me. I get tired and hungry after chasing my wife and children around the slopes for eight hours. That’s when I got a mild case of “cheese brain”.

“Cheese Brain” is when my stomach starts talking to my brain and says – “Hey brain – Go find me some cheese, I’m hungry!”

I was thinking that cheese would make a terrific Apres ski snack. I set out to find a cheese specialty store near the mountain. My online exploring led me to a website for Dags & Willow located in the town of Collingwood near the ski resort.

Dags & Willow has a good website, good enough to lure me to visit their store. Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to their hours of operation and they were closed the day I tried to visit.

It was a cute store, in a good location, near the center of town.

According to their website the store is named after the owner’s dogs: Dagny, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, and Willow, a Collie/Shepherd cross.

They claim to have:

“the largest collection of cheese in the Collingwood area, offering over 100 varieties of cheese at any given time & a try-before-you-buy policy that goes beyond just their superb collection of cheeses.”

They also advertise cheese boards. I would love to check out their boards since I haven’t had much luck finding a store with a good selection of high quality cheese boards.

Cheese Board from Dag's and Willow - image from their website

Their website has an option to subscribe to a newsletter, which I did. I have received two emails since I subscribed. The newsletters are well written and informative. I manage way too much email spam but Dag’s and Willow has hit the sweet spot of email frequency … not too much to annoy me, but enough to keep reminding me that they’ve got cheese I might want. It’s one, of just a few newsletters, that I actually read.

I found an article in the Toronto Star Article where Dag’s and Willow was rated the number one favorite food place in Collingwood by Michael Bonacini, a renowned chef and restaurant owner in Toronto. If Michael liked the store then I’m sure I will too.

I will be planning a stop at Dag’s and Willow the next time that I’m in Collingwood.

Toronto Cheese Store – Leslieville Cheese Market

Finding a variety of cheeses starts with finding good cheese stores. I am slowly building a list of cheese stores to reference.

I had been to the Leslieville Cheese Market a few years ago for a wine and cheese tasting. I fondly remember the experience. It took me to a part of Toronto that I had never visited before. The store was smaller than I had expected. When I arrived it was standing room only.

As I walked into the store I remember the smells and the warmth. It was winter and it was so cozy. Honestly, I don’t remember which cheeses and wines they served that evening but I do remember being somewhat fascinated by the whole experience. The server was elaborating about each cheese being sampled. The cheeses were all unique and I enjoyed each one for a different reason. I went away from the experience with a satisfaction as well as a hunger to learn more about cheese.

That was a few years ago.

Today when I visited the Leslieville Cheese Market website I was surprised to discover they now operate three locations. The East location that I had visited a few years ago will celebrate their 5th Anniversary this June.

Leslieville Cheese Store East Location - image from their website

Now they have opened a West location and a North Market.

Leslieville Cheese Shop West Location - image from their website

Leslieville Cheese Shop North Location - image from their website

That’s good news for me because the West store is much closer to where I live.

Their website has a list of staff’s picks of favorite cheeses which I intrepret as great suggestons for some cheese platters.

The Leslieville Cheese Market is yet another cheese destination that I look forward to visiting again soon.

The Cheese Boutique

The Cheese Boutique is a cheese specialty store in Toronto. It is located at 45 Ripley Avenue, Toronto.

This is a great store for the cheese connoisseur. The Cheese Boutique imports a lot of high end cheese and gourmet products that are hard to find elsewhere. The store is almost overwhelming with its selection of amazing food products from around the world.

The store is well staffed and that staff is knowledgeable. I have visited several times and find my self wandering around constantly being drawn to products that I’ve never seen before but that look so good!

They even have an aging room filled with rounds of Parmesan and other cheeses.

Check out one of my previous blog posts where I describe taking my favorite cheese book to the Cheese Boutique and asking the staff for help to try several of the world class cheeses mentioned in the book.

This is not a discount shop. Don’t be expecting bargains. But if you want top of the line products in a pleasant shopping experience you must check this place out.

Cheese Boutique Website.

Goat Inc. Cheese Shop

UPDATE: October 2012 – Goat Inc. has closed and is no longer in business.

I have discovered a cheese shop very close to my home in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. I never new this place existed and it took me some time to find it using web search. They don’t have an active website that I could find. I found reference to a site but it doesn’t work (at the time of this writing). I did come across some basic info on the store.

Located in the Village of Clarkson, at the southern tip of Mississauga, Goat Inc. Cheese Shoppe offers the finest of hand crafted, artisan cheeses and specialty foods from Canada and around the world.

Goat Inc. is an oasis of sensory pleasure, dedicated to the enjoyment of cheese. We normally carry between 70 to 90 cheeses, all of them carefully inspected for authenticity, quality and ripeness. Our customers are encouraged to sample our cheeses at their leisure and to ask questions about any aspect of our business.

Owner/Operator Joseph Alexander Ambrus is a certified Sommelier and is always available to offer his expertise and experience in pairing fine wines with your cheese selection, to make any occasion the PERFECT OCCASION.  Come in and meet Joe, and share his passion for fine foods and even finer wines.

Contact Us:
Joe Ambrus AKA “Head Cheese”
1744 Lakeshore Road West (at Clarkson Road North)
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, L5J 4N8
Phone (905) 823-3353 Cell (416) 937-1422 Fax (905) 823-3354

It is located in a small mall with convenient parking. The shop is small but clean, well presented and has a comfortable ambiance.

The following ad is listed on the online Yellow Pages. But who uses the Yellow Pages anymore?

I also lifted this ad from a website.

The website Arthur’s Cellar (a wine importer in Ontario) had these kind words about Goat Inc.

Don’t be fooled by the name … Joe Ambrus has many varieties of wonderful cheese including Chèvre. Not only that, but he is a real master of matching the right cheese with the right wine. We visit Goat Inc. whenever we need great cheeses to go with our wines.  – Arthur’s Cellar

I also found a very nice web page on wine and cheese pairings that was prepared by “our resident wine and cheese expert, Joe Ambrus” the proprietor of Goat Inc.

UPDATE: Feb 5, 2011

I had the chance to visit Goat Inc. They specialize in one thing … cheese. They have a nice selection within their cheese case backed up with knowledgeable service and taste samples.

The Cheese Case at Goat Inc.

Their cheese offering does vary. They carry Beemester XO, Saint Agur, Niagara Gold, Frere Jacques and Chevre Noir to name a few.