Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Thursday, January 20 2022

Affordable Canadian Cheeses

By: Allison Spurrell
No better time to #supportlocal

It’s been an interesting past 12 months in the food industry.  With labour shortages across the country, and transportation costs skyrocketing, we’ve already started to see some price increases in 2022, with more to come.

It’s been an interesting past 12 months in the food industry. 

With labour shortages across the country, and transportation costs skyrocketing, we’ve already started to see some price increases in 2022, with more to come.

So, what better time to talk about good value in cheese. To me good value and low prices don’t always go hand in hand. Some cheeses are more costly to produce, so the price may be a little higher. For example, often goat and sheep milk cheeses are a higher per kilo cost than cow’s milk. That isn’t arbitrary; it is based on how much it costs to produce the milk for these cheeses. Sheep, for example, are notoriously low yield milkers, but as a sheep cheese lover I am happy to pay more for a sheep’s milk cheese for the exceptional flavour. Farmstead cheeses are the same. The economy of scale doesn’t often apply to small producers so their costs may be higher, but if you appreciate their products then the value is still there. 

These are a few of my favourite Canadian cheeses that I think are tremendous value and very well-priced in their categories.

  • Le Pizy – is a small, relatively flat, soft ripened cheese from Fromagerie La Suisse Normande in Quebec. Its subtle mushroom flavour and very fine rind made it a truly unique cheese. Interesting and flavourful, but not overly strong,  it’s a good find for a cheese board. They also make a goat version call La Chevronné.
  • Le Ballot -  is a unique washed rind cheese from Fromagerie Rang 9 in Quebec. It is made almost like a cheese jelly roll with a layer of ash in a gorgeous swirl through the cheese. Because this cheese is made in a roll, it’s easy to buy a small piece and it really makes a statement on a board. Fun for looks and delicious as well, it really makes sense from a cost perspective.
  • Island Brie – is a lovely small, soft ripened wheel made by Little Qualicum on Vancouver Island. Leave it out of the fridge for an hour or two, and the creamy texture and delicate taste really sing. Affordable and easily accessible in BC.
  • Sheep Yogurt – ok, I know yogurt is not really cheese! We buy cheese from Fromagerie la Nouvelle France in Quebec, and they are one of the few producers of sheep’s milk cheese in Canada. Their glass jars of yogurt are a real treat and aren’t much pricier than a great cow’s milk yogurt. Search it out if you are a yogurt fan.
  • Raclette from Fritz Kaiser – This great cheese maker produces a lot of very reasonably priced cheeses, but at this wintery time of the year the hot seller is their assortment of Raclette. They make a plain one, one studded with green peppercorns, and yet another is brushed with Griffon beer. There are a lot of European varieties of Raclette out there, but this maker is my choice when I’m having raclette for dinner.
  • Bleu Benedictine – from Abbaye de Sainte-Benoit-du-Lac in Québec.  They make a wide range of great cheeses at the Abbaye, but their blues are so tasty that they are my favourites by far. Either Ermite or Blue Benedictine are full flavoured, a little salty but not too salty, and with a lovely crumbly creamy texture. You can’t go wrong with either of them.
  • Paillot de Chevre – is a dependable ripened goat log. It has loads of flavour and a lovely variance in texture, so it is also a great addition to a board. A little more barnyardy than a fresh goat, it has more complexity and depth. As with the Le Ballot it comes in a log, so it is easy to buy cautiously and have a nice goat without having more cheese than you wanted. This is easily found in stores across Canada so you shouldn’t have to hunt too far to find a nice chunk.

It seems like a good time to support our local producers. Lots of cheese makers are really struggling with the challenges of running a business these days, so here’s to a 2022 with lots of cheese.

Written By: Allison Spurrell
Allison Spurrell
Allison Spurrell

Allison Spurrell stocks the larders of the city’s finest restaurants and your fridge alike, through les amis du FROMAGE, cheese shops in the Kitslano and Strathcona neighbourhoods in Vancouver which she runs with Joe Chaput. Their shelves are filled with 400 cheeses, including local, raw milk French, Italian and other specialties. They also sell foie gras, pâtés, crackers, biscuits, varietal olive oils, vinegars and other specialty food items and their kitchen in Strathcona prepares popular frozen taken away meals. Les amis du FROMAGE has received Vancouver Magazine's Restaurant Award as a top food supplier to Vancouver’s best restaurants and hotels. Allison is a proud member of Confrerie les Chevalier du Taste Fromage de France. To buy cheese visit: les amis du FROMAGE in Kitslano - 1752 West 2nd Ave | Tel (604) 732-4218 or Strathcona - 843 East Hastings St | Tel 604-253-4218 | www.buycheese.com.