Explore The Cheeses Of Quebec In This Tasting Of 5 Great Cheeses

Quebec is a province in Canada that makes an excellent variety of amazing cheeses. There are almost 200 cheese producers, factory and artisan, in Quebec, and half of the cheese consumed in Canada is produced in Quebec (link in French). Cheese is big business but it is also a big tradition. Here we will explore and taste five great Quebec cheeses some of the best.

Cheese Selection
Selection of cheeses

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Oct. 15, 2020, by Deborah Esplin

Explore The Cheeses Of Quebec

These cheeses are presented in the order from mildest to most robust flavour. Some of these cheeses are made by big international producers and some are made by single-factory artisan producers, but they all represent some of the best and great Quebec cheeses with a variety of tastes that represent the large variety that you find in this area. Enjoy.

Saint-Paulin, a cheese from France made in Quebec

Saint-Paulin Cheese
Saint-Paulin Cheese

Saint-Paulin is a semi-firm, mild cheese. It has a light, creamy colour inside and a bright orange rind on the outside.  It is a very mild tasting cheese with a pleasant, light texture and buttery smoothness on the tongue.

Saint-Paulin was a finalist in the 2015 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

How did Saint-Paulin Start?

Saint-Paulin is a cousin to the French cheese, Port-du-Salut. It was started by Trappist monks in France, who learned cheese-making in Switzerland. As the Trappist monks moved to Canada, they brought the making of Saint-Paulin with them and started making the cheese in a village in Quebec called Saint-Paulin. Saint-Paulin cheese has been produced in Quebec in the Trappist Abbey in Oka since the late nineteenth century. The cheese is still made there, however, Agropur now runs the production of Saint-Paulin and Oka cheese which is made in the same facility. Check out the Oka cheese below.

Pairings for Saint-Paulin

Saint-Paulin, as a mild cheese, goes well with lagers and light beers, white wine and slightly fruity, not robust red wines. This cheese also pairs well with iced tea and light juices like apple or white grape. It also pairs well with fruits and nuts. It can go with delicate butter lettuce, Boston lettuce salad or mild meats like turkey, chicken and whitefish.

Cendré de Lune Alexis de Portneuf, a great Quebec cheese

Brie with Ash
Ashed Brie Cheese

Cendré de lune is a triple cream brie cheese with an ash coating. It is a mild brie cheese with a slightly buttery taste. The ash coating adds an extra layer of flavour, not bitter, pleasant, but slightly sharp or peppery.

This cheese, Cendré de lune, has won multiple awards, around the world, and is an amazing taste experience.

How did Cendré de lune start

Cendré de lune is made by the company, Fromagerie Alexis de Portneuf. How did this cheese start? Alexis Cayer and his wife, Jane Skinner, moved to Portneuf, Quebec in 1842 and started raising cows. As well, they started making cheese and became excellent cheesemakers. Today, the company makes many kinds of cheese in a variety of categories from Brie/Camembert to Blue, Soft, Goat, Semi-Firm, and Firm. I can’t wait to explore more of their cheeses.

The Cendré de Lune cheese has won several awards including Gold in the International Cheese Award in 2018 and Bronze in the Internal Cheese Award 2017.

Pairings for Cendré de lune

Cendré de lune is good on bread, in a sandwich, with fruit, with nuts, and in a salad. It also goes well with white wine, lagers and white beers. Good non-alcoholic choices would be black tea, or coffee and citrus juices. It has enough flavour to stand up to meats in sandwiches and salad ingredients. It is very versatile and delicious.

Smoked Oka, another great Quebec cheese

Smoked Cheese

Smoked Oka cheese is a firm cheese with a mild flavour, but the smoked rind gives the cheese a richer, more robust flavour. The actual cheese flavour is buttery and milk, but the smoke adds a slightly acidic, tangy, nutty flavour to the cheese that is delicious. You can also buy classic Oka which is not smoked.

How did Oka start?

The story of Oka cheese is very similar to that of Saint-Paulin as they both came from the same recipe for Port-du-Salut cheese brought to Quebec by Trappist monks. The Trappist abbey in Oka, Quebec, was struggling financially and one of the monks from France, Brother Alphonse, brought the recipe for Port-du-Salut, in 1893, tweaked it for Canadian conditions and taught the monks how to make the cheese which was named Oka. The cheese is still made at the Abbey in Oka, however, the Canadian company Agropur took over the production of the cheese in 1981.

Like many Quebec kinds of cheese, Oka has won awards including first place in the British Empire Cheese Show in 2016.

Pairings for Oka cheese

Smoked Oka cheese, with the mild but smokey flavour, is a good pairing for a dry white wine, light to brown beer and fruity red wine. Smoked Oka also goes well with coffee, black tea and mango juice. It goes well with pasta, in fondue, in salads, sandwiches and casseroles or on its own with nuts and most fruits, especially fruits with a slightly stronger flavour profile like kiwi, mango and pineapple.

La Tomme d’Elles, a creative and great Quebec cheese

Sheep Cheese
Sheep Cheese

This cheese is a semi-firm cheese made with a mixture of cow, and sheep’s milk. It has a medium-strong flavour, somewhat salty, slightly herby taste with a slight tang from the sheep milk. It is very good.

La Tomme d’Elles has won best cheese in the blended milk category for the 2011 Sélection CASEUS competition among others.

How did La Tomme d’Elles start

This cheese, La Tomme d’Elles, is more recent. The cheese has been in production since 1994 and was created by a Mr Maurice Dufour who started the artisan cheese factory, Famille Migneron de Charlevoix. (link in French)

Pairings for La Tomme d’Elles

Since La Tomme d’Elles has a fairly robust flavour, it can be paired with drinks and foods that have stronger flavour profiles. La Tomme d’Elles does well with fruity or mildly robust red wines, medium-strength beers like red and brown beers. For non-alcoholic choices, La Tomme d’Elles goes well with black tea, coffee, and stronger flavour juices like mango or pineapple. As well, this cheese will go very well with a meat platter and with a stronger flavour bread like sourdough or rye. The cheese could also work shredded on a leek or spinach soup or in a moderately flavourful casserole.

Délices des Appalaches, one of my favourite Quebec cheeses

Le Délices des Appalaches is so-named because it is made in a region of Quebec called the Appalachians which is in the south-centre region of Quebec about 2 hours east of Montreal. The cheese is a semi-firm, lactose-free cheese with a tangy flavour. The fruity, tangy flavour comes from the washing of the rind in ice cider produced in the region (link text in French). It has a unique flavour, slightly tangy, slightly citrusy and is really worth trying.

Le Délices des Appalaches has won awards. Most recently, second place in the British Empire Cheese Competition 2018 and a Silver Medal in the World Cheese Awards 2015.

How did Le Délices des Appalaches start?

For seven generations, the Dubois family has been living in the region and making cheese. The family prides themselves on creating unique cheeses that delight the taste buds. All of the cheeses produced by the company, called Rang 9, are lactose-free and unique.

Pairings for Le Délices de Appalaches

This is a versatile cheese that would go well with a sweet or dry white wine and almost any red from fruity to robust. The cheese would go well in sandwiches, with nuts and on almost any salad, especially salads with ingredients that have a stronger flavour like onion, arugula, escarole, spinach and kale.

Some of these cheeses are available in other parts of Canada, but not all. I haven’t been able to find a way for people outside of Quebec to enjoy these great Quebec cheeses. You will just have to come here when the pandemic is voer.

Enjoy these cheeses and leave for comments below.

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