I don't want to be one of those people who always winges about how fast time goes, but is anyone else very surprised that we are nearing the end of October??? Is it because the weather's been warmer than usual? I don't know. But the fact that I am having to think about my Halloween costume right now is blowing my mind right now.
Welcome everyone who is new to the Laliberté Cheese Co Monthly Cheeseletter, and there are a lot of you this month! You might be receiving this down the road from where I sit right now, or somewhere on the other side of the Country.
For all of you who are joining us as new readers, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Tracy Godin, and I am the owner and primary cheese eater at Laliberté Cheese Co. What started as a small online company supplying monthly cheese boxes has grown over the past year and a half. While we still do a lot of online business, we now also stock a deli fridge at The Mustard Lady in downtown Courtenay for those peeps who like to look at their cheese in person before making a purchase. And our monthly cheese box membership has grown to include folks from Port Alberni to Campbell River and everywhere in between. Here you'll find cheese reviews, a heads up about what is coming soon and any other random cheese-related things that are going through my head at the moment.
I am heaving a large sigh this week as I just sent in my final order for 2023. The December/Christmas order went in early last month, but the November one was sent in today. This was the big one with all of the Advent Cheese Calendar cheese on it...so lots and lots of cheese. Is it stressful? Maybe? It's the first big holiday season for me. Last year was good but quiet because I'd only been stocking the deli at the Mustard Lady for just over a month before Christmas. This year it feels like maybe it's too much cheese??? Did I order too much?? It's hard to anticipate. It would be one thing if I was selling baby goats, you know, I could just play with them and cuddle with them, maybe do some baby goat yoga, (not to be confused with the baby goat Yoda craze of 2021). Cheese, unfortunately has an expiration date and in fact, the more cheese you eat, the less likely you are to do any type of yoga.
The 2023 Cheese Advent Calendars are actively on sale for pre-orders. Last year I did 36 calendars, and this year I'd semi-planned for 100, but I think that's crazy, even for me. So as of now its 75, and as of writing this, there are 13 left! Eek! I don't know, maybe I will do 100. The pre-order deadline is November 1st, so I guess we will see where things end up. I'm pretty stoked about this year, I've got a collection of awesome elves that are going to help me stuff cheese into little boxes, and I am shipping across Canada this year! So if you have a cheese loving friend who lives in the some far-flung part of Canada and you want to send them love, order them a cheese advent calendar.
Monthly Cheese Boxes - The October cheese box is scheduled for delivery on ~ October 27th, so orders should be placed by October 26th.
What is perfect right now?? Well we have 2 rounds of the Camembert Medallion left in stock, and I have to say as far as Camemberts go, it is at the perfect texture. This is a raw milk Camembert from Normandy, and one I highly recommend for the Camembert lovers out there.
Ok, just a quick review on the Partyclette! I love it! I bring it over to friends houses for melted cheese, I fire it up for cheese nibbles at home, and I give them as gifts. I'm sure there are people who don't like melted cheese, somewhere, but I don't know if I've ever met them or that I would want to meet them. This thing is fun, and people are curious about it and then excited when they see cheese bubbling away on it. So 100% winner.
They are powered by 3 tealights, so you don't even need electricity. It almost makes me want to take up skiing again so I can plop myself down in the snow, crack a bottle of wine and melt some cheese. I recently saw a photo of a guy with a raclette food truck. I had that moment of...wait, should I? But then reality kicked in, so sadly no, there won't be a raclette cheese truck anytime soon.
You can get your cheese-lovin' hands on one of these via our website. You can also order a Raclette Gift Box, which includes the raclette and 3 types of cheese. Maybe the perfect hostess/host gift?
Anyway, back to science...If you follow me on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/lalibertecheese/) you might have seen my Raclette Series videos where I just melt cheese and tell you whether it's a good melter, if it tastes good, if it pours onto your bread nicely. It's a fun and delicious project, and to be honest, while I think it's informative, it's just a reason to have melted cheese on a Tuesday.
Not every cheese is a good melter, and some of them are just horrible. It isn't a reflection on the cheese itself, some of my favourite cheeses I wouldn't bother trying to melt, its just about how they behave in a hot pan. This has everything to do with cheese composition.
So, what makes a cheese a good melter? I'm not a scientist but....
Cheese is basically fat, water and proteins. And how well things melt is about the relationship between the fat and the water and how tightly the proteins are bonded together. A good melter will have a nice balance of fat and water that allows the fat to float in the water as the protein molecules stretch out and separate when heat is applied.
Cheeses like aged cheddar, which is a poor melter, have two things working against them. They have less moisture, moisture leaves the cheese as it ages, and the casein proteins are more tightly bound. When these types of cheese are heated, the proteins are so tightly packed that they don't loosen enough to allow the fat and water to hang out in a nice, uniform manner. Combine that with the fact that they have lower water content to hold the fat, and you end up with a blob of thick protein swimming in a puddle of melted, escaped, fat. We've all had this happen and it's no fun.
So younger cheese is much better than aged cheese as a rule of thumb, but not super young. Raclette cheese is aged for about 8 weeks. It consistently produces a smooth melt, that sticks together and pours nicely. Comtomme another favourite to melt is aged 60-90 days. It maintains a texture and melting quality similar to the Raclette cheeses. Morbier interestingly enough is aged 45 days to 3 months, however I have found it to expel more fat than the other two. Some fat comes to the surface, leaving the cheese proteins a little bit thicker and sticking to the bottom. It's still good and will do in a pinch.
There are limits as to what cheese you can just throw on the raclette burner and have it melt successfully, but there are ways to take a poor melter and make it better. Steaming for example will melt a drier, older cheese, because the act of steaming forces moisture back into the cheese. Another way is to add starch which prevents the fat molecules from binding together and forming clumps. Think of making a cheese sauce, you start with a roux, butter and flour and add milk before adding the cheese. This sauce helps suspend the the cheese, creating a more uniform consistency. Or add acid, such as you would in fondue, in the form of wine. The extra acid prevents the casein proteins from joining together and forming a clump. Cheese Science!
MONTHLY CHEESE REVIEW
Alright, let's talk cheese, and review a few of the new ones from last month. We had two types of Raclette cheese this month, one from France and one from Switzerland. Although they were not the two specific types that were ordered, they turned out to be pretty good.
Raclette de Savoie. This was the stronger of the two, a sticky-washed rind cheese with my favoured raclette funk to it. It melted gloriously, and yes it did smell a bit, but not overwhelmingly so. This one is made of raw milk and comes from France. Some people cut the rind off, but personally I love it. It creates this extra little crunch texture, and the washed-rind flavours really add to the overall taste of the cheese.
Raclette Swiss Mark, was significantly more mild, and super approachable for the non-adventurous cheese eaters in my household. It had a beautiful melt on it with that great pull that makes melted cheese look so delicious. I have been using this one a lot because it's not overwhelming, but it still has some good "European" flavour to it. Most recently I put it on my French Onion soup, and I have to say it was hard to stop at one bowl, because the melt on it was perfect.
Tête de Moine made an appearance this month along with the arrival of the Girolle. Which means I can make cheese flowers :) It's a pretty way to present the cheese, and the thin shavings mean that when the cheese comes to room temperature it kind of melts in your mouth. I will be stocking the deli with the cheese flowers, but you can also order online. For December I've also ordered some P'tit Basque, a sheep milk from France, which can also be cut on the Girolle successfully but with a bit more effort. Don't have a Girolle, but want one, cause they are cool. Well, you can also buy those on our website as well. Quantities are limited at the moment however.
A surprise cheese, which was subbed in for Manchego, was Queso de Oveja, which just translates to "Sheep Cheese". This cheese also comes from Spain, but it tastes more like Thea Bandaged Sheep Cheddar...the gold standard (in my mind) of sheep cheddar. Sadly this is not one that will be available regularly, and even sadder, the 12 mth Manchego I typically bring in is becoming difficult to source. So we may be on a bit of a Manchego drought for a few months. But for now, there is still some Queso de Oveja in the deli, so get it while we've got it!
THIS MONTH'S CHEESE LIST
Newbies this month! Well there are a few new cheeses, but also some new extras.
Fondue! I've started to get requests for fondue cheese. I'm not sure if the request was for a fondue cheese mix or if it was for the pre-mixed Swiss fondue stuff. You know the type that comes in the foil package that you dump out in one coagulated lump and heat? So if you have a preference let me know. I'm happy to bring in fancy dump n' heat mixes...I just need to know what the people want!
To start with I am offering fondue cheese mixes. This is a mixture of 3 cheeses shredded and ready to go with instructions and other ingredient lists. It may contain a combination of any of the following: Swiss Emmentaler, Gruyère, Alpenjewel, Raclette or Comté. You will need to provide the rest of the ingredients and create the mixture, but the cheese will be ready to go!
I will also be offering this in a goat/sheep format. Just because you can't or don't want to eat cow cheese, it shouldn't mean you too can't also enjoy the experience of eating a vat of melted cheese. While the specific cheeses for this mixture aren't set in stone, we anticipate some of the following: Capri Ella (FABULOUS melter), Sainte-Nitouche, Allegretto, Amazing Grey & Pecorino Romano. I will be doing some experimenting to come up with the best mixture!
And I will be doing my best to come up with my own Easy-Peazy dump-and-heat option. This will probably be something akin to the Fromage Fort which I made last year (and which will be showing up in the deli and online in November). The trick will be creating something that you can grab and go and that will still melt as expected. Maybe for those post-ski tailgate hang outs, or a mid-snowshoe lunches.
The fondue cheese mixes are available to pre-order on our website, we anticipate them hitting the shelf mid-November or maybe earlier if we've got a good cheese mix to work with.
I am crossing my fingers that the Tomme des Croquant a la Truffe will show up this month. I've ordered it a couple of times, and both times it's been omitted.
And a new goat cheese, Fleur de Ré is heading our way this month as the Mothais sur Feuille is short this month.
It's a bit smaller and firmer, in theory, but it's new to me so I'll reserve judgement for when it arrives.
Sao Jorge, a hard Portuguese cheese will also be making an appearance this month, thanks to a special request. Remember, if there's a cheese you love and want, let me know. If I can get my hands on it I will be more than happy to order it in.
Our next delivery arrives next week, but honestly we have a pretty extensive selection of cheese at the moment. Here is our list of in stock and soon to arrive cheese. You can pre-order online or visit the deli at the Mustard lady store, where you can also pick up some fine, locally made mustard, and some Vancouver Island based charcuterie meats (you can also add these onto your online order through our website).
Online Orders get 10% off! (must be ordered and paid for online. For pickup or delivery)
Triple Crème de Charlevoix - Cow (Quebec)
Grey Owl - Goat (Quebec)
Cheval Noir de L'Isle - Cow (Quebec)
Fleuron (Blue) - Cow (Quebec)
Riopelle de L'isle Cow (Quebec)
Thea Bandaged Cheddar -Sheep (Quebec)
Le Pizy - Cow (Quebec)
Pied de Vent - Cow (Quebec)
Comtomme - Cow (Quebec)
Capri Ella - Goat (Quebec)
Sainte-Nitouche - Goat (Quebec)
La Bête-A-Séguin - Cow (Quebec)
Burrata di Puglia - Cow (France)
Bois Blond - Cow (France)
Camembert Le Médaillon - Unpasteurized Cow (France)
Cote D'Or - Cow (France)
Délice de Deux Sèvres - Goat (France)
Maroilles AOP - Cow (France)
Raclette de Savoie IGP Haute Montagne - Unpasteurized Cow (France)
Raclette Haut Livradois - Thermalized Cow (France)
Mothais sur Feuille Antan - Goat (France)
Laguiole - Cow ( France)
Mont des Cats - Cow (France)
Dutch Mimolette - Cow (Netherlands)
Comté 18 mth - Unpasteurized Cow (France)
Comté 24 mth - Unpasteurized Cow (France)
Brebirousse - Sheep (France)
Reblochon de Savoie (France)
Burrata di Puglia (France)
Chateau de Bourgogne (France)
Bleu D'Auvergne (France)
St Nectaire (France)
Kaamps Classic (Netherlands)
Kaamps Miel & Truffe (Netherlands)
Manchego 12 mth (Spain)
Pavé de Herve - Cow (Belgium)
Lancashire Whisky Cheddar (UK)
Tête de Moine - Cow (Switzerland)
Sao Jorge - Cow (Portugal)
Keep it Cheesy!