Spanish Cheese Seminars

Julia worked with the Spanish Trade Commission to promote Spanish cheese to culinary professionals, retailers, distributors and the media. Tutored tastings at culinary colleges reached hundreds of students and chefs, highlighting the quality, diversity and gastronomic context of Spanish cheese. A master class for cheese professionals elaborated on the multiple ways that Spanish cheese attracts contemporary consumers, and incorporated guided tasting and conversation with visiting cheese producers.


ACS Certified Cheese Professional Exam

Julia has been the proud coach and teacher of Odysseas Gounalakis, Miriam Holmes, Cecilia Smith, and Wendy Furtenbacher, Torontonians who have achieved their ACS Cheese Professional Certification. This three-hour exam evaluates knowledge across a range of domains, from the ingredients and science of cheese making through sensory assessment to marketing and merchandising. Although it emphasizes American cheeses, producers and regulations, a small number of Canadians have achieved certification. Candidates for the exam may wish to take advantage of Cheese Culture’s custom training opportunities.


Professional Fromager Graduating Class

During 2011, Julia has been busy developing curriculum and
teaching courses for George Brown College's Professional Fromager Certificate. In October, the first group of students graduated from the 6-course program. There are 40 students currently enrolled, with more slated to begin in March. This is great news for local cheese lovers, as Toronto's cheese culture continues to thrive and flourish.


An unusual catering job!

A recent commission was to create a wedding cake entirely out of cheese... from bottom up: English smoked Cheddar (bride's request), Tasmanian Roaring 40's Blue, QC Frere Jacques, ON Eweda Cru, QC Pleine Lune, and finally, French Ste Maure de Touraine.


Heirloom Cheese and Beer at Black Creek

While sampling ales produced 19th century style at the heritage village’s ultra-micro-brewery, guests enjoyed a time-travel tasting of Canadian cheeses, past and present. Surprising beer fact of the evening: During the 1830’s our pioneer ancestors (men, women AND children) drank litres and litres of beer a week. Surprising cheese fact of the evening: In 1903, cheese was Canada’s second most remunerative export, trailing only lumber. Tastiest pairing of the evening: Black Creek Pumpkin Ale (Yep. A veggie beer!) with C’Est Bon Chèvre on pumpkin seed cranberry crackers.


An Evening with Dieu du Ciel

Cheese Culture offered a pur laine selection of fromages to celebrants at the Ontario launch of this superb Québec brewery. Dieu du Ciel’s brilliantly crafted, cleverly named, and provocatively labeled brews used to mean a road-trip for local fans. Thanks to Bar Volo, now we can enjoy a Rosé d’Hibiscus/Chèvre Noir or Aphrodisiaque/Ciel de Charlevoix combo.


PTA Cheese and Wine

Public school parents annoyed by the tedium of bake sale, pizza lunch and fun fair fundraisers would be wise to consider the approach of a group of mid-town Toronto moms and dads. They auctioned off tickets to a cheese and wine tasting at the lovely home of the Parent Council Chair, met their financial goals and had fun to boot. Schoolyard acquaintances became fast friends at a (blessedly) adults-only occasion featuring sparkling wine and passed appetizers, a plated selection of uncommon cheeses and charcuterie with accompanying wines, and an indulgent Port and chocolate finale. The evening’s faves included classic ewe’s milk Ossau-Iraty with Canonnau di Sardegna, and fig-cake-Gorgonzola canapés with Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Port.


Cheese Ed at Chef School

It is openly lamented that cheese gets scant mention within the context of Culinary Arts programs at Ontario colleges. As Ontario restaurants embrace classic cheese service and quality cheese in the kitchen, and patrons grow more discerning, this lapse in curriculum has become more evident. Cheese Culture supplemented Hospitality and Chef Training programs at George Brown and Humber with single-session seminars on Cheese Basics and Cheese and Wine Appreciation.


All About Cheese
(South African Wine Society)

A keen and vocal crowd of South African Wine Society members gathered to test their assumptions about wine and cheese matching, while enjoying a flight of 5 wines and 7 cheeses. Delicious discoveries included that sweet and potent Jerepigo was impressively versatile with a range of cheese flavours, and that there was no beating the combination of earthy, lanolic Ossau-Iraty and Steenberg Merlot 2003, showing sophisticated, developing notes of dried herbs and tobacco.

Cheese for Wine Professionals
(Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers)

This two-part seminar allowed wine professionals to apply their senses and vocabulary toward assessment and description of cheese, by transferring skills and knowledge developed through wine study. Participants applied the principles of wine and food pairing toward an understanding of cheese and wine compatibility in a variety of realistic service contexts.


Somewhereness

Five of Ontario's top wineries brought their message of taste of place to over 400 guests from the trade and public. Flat Rock Cellars, Stratus, Malivoire, Tawse and Norman Hardie poured superb selections demonstrating the spectacular convergence of expertise, passion, climate and soil in Ontario's Niagara and Prince Edward County regions. Cheese Culture made an equally compelling presentation of the excellent cheeses hailing from this province. There was much praise for the wine-partnering finesse and stand-alone brilliance of French Line, Piacere, Thunder Oak Gouda and Jensen Cheddar.


Daring Pairings at Bar Volo

The gloves were off at this tiebreaker rematch of last spring’s cheese pairing contest between sommelier Tonia Wilson and beer specialist Robert Hughey. An opinionated, passionate, and occasionally partisan audience awarded a narrow victory to the day’s beer matches, as a quirky beet-infused Belgian-style Trippel, and spectacular Southern Tier IPA provided seamless accompaniment to Cypress Grove goat Gouda and Jensen’s 7-year old raw milk cheddar. Wine made a strong final showing with Kenwood Old Vines Zinfandel proving an elegant, confident partner to Quebec’s delicate blue Ciel de Charlevoix. Never one to concede defeat, Tonia promises a re-re-match in the New Year, with both her AND Robert proposing beers in face of whatever delectable flight of cheeses Julia schemes up next. (www.barvolo.com)


"Better with Age" Wine and Cheese

Friends and supporters of North York Seniors Centre celebrated the pleasures of age through a tasting of wines and cheeses in their prime. Sommelier John Tait and Cheese Culture’s Julia Rogers made a strong case for the merits of barrel-aged Merlot over grape juice, and vintage goat cheddar over yogurt. There was not a dissenter in the crowd by the time the evening’s 6 wines, 4 cheeses, live music, silent auction and sweet and savoury treats had all been enjoyed. Thanks to guests and sponsors, the event was a success, raising important funds as well as awareness of the Centre’s exceptional programs. (www.nyseniors.org)


Summer Solstice Wine and Cheese Soirée in Support of Cottage Dreams

Throughout this indulgent tasting of wine and cheese at Toronto Athletic Centre’s sky-high Stratus Restaurant, the summer’s longest sunset painted dazzling lake views. Well above the traffic, watching sailboats dart between island and shore, guests slipped easily into cottage mode, all the while contributing to Cottage Dreams (www.cottagedreams.org), an innovative organization that allows families recovering from cancer to spend time at one of a network of donated private cottages.

Niagara’s rich, complex and elegant Stratus wines anchored stations themed to evoke the very best cottage memories. Provincial Fine Foods provided ten superb craft cheeses from Quebec and Ontario, each reflecting serious artistry and communicating flavours of the countryside. The most popular matches included Cabernet Franc with Le Fétard, Red with Toscano (bravo, Monforte Dairy!), and Select Late Harvest Riesling with Thunder Oak Reserve Gouda. By the end of the evening, every cheese and wine combination had become somebody’s favourite, and guests lingered like friends on the dock enjoying every last minute of a treasured summer night.


Osteoporosis Canada
Cheese and Wine Soirée


Cheese and wine, every party’s perennial couple, received some matchmaking help from guests of Osteoporosis Canada’s first annual Cheese and Wine Soirée. Acknowledging that cheese and wine are sometimes a silent, suffering pair, or a clashing competitive duo, Julia and Tonia selected four cheese and wine partners with the fundamental compatibility necessary for a happy union. Seventy happy yet discriminating tasters cast their votes for “couple most likely to succeed”.

The contest was made challenging by the exquisite quality and pedigree of each of the cheese and wine suitors. Triple Crème du Village de Warwick, Comtomme, Balderson 5-year Heritage Cheddar and Bleu Bénédictine were all finalists and medalists in the Dairy Farmers of Canada 2006 Cheese Grand Prix. Henry of Pelham’s sparkling, sweet and dry wines receive awards and accolades each vintage year.

After receiving tips on tasting and matching, guests cast their votes. By a slim margin, the star couple was declared. With its dark plum and cocoa notes, the promisingly tannic Henry of Pelham 2002 Unfiltered Cabernet-Merlot was a stellar companion to the rich and balanced, savoury and toasty 5-year Heritage cheddar.

Can we have an annual event more than once a year? Oh, please!


Ontario Winter: Putting Up and Putting By

This convivial event brought food theorists, food historians, Slow Foodists, and more than a few just plain foodies out to historic Montgomery’s Inn for a five-course meal featuring local goods preserved by traditional methods. Diners with unhappy memories of turnips and sauerkraut had nothing to fear! Chef Tonia Wilson presented a jewel-like appetizer of rillettes, cured meats and fish cakes, garnished with compotes and aiolis made from foraged wild plants. Homemade organic sausages were washed down with local dark ale and Niagara wine. Witty speeches from local producers, Jonathan Forbes and Charles Taylor, and Inn bread baker Janice Etter punctuated the feast, allowing guests to get their second and third wind for the cheese and dessert courses to come. Proceeds from the event went toward the Inn’s bake-oven restoration fund, one of the many fascinating food-related projects on the go at Montgomery’s.

For complete menu and list of producer/contributors, click here.


Ontario Cheese, Beer and Wine Matching Event

Bar Volo (587 Yonge Street) already attracts the most patriotic of guests through its long established "made in Ontario" cheese, wine and beer lists. The challenge awaiting provincially proud patrons on March 18 was to judge whether sommelier Tonia Wilson, or beer expert Robert Hughey was best able to pick the perfect partner for five rare craft-made Ontario cheeses chosen by Julia Rogers. After two and a half hours of ribald deliberation, the verdict was delivered: a tie! Still more confounding, dedicated beer drinkers were swayed toward the wine selections, while "not beer" types were decamping in droves toward the lure of of local brews.

Highlights of the afternoon included the quirkily successful match of Comfort Cream, a Guernsey milk triple cream from Jordan, with Malivoire's 2004 Pinot Gris. Compatible levels of acidity and body kept tasters focused on the pleasing, bitter-edged intensity of the pair. A victory for beer was provided by the delightful combination of Bonnechere, a unique scorched rind sheep milk cheese from Lanark county, with Hockley Dark Ale. These robust partners collaborated to evoke autumn's smouldering leaf fires and the sweet richness of a harvest meal.

Visit http://www.barvolo.com for news of future matching challenges.


BMCAA private tasting

The Edward Day Gallery's strikingly powerful art work and elegant austere space provided dramatic surroundings for a recent Cheese Culture tasting. Alumni of the University of Toronto's Biomedical Communications program learned about sensory involvement in gustatory experience while enjoying a sampling of five cheeses matched with three wines.

Highlights of the evening included the luxurious opener of Triple-Crème de Warwick on Falwasser Crisps accompanied by Jackson-Triggs 2002 Proprieter's Grand Reserve Cuvée Classique, and the tried and true combination of Munster AOC in vibrant harmony with Pierre Sparr 2003 Alsace Gewurtztraminer.

The discussion was as lively as the flavours, with topics ranging from neurological explanations of synesthesia to why some cheese smells like dirty laundry. Food for thought indeed!


Toronto Taste

Cheese Culture wrangled enough Ontario artisan cheese—and kept it cool in 35° weather—to please 1500 diners at Toronto Taste, Second Harvest’s annual fundraiser at Harbourfront Centre.

This was the first year that any of the 70 chef stations featured cheese exclusively. What a coup for Ontario’s small cheese makers to hold their own among such impressive culinary talents as J.P. Chalet of the Fifth, Jamie Kennedy of J.K. Wine Bar, and Lynn Crawford of the Four Seasons.

Julia and three energetic volunteers served up platters of C’est Bon Chevre with Strawberry Rhubarb Coulis, dishes of Monforte’s Paradiso, Milky Way’s Violet Hill, Ewenity’s Eweda and Ramembert, Mornington’s extra-old goat cheddar, and Back Forty Sheep Camp’s Madawaska. For those seeking cheese instead of dessert, there was a finale of Back Forty Highland Blue with Apple-Sage Honey on Pecan-Raisin Crisps.

When presented with cheeses from the vanguard of Ontario’s craft cheese sector, the food-savvy crowd reacted with enthusiasm, curiosity and gusto. Chefs and everyday gourmets were stunned by the range and sophistication on display. Bravo to the cheese makers who donated their wares!


Santé Wine Festival

As part of Hillebrand Estates Sip, Savour and Shop event featuring chef Tony Deluca’s Niagara wine country cooking, Cheese Culture provided cheese plates to match three featured wines. Click here for selected tasting notes from this event.


Cheese and Honey Presentation to Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers

Julia presented five mono-varietal honeys alone and in combination with cheese. Sommeliers used honey tasting tools to assess a range of honeys with distinctive profiles. Historic and gustatory perspectives enhanced appreciation of the complementary relationship of honey and cheese. Participants sharpened tasting and matching skills in a novel way while also enjoying outstanding flavours.

Honey tasting notes are available here.


Slowfood Canada Dinner

Canadian artisanal cheese played an essential role in a recent event featuring foods and wines of Canada, hosted by Cheese Culture and Savour.

Participants enjoyed delicacies ranging from foraged plants to wild game to cheese from the "Vache Canadienne". Rare and endangered foods contributed to a menu which allowed guests to appreciate diverse flavours and to understand the contributions of the Canadian pantry to world food culture.


Vineyards Estate Wines: three evenings of wine and cheese

Click here for selected tasting notes from this event.

Quebec Cheese and Canadian VQA Wines

Click here for selected tasting notes from this event.