Say Cheese
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With the approach of the holiday entertaining season, chances are you'll be serving— and eating—cheese at least once or twice in the coming weeks. With that in mind, GoodLife consulted three York Region cheese experts to ask about their favourite cheeses and how to serve them.

Our experts

Albert Borgo
Quality Cheese Inc., Vaughan
Quality Cheese was founded in the 1950s by Almerigo Borgo. Still owned and operated by the Borgo family, Quality Cheese manufactures mozzarella, ricotta, buffalo cheeses and brie at its facility in Vaughan. Its cheese is sold under brand names Albert's Leap and Bella Casara at retailers across York Region, including Costco, Longo's, Whole Foods and Loblaws.

Jane Kemp
La Jolie Cheese Shop, Aurora
La Jolie Cheese Shop opened its doors earlier this year.  Owner Jane Kemp and manager Michael Welsh share their passion for cheese with customers, explaining the history and folklore behind each cheese, the intricate flavours and how best to enjoy it at home.

Evan MacDonald
The Village Grocer, Markham
Originally a butcher shop, The Village Grocer has been serving Markham for more than 30 years. The family-run business prides itself on its quality products (homemade and local whenever possible) and great old-fashioned customer service.

The cheeses

Le Burgond
recommended by Jane Kemp, La Jolie
“From the Burgundy region in France, Le Burgond is a crowd pleaser. It has a seductive, yet gentle aroma of earth and a mild, sweet and nutty note on the finish. The texture is dense, yet creamy, while the lovely orange-washed rind offers a slight crystal-like crunch.”
Texture: Semi-firm
Pair it with: Figs, apricots, pears and a sparkling wine.

Buffalo Mozzarella
recommended by Albert Borgo, Quality Cheese
“Buffalo mozzarella is made from buffalo's milk (versus cow or goat's milk). It is a sweet and milky cheese with an amazing, clean flavour.”
Texture: Semi-soft
Pair it with: Tomatoes, salads or pizza, add to charcuterie boards or serve on its own with extra virgin olive oil, coarse sea salt, drizzled aged-balsamic vinegar and basil.
Fun fact: Buffalo cheeses can often be tolerated and enjoyed by individuals who are allergic to cow's milk.

recommended by Evan MacDonald, The Village Grocer
“Cambazola is probably the best cheese made in Germany. It is a blue-veined Camembert and is known for its mild notes of blue combined with the full-cream richness of a Camembert. “
Texture: Soft
Pair it with: A simple biscuit, green grapes or a few drops of your favourite well-aged balsamic vinegar.

recommended by Albert Borgo, Quality Cheese
“Many people have not tried Burrata yet, but it is a must. Burrata is a semi-soft Italian cheese that combines mozzarella and cream. It has a solid mozzarella exterior that is filled with a softer mixture of mozzarella and cream that sort of melts out of it once cut open.”
Texture: Soft
Pair it with: Roasted grapes and garlic toasts.
Burrata makes its debut: The Borgo family was introduced to this regional delicacy while visiting relatives in southern Italy and knew it had to be brought back to Canada. The family now manufactures this cheese by hand in its dairy in Vaughan.

recommended by Jane Kemp, La Jolie
“Mimolette has a flaming orange colour and is covered by a black wax coat so it stands out with its striking appearance as well as its hard-to-brittle texture (which contrasts wonderfully when served alongside softer cheeses).”
Texture: Firm
Pair it with: Pinot gris, full-bodied chardonnay or sparkling white.
Fun fact: These ball-like cheese rounds were once used as substitutes for cannon balls against invaders in the north of France.

recommended by Albert Borgo, Quality Cheese
“Brie cheese is really versatile for baking or for snacking on; it has a creamy texture on the inside and our Brie incorporates flavours of light butter, mushroom and hazelnut.”
Texture: Soft
Pair it with: Unsalted crackers or crusty bread, ripe fruit, jam or a glass of wine.
Fun Fact: Since its origination in France during the 8th century, brie was originally referred to as “king's cheese” and later, after the French Revolution, it was known as the “king of cheese” and savoured by people of all classes.

Balsamic Bella Vitano
recommended by Evan MacDonald, The Village Grocer
“This cheese is immersed in six-year-old Italian balsamic vinegar, giving it a rich flavour that blends the light and fruity taste of the cheese with the sweet and tangy notes from the vinegar.”
Texture: Semi-firm to firm
Pair it with: Crackers or enjoy on its own.

Extra-Old White Cheddar
recommended by Evan MacDonald, the Village Grocer
“I just love munching on this with a glass of oaky chardonnay.”
Texture: semi-firm to firm
Pair it with: a glass of oaky chardonnay

Grey Owl
recommended by Jane Kemp, La Jolie
“Grey Owl is delicious! It's a soft goat cheese that is delicate, chalky and creamy with a lovely clean flavour yielding complex citrus notes.”
Texture: Soft
Pair it with: Fresh figs, green or black olives, a white wine, such as Vouvray or Sancerre, or sparkling white wine.
Fun fact: Dedicated in name to the famous environmentalist, Archie Belaney (Grey Owl), who had a cabin on the cheese-maker's lands.

Get on board
Cheese boards are an easy and effective way to showcase and share cheese while entertaining. There are no hard and fast rules, but here are a few guidelines, from La Jolie Cheese Shop owner Jane Kemp to get you started.
Cheese boards should be unique and reflect your personal taste and style—rustic, simple, fancy or grand, anything works.
Pick a canvas: wooden boards, a vintage plate or a granite slab are all great options.
 Choose your cheese: Offer a selection that varies in texture and type; include a soft, semi-soft, hard and maybe a blue if you enjoy it.
Acclimatize: Bring cheese to room temperature for roughly 30 to 45 minutes before serving to allow the cheese to take on its true flavour and texture.
Arrange: Leave the cheese in its original round and rind to bring character and add a few foods sparingly that guests can enjoy with the cheese. Figs, apricots, grapes and nuts go nicely with most cheeses.


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