The 5th Annual Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival was held last weekend at Whistler Blackcombe in British Columbia. This fun event, styled after the Cheese Rolling Festival at Gloucestershire in England, induces particpants to throw themselves down a hill in pursuit of a wheel of cheese. This year's winners were Joslyn Kent in the women's category and Tyler Belan in the men's. For more, check out the video: http://youtu.be/pW7tz7FhDWk
The Dairy Farmers of Canada have released this video recap of the 3rd annual Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, held just yesterday (for future reference, that's Saturday, August 14th) in Whistler, BC. Looks like it was a lot of fun! If you were there - let us know how it went in the comments!
According to this article in the Times-Colonist out of Victoria, BC, there is an epidemic of shoplifting north of the border. But thieves are not stealing sudafed or diapers or even beer. They're stealing .... gourmet cheese. In fact, cheese is one of the top three shoplifted items in Vancouver, BC, according to the Vancouver Police (the other two are meat and razor blades). So serious is this problem that cheese shops must resort to locking up the better stuff in glass cases to protect it from being stolen!
And what's really amazing is that apparently there is a black market out there - in Canada I mean - for good cheese. The article says local bars have been buying stolen cheese from random strangers....thereby functioning as pawn shops, sort of. For cheese.
update: here's a more in-depth article from the Vancouver Sun.
A few weeks ago I was in British Columbia for a couple of book signing events at the Vancouver Farmers Market. While crossing the international border means enduring a litany of things, including drug sniffing dogs and gruff border guards, once I'm across I swear I can see a whole new world of great regional cheeses opening up before me. And when I'm visiting BC I always try as many local cheeses as I can, because it's rare to find these cheeses for sale south of the US/Canada border due to complex import/export rules. Here are a couple of great cheeses I tried on this most recent trip.
Poplar Grove Tiger Blue
Located in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, Poplar Grove Cheeses was once part of Poplar Grove Winery. Though the two are now separately owned, Poplar Grove Cheeses is still making great cheese in a stunning vineyard setting along the Naramata Bench overlooking Penticton. Tiger Blue is a very spicy cow's milk blue that's as intense as Valdeon or Cabrales, and thus not for the uninitiated, but all the better for that spark and complexity. Cheesemaker Gitta Sutherland told me that rather than piercing this blue (the traditional way cheesemakers introduce air into blue cheeses to stimulate mold growth), she crumbles the cheese curd by hand after it has been pressed, creating microscopic air pockets which enable the signature marble textured mold pattern of this cheese to take shape.
The Farm House Natural Cheeses Brie
One of British Columbia's most outstanding cheesemakers, Debra Amrein-Boyes is making a spectacular array of cheeses at The Farm House Natural Cheeses in Agassiz, in BC's fertile Fraser Valley. If you look at the above photo, one thing that stands out right away is the gorgeous straw yellow color of this cow's milk cheese - that's pasture talking to you right there. Especially during this time of year, cheeses made from grass-fed milk will take on this gorgeous tint, the result of beta carotene in the milk of pasture grazing cows. This brie is everything you want a brie to be - gorgeously butter-rich, with earthy and mushroomy flavors that melt on your tongue. My feeling is, why buy the French stuff when you can get something as good as this, and support a local farmer in the process?
The Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival is back! On August 15th, 2009 cheese rolling aficionadoes will make the trek to Whistler's Upper Village on Blackcombe Mountain where they will then hurl themselves down a hill chasing after a wheel of cheese. This quaint ritual, now in its second year, is modeled after the competition in Gloucestershire at Cooper's Hill in England and differs only in that in England, racers chase after a wheel of Double Gloucester - here, racers will chase after wheels of Cracked Pepper Verdelait Cheese made especially for the event by Natural Pastures Cheese Co. in Courtenay, BC.
If you're skeptical about racing after rolling cheese wheels or simply prefer to preserve your limbs, festival organizers have put together a variety of other activities like a cheese obstacle course, cheese twister and a potato bag race. Plenty of BC cheese will be available for tasting from local producers Hilary's Artisan Cheeses, The Farm House Natural Cheeses, Natural Pastures Cheese Co. and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. Roman Danylo, comedian and star of CTV's Comedy Inc. will also be making an appearance.
For more info or to register (both men's and women's categories are offered), see the Canadian Cheese Rolling website. Winners receive the wheel of cheese they so eagerly sought....and if you sign up soon, you will also be eligible to receive a Cheese Rolling baseball cap.
[photo courtesy Dairy Farmers of Canada]