Why yes, that IS maple wood ash in your cheese!
Greetings gourmands, bona fide and otherwise. Welcome to my new column with City Palate: YYCheese. Here you will find some of my favourite cheeses that will impress your guests and leave loved ones drooling. As an introduction, I bring you the mighty Quebecois Cendré des Prés. This magnificent cheese is fresh with a profoundly satisfying texture – and that’s just the rind. Take a deeper dive into its luscious interior, and you will find a fine line of maple wood ash, which lends this cheese some surprising, and palate-pleasing, aromas and flavours.
Created by Fromagerie Domaine Feodal in the Lanaudiere region, just off the St. Lawrence, Cendré des Prés’ aroma is reminiscent of fresh cream, wild mushroom and the slightest note of forest floor (with more age I believe this would become more pronounced). The initial taste and texture elicits a classic french brie, but with a moment on the palate, we find that this is something completely different. This cheese has a high acidity that cuts through its rich butter and cream notes and aids in the balance of the fat, making it easy to devour in one sitting. The freshness of the bloomy rind sets off notes of mushroom and woods, creating a fantastic appeal that will bring back most everyone who tries it. This cheese, in its full glory, belongs in the pantheon of bloomy-rind Canadain cheeses for its uniqueness and pure quality.
The cheese will be available in most cheese stores and any well-stocked cheese counter. Serve with your choice of excellent fresh bread, for this is how the French have always done it. Cowtown Wine guy Tom Firth says to pair this with Gamay or a Portuguese red from the Douro.
Isaac Bignell is a Calgary cheesemonger who is currently studying at the University of Calgary and living the hedonistic, socialite, cheese-loving life.