100 Mile Cheese

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FROM LEFT: Goat cheese at Cioffi’s / Pizza mozzarella from Cioffi’s Meat Market & Deli / Happy Days feta

 

Guidebook asks experts exhibiting at EAT! Vancouver to pick their favourite local cheeses.

 

By Valentina Ruiz Leotaud

 

With 25 years serving Burnaby and Vancouver clientele, Cioffi’s Meat Market & Deli is a local institution. So it’s no surprise co-managers Giuseppina Pannozzo and Kristy Bombini-Cioffi have a lot to say about local cheese. “The quality of local cheeses is better because their production is very small,” said Pannozzo, who is the deli’s general manager.

 

“Yes, and because they make a small batch it’s fresh and we get it fresh,” added Bombini-Cioffi, who is co-owner of the deli.

 

According to Pannozzo, consumers are becoming more curious, which pushes Cioffi’s staff to do more research. “The younger foodie wants local and good quality,” she said. “They come asking for the Comox Valley goat cheese, a fresh ricotta, a fresh homemade bocconcini.”

 

Ahead of the EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival, which is happening May 30 to June 1 at BC Place Stadium, Guidebook asked these cheese experts to tell us about their favourite locally-made cheeses.

 

Get your goat

 

When it comes to goat cheeses, British Columbia is especially stacked with options. They highlighted high-quality goat cheese produced in the Okanagan Valley—like the creamy, oily but not heavy, soft goat cheese made by Happy Days—as well as flavoured cheeses offered by Salt Spring Island Cheese Company.
“We have the ones with pepper, with basil, the one that they call butter flower, and they all look so neat,” Pannozzo said of the Salt Spring varieties. “You can put them upside down in a dish and because they have some decorations on the top they look so pretty!”

 

More from your mozza

 

As an Italian deli, Cioffi’s is home a wide selection of mozzarella, bocconcini and ricotta cheese. Bombini-Cioffi and Pannozzo recommended fresh and balanced Italian cheeses made in Burnaby by Scardillo.
“They are better than the mozzarellas that come from big factories because they have a shorter date,” Pannozzo said, “and that means that there are less preservatives in the cheese.”

 

Aged but sharp

 

For stronger cheeses, the experts pointed to a naturally-flavoured raw milk cheddar produced by The Village Cheese Company in Armstrong, B.C.
“Is tasty, is sharp, it is a good cheese, it’s aged in a certain way that makes it a nice dry cheese,” Pannozzo said.

 

Let it brie

 

Creamier options include the Comox Brie and Camembert that Natural Pastures produce in Courtenay, B.C. “I remember people saying: ‘Don’t you carry that local cheese from the Island?’ and we said ‘no,’ but then we started carrying it because we got quite a few requests for it,” Bombini-Cioffi said.

 

Canadian Cheese Counter at EAT!
The Canadian Cheese Counter presented by the Dairy Farmers of Canada offers several chances to meet Canadian cheese makers, sample great Canadian cheeses, watch live cooking demonstrations and enjoy tasty and informative cheese seminars.

 

Cheese tasting seminars are hosted by Cheese Expert Reg Hendrickson. Enjoy sampling six different kinds of Canadian cheese along with a presentation from the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Chef Christian Pritchard demonstrates cooking with cheese and kids will love the opportunity to be his chef’s assistant.

 

Friday, May 30
Free Tasting Cheese Seminars with Cheese Expert Reg Hendrickson
3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.
Live Cooking Demo: Cooking with Cheese with Chef Christian Pritchard
4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

 

Saturday, May 31
Free Tasting Cheese Seminars with Cheese Expert Reg Hendrickson
11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Live Cooking Demo: Cooking with Cheese with Chef Christian Pritchard
12:00 p..m, 2:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

 

Sunday, June 1
Free Tasting Cheese Seminars with Cheese Expert Reg Hendrickson
11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.
Live Cooking Demo: Cooking with Cheese with Chef Christian Pritchard
12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

 

These cheese seminars, together with culinary classes, a 250-stand expo, a stage where local restaurants will offer samples of their famous dishes, a celebrity chef throwdown and other EAT! Vancouver Festival’s activities will take place at BC Place Stadium on May 30, 31 and June 1, 2014. For more information visit www.eat-vancouver.com.