The Week That Was

The Week That Was

June 3 2002
The Week That Was

The Week That Was

June 3 2002

Smelling your palm and other cheese-tasting tips

In late April, the seven-member jury of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix 2002 met in Quebec for two days. Their mission: determine Canada’s best cheese. While a tasty endeavour, it wasn’t easy with 156 entries vying for national supremacy.

When cheese tasting, many of the senses come into play. The cheese must be visually stunning, and when touched have the appropriate texture and firmness. A special test is con-

ducted to assess aroma-simply placing a brick of cheddar under the nose won’t cut it. Instead, jurors rub a small sample of cheese into the palm of their hand, close one hand overthe other, raise them to their nose, and inhale. “This also helps you see the texture and gives you an Idea what the flavour of the cheese will be,” says jury president Jacques Goulet, a food science and nutrition professor at Laval University.

Some cheeses demand their own specific tests. For example, mozzarella is judged on its melting abilities; and the eyes-better known as holes-in Swiss are measured for consistency and even distribution. But ail cheese eventually faces the important final challenge—the taste test.To ensure the least amount of taste-bud confusion, jurors test milder cheeses before moving to the full-bodied varieties, like blue cheese. Water and bread are used in between bites to cleanse the jurors’ palates. Each tasting takes about 10 minutes, and each entry is marked out of 100. "Cheese tasting can be a hard exercise,” says Goulet. “It’s not difficult to do the tasting, but it’s tough to stand from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and discuss it.” This year’s Dairy Farmers of Canada1 sponsored Grand Prix winner for the I best cheese overall went to the | Quebec-based Maison f M. Dufour. Seems | their Le Migneron de | Charlevoix washed-rind cheese § stands alone. J.I