Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday was Brenda's Birthday
The tournament party was on Saturday, and burned Brenda out, so she wanted a personal day just me, her, the sunshine the motorcycle and the hot tub. She did all the work....cooking up a pancake breakfast, and later on, a catfish supper, and I contributed by putting three hundred kilometers on the bike. We went up to Lanark, to the "Village Treats" chocolate factory (http://www.villagetreats.ca/) to pick up some very fresh chocolates. It is remarkable what a difference freshness makes. We used to go to the Hershey chocolate factory in Smiths Falls, but they closed last year and moved their operation to Mexico. I won't eat Mexican Chocolate. It tastes like plastic.
There was a sign on the Village Treats wall that said they use "fair trade" chocolate. I guess that means it wasn't harvested by Joseph Kony's slave children. (http://kabiza.com/Lira-Children-Kony-Rebels.htm) But then, it was just a sign...how do you know?
The place is in the flyspeck village of Balderson...which is a fairly famous cheese manufacturer. (http://www.cheese.ca/en/) They have turned their showroom into a tourist destination...with cheeses from all over the place...St. Alberts, Forfar, and Bellville. There really IS a difference between all these separate places....and a visit to Balderson will allow you to sample a dozen different maple syrup farms as well as half a dozen cheese factories. Not to mention a couple of dozen jams and jellies makers, and their much more interesting (to me) sidelines of barbeque rubs and sauces. I asked the clerk if they carried rennet free cheese, and he had a nice selection...they tended to be a bit exotic though...goat, sheep, and cow's milk were used to make rennet free cheeses. Brenda picked up some horseradish cheese.
Here in Canada we have the "milk marketing board" which tests, and assigns the milk to cheese factories which seems to maximize bureaucracy. It incidently provides a very safe milk and cheese supply. However, the guy that has his allotment would like to increase his business, so he comes up with a new cheese. Instead of "white cheddar", he will make "orange cheddar" in order to increase the alottment of milk. When he grows bigger and develops more markets, he will mix the curds from the white and the orange batches together to get "marbled cheddar". This being easier to do than to get a milk allotment raised. Or he will make goats milk cheddar. (actually quite tasty!) Or he will make horseradish cheddar, or mix wine or basil-thyme into it. Or make sheep-mozzarella, or whatever. All these things have the usual risk that people might not buy them....but it makes for a couple of hundred different types of cheese. And a summer trying them out is not wasted.
Of course, the usual way to get out from under the government bureaucrats thumb is to not make cheese at all from the milk the farmer is desperately trying to get rid of but rather to make cheese curds. This seems to be unknown south of the border, where such surplus milk seems to be made into "process cheese". Cheese curds resemble little irregular ping pong ball sized chunks of solidified milk products...they are normally destined to be rammed together into wheels prepatory to be made into real cheese, but they are increasingly sold on their own in little bags right at the factory door. They don't keep long...they are only milk after all, and will sour just like milk, however they are really tasty when melted over french fries, or baked potatos, used to make a real cheese burger, or even eaten right out of the bag as a snack. Brenda and I regard picking up fresh curds as a real "score". (google "cheese curds")