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Did you know that...?

November 9, 2015

Come savour the cheeses of Québec


As cruise ship passengers make their way from one Saint Lawrence port of call to another, they will delight in the wealth of authentic, delectable food products from the Québec terroir. The regions in which the nine ports of call are located feature an enticing variety of local produce, cheese being one of the most prized!

A recent tally makes mention of over 450 different Québec cheeses. Guaranteed pleasure for one and all!  Québec cheeses come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many are specific to a certain region and readily identified as local specialties.

While the current diversity is the envy of many, it is relatively recent. Back in the days of New France, the first wave of French settlers brought with them basic cheesemaking knowledge. Then, under English rule, cheese production was essentially limited to cheddar. It wasn't until the 1980s that the situation began to change... thanks to an artisan cheesemaker from Switzerland who came to settle in Québec. His advent ushered in an all new era marked by a resurgent interest in cheese production and prestige international awards being bestowed upon local Québec cheesemakers. Since then, microproducers have sprung up in regions across the province.  The people of Québec have also rapidly developed a taste for cheese and are increasingly interested in sampling the ever more impressive selection on offer.

Consumers now enjoy a vast selection ranging from soft to semi-hard or hard, and from marbled to soft white and more. Québec need no longer envy regions of the world with longstanding traditions of cheese production such as France and Switzerland. Local producers have quickly made up for lost time, and the ready availability of milk in Québec makes the province ripe with the potential for the development of new products.

Visitors to Québec can even sample local cheese when they order poutine, a traditional dish of French fries, fresh cheese curds and brown gravy. Regarded as a Québec speciality, cruise passengers are often told of poutine by their tour guides or have read about it in destination travel columns and are anxious to sample it for themselves. The cheese used in poutine is also specific to Québec and can be found in regions across the province. This particular cheese is known for the distinctive, 'squeaky clean' sound it makes when one bites into it.

Other than this traditional dish, local cheeses can be found in recipes by leading chefs from across Québec. Whether for sampling as part of a cheese platter, or to accompany a main dish, local cheeses occupy a place of honour in Québec food establishments. When stopping in at a Saint Lawrence port of call, make sure you sample local cheese and produce. You will make some amazing discoveries certain to please even the most discriminating of palates!


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