Cheese Whizzes

Photo of these happy Guernsey girls is courtesy of Upper Canada Cheese Company.

And the winner is….well, let me back up a bit. I love cheese. I love strong cheese and mild cheese, soft and creamy or hard and dry. I like it from goats, cows, or sheep. Hell, I bed I’d like it from a camel or a deer or a yak. There was a time…a very long time…when I though because of my lactose intolerance that I couldn’t eat cheese. I spent years yearning for pizza, longing for brie, and pining for parmigiano. Then, just a few years back, I was reading It Must Have Been Something I ate, by Jeffrey Steingarten, wherein he recounts one of his more acerbic exchanges with a skinny socialite who picked every last shaving of cheese from her salad. Mr. Steingarten, concerned only for her happiness, asked why she was doing such a foolhardy thing. She told him she was lactose intolerant.The ever helpful Jeffrey explained to the poor wee thing that cheese is devoid of lactose; that the enzymes that turn milk or cream into cheese had in fact, already consumed all the lactose, and that she had nothing to fear from this innocent parmigiano. She wasn’t convinced, but I was. Then again, I am prone to believing what I want to hear…but I digress…. As I read this, I felt my very small, cheese deprived world suddenly get much bigger. From that day on, I have not held back one iota when faced with a cheese counter, cheese festival, cheese board, or, in this case, a cheese competition. Oh, and by the way, he’s right. I’ve been just fine. AND, I recently heard Dr. Oz say the same thing. So, if Dr. Oz says I can each cheese and yogurt…then bring it on!!!

When I was Chef at Amber in Yorkville, one of my most popular dishes was also one of the simplest. Cheese on toast, really, but oh what toast and oh what cheese. Imagine crusty baguette, brushed with olive oil and grilled to golden perfection. Now top that with sliced, luscious tomato, green onion, and pan seared Hallumi cheese, drizzled with more olive oil and pernod, warmed in the pan.

Hallumi is a very mild sheep milk cheese from the Middle East. It’s salty and somewhat bland and rubbery when cold. But sliced and fried, it’s a treat like no other. Its very close cousin is kefalotyri or kasseri from Greece. They use it to make the dish called saganaki, you know, the one they fry in a pan, then bring to the table splashed with ouzo, and set alight with a nerve-wracking cry of Opa! And now, we here in Canada have our very own version. Guernsey Girl from Upper Canada Cheese Company is less salty than similar cheeses I’ve tried from over-seas, and it fries or grills to crispy-outside-gooey-inside perfection. And of course, local Ontario chefs are very excited about it–they’re an excitable bunch, after all.

So, about that ‘and the winner is thing…’ The Cheese Boutique in Etobicoke was the site of a cheesy competition between the three finalist in the Guernsey Girl recipe contest.

In 3rd. place, Mediterranean cheese on toast from Chef Andrea Damon Gibson, founder of Fred’s Breads.

In second place, slow braised beef short ribs and Guernsey Girl poutine from Chef Lora Kirk of Ruby Watchco.

And the winner is….Jason Bangerter of Auberge du Pommier. Woo hoo! And here’s his recipe.

Artichoke and
Guernsey Girl Terrine
by Jason Bangerter


12-14 pieces Roasted trimmed and marinated Sun chokes
100ml. Stratus White, 2006
1/2 tsp. Minced Fresh Garlic
2 tbsp. Chopped Rosemary, Thyme and Parsley
300 gr. Upper Canada Guernsey Girl cheese
6-7 Full slices of Mario Pingue’s Niagara Prosciutto
4 Whole eggs
1lt. 35% Cream
Grated nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste


  1. This recipe is for a terrine size of 16.2″L, 2.1″W, 3″H (fill 1.3lt) Preheat
    oven to 320F.
  2. Mix eggs, cream and nutmeg to make a royal, season.
  3. Marinate cheese in wine and trim to fit terrine.
  4. Trim marinated artichokes and toss with chopped herbs and roasted garlic.
  5. Line terrine mold with plastic wrap and then with the ham.
  6. Starting with the artichokes layer the terrine, then the cheese. Between
    each layer pour royal, a total of 2 layers each.
  7. Top up with royal and carefully fold over the ham, to make a “package”.
  8. Place terrine carefully into a hotel pan and fill the way up with boiling
    water and cover with tin foil. Bake terrine for 30 min.
  9. Check inner temperature with thermometer. Temperature should reach 150F.
    If not ready check again every 15 min. till temperature is reached.
  10. Pull terrine out off the bath and let chill. Then press terrine over night
    in the fridge.
  11. Slice terrine ” with thin sharp knife.

To serve, gently pan sear the terrine to caramelize the cheese and
artichoke. Place on a plate and garnish with a small salad, aged vinegar, extra
virgin olive oil and season with fresh thyme leaves and sea salt. Great for
breakfast, lunch or dinner! Enjoy.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, this was yummy!