“Belle de Jersey” is an award-winning cheese from Quebec — and it’s made from raw milk (of course)

Sue Riedl writes up a new cheese from Quebec, said to be made from raw Jersey milk. Excerpted from The Globe and Mail.com:

"Belle de Jour" and "Belle de Jersey". Surely those who named this cheese can't have been unaware of this cultural resonance. Perhaps they'd like to imply that this raw milk cheese is a little bit naughty -- like the Catherine Deneuve character who worked as a prostitute during the day (in the movie), just for kicks. Sounds like clever marketing to me. Photo at right is from Susan Riedl's Globe and Mail article.

“Quebec’s Belle de Jersey cheese is named in honour of one of the Jersey cows whose milk is used in its production. Known as “Miss Personality” of the herd, Belle (the cow) has been a frequent award winner in agricultural competitions including the Royal Winter Fair. Following the fortune of its namesake, Belle de Jersey, a soft, washed-rind cheese made from raw Jersey milk, has already won silver at the 2009 International Jersey Cheese Awards and this year was thrust onto international palates when it was served as part of the Canadian cheese plate at the G20 summit. Impressive for a fromagerie that only began making cheese in 2007.

Belle de Jersey is made at Les Bergeries du Fjord in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. The farm and fromagerie are co-owned by brothers Claude and Martin Gilbert and Josée Gauthier, Martin’s wife. The milk arrives in the morning from farmer Pierre Girard’s nearby farm. He finishes milking by 7 a.m. and by 7:30 the milk has been delivered to the fromagerie and is being processed into cheese.

Les Bergeries du Fjord was originally a hobby farm owned by Martin and Claude’s family. The brothers bought it from their parents in 2000 and spent two years writing plans for dairy sheep production and cheese making. They started by milking sheep in 2003 and selling that milk to other cheese makers. In 2006, when they felt they had the quantity and quality of sheep milk they needed to make their own cheese, they started building the fromagerie. Realizing that the sheep couldn’t produce enough milk to keep up with the factory’s capacity, the partners turned to Jersey cows to add to their repertoire.

The inspiration for Belle de Jersey is the famous raw milk Reblochon cheese. Similar in texture to Brie, it is an AOC designated, washed-rind wheel that hails from the Haute-Savoie region in the French Alps. The resemblance is mainly “the size and texture of the cheese,” Martin Gilbert says. “The Belle de Jersey has a stronger personality than the Reblochon.”…”

Read the whole story on Globe and Mail.com

While the story does say this cheese is made from raw milk, it’s not totally clear from the story that it IS a raw milk cheese.

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