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May 5, 2003 05:44 AM

looking for poutine cheese substitute

  • d

french fries...check.

gravy... check. (i can even get it sent by the can or mix from relatives in new brunswick.

cheese... dang.

the problem with making poutine is finding the right cheese. my relatives told me that the cheese they use for poutine is not sold in the usa for some reason. can you think of a cheese substitute that i could find in southern california? i've tried mozzerela (sp) but it's not soft/salty enough.



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  1. Hi David, When I lived in Maine last year, I saw a display in the local Hannaford's grocery store featuring cheese curds. There was a separate table near the deli with a big sign that read, "Squeaky Cheese". The individual packages had "cheese curds" printed on the label. Also, cans of gravy were displayed on the table, with recipe cards, and an explanation of poutine. It was a poutine extravaganza!

    1. David,

      Good news! You actually may find cheese curds available in your area. When I lived in San Francisco, I had the same urge and same problem of finding. A cheesemaker at one of the local farmers market in San Francisco actually carried cheese curds. They had the traditional "poutine" white ones and even other types.

      My recommendation is to ask every cheese seller and maker you meet. It's a strange request and I can't count the amount of times I receive the response "Why would you want that? Well, I guess we have some back at the farm..." Keep asking and you just might strike gold.

      Before I found a local retailer I was ordering them from Wisconsin (the online link below). Raw cheese curds are a popular snack in Wisconsin, or so I was told, and easily available from most direct Wisconsin online seller. Cheese curds should squeek when you eat them raw and tend to loose that squeek with time. Although I did have luck with the online stuff, best to find it locally if you can.

      Good Luck


      1 Reply
      1. re: mikeb

        Cheese curds really aren't all that difficult to make yourself, if you are so inclined. Pick up a hard cheese kit from the link below and don't worry about cheesecloth, wax or a cheese press.


      2. ii thought poutine had spagetti sauce and mozzerella on top? that's how i had it in montreal years ago. try that.

        12 Replies
        1. re: ali b

          That's clearly someone's idea of a (bad) joke. Why would someone DO that to poutine? What were they thinking? Some people can't resist trying to improve something that's already perfect.

          Poutine: french fries, brown gravy, cheese curds.

          Poutine with Spaghetti sauce and Mozzarella: an abomination.

          1. re: GG Mora

            well then someone needs to let the good folks of montreal know 'cause that's how it wuz. could a government intervention be in order?

            1. re: ali b

              There have been a whole bunch of variations on the "classic" poutine in recent years. One place my daughter and I stopped into in Montreal last summer sold more than 20 different varieties, including the hideous "Italian" version you referenced.

              The type of cheese used on poutine is cheese curd. It is not illegal in the U.S., but a little hard to find. You might want to check some of the Wisconsin cheese makers' web sites for online sources. I've got to believe someone in L.A. sells it, too.

              1. re: Kirk

                Where was the place with 20 kinds? I know someone that loves poutine & I have to tell him about this!

                1. re: Jessie

                  I can't remember the name of the place off-hand. It was a frites stand in one of the old warehouse buildings down along the riverfront.

                  Here is an interesting (and excellent) thread from the Montreal board, though, on the origin of poutine and "reverse snobbism" of "haute poutine."


            2. re: GG Mora

              No problem with me, as long as they use the garlic-flavored cheese curd. I've long told my friends that Poutine is "Canadian Nachos". Last time I was back in Cheese curd country, I noticed they now sell jalapeno-flavored, too.

              My sister will be coming from cheese curd country to visit me in two weeks. She'll be hand-carrying some cheese curd for me. Eat your heart out, you others in the cheese curd diaspora!

              1. re: GG Mora

                sorry that italian style is one of the common poutine variations around quebec. My kid had it in the gaspe - pretty awful, I thought.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  It reminds me of Hunt's Pizza Flavored Ketchup, which I think lasted about six months after it was introduced in 1966 or '67. Yuck!

                  1. re: Kirk

                    pizza flavored ketchup? that sounds awesome!

                2. re: GG Mora

                  GG: hate to break it to ya, but "Poutine Italiano" is indeed one of the items available at the Dairy Belle ice cream bar in Dania Beach, FL, which is run by and for Canadians.

                  I agree it sounds awful, but I have no doubt that a lot of what we eat in the US sounds awful to other folks.

                3. re: ali b

                  You probably had what's called Italian Poutine, substituting the gravy for spaghetti sauce. It usually has cheese curds rather than mozzerella.

                  1. re: ali b

                    You probably had what's called Italian Poutine, substituting the gravy for spaghetti sauce. It usually has cheese curds rather than mozzerella.

                  2. Why substitute, when you can use the real stuff? Colosse Cheese sells the same type of traditional cheese curd. It's made in Chateaugay, New York (just across the border from Quebec) in the same part of the St. Lawrence River valley as poutine country. The creamery was formerly the McCadam Creamery, which used to also market the cheese curd on-line under its own label. McCadam was recently sold to Agri-Mark (Cabot Cheese), which doesn't market the McCadam label cheese curd (at least not on-line). Fortunately, Colosse still does, according to its website.


                    1. thanks everyone!

                      and i agree about the tomato sauce thing. that's not poutine.