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"Good" cheese curds for a poutine?

duckdown Jul 4, 2008 11:04 AM

Greetings all

Being utterly disgusted at there not being a SINGLE place to get a Montreal poutine in this city (read: chicken gravy, cheese curds, fries. The trucks out front of city hall are terrible in my opinion), I decided I would like to try someone elses advice from another forum.

They go to Swiss Chalet, order a family fries and use the swiss chalet gravy, and add their own cheese curds to it.

This sounds great to me, but the problem is, I haven't a clue where to get some half decent cheese curds suitable for a poutine.

I've seen small bags from time to time at my local A&P or Sobeys but they look like they've been sitting around in a bag since the stone age.

Are there any popular grocery marts that have some half-decent curds? A trip to a downtown Toronto market is out of the question since I live in Peel region

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears

Thanks in advance :)

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  1. Googs Jul 4, 2008 11:58 AM

    Well since you won't come to OUR farmers' markets, perhaps you should visit your own. Can't rec any, but it's a start.
    http://www.region.peel.on.ca/scripts/...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Googs
      duckdown Jul 4, 2008 12:13 PM

      Thank ya Googs :) Will check it out

    2. duckdown Jul 4, 2008 12:18 PM

      I wonder if "The Cheese Boutique" has some good ones...

      1. m
        Mila Jul 4, 2008 01:11 PM

        In my experience, proper cheese curds have a window of about 24 hours. The key test is whether they still squeak when you bite into them and they cannot be refrigerated. Without fresh curds you will never have great poutine.

        I know, not very helpful so far. You need to visit the source, the cheesemaker.
        http://www.ontariocheese.org/cheesema...
        Missing my favourite, so admittedly not a comprehensive map:
        Maple Dale Cheese Hwy 37 Plainfield, ON

        Many are not too far out of Toronto but ideally perfect for stopping at on the way back from a road trip or weekend at the cottage. I've also spotted them at SLM North on Saturdays but they looked suspiciously unfresh; though I admit not to tasting them.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Mila
          duckdown Jul 4, 2008 01:49 PM

          eep, 24 hours and no refrigeration... definitely not sure where I'd find those in Brampton/Mississauga

          I guess thats good to know though so maybe I wont waste my time :)

          Cheers

          1. re: duckdown
            Googs Jul 4, 2008 02:55 PM

            Don't give up so easy, bub. Visit a farmers' market in the morning. Poutine for lunch. Nap time.

        2. s
          smr714 Jul 4, 2008 02:21 PM

          You can get decent cheese curds on thursday afternoons Alex's Cheese Farm stores. There are various locations in the GTA.

          4 Replies
          1. re: smr714
            duckdown Jul 4, 2008 04:41 PM

            I picked up some curds from the cheese boutique tonight, they say "imported from quebec every thursday" right on the package, but they had no squeak at all :(

            They melted nicely and tasted good but no squeak

            Pretty tasty but not perfect

            Thanks for the reccomendations folks :-)

            1. re: duckdown
              s
              Squiggles Jul 4, 2008 07:43 PM

              Best ones I've found so far (outside of Quebec), were from Provincial Fine Foods (Yonge north of Lawrence - http://www.provincialfinefoods.com/).

              They also are the only place I've found Spruce Beer outside of Quebec.

              1. re: Squiggles
                jayt90 Jul 4, 2008 08:06 PM

                the url is not operative with the final dot (period).http://www.provincialfinefoods.com/

                )

                BTW duckdown, what happens when you go to the trouble to spread fresh squeaky curds on lukewarm fries from Swiss Chalet. And then add their powdered sauce?

                1. re: Squiggles
                  d
                  Darksyde Jul 7, 2008 09:19 PM

                  Must agree with the Provincial Fine Foods rec...you can buy as many as you'd like, too, as it's not pre-packaged, but sold by the pound/kg.

            2. sweetie Jul 5, 2008 04:20 PM

              I find the cheese curds from Reid's Dairy very tasty. They might not be the same as the ones found in Montreal, but give them a try if there is a Reid's near you.

              1. Kagemusha Jul 5, 2008 07:23 PM

                If you want fresh curds, you'll need to locate a cheese factory. The curds on offer around the GTA generally suck, thanks to long transport, poor shelf life and low margins. Best I've ever had came from tiny eastern Ontario towns like Wilton, just outside Kingston, where fresh curd was available daily--and usually sold out within an hour. If you're in Peel, duckdown, I'd scope out any working cheese factories north and west of our area--not "artisanal" joints but plain vanilla volume cheddar makers. You'll not get that squeek anyplace else.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Kagemusha
                  Googs Jul 6, 2008 04:01 AM

                  Kagemusha, precisely. This is why I'm encouraging him to go to a local farmers' market. The best curds I've had were from a tiny cheese shop about 10 minutes north of Port Hope. You could squeak all the way back to Toronto.

                  At the Brampton FM, there's Upper Canada Cheese Co from Jordan Station, Ontario. I don't know if they have curds, but at least it sounds promising.

                  1. re: Kagemusha
                    DockPotato Jul 6, 2008 03:19 PM

                    Last Friday afternoon I bought fresh curds at the Pine River Cheese and Butter Co-op. They were probably processed early that morning or overnight. They are always superb and the two of us often scoff the lot on the 15 minute trip back home. We bought more than usual for company.

                    They were, of course, super squeaky and tart the first day.

                    Yesterday afternoon they were still somewhat squeaky, the texture was somewhat changed and the tartness had mellowed.

                    I went to test one now and they are all gone. I expect that there might have been a faint sqeak if I really tuned in to a large piece.

                    I would say there is squeak window of 2 to 2-1/2 days from when the curd leaves its vat.

                    But, hey, past that they're still a treat. I was enjoying them for years before I found they squeaked.

                    The Pine River Co-op is 2-1/2 hours from Yonge and Sheppard without bending the road. A grapefruit-sized bag of fresh curds will last two adults 1-3/4 hours on the return trip if they restrain each other.

                    There is a Gay Lea pant in Teeswater where we've bought curds and they're okay. I prefer the Co-op because it's owned and managed by local dairy farmers and is probably the last operation anywhere using whole milk rather than constituents.

                    1. re: DockPotato
                      Kagemusha Jul 6, 2008 05:10 PM

                      "probably the last operation anywhere using whole milk..."

                      Not true. Both Forfar Dairy in Portland, ON and Wilton Cheese in Odessa, ON still do. It's a scale thing and GayLea ain't small. Fresh curd, still warm from the vat, is sublime. I found squeek vanished within a few hours, at best.

                      1. re: Kagemusha
                        DockPotato Jul 6, 2008 10:58 PM

                        That's good to know.

                        1. re: Kagemusha
                          mikeb Jul 7, 2008 07:47 AM

                          I enjoy Wilton Cheese and visit it whenever in the area. Wilton Cheese is owned by Jensen Cheese. Jensen's product can be found in and around southern Ontario. A friend of mine brought me white cheese curds from the Welland Farmer's Market. They were fresh and squeeky at the time of purchase. Jensen's website has a list of retail locations. I expect that the farmers markets and factories sites are guaranteed fresh and squeeky curds.

                          http://www.jensencheese.ca/cheese-ret...

                      2. re: Kagemusha
                        s
                        smr714 Jul 6, 2008 07:35 PM

                        If you are looking on a map for Wilton the town it is in is called odesa I think. I am heading out past Kingston next weekend and checked on the map some of the factories on my way. Going to hit one or two on my return trip. Does anyone have a preference as to which ones out the401?

                        1. re: smr714
                          Kagemusha Jul 6, 2008 07:50 PM

                          Wilton is just a wide spot in the road and actually smaller than Odessa and just outside of it. It's a time warp place. Get some of their old and extra old cheddars--superb.

                        2. re: Kagemusha
                          Mike from Hamilton Jul 8, 2008 11:11 AM

                          I agree with Kagemusha, most curds you find in the GTA markets have been refrigerated or, even worse, frozen. DEFINITELY no squeek there.

                          The squeek comes from the interaction of the fresh cheese and the whey that is left over. The Wilton cheese factory is good for fresh curds (get there early!) and Forfar also have good curds on the days they make the cheese (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday). If you can't make it and have dayolds, you can always microwave the curds for 12 seconds or so to get some of the squeek back.

                          Although for poutine purposes, I question the honest need of *truly* fresh curds as the hot fries would absorb the whey and the gravy would cover it up and wash it off. Fresh curds are made to be eaten au naturel...

                        3. g
                          gijoeanne Jul 6, 2008 01:08 PM

                          While on the topic of poutine ingredients...where can I find packages of "poutine mix" in Toronto? I recently bought the Au Pied De Cochon cookbook ($25 instead of $40 at Costco!) and their foie gras poutine gravy calls for, among other things, simply a package of poutine mix. Or I guess I can just order Swiss Chalet gravy around the corner...

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: gijoeanne
                            mrbozo Jul 6, 2008 03:12 PM

                            You can buy canned St-Hubert poutine sauce. Low fat and low sodium and very close to home in taste. About 1.69 a tin. Make your own fries if you can. Use fresh cheese curds if available, if not dice up some mozzarella. And you'll have a reasonable facsimile.

                            1. re: gijoeanne
                              jayt90 Jul 6, 2008 06:30 PM

                              Swiss Chalet or St. Hubert sauce/gravy from can/powder is food chemistry gone awry. Read the label. Forget what the bozo says. The restaurants do better than their canned or powdered products can because they have real chicken parts for gravy.

                              You can also do better at home with a $1.00 sack of chicken backs from the asian store.

                              1. re: jayt90
                                y
                                Yongeman Jul 6, 2008 10:26 PM

                                I beg to differ, jayt90. I agree that St. Hubert canned sauce is not that far off, say, the sauce from La Belle Province, a popular poutine seller in Montreal. I wouldn't make it without fresh fries and fresh curds, however.

                                1. re: jayt90
                                  grandgourmand Jul 8, 2008 01:28 PM

                                  I cannot possibly contemplate a scenario whereby the multitude of little fritteries in Quebec, pumping out awesome poutine, are making the sauce from scratch. It's from a can or powder. Agreed, reading the label will reveal how unhealthy the stuff is. However, if someone's craving poutine, I hardly think health is a primary concern.

                                  to the OP, ideally the squeak is there. but if it ain't, it ain't. and homemade fries and non-squeaky curds (from loblaw if you're desperate) topped with st-hubert poutine gravy is better than 99% of the poutine available in toronto.

                                2. re: gijoeanne
                                  t
                                  tarteaucitron Jul 15, 2008 05:22 PM

                                  Nice tip about the cookbook deal! Do you happen to know if I will still be able to get a copy there at Cosco
                                  ?

                                  1. re: tarteaucitron
                                    jayt90 Jul 15, 2008 07:34 PM

                                    Haven't seen it at Ajax for a year.

                                    1. re: tarteaucitron
                                      g
                                      gijoeanne Jul 16, 2008 07:28 AM

                                      Sorry, can't say for sure if Costco still has any - I didn't bother to check while I was there a couple of weeks ago (I usually go to the Queensway one). But there certainly was a big pile when I bought mine several weeks ago....

                                  2. d
                                    doji Jul 6, 2008 02:14 PM

                                    Not sure if they sell curds, but perhaps it would be worth contacting the Silani Cheese Factory in Schomberg, Ontario: http://www.silanicheese.com/contact-u...

                                    1. Davwud Jul 6, 2008 08:06 PM

                                      If you're going to all this trouble to get fresh cheese curds, why wouldn't you do something better than SC for the gravy. Theirs isn't close.

                                      DT

                                      1. atomeyes Jul 8, 2008 09:10 AM

                                        Don Valley Brickworks market. these 2 ladies have an excellent cheese stand. they sell curds. may be from sheep's milk, though, but, in my opinion, that is more flavourful

                                        1. w
                                          whattodo Jul 9, 2008 07:30 AM

                                          In mississauga, there is a little shop called Goat Inc. that sells nice cheese curds - Its on 1744 Lakeshore Road West. His shop carries a lot of other nice preserves as well.

                                          1. s
                                            smr714 Jul 9, 2008 11:46 AM

                                            I have done my maps for my trip out to Gananoque this weekend, with stops at Maple Dale Cheese and Wilton Cheese factory on my going and then returning via picton and Black River Cheese on my way home. I will let you know whose curds I find the best after my trip.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: smr714
                                              m
                                              Mila Jul 9, 2008 12:02 PM

                                              Oh, oh, oh.
                                              At Maple Dale try their premium cheddar with the black wrapping, it's not the oldest but I think it is the best. They usually have loads of samples out. They also have garlic cheese curds which are delicious for a couple but I found they become a bit cloying. The fresh cheddar is very interesting too but must be consumed quickly.

                                              Very jealous of your cheese tour. Have a great trip and can't wait for the report.

                                            2. Sallycat Jul 13, 2008 01:45 PM

                                              There is a new cheese stand at the Mississauga Farmer's Market in the Square One parking lot. They didn't have any cheese curds today but I was able to pre-order for next weekend. They assured me that the curds will be made fresh on Saturday to be available for Sunday. He also said that they were guaranteed to be squeaky fresh! Price is $5.75 for 1/2 lb bag. Can't wait to try 'em!!

                                              1. d
                                                dory Jul 14, 2008 07:39 AM

                                                Just got back from a road trip where we did a bit of shopping at Rochester Public Market. I know its too far to go for curds but it made me wonder if there was something available locally. We bought vacuum packed cheese curds. They are made from by a farmer from his Jersey herd (high butterfat), Not sure how they'll work in poutine. He'd never heard of it. But perhaps the vac packing instead of in bags preserves the freshness and texture? They're the colour of butter and a bit squishy looking. He also had "cream on top" Jersey yogurt, milk and butter, and raw cheese. But should good poutine curds have a high butter fat content?

                                                I'll post my results.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: dory
                                                  s
                                                  smr714 Jul 15, 2008 01:49 PM

                                                  I hit two of the cheese factories out on the way to Kingston on Saturday. Maple Dale cheese and Wilton cheese factory. Both had fresh curds that morning, the Maple Dales ones had better flavour and the squeek was still in them last night. I stored them in a cooler with a bit of ice to keep them good, but not too cold.

                                                  The Maple Dale ones have also stayed softer and are more moist.

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