I sometimes find myself hard-selling blue cheese.
"I know you think you hate blue cheese but you'll like this one," I say, forcing a piece of buttery, veined curd into a reluctant hand.
But Le Bleu d'Élizabeth needs no such apologies. Blue lovers will embrace the pungent and earthy aroma with its sweet notes of damp hay and fresh earth. Its thin, natural rind is a warm brown with craggy streaks of grey/white mould while its organic milk paste is a soft, pale yellow.
The meeker among us will appreciate its balance of flavours: firm with a nice crumble and creamy on the palate. Its full sour-cream and salty notes are carried to a buttery finish. It's well rounded and never bitter, all the flavours working in harmony. Perfect with a glass of ice wine or crumbled over escargots, says Jean Morin, the cheese maker at Fromagerie du Presbytère.
Mr. Morin and his brother Dominique are fourth-generation farmers on La Ferme Louise D'Or, named by their grandfather. Cheese making has long been a passion for Mr. Morin - one he began to learn about as far back as 1992.
The decision to officially make cheese came about five years ago as a way to expand the family business. The family has been farming organically for over 20 years and the milk that goes into their cheese comes fresh from their own herd every morning. They have about 80 cows (50 Holstein, 15 Jersey and five Canadienne).
They converted a presbytery dating back to 1936 into the cheese factory and store.
Le Bleu d'Élizabeth, which won gold at the 2009 Quebec Caseus awards, was the second cheese created at Fromagerie du Presbytère.
Its name is a tribute to the town Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick, where the cheese is made.
The cheese makers started experimenting four years ago with a recipe originally used to make a sheep's milk blue. It took two years to perfect, and they're continuing to play with it. There is a batch of Bleu d' Élizabeth currently being aged 12 months instead of the usually two to three "for people who like a sharp blue," Mr. Morin says.
The 12-month version may be a bit strong for some of us. But the younger version? Well, even if you think you hate blue cheese, you'll like this one. Trust me.