By: Kylie Meyermann
Ruth Klahsen’s Monforte Piacere cheese would cease to exist if it wasn’t for the sound advice and persistent persuading of her good friend and sommelier Alexander Good. “[Good] had recently returned from Corsica and he approached me and said, ‘Ruth, you have to make [Fleur du Maquis].’ He was excited and certain that Fleur du Maquis was a cheese worth investing in.” Klahsen was hesitant at first, but her Piacere is now renowned on the Toronto food circuit.
Southeast of France and west of Italy, Corsica has been the subject of tension between the two countries since 1729. While the two countries battled for supremacy, Corsica relished in the cultural imprints of both countries. Fleur du Maquis is no exception. Traditionally made from milk of the Lacaune ewes, the base of the cheese is creamy and decadent, while the bold encrusted rind is a beautiful display of Italian flavours and the cultures passion for vibrant combinations.
Klahsen’s Piacere is Fleur du Maquis’s Canadian cousin. Piacerre is made with pasteurized sheep milk that Klahsen buys from 19 Amish shepherds who live in a colony just south of Ingersoll. A healthy coating of rosemary, savoury, juniper berries and the occasional chili pepper is applied to the rind, preparing the cheese for ripening.
“The most difficult obstacles faced when making Piacere was getting the mold and the texture right. It has taken a lot of trial and error, but after tasting Corsican cheese and other french creations, I can say that while we haven’t produced the exact same cheese, we are very close.” While Klahsen may not be 100 percent satisfied with her cheese (a bias all artists seem to acquire) Piacere has a flare that has earned praises from chefs, sommeliers and entrepreneurs.
“I’m very thankful for the support and encouragement I have received from chef’s in the community,” Klahsen told me, adding that she is grateful for the patronage she has received from top Toronto chef Jamie Kennedy. At Chef Kennedy’s restaurant Gilead (where, full disclosure, I work) Piacere is a regular fixture on the ever-changing cheese plate. Gilead’s Production Chef Ken Steele, praises Piacere as a cheese for cooking and baking. “Piacere’s rosemary and juniper berry rind works beautifully in omelettes, souffles, or as the base of any grilled cheese.” It is also advised that by adding a tablespoon of cold Piacerre to a bowl of steaming puree of vegetable soup would add more flavour than a pinch of salt or a sprinkling of mozzarella.
Klahsen can usually be found at farmers’ markets (Brick Works, Trinity Bellwoods, Green Barn, Sorauren and St. Lawrence) selling her cheese. Her cheese can also be bought at the Monforte Dairy Store. For further listings visit the Monforte Dairy website.
Kylie Meyermann is a contributor for Good Food Revolution. Follow her on twitter! Kylieswines