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By Alexis Baran What if cheese wasn’t made from dairy? Would it still be cheese? This cultured snack favourite can be buttery, sweet, herbal, earthy, pungent, bitter, footy, even barnyardy. It’s one of the few foods that people will gladly eat even (or especially) when visibly laced with thick blue mold and it is a staple of modern dining. For centuries it’s been made using cow, goat, sheep and other animals’ milks – but who’s to say milk is the only thing that can create a fantastic cheese? The assumption that animal milk must be the base for cheese is a notion that Chef Karen McAthy, the founder of Blue Heron Cheese, has been challenging. She’s aiming to change how consumers, as well as the food regulators, think about these wheels of flavour, all from her store and creamery on Vancouver’s Main Street. Blue Heron Creamery opened in Vancouver in…

By Dan Olson, Chef/Owner, Railtown Catering This creamy, cheesy side dish is the perfect accompaniment to your Easter or Harvest Festival dinner.  Make it yourself, or let the team at Railtown Catering make dinner for you! Place your Easter to-go order by 3pm on Wednesday, March 28 and choose from an entrée choice of honey-glazed bone-in ham or lemon-and-rosemary-crusted leg of lamb and a wide array of homespun seasonal side dishes, salads, rolls and dessert. INGREDIENTS Heavy Cream (1 cup) Milk  (1 cup) Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper Russet potatoes  (4 lbs) Butter, softened (1 tbsp) Fresh thyme, chopped (2 sprigs) Garlic, minced (2 cloves) Gruyère cheese, grated  (1 cup) DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a baking pan or casserole dish with the softened butter. Sprinkle with minced garlic, chopped fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Peel potatoes, and slice width wise into 1/4” disks. Shingle layer into baking pan or casserole…

Images by Michele Mateus Words by Alexis Baran The heart of local food that brings all the greens, grains, produce, cheese and meats to our plate isn’t often in our urban centres – it’s mainly found in the people and animals who work the fields and farms. There are several places within Metro Vancouver where you can bring the kids to meet the producers and see farm animals, and a scenic place to start is Langley along the Circle Farm Tour. At Milner Valley, a fifth-generation heritage farm, they specialize in a variety of artisan goat cheese. There is a whole crew of adorable goats to visit on Milner Valley’s farm, who are milked to create the cheese you can buy in their shop. All of the ogling, petting, and taking photos of the goats can get exhausting, so cool yourself with hand-made goats milk gelato, served up in the…

By Nikki Hillman Every Sunday, when I was younger, my family would take the car for a drive. There was usually a rough idea of where we were going to explore; sometimes it was a new neighborhood with half-finished homes for us to wander through or sometimes it was just a drive through the farm areas of Maple Ridge, Langley or Abbotsford. Now that my children are old enough to be on their own, we’ve also started to take Sunday drives but I like to have a destination, and for this trip I chose Milner Valley Cheese. I’d read about them online and I was intrigued by the idea of goat’s milk gelato. I was also surprised to find out that while goat’s milk contains lactose it doesn’t contain a certain type of protein found in cow’s milk. This protein can be what lactose intolerant people are allergic to and…

By Joanne Sasvari Head east of Chilliwack and just before you hit the misty Coastal Mountains you’ll run into a little slice of pastoral paradise, where happy cows graze in the meadows and one of North America’s best cheese makers, Debra Amrein-Boyes, is making magic from milk. Of course, you don’t have to travel all the way to Agassiz to sample her nutty cheddars, savoury blues and creamy bries. That’s because The Farm House Natural Cheeses can be found on just about every fine cheese plate in town. You’ll find it at restaurants that range from Salt Tasting Room to Farmer’s Apprentice to Hawksworth, and in cheese shops including small independents (Benton Brothers, Les Amis du Fromage), farm markets like Lepp Farm Market in Abbotsford and Pomme Natural Market in Coquitlam, and big chains (Whole Foods, Save On Foods, Choices). Amrein-Boyes herself is a bit of a legend in cheese…

By Nikki Bayley Canadian cheese is undergoing a quiet revolution with dozens of cheese makers popping up across the country making delicious artisan cheeses, and some of the best are to be found in B.C. We spoke to Vancouver’s queen of cheese, Allison Spurrell at Les Amis du Fromage, who stocks around 190 varieties of Canadian cheeses and between 450-550 other cheeses from around the world: “Canadian cheeses may not have big names like England with its cheddar or France with its brie, but Oka cheese is certainly famous in North America. It was traditionally made by monks at the monastery in Quebec, and about 20 years ago the cheese making part was bought out. It’s a semi-firm washed rind Trappist-style cheese. I think in B.C. there’s a pretty interesting cheese makers movement developing over the past 15 years, and some great cheese being made locally. If you’re wondering about…