Let me tell you about one of my favourite everyday cheeses–or cheese dairy actually: St-Albert Cheese Cooperative. They’re not organic, but they are local (if you’re in western Quebec or eastern Ontario) and their cheese is 100% pure milk, no modified milk ingredients. The dairy was founded in 1894 by a handful of dairy farmers who wanted to make cheese. It is currently owned by over 50 local milk producers. Only local milk goes into St-Albert’s cheese.
St-Albert’s produces mainly standard grocery store varieties of cheeses, like Cheddar, Brick, Colby, Swiss and Mozzarella; although cheddar is clearly their specialty. They produce several different kinds of cheddar, including several fabulous flavoured ones (garlic, jalapeno, dill, etc.) The garlic one is fabulous and highly addictive melted into grilled cheese sandwiches. They also have aged and extra-old (5 years) cheddar, as well as squeaky cheese curds. Many of their cheeses have won prizes. In terms of taste, they are definitely a step-up from big brand names like Kraft or P’tit Quebec.
Pricewise, St-Albert’s is also quite competitive. It is more expensive than the standard grocery store cheese, but I feel it is totally worth it. I think I pay about $18/kg (which would work out to about $4.50 for a standard 240 g brick) for the standard or flavoured cheddar.
So where do you buy St-Albert’s cheese? Unfortunately I haven’t found it in Montreal. I usually stock up when I’m driving between Ottawa and Montreal. Friends in the area tell me that the best place for price is actually the Highland Esso station on the south side of exit 51 from the 417 (Maxville exit). Look for the big cooler in the centre of the store almost directly opposite the cash. You can also visit the dairy shop in St-Albert (exit 66) or in Orleans.