Cheesy Business; Alberta Gets a New Artisanal Cheese Producer
Over the years, our province has been lucky to see a steady growth in cheese producers. You may have noticed that a large portion of the cheese production in Alberta uses goat milk. That is because goat milk is not as heavily regulated by the milk quota system with Alberta Milk. This process is strictly governed, and dairy producers require licenses in order to obtain dairy quotas, which are then required to sell their products. This quota system is a part of Canada’s supply management system in order to stabilize the cost of commodities. Then cheese makers can purchase this milk. All that aside, the world of milk quotas can be a bit confusing, so seeing a new cheese producer crop up that works with cow milk, is very exciting.
Art Snoek is a sixth-generation cheese producer, who emigrated from Holland to Canada five years ago. We are lucky that he did, as he recently opened his gouda cheese company called Alberta Pike Cheese. The company name heralds from Art’s last name, Snoek, which means “Pike” (like the fish) in his native language of Dutch. He told us that pike are common back in Holland, and it is fortuitous that Pike are also found in the lakes of Alberta.
Art was kind enough to tour us around his shiny new facility, located just outside of Innisfail, Alberta. We were walked through how he produces the cheese, from creating the curds, the pressing, brining, waxing, and aging. He also let us sample the wide variety of goudas he currently produces, with many more creative ideas on the horizon. We sampled chive, garlic, onion & paprika, red pepper flake, Italian, fenugreek (which tasted like walnut), caraway, cumin, and plain. He has started smoking some too. Overall, we were really impressed with the buttery, creamy, and smooth texture of the cheeses. Some of my favourite flavours included fenugreek and the onion & paprika.
Seeing producers like Art Snoek realize their dream and emigrate to Alberta, is really inspiring. We get to reap the rewards of Art’s innovation and his family’s century-old gouda recipe. They have a little storefront you can visit and purchase cheese for yourself, or places like Springbank Cheese Co. in Calgary sell it. I’m happy to see Alberta Pike Cheese join the province’s ranks of expertly crafted cheese. I look forward to cooking with it (my first plan of action is to use the flavoured gouda to make a grilled cheese) and featuring the goudas on our future cheese boards.