Artisanal cheese can now be found with ease in Hawkesbury.
Fromagerie des Trois Rapides opened on February 7 at 381 County Road 17. Its president and cheesemaker, Alain Ménard, is also the president and owner of the Hawkesbury-based Green Beaver Company, manufacturers of all-natural personal care products. Ménard’s passion for cheese goes back to his days as microbiology student at McGill University.
“I was fascinated by how bacteria cultures and moulds could help turn milk into a variety of different types of cheese,” Ménard said.
Over the years, he has developed an affinity for artisanal cheeses because of their unique aromas and flavours. He also likes how they are made in small batches and incorporate more traditional aspects of cheesemaking.
The varieties of cheese produced at Fromagerie des Trois Rapides include a soft bloomy rind camembert, surface-ripened mamirolle, semi-firm St-Paulin, blue-veined cheese, gouda, Swiss-style gruyere, and classic Canadian-style young and old cheddars.
Fromagerie des Trois Rapides is all organic and certified by Ecocert. The milk comes from Michael and Heidi Krol’s dairy farm in Glengarry County. Award-winning cheesemaker Margaret Peters, who owns Glengarry Fine Cheese in Lancaster has served as a mentor in the development of Menard’s venture, including the affinage room where cheeses are aged and finished.
“We age our cheeses in an affinage room to enhance their flavour and texture. In comparison, this would be like aging wine in wood barrels to develop it into fine wine,” Ménard explained.
Currently, Fromagerie des Trois Rapides has three full-time employees. Ménard hopes to hire more local residents as the business builds.
“I am proud to have established the fromagerie in Hawkesbury and I know that local citizens will enjoy our cheeses,” he said.
Of course, Menard is also hoping to make Fromagerie des Trois Rapides a tourist destination.
“We want them to get to know us as they are discovering our beautiful region,” he remarked.
The name Fromagerie des Trois Rapides has historical significance. It refers to the three former sets of rapids on the Ottawa River which disappeared after the construction of the Carillon hydroelectric dam. They were the Long Sault Rapids between Hawkesbury and Grenville, the Chute-à-Blondeau Rapids, and the Carillon Rapids.
“We wanted a name for the fromagerie that had a regional reference. The stretch of the Ottawa river along here has a lot of history,” Ménard said.
More in store
The Fromagerie des Trois Rapides store offers more than cheese. Ménard said they plan to begin helping customers know what cheese goes right with other items.
“We will soon offer cheese tasting workshops where you can discover the different flavour profiles of each cheese and how to pair them with other foods and wine.”
The shop also sells other locally produced food and artisan crafts. Food items include Cassburn Sweets maple syrup, yogurt, kefir, and sour cream from Pinehedge Farms, Gibbs Honey, Totem coffee, and preserves from Les Matantes. A full range of Green Beaver products are also sold at the shop.
To find out more about Fromagerie des Trois Rapides, visit the shop on County Road 17 or go to https://www.fromageriedestroisrapides.com.