Abbey de Saint-Benoit-du-lac was founded in 1912 by a group of monks exiled from France in 1901. After settling for a time in Belgium, a small group travelled to Quebec just before the outbreak of World War I.
Upon arrival, they purchased land located about 100 miles southeast of Montreal on Lake Memphremagog. With a motto of “pray and work,” the monks established apple orchards for the production of apple sauce and cider, and in 1943, constructed a cheese-making facility. Today, the Abbey produces several styles of cheese including blues, gruyère style cheeses, and Ricotta.
Ermite was the first cheese that the Abbey created in 1943. Both it and the Abbey’s Bleu Benedictine are made using the same process. However, the ripening process is different, showing just how important aging is to developing the final character of the cheese.
Ermite is aged for five weeks, during which time it is allowed to develop a natural rind. Just prior to release for sale, this rind is washed off, exposing the paste and ensuring the rind does not further affect the flavor and texture of the cheese. This interruption of the rind’s influence on the final cheese ensures that Ermite has its own character.
Ermite has a cream colored paste with blue-green veins throughout and a slightly grainy texture that crumbles when cut into. Flavors are of mushrooms with a bit of salt and good amount of tang at the finish.