One of the most notable tourist attractions in Quebec City, Canada, is the Château Frontenac. The luxury hotel has a rich, beautiful history: Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and others met there to discuss strategies of World War II. Alfred Hitchcock shot his 1953 film I Confess in the building. But the landmark has just leapt in importance by several orders of magnitude (at least for us) with a $70 million renovation and the construction of 1608: a beautiful, fancy new wine and cheese bar featuring entirely local cheeses.
“Quebec cheeses have become a must-do when visiting,” says Amelie Tendland, a local cheesemonger and the hotel’s cheese consultant, in an interview with Traveler magazine. “There are approximately 400 cheeses in Quebec, and over 200 are local.”
Certainly because of its age-old French-influenced culture, this Canadian province has become quite well known for its cheeses. There are over 100 cheesemongers in the province, more than any other in Canada. To join the cheesy Quebecois ranks, you need only “passion, memory, learning the trades, and tasting,” according to Tendland.
A wide variety of cheeses come from this region, ranging from raw-milk blues to sheep’s milk cheeses with stinky rinds. Due to FDA regulations, many of these award-winning cheeses are not allowed in the United States, but that doesn’t mean they’re not delicious. See some notable examples here.
So where does one even begin with Quebec cheeses?
“There are great and exciting cheeses from all different regions in Quebec,” says Tendland. But she believes two cheesemakers in particular deserve attention.
The first is Laiterie Charlevoix. Since they began in 1948, they’ve been producing cheeses from their own breed of cow, which they raise on their own farm. This cow produces milk with a higher fat and protein content, giving their cheeses a rich, unique flavor.
The second is Fromagerie du Presbytere. Known for their award-winning Bleu D’Elizabeth cheese, the company has been managed by the same family for four generations. They focus on raising their cows in the best environment possible in order to create the best cheeses. They are an entirely organic farm, and have been since the 1980s.
All of these cheeses, as well as many others, can be tried at the 1608 bar in the Chateau Frontenac.
If you’re planning a trip to Quebec soon or looking for a place to experience great cheese, be sure to add 1608 to your itinerary. They’re well equipped and ready to show you the great, local cheeses of their region.Photo Credit: Images Courtesy of the Fairmont Château Frontenac.