Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Vancouver Christmas Market

Did someone say Raclette?

So we're just about to start our second weekend at the Vancouver Christmas Market.  It was a shakey start for us at first.  Just as we were heading down to load our little booth with our stock, the radio blared out that there was a propane explostion at the Market, just 20 minutes before it was set to officially open.  Luckily no one was hurt, but our little booth was one of the two that needed to be replaced.  So, while the Vancouver Christmas Market officially opened the Sunday after the explosion, Dussa's Swiss Raclette did not open until Monday November 29th.

Its been just amazing at the Market.  We are overwhelmed by the response for our Raclette. Its been wonderful meeting new customers, getting to chat with everyone, even hearing stories about the old shop down on Main street.  But what amazes us the most is, no matter how crazy the market it, no matter how long the line, everyone is in a cheery mood.  I guess thats the magic of melted cheese!

So we encourage everyone to come down and visit.  We're serving little cheese puffs, hot out of the oven, traditional German Lachsbroetchn (a mini lox and cream cheese sandwich that is oh so satisfying), and of course our specialty, Swiss Raclette. 

What is Swiss Raclette you ask?  Swiss Raclette is a round hard cheese made from unpasturized milk and aged for 3-4 months.  The brand that Dussa's uses is called Von Muelenen, or Snowman Brand, one of the only raclettes with the AOC distinction.  We cut the 7 kg wheel and place it in a special Raclette grill.  There, the top layed is melted until it is bubbly and a little golden brown.  Then the cheese in removed from the grill, and, using the back of the knife, we scrape the melted cheese onto a fresh slice of ciabatta bread.  Heaven on a plate.

We look forward to seeing everyone down at the Vancouver Christmas Market.  Be sure to come to our little booth and say hello!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's hard to say goodbye

We are like a family here at Dussa's Ham and Cheese.  Although we come from different walks of life, different culters and backgrounds, different ages, we all care about each other very much.  So it was with heavy hearts that the staff at Dussa's said goodbye to our co-worker and good friend, Owen Taylor.

Owen was a great guy, very down to earth and easy to work with.  He knew so much about cheese- he was an expert on Roquefort, so much so you would think he was from there.  And he was a favourite amungst our lady customers of a certain age, always polite and informative.  But he also made the work atmostphere great.  Owen would make a long Saturday go by quickly, creating the weekend soundtrack with his ipod, giving insite on the most obscure films, or telling us stories about is beloved cat.  Everyone always looked forward to coming to work when we knew Owen would be there.

The gang at Dussa's miss Owen very much.  We send our love and support to all his family and friends

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vacherin Mont D'or - A Swiss Delicacy

It just wouldn’t be the holidays at Dussa’s Ham and Cheese with out the famous seasonal cheese, Vacherin Mont D’or.

Vacherin Mont D’or is a surface ripened, wash rind cheese made from the winter milk of the cows that have been brought down from their summer pastures.  It is said that because the cows no longer produced enough milk to make Emmental and Gruyere, farmers decided to make a smaller, younger cheese- Vacherin Mont D’or.  Another legend states that the tradition of Vacherin actually came from the making of Chevrotin, a goat’s cheese. When there was a shortage of goat’s milk to make the Chevrotin, farmers simply turned to using cow’s milk, thus Vacherin Mont D’or was born. 

Vacherin Mont D’or is made both in Switzerland and France.  Both countries fought over the rights of the origin of the cheese, but the right to legally call it “Vacherin Mont D’or” was won by Switzerland in 1981.  The same cheese made in France is officially called “Vacherin Haut-Doubs”, but unofficially is also called Vacherin Mont D’or.  Both countries use the same methods to produce this delectable cheese; however the Swiss version is often made from pasteurized milk in order to please the North American market.  The Swiss version of Vacherin Mont D’or does have the AOC designation, meaning that it is made under the strictest of requirements that govern how the cheese is made, processed, and handled.  The cheese can only be made in one region of Switzerland- the Canton de Vaud.

Vacherin Mont D’or is only available in Switzerland from mid September to early March.  There is even a Vacherin Mont D’or Festival, which includes traditional Swiss foods and entertainment, and even a parade of the herds being brought down from their summer pastures.  In Canada, Vacherin Mont D’or is usually only available during the months of November, December, and sometimes January.  Recently, imported Vacherin Mont D’or has been made from unpasteurized milk. Because of this, the Canadian government requires the cheese to be put in quarantine, and tested to make sure it has no unwanted bacteria.  Unfortunately, Vacherin Mont D’or has a relatively short shelf life, and so quantities that actually make it to store shelves are always very limited.

Upon first glance, Vacherin Mont D’or is actually quite an ugly cheese.  It’s topped with an orange rind that sits on the cheese like an ugly mould.  Often this rind is covered by a thin powdery white mould, similar to the beginnings of the surface mould found on Brie or Camembert.  And while this rind may not be aesthetically pleasing, it’s what’s underneath that is truely a thing of beauty.  Below the inedible rind is a gooey rich golden yellow pate that needs to be scooped up with a spoon.  Even at room temperature (Vacherin Mont D'or should never be eaten cold), this cheese is almost liquid and cannot be cut.  Often, Vacherin Mont D’or is put in the oven, and eaten the same way one eats fondue, by dipping the bread straight into the cheese.  Vacherin Mont D’or is wrapped with a thin piece of Spruce bark, giving the cheese a subtly astringent, foresty flavour that makes Vacherin Mont D’or unique from anything else.

Vacherin makes the perfect gift, and is always a party pleaser.  You are now able to pre-purchase this amazing cheese at Dussa’s Ham and Cheese on Granville Island.  Come down any time and talk to one of our staff.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Le Marechal

When it comes to cheese, Le Marechal is the new kid on the block.  In the early 90's, cheese maker Jean-Michel Rapin created a cheese that was meant to be different from Swiss Gruyere.  He named if after is grandfather, who was a blacksmith, because it shared his "original and robust character".

Le Marechal is a raw milk Swiss cheese that shares the nutty flavour of typical Swiss made cheeses.  But unlike Swiss Gruyere and Appenzellar, La Marechal has a melt in your mouth texture and a simple yet rustic flavour.  The rind is rubbed with herbs as the cheese ages, giving it a subtley spicey, almost floral taste.  Not only is Le Marechal delicious, but its incredibly healthy too- the cows are fed flaxseed flour, making their milk rich in Omega-3.

Le Marechal is an amazing table cheese, and does really well in cheese sauces.  Serve it with figs or fig spread, olives, and a good dry white wine.

Le Marechal is 10% off, while supplies last.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Natural Pastures' Mozzarella di Bufala

"Is that really made from Baffalo's milk?"

Yes, yes it is.  While Mozzarella di Bufala, or Buffalo Mozzarella, is now hitting the main stream, many still have not had the pleasure of trying this super rich creamy cheese.  And yes, it is made with real buffalo's milk.  Not North American buffalo (which are really bison), but the Asian water buffalo.

The history of the water buffalo's appearence in Italy is still disputed, with stories ranging from European settlers bring the buffalo's with them from Mesopotamia, to Marc Antony falling in love with buffalo's milk cheeses in Egypt, and so sending water buffalos to Rome.  However the water buffalo got to Italy, we're all glad it made it there so that we can enjoy many buffalo milk cheeses.

The benefits of buffalo's milk are great.  While the milk is far too rich to drink, it is perfect for making cheeses and yogurts.  It has 58 percent more calcium, 40 percent more protein, and 43 percent less cholesteral thn cows milk.  Its a rich source of iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, and protein.  The cheese itself tends to be very white due to the lack or carotene, which the buffalos convert to vitamin A. 

Most buffalo mozzarella is produced in Italy, but now it's being produced all over the world, including right here in BC, by Natural Pastures.  Natural Pastures uses the milk from the water bufallo on Fairburn farms, the only herd of water bufallo in British Columbia, and one of only five herds in Canada.  The happy buffalo on Fairburn farms only eat organic grasses, clover and hay, which contributes to the milks decidantly buttery flavour.  Natural Pastures Cheese company uses milk from farms that practice sustainable farming and animal husbandry.  And everyone knows that a happy buffalo makes tastey cheese!

Authentically produced, Natural Pastures' Mozzarella di Bufala contains little to no lactose, thanks to its natural fermentation process.

Natural Pastures' Mozzarella di Bufala is now on special for $4.98/100g (regular price $6.98/100g) while supplies last.

for more information, check out these websites:

Friday, October 15, 2010


When you hear low fat cheese, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Rubbery, tasteless, yucky- right?

Come down to Granville Island on Sunday and find out that low fat doesn't have to mean rubbery or tasteless . Energy Essentials 24/7 will be sampling their fantastic 7% M.F. cheese. Its lactose free, rennet free, and full of calcium. And it tastes great too!

Energy Essentials will be handing out samples and answering your questions on Sunday October 15th from 12pm-3pm

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back to the Future

Welcome to the Dussa’s Ham and Cheese. blog. It’s been a long time coming, as we’ve been in business these last 54 years, and just now catching up with technology. Yikes! So here goes nothing.

The plan is for you to get to know us- the ladies and gents- at the shop, get to know our products, and make our little store a part of this growing community. We love our regular customers, and we love our new customers. The more the merrier, I think. And while many gourmet shops like to keep things prim and proper, Dussa’s likes to keep things casual. Just because we’re buying high end foods doesn’t mean we need to be snobs, right? Cheese is intimidating enough on its own, so there is no need for unnecessary formalities. So come on down, say hello, have a chat, ask some questions. We’re here to help you as best as we can.

Michelle Etienne
~manager and cheese lover extraordinaire~