Walk past the stylishly clad people in the Ritz Bar, the movers and shakers making plans in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel lobby, and walk up the stairs to the real star of the show found within TOCA Restaurant: the Cheese Cave.
Found in the centre of the restaurant and opened at the same time as the hotel, the modern-styled Cheese Cave is a glass-enclosed home to sheep, goat and cow milk cheeses sourced from Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island, as well as France and Italy.
“Since TOCA opened, the Cheese Cave has been a popular part of dining here,” explained Peter Muir, General Manager. Along with Head Chef Jitin Gaba, who is currently training as a fromager and Sommelier Lorie O’Sullivan, Muir will be instilling the pleasures of cheese and wine through new monthly tasting experiences.
The Cheese Cave Event Series will show participants how to taste cheese, learn about flavour profiles, see which wines pair well and offer tips for home entertaining. The classes will be held in TOCA on Saturday afternoons, giving guests the opportunity to taste four cheeses and wines and learn more about cheese production.
The rule to remember is soft wine pairs with soft cheese, bold wine with bold cheese, explained Chef Gaba. “And regions pair well together too.”
The first taste offered in the November tasting experience was Cape Vessey, a goat’s milk cheese from Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company from Picton, located in Ontario’s Prince Edward County. O’Sullivan chose a 2011 Malivoire Gamay, which complimented the three month old award-winning cheese, bringing out notes of cranberry and pomegranate in the vintage.
The next cheese to taste was Lankaaster, made by Glengarry Fine Cheese in Lancaster, a small town in Eastern Ontario. Named the Global Supreme Champion at the Global Cheese Awards, the Lankaaster is a Dutch-style gouda and paired with in-house TOCA Chardonnay, a 2010 lightly-oaked Chardonnay made by Cave Spring Cellars for the restaurant, with notes of pineapple.
During the tasting, Chef Gaba spoke about tasting cheese at the right temperature, and had guests taste a cheese that was cold versus a cheese at room temperature. No surprise, the subtle flavours of room temperature cheese were more pleasing to everyone’s palate.
The third cheese offered was Prince Edward Island’s Avonlea Cheddar, aged for two years. Paired with 2010 Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Franc, the fruit forward wine complimented the defined flavours of the cheddar.
The fourth and final cheese was Le 1608, a bloomy rind cheese made by Laiterie Charlevoix near Quebec City. Created in tribute to the first Frenchmen who arrived in Canada and with milk sourced from a heritage breed of cattle, the 2013 creamy hard cheese was a tasty finish, paired with in-house TOCA Pinot Noir, a 2013 vintage made by Cave Springs Cellars.
For cheese-lovers, the tasting experience could easily become a monthly addiction to add more calcium to one’s diet.
The next tasting will be on January 9, from 3pm-4:30pm, sampling award-winning Canadian cheeses paired with local and international wines. The experience costs $45.
For more information on the classes and future dates: http://www.tocarestaurant.com/#about