George Taylor used to work in television in the big city of Toronto. About 10 years ago, he left it all and returned to his family farm in St Marys, Ontario. Sitting in has backyard, surveying his farm, Taylor got to thinking he could either start a winery, brewery or make cheese. After a bit of research, the decision wasn’t difficult and today, Taylor is sole owner, president and CEO of C’estbon Cheese Company (www.cestboncheese.com) crafting high demand goat cheeses for a growing group of food aficionados.
If you’ve ever had C’estbon cheese, you’ll know how luscious, creamy and dreamy Taylor’s cheeses are. His signature chevré is milky sweet with hints of earthiness and herbs layering throughout. The texture is ultra creamy with an essence of purity in every creamy bite.
Taylor is a self made cheesemaker. He worked initially with Ruth Klassen (founder of Montforte Dairy) and took cheese classes at the University of Guelph. The rest has been practice, experience and learning from the best from around the world; Taylor was obviously a talented student.
C’estbon Mediterranean-style Feta my all-time favourite feta. It offers a salty kiss over ravishing, creaminess that exudes flavours of milkweed, sweet herbs and buttermilk. It’s a full flavoured cheese that caresses the palette with each mouthful.
Feta is a relatively new cheese for Taylor. He wasn’t inspired to make it until a trip to Greece introduced him to a mountain barrel aged feta of the Greek islands. This was worth the effort he thought and set out to make it back in his factory. It’s soaked in 4% brine for 2 weeks. When it’s first packaged the flavour is of definite saltiness. As the cheese ages, the salt percolates to the outside edges of the cheese and the flavours harmonize brilliantly.
The C’estbon cheese factory is a 2,500 square foot, certified organic goat fromagerie in the beautiful little village of St Marys. The idyllic town saddles the Thames Rives with beautiful walkways that snake around parks, along banks and over the river. The village is full of architecturally beautiful buildings and parks overflowing with flowers.
For 10 years Taylor has been the single owner of the businesses. He milks the purebred herd of Toggenburg and LaMancha goats and makes the cheese, fills out the paperwork and cleans the factory. With no time left for marketing and sales, Taylors successful 10-year cheese business can be attributed to word-of-mouth. Most of the business is wholesale but Taylor admits, “if someone came to the factory door to buy, I wouldn’t refuse him.”
Standing in the middle of the fromagerie, dressed in a hairnet I watched as Taylor peeled black wax from a block of Caerphilly. It’s a firm white cheese with a hint of scrambled eggs flavour and an almost lemony finish. Taylor talks of marinating the cheese in Grey Goose Vodka and shaved over an arugula salad – yum!
Every Christmas Taylor makes a soft, bloomy rind cheese in the shape of a small pyramid. He calls it Christmas Ash Goat Pyramid. It’s a very fresh cheese with a shelf life of only 2 weeks making it a celebration of unique holiday flavours and in my books a great new holiday tradition (Save this post and order for Christmas! 519-284-2599).
For more great culinary destinations in St. Marys and the Stratford area, click this link.