Portrait Gourmand | Stock up on good artisanal cheese at the Fromagerie du Vieux-St-François
Laval is a huge island that still has a large agri-food sector, mainly in the Saint-François district. I had the pleasure of meeting Marc-André and Christelle Marchand from the Fromagerie du Vieux-St-François, inspiring and passionate master cheesemakers who introduced me to their magnificent farm, their very endearing goats and their delicious cheeses and wide variety of products, all made from goat's milk. Young entrepreneurs with great ambitions!
How did this love affair with cheese begin?
It was our father who first raised dairy cows in Marieville on the South Shore. In 2001, we traded the cows for goats. It was a dream we had for a long time. But it is really in 2006 that we started to produce our cheese and to sell it. We then met Mrs. Latour, founder of the Fromagerie du Vieux-St-François. She wanted to sell and we were ready and interested to buy the farm.
Here, we have a variety of dairy goats (Alpine, African Nubian, Mohaire and Sahone). In all, we have about 40 goats on our farm.
We are talking about a family business, what is the role of each person within the company?
I studied dietetic technique in Saint-Hyacinthe and I had some experience in food processing. My sister studied and worked in a daycare center. We learned a lot from Mrs. Latour and her team of cheese makers who taught us how to perpetuate their recipes and how to develop our own! My mother makes sausages and my father takes care of the goats. My sister and I focus more on product and business development. I'm mainly in charge of production and my sister is in charge of... everything else (laughs)!
What are the advantages of goat's milk?
It is very soft, easy to digest because it is similar to breast milk and contains very little fat.
What products do you produce and what can be purchased at your store?
We produce more than 20 cheeses, including our famous prize-winning Boule d'amour cheese.
Our boutique located in the Vieux-Saint-François in Laval is open year round. We sell our cheeses, but also non-homogenized whole milk, our goat cheese yogurt, gelato (in the summer only, we sell it in cones) as well as homemade sausages made by our mother with goat meat, and some other products from artisans that we like. In the summer, we offer a great place to come for a picnic. We recently built an area with tables. Cyclists, who are numerous in the area, often come to visit us.
What is your star product at the cheese factory?
People love Les Bouchées d'Amour (all handmade, by the way). They are little bites of goat cheese put in a jar and covered with a seed oil that is flavored with chives, herbes de Provence, garlic and parsley, or plain. This product is delicious in pasta, salads, on a bagel, etc.
There is of course our cheddar (plain and pink pepper) and Le Lavallois, a soft cheese with a bloomy rind made from pasteurized milk. Its white and fluffy rind has woody notes and a good taste of fresh mushroom.
Our Tomme du Haut-St-François cheese is excellent with a good beer (lager or red) as well as with a sweet or dry white wine. This summer, we served our goat gelato and it was a real success. It is definitely worth trying!
We also have a variety of meats from our farm: goat sausages, goat meat sausage, grain-fed chicken and others.
Where can we find your products?
You can purchase our products at our boutique at the Fromagerie du Vieux-St-François as well as in a few fine grocery stores such as Chez Hamel, Bleu et persillé, Moisson Ste-Thérèse, at Métro and IGA, and online at Les Fermes Lufa.
**La Fromagerie du Vieux Saint-François is part of the Saveurs de Laval directory.