Some long-time Chronicle readers may recall a regular visitor to the pages of this publication named the Shelf Elf, a creation of his faithful human scribe, Suzanne Molina. He was a popular little fellow, and garnered a loyal following over the years that he highlighted new products in the store. It has been years since the Shelf Elf’s last visit, but we are happy to report that he is back!

We found the Shelf Elf recently in the dairy cooler where he was making the acquaintance of some of our cheeses, specifically Monforte’s Fontina, Cow Camembert, and Providence cheeses. It seems that the Shelf Elf had tracked down Daniel, a representative of this Stratford, Ontario dairy, and he learned some interesting tidbits.

The Fontina is made from water buffalo milk, sourced from a family of Amish farmers. It is a Tomme-style cheese, with fenugreek seeds giving it flavours of nut and caramel. Next the Shelf Elf asked about the Cow Camembert, which Daniel described as a surface-ripened cheese with a creamy, buttery consistency.

Finally, Daniel and the Shelf Elf discussed the Providence, a cow’s milk cheddar made in partnership with Bright Cheese & Butter. Located west of Kitchener, Bright Cheese & Butter has been operated by local farmers since 1874! Although this cheese is only two years old, it has the flavour of a four- or five-year-old cheddar.

The people of Monforte Dairy describe themselves online as “southwestern Ontario’s premier artisanal cheese company” and state that they use “only seasonal milk from responsible practise.” They add: “At Monforte, we’re convinced the small things do indeed make a difference, that agriculture is best practiced on a human scale, and that our cheeses, each in its own way, reflect something a little deeper than the technology behind mass manufactured food — a little of the poetry and passion of life itself.”

Well, the Shelf Elf thinks this statement very nicely echoes our Karma philosophy! Now he’s angling for a road trip, the little imp, likely in search of some more free samples.

by Sybille Parry
Read more articles from the spring 2017 issue of Karma’s printed newsletter, The Chronicle.