If you have ever tasted the cheese Port Salut, created by French Trappist Monks, an interesting alternative to it is Oka. In the late 1800’s monks from the same order established a new monastery at La Trappe, Quebec, near the village of Oka. They brought the Port Salut recipe with them, creating their own version–Oka Trappist Classic–and never looked back! In 1996 the Les Peres Trappists sold the rights to the cheese to a company named Agropur, and now the cheese is commercially manufactured, though keeping with tradition, it is still also manufactured in the town of Holland in Manitoba, Canada by the monks at their monastery.
Oka Classic is a Cow’s milk washed rind cheese, semi-soft in texture with eyes scattered sporadically on the interior surface. The cheese is hugged by a copper-orange, rind. Aged for two months in refrigerated aging cellars, the cheese rounds are placed on cypress planks and periodically turned and washed in a salt brine solution. The aroma is pungent and the flavor is soft, buttery, and creamy with notes of walnut and fruit.
There is an artisan version of Oka as well, called Oka L’Artisan. Aged for about five months, this version is much creamier and more refined in its flavor, though still similar to the classic version. While Oka L’Artisan is not currently carried by our Vineyard Markets, it can be special ordered by speaking to your local Cheese Lead!
Oka is a great melting cheese for fondue, pizza, pasta dishes or over your favorite steamed veggies. Pali Russian River Pinot Noir 2009 would be a delightful pairing to sip while enjoying Oka. This is a versatile and easy cheese and definitely more than okay by me!