Adopted goats – and delicious goat cheese – give this Montréal Fairmont property farm-to-table flair.
The staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montréal wanted a dog. That was the initial plan, anyway: a pet and mascot, some cuddly creature that would live in the lobby and greet guests with its wagging tail. But the idea soon morphed into something else entirely. What about an animal that could really become a part of the hotel’s culture?
That’s when Executive Chef Alain Pignard and his staff were introduced to Blanche Neige (French for “Snow White”), an adorable baby goat from Fromagerie du Vieux St-François, a goat farm and gourmet cheese shop in neighboring Laval. The hotel adopted the goat and its mother, two registered show nannies of the Swiss Saanen breed, and now produces several cheeses in honor of them. “It’s very important for us to support local, artisanal producers,” says Pignard. “And, when possible, to make our own products in-house.”
The four Blanche Neige cheeses include two that are only available at the hotel’s Beaver Club restaurant: the Peau d’Ours and L’Îlot de Blanche Neige. They were developed under the guidance of Suzanne Latour of the Fromagerie, who with her 23-year-old son, Samuel Ouimet, keeps and cares for little Blanche Neige and her mother. Pignard and Martin Paquet, the chef at the Beaver Club, use the cheeses in various sweet and savory dishes, such as the asparagus bundle with goat cheese and cherry tomato confit, Snow White iced nougat, and Snow White cheesecake with red berries. They can also be found on the hotel’s gourmet cheese cart, as part of a larger selection of Québec cheeses.
Of course, the Queen Elizabeth isn’t the only hotel to craft its own products in-house. “At the Royal York in Toronto, they have bees on the roof for making their own honey,” says Pignard, adding, “we don’t necessarily visit them every Sunday, but we have a very close relationship with the goats.”