For cheese lovers, all roads lead to Picton on June 3-4

Informative Cheese Seminars are included in the price of admission at #TGCCF.

Top 10 reasons why you won’t want to miss the seventh annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, on June 3-4, 2017.

  1. More than 500 foods and beverages for sampling and purchase, including 200 artisan and farmstead cheeses.
  2. Chance to meet Canada’s outstanding cheesemakers face-to-face, including many from Québec.
  3. Informative Cheese Seminars on a variety of topics.
  4. Express access to more than 100 exhibitors and vendors, including specialty foods, small-batch wine, craft beer, craft cider and—NEW!—spirits.
  5. SWAG! An insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases and a souvenir Festival glass for sampling wine, beer and cider (19+).
  6. Local VQA wines and cider available for purchase by bottle or case (19+).
  7. Dairy Farm, with animals and displays, including the sweetest water buffalo you’ll ever meet.
  8. Food Court, featuring—NEW!— J.K. Fries and Braised-Beef Poutine from Jamie Kennedy Kitchens.
  9. Live music by Starpainters trio in the Prince Edward County Pavilion.
  10. Ample FREE parking.

More than 5,000 cheese lovers are expected to attend, sampling and purchasing close to 200 different cheeses made by artisan producers from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It’s the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada, indeed, in North America, with an estimated 500 foods and beverages in total on offer.

Meet Canada’s best cheesemakers, including Armand Bernard of Cows Creamery in P.E.I., at Canada’s biggest cheese show.

Cheesemakers, specialty food producers, small-batch wineries, craft breweries and cideries, and other exhibitors and vendors have reserved 100+ booths making the event at the Picton Fairgrounds one of the biggest artisan food markets in Ontario.

TICKET OPTIONS:

  • Super Saturday (June 3) or Super Sunday (June 4): All attractions listed above PLUS EXTRAS such as informative Cheese Seminars, an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases, a souvenir Festival glass for sampling wine, beer and cider (19+), live music and more. Super Ticket $50 plus tax per day.
  • BEST BUY: Weekend VIP Pass (June 3 and 4): Admission Saturday and Sunday with VIP access at 10 a.m., one hour before show opens to public. PLUS reserved seating at informative Cheese Seminars. Includes all attractions listed above PLUS EXTRAS such as Cheese Seminars, an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases, a souvenir Festival glass for sampling wine, beer and cider (19+), live music and more. Weekend VIP Pass $75 plus tax.

Tickets can be ordered online in advance at http://cheesefestival.ca/tickets/ or purchased at the door.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is the only place where you can taste and buy 200 different Canadian artisan and farmstead cheeses—plus specialty foods galore.

The Festival’s main attraction, the Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair, is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4. Families are welcome. Children 15 and younger FREE when accompanied by an adult. Special pricing for groups of 10+.

There is so much to do at the Cheese Festival—and in must-visit Prince Edward County—that you’ll want to make a weekend of it. Check out featured accommodations in Prince Edward County, Belleville and Kingston at http://cheesefestival.ca/where-to-stay/

The Festival also offers special events like Gastronomy on the Farm with Jamie Kennedy, Cooking with Cheese Class with Cynthia Peters and a Quinte Cheese Tour. For additional information, visit CheeseFestival.ca. For assistance, email info@cheesefestival.ca or telephone 1.866.865.2628.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario. Prince Edward County is Gold Sponsor, Bay of Quinte Region is Principal Partner and Stonemill Bakehouse is Official Bread Supplier.

Picton Fairgrounds is located in the heart of Prince Edward County, south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region. One hour from Kingston, two hours from Toronto, three hours from Ottawa and New York State, and less than four hours from Montreal.

THE GREAT CANADIAN CHEESE FESTIVAL
June 3-4, 2017, Picton, Ontario
1.866.865.2628
http://cheesefestival.ca


 

For the cheese lover in your life at Christmas

15181409_1334820033237228_9209551556281257544_nCheese lovers in your life will appreciate a holiday gift of tickets to the 2017 Great Canadian Cheese Festival, the biggest artisan cheese show in North America.

We will send you a personalized gift certificate (upon receipt of your ticket order) for the ticket recipient. The certificate will be a PDF that you can forward by e-mail or print for giving in person.

The seventh annual Festival takes place June 3-4, 2017, at Picton Fairgrounds, in must-visit Prince Edward County, Bay of Quinte Region, near Belleville, Ontario.

Holiday tickets are available for the Saturday portion of the festival at $50 plus HST each.

Admission includes access to more than 130 exhibitors and vendors offering more than 500 foods and beverages, an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases, a Festival souvenir glass for sampling wine, beer and cider (19+), Cheese Seminars (rush seating), Dairy Farm, Food Court, and live music. Ample FREE parking.

Click here to place your order. Please allow five days for the arrival of gift certificates.

For more information, email info@cheesefestival.ca or telephone 1-866-865-2628 toll-free.

The website CheeseFestival.ca will be updated in January when regular tickets go on sale.

Chef Derek MacGregor ready to rumble at #TGCCF

Chef Derek MacGregor (left) has joined Mike MacKenzie at Seed to Sausage.

Chef Derek MacGregor (left) has joined Mike McKenzie at Seed to Sausage.

The name Derek MacGregor is quite synonymous to the local food scene in Ontario. His food philosophy is all about simplicity and fresh quality ingredients, especially Canadian cheese. The concept of farm to table is true to his heart, having grown up in a small community near Cornwall surrounded by fresh foods and grandmas who were exceptional cooks in the kitchen. He is a firm believer of embracing the local food community and has created great rapport with many of the farmers, cheesemakers and artisans.

Chef Derek states that shopping local supports our local economy and when in season, the local produce is so fresh, often picked that morning and quite regularly organic or pesticide free.

As chef of Le Chien Noir in downtown Kingston for just shy of 10 years and in restaurant kitchens for the past 20 years, there has been a change in this chef’s life. He joins Seed to Sausage as production manager and. most recently, he steps up to the plate at the Grilled Cheese Chowdown at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on the Sunday of a two-day-long cheesy affair from June 4-5 at the Picton Fairgrounds. The challenge? To compete alongside thee chefs making grilled-cheese sandwiches for 1,000 cheese lovers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

First 1,000 tickets holders admitted to #TGCCF on Sunday get to chow down on a free grilled-cheese sandwich.

First 1,000 tickets holders admitted to #TGCCF on Sunday get to chow down on a free grilled-cheese sandwich.

Chef Derek’s passion for food is still as strong as ever and he admits that his transition to Seed to Sausage was by need of change of scene as the pressure of running a line nightly was beginning to take a toll. A strong sense of loyalty and friendship with founder Michael McKenzie solidified his next move all while still continuing to work with good food. His love for food allows him to continue his journey and inspire others around him to come together.

With the title of chef also comes a love of cheese—fond of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses, Derek has always impressed with this characuterie boards and dishes in the past. Of course picking one favourite Canadian cheese is quite the tough decision; his favourites include Grey Owl, Alegretto, and Seine d’Helene as well as a hometown cheese from Glengarry with its 4-year-old Lankaaster.

Chef Derek will be quite the contender at this year’s Grilled Cheese Chowdown and a crowd favourite with his enthusiastic spirit. As a proud locavore, he certainly is a prime choice for the competition.

Support Derek MacGregor this weekend June 4-5 at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton because, really, who doesn’t love grilled cheese? For complete information and tickets, please visit cheesefestival.ca.

—Rosalyn Gambhir
A food writer and photographer who calls Kingston home. She blogs about food, fashion and other good things life at www.rosalyngambhir.com.

 

Wilton Cheese: As old as Confederation

Cheese curds: Never leave the WIlton Cheese Factory without them.

Cheese curds: Never leave the WIlton Cheese Factory without them.

Wilton Cheese is a family tradition built on artisan cheese manufacturing—ensuring old fashioned, full-bodied natural flavours are still present today when you have a bite. With a wide selection of cheddar and variety cheeses, each one has been made with the utmost care and attention to ensure a premium product for your palate. It is a taste that has not changed since Wilton started making cheese in 1867.

Sample its flavours at the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, on June 4 and 5.

The Jensen family purchased Wilton Cheese, originally operated as a Farmer’s Cooperative, in the 1970s when one of the stipulations of the purchase was that the factory maintains its original name. The Jensen family has honoured that request. Still quaint in size, production in Odessa is rather large for this well-known cheese factory catering to retail outlets across Eastern Ontario and restaurants in Kingston.

Excellent Canadian cheddar: Mainstay at Wilton Cheese since 1867.

Excellent Canadian cheddar: Mainstay at Wilton Cheese since 1867.

A popular choice by many in the area, such as Chef Eric Brennan of Le Chien Noir Bistro in Kingston, the Wilton cheese curd is like no other with its creamy texture. Perfect to nibble on its own or indulge in a gooey poutine with shredded duck confit, the options are almost endless and we say it is darn good! But let’s not forget the aged cheddars that Wilton is also most commonly known for. Our favourite is Wilton’s aged white cheddar, a cheese that is aged naturally as it is placed underground in temperature-controlled storage coolers. A true delight, like wine, cheese generally improves with age.

A day trip to Wilton Cheese is well worth the journey along the Cheddar and Ale Trail, as it still remains one of Canada’s oldest cheese factory—using real milk, guided by master cheesemakers. As a culinary tourist who relishes in locavorism, do make sure to experience the several other artisanal variety cheeses such as Brick with Hot Pepper, Brick with Onion & Garlic, Brick with Olives, Colby and good old Marble! A key aspect to take note of is that Wilton Cheese does not use artificial dyes to add colour to the cheese. Instead, the pulp from the Annatto plant is used to give their cheddar the orange colour. How neat!

Don’t forget to visit Wilton this coming weekend as it will be one of three dozen artisan cheese producers sampling and selling cheese at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton. For complete information and tickets, please visit cheesefestival.ca.

—Rosalyn Gambhir
A food writer and photographer who calls Kingston home. She blogs about food, fashion and other good things life at www.rosalyngambhir.com.

Mira Schenkel: Best home cheesemaker in Canada

Clover, made by Mira Schenkel, Best of Show at the first Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards.

Clover, made by Mira Schenkel, Best of Show and Best Washed Rind Cheese at the first Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards.

Eighteen years ago, Mira Schenkel emigrated from Switzerland with her husband, Uli, to farm and raise a family in British Columbia. Today, she’s the best home cheesemaker in Canada.

Initially, it was Uli who was the cheesemaker in the family but as the demands of the farm in Salmon Arm, B.C., increased and his time for making cheese became limited, Uli convinced Mira to try her hand at it. Four years ago, she made her first cheese.

Mira Schenkel in her aging room.

Mira Schenkel in her aging room.

On the first weekend of June, her wonderful cheese called Clover captured Best of Show honours and won the washed-rind category in the inaugural Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards held in conjunction with The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario.

“While mostly self-taught, I am truly grateful to my dear and hardworking husband for encouraging me to become a cheesemaker and also for his great care and milking of our cows to provide the highest quality milk which makes the cheese special,” Mira wrote in an email. She also credits 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes, an award-winning cheesemaker at The Farm House Natural Cheeses in Agassiz, B.C.

Along with many other animals the farm, the Schenkels have four family cows, two Jerseys (Amber and Peekaboo) and two crossbreds (Belle and Brittney) that provide the fresh unpasteurized milk from which Mira make her cheese.

Mira Schenkel with Brittney, one of her four dairy cows on the farm in Salmon Arm, B.C.

Mira Schenkel with Brittney, one of four dairy cows on the family farm in Salmon Arm, B.C.

Since making her first mountain cheese four years ago, Mira says she has enjoyed making a variety of cheeses including Gouda, Maasdammer, Camembert and, of course, Clover—all always aged for a minimum of 60 days due to the use of unpasteurized milk.

“The unique flavour of my award-winning Clover cheese features clover and herbs which I bring in from Switzerland,” Mira explains.

The judges loved Clover:

“This raw-milk Alpine cheese has a wonderful clover and grass aroma that comes from the Swiss Clover wash used on the rind. The wonderful golden hue of the paste is dotted with occasional small eyes which developed during ripening that complement the make-up of the cheese. The cheese has a nice clover flavour with hints of honey and finishes with a nuttiness that hints of hazelnuts or roasted almonds. The texture of this cheese is as complex as the flavor. It starts firm but, as you taste it, the cheese breaks down to an almost-fudge like finish.”

Click here for the complete results of the first-ever Amateur Cheesemaking competition.

The second annual Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards will be held June 4-5, 2016, again in conjunction with the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada.

Home cheesemaking showcased in first-ever competition

From left: Ian Treuer, Judge; ​Elis Ziegler, Best Fresh Cheese; Doreen and Pete Sullivan, Best Bloomy Rind Cheese; and Suzanne Lavoie, Best Blue Cheese. Missing John Michael Symmonds, Best Firm Cheese, and Mira Schenkel, Best Washed Rind Cheese and Best of Show. All photos by Jane Churchill. Click on any image for an enlarged view.

From left: Ian Treuer, Judge; ​Elis Ziegler, Best Fresh Cheese; Doreen and Pete Sullivan, Best Bloomy Rind Cheese; and Suzanne Lavoie, Best Blue Cheese. Missing John Michael Symmonds, Best Firm Cheese, and Mira Schenkel, Best Washed Rind Cheese and Best of Show. All photos by Jane Churchill. Click on any image for an enlarged view.

The eye-opener at the inaugural Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards—and the palate-shocker—was the high quality of cheese made in homes across Canada.

In appearance, aroma, texture and flavour, many of the entries were the equal of commercially made cheese. None so more than Clover, the entry that captured Best of Show honours and won the washed-rind category in the competition held in conjunction with The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, on the first weekend of June.

Made by Mira Schenkel of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Clover was the clear favourite of anyone lucky enough to taste it.

Judges Ian Treuer and Stephanie Diamant.

Judges Ian Treuer and Stephanie Diamant.

There were 25 entries from three provinces accepted in five judging categories. The best in each category were judged a second time to determine Best in Show. Award-winning cheesemaker Stephanie Diamant, formerly of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, now at Black River Cheese in Prince Edward Country, and Ian Treuer of Edmonton, longtime home cheesemaker and a popular blogger at Much To Do About Cheese, served as judges.

Category winners with tasting notes by Ian Treuer:

Best Fresh Cheese: Curious Goat Chèvre

—Elis Ziegler of Toronto and Jess Posgate of Milton, Ontario, hope to start a farmstead cheese business one day with this wonderful, light cream cheese, a classic example of what a Chèvre should be. Perfect salt with hints of citrus round out the mild goat flavour.

Best Bloomy Rind Cheese: Camembert Type Cheese

—Doreen and Pete Sullivan of Niagara Falls, Ontario, are retired educators who offer home cheesemaking instruction. They created this bloomy rind gem where a lovely white exterior gives way to a fudgy and creamy paste.

Best Blue Cheese: Feu

—Suzanne Lavoie of Plantagenet, Ontario, was given a Jersey heifer called Yoga for her birthday. Curiosity and love of cheese led her to cheesemaking. Feu, a creamy blue cheese that is perfectly balanced, was a close contender for Best In Show.

Best Firm Cheese: Smoked Caciocavallo

—John Michael Symmonds of Vancouver is a sous chef at West restaurant in Vancouver. He started his love affair with cheese and cheesemaking after a trip to Neil’s Yard Dairy in London, England. His Smoked Caciocavallo has a great balance of smoke and cheese, the smoke serving to accent the local B.C. milk used to make the cheese.

Best Washed Rind Cheese: Clover

—Mira Schenkel of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, was born in Switzerland and immigrated with her husband, Uli, to Canada 18 years ago to farm and to raise a family.   Click here to read more about Mira and her Best of Show cheese.

Entries in the inaugural Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards presented for sampling by the public.

Entries in the inaugural Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards presented for sampling by the public.

Competition co-ordinators were Ian Treuer and Jackie Armet, cheese co-ordinator of the annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival and the biennial Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens.

Fytozimus Bio Tech is Founding Sponsor of the Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards.

The mission of Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards is to provide encouragement to home cheesemakers, to offer expert feedback to all amateur cheesemakers, and to recognize the best in amateur cheesemaking in Canada.

The venue and logistical support were provided by Cheese Lover Productions, producers of the Cheese Festival and Cheese Awards/Le Concours.

The second annual Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards will be held June 4-5, 2016, again in conjunction with the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada.

Chef Lili Sullivan: Grilled-cheese champion at #TGCCF

All hail Chef Lili Sullivan of Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estate Winery!

All hail Chef Lili Sullivan of Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estate Winery!

Chef Lili Sullivan showed three chefs of the male persuasion how its done in the County when she easily defeated them in a grilled-cheese showdown at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Chef Sullivan, who runs Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County, grilled 250 cheese sandwiches in 34 minutes flatwhile the men were barely halfway. Total focus and fast hands not afraid of heat were her secret weapons.

The competition—to see which of the four chefs could grill 250 cheese sandwiches the quickest—was the method Cheese Festival organizers concocted to feed the first 1,000 ticket holders admitted on Sunday, June 7, in a fifth-anniversary celebration called Grilled Cheese Chowdown.

Total focus and fast hands not afraid of heat.

Total focus and fast hands not afraid of heat. Chef photos and graphic by Jane Churchill.

Chef Sullivan grilled her sammies with Black River Cheese cheddar, Stonemill Bakehouse Prince Edward County Rye and Stirling Creamery unsalted butter.

Her prize? A cheque for $1,000 paid on her behalf by the Cheese Festival to the charity of her choice, Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary.

Click here for a Grilled Cheese Chowdown photo album.

While grilled cheese does not make an appearance on the menu at Gazebo Restaurant in Waupoos, Chef Sullivan certainly brought her A-game to the competition.

After studying culinary management at George Brown College, Sullivan went on to Toronto’s Auberge du Pommier, later taking the lead as head chef at Chapeau Bistro and The Rebel House. As an advocate of the slow food movement in Ontario, she spent nine years on the board of directors of Organic Advocates’ Feast of Fields. The organization, which was co-founded by Chef Jamie Kennedy, brings chefs and farmers together to raise awareness of organic eating and its benefits to the environment and to humans. As the movement took hold in bucolic Prince Edward County, the wine region’s magnetism was evident.

A long-time supporter of Countylicious, Sullivan’s cooking draws crowds during the County’s twice annual prix-fixe celebration of local food. Countylicious’ goal is to introduce diners to the bounty of local food that’s still available during the “shoulder seasons” of fall and spring, when most farmer’s markets have wound down for the year or have yet to open up.

Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County.

Gazebo Restaurant at Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County.

“Locally grown is not a trend, but a lifestyle,” quips Sullivan. A truly seasonal eater, her family relocated from Europe in the 1960s, bringing their culinary sensibilities with them. “We only ate strawberries when they were in season. It’s just the way I was raised,” said Sullivan, in a Bay of Quinte Tourism Local Food episode last year. The Grilled Cheese Chowdown was the perfect venue for Sullivan to showcase local tastes, with all cheese provided by the Cheddar & Ale Trail producers of Hastings and Prince Edward counties.

The next Great Canadian Cheese Festival—the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada—takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5, 2016, in Picton, Ontario, at the Fairgrounds. For complete information, visit CheeseFestival.ca.

—Laura Voskamp

By night, Laura Voskamp is a cheese lover and freelance writer. By day, she’s Communications Coordinator for Bay of Quinte Tourism and Bay of Quinte Living.