Give the gift of Cheese Festival tickets!

Cheese lovers in your life will appreciate a holiday gift of tickets to the 2015 Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

We will send you a personalized gift certificate for the ticket recipient, upon receipt of your ticket order. The certificate will be a PDF that you can forward by e-mail or print for giving in person with the gift tickets. If you prefer, we can e-mail, on your behalf, holiday greetings to the recipient with the gift tickets.

Tickets are $50 plus HST each. Admission includes 10 tasting tickets, glass for sampling wine, beer and cider, access to more than 125 exhibitors and vendors, cheese seminars and dairy farm, and an insulated Festival tote bag for your purchases. Rush seating for seminars and presentations. FREE parking.

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

The fifth anniversary Cheese Festival takes place June 6-7, 2015, at Picton Fairgrounds in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, just south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region.

For more information, visit CheeseFestival.ca or telephone 1-866-865-2628 toll-free.

Click here to receive news about next year’s Festival and special offers.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario and our Diamond Sponsor, Dairy Farmers of Canada.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, cheese-head-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca is founder and director of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Biggest cheese show in Canada is this weekend!

sunshineThe weather outlook for the fourth annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival could not be better: Sunny skies with temps in the mid-20s.

Skip the line-up at the entrance and save 20% by purchasing tickets online in advance.

Don’t drive? Don’t want to drive? Here’s the solution:

CULINARY ADVENTURE COMPANY — TORONTO
Join a guided bus tour from Toronto to the Cheese Festival with tastings at two wineries, gourmet lunch and Grab & Go Breakfast at CHEESEWERKS. Click for more info.

SAVVY COMPANY BUS TRIP – OTTAWA AND KINGSTON PICK-UPS
Enjoy a roundtrip coach package with Savvy Company leaving from Ottawa with pick-ups in Kingston. After an afternoon at the Cheese Festival, you will tour the back roads of Prince Edward County to visit 2 wineries, then back to the Crystal Palace for a fun dinner at the all-new Makers+Mongers BBQ. Click here for tickets and more info.

Two cheese tours to tempt your palate

Lori Smith with one of her 200 charges at the Ontario Water Buffalo Company in Stirling.

Lori Smith with one of her 200 charges at the Ontario Water Buffalo Company in Stirling.

For cheese lovers interested in an extra day of cheese-learning and cheese-tasting, a second itinerary has been added to the guided cheese tours offered on the Friday before the third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

The new Quinte Cheese Tour will visit two award-winning cheese producers, Empire Cheese and Maple Dale Cheese, with a lunch stop and tour of Ontario Water Buffalo Company, a pioneering water-buffalo dairy farm. A craft brewery, Church-Key Brewing, and a chocolate maker are also on the itinerary.

The popular County Cheese Tour continues, with stops at Black River Cheese, in operation since 1901, and the new County Cheese Company where cheesemaking will start this summer. Fifth Town Artisan Cheese will be added, if it has re-opened by May 31.

The third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 1-2, in Crystal Palace on the Prince Edward Fairgrounds in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County in Ontario’s Bay of Quinte Region. Cheese tours and a class on cooking with artisan cheese are offered on Friday, May 31.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is a multi-faceted event that annually attracts thousands of consumers to meet, learn, taste and buy the best in artisan cheese and fine foods and sample fine wine, craft beer and crisp cider.

Dairy Farmers of Canada is the lead sponsor, presenting seminars throughout the day in the All You Need Is Cheese® Annex.

Bay of Quinte Region is a major sponsor. It will host a guided tasting of Quinte cheeses paired with local wines and beers to help promote the Bay of Quinte Cheese Route.

Taste and buy artisan and farmstead cheese at the biggest cheese show in Canada.

Taste and buy artisan and farmstead cheese at the biggest cheese show in Canada.

The Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair features a Dairy Farm display for the enjoyment of young and old. Also on the program are Tutored Tastings where experts offer guidance on a variety of cheese topics. At From the Farm Cooking School, Cynthia Peters leads a hands-on class in cooking with artisan cheese.

Outstanding wine and-dine-with-cheese experiences are offered on Saturday evening. Winners of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix are on the menu as the cheese course at Gastronomy on the Farm with Jamie Kennedy. Cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen is paired with Chef Michael Hoy for Wine & Dine at Huff Estates Winery. Additional chef-driven events are still to be announced.

Advance ticket sales are under way at www.cheesefestival.ca.

Last year, close to 100 exhibitors and vendors and more than 3,000 consumers made the event the biggest cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast. One-third of the participating cheese producers come from Québec, the leading artisan cheese region in Canada.

Cheese lovers love the County as Festival venue

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Cheese lovers have expressed strong support for Prince Edward County as the ideal venue for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

  • In a January survey, 96% of attendees at the 2012 event said they would return to Picton for another Cheese Festival, while 90% of those who have never attended, said they would attend in the future.
  • Meanwhile, only 50% would attend a Cheese Festival in Toronto, 35% in Ottawa, and 28% in Montreal.

“Needless to say, there is no change in our commitment to produce Canada’s only annual celebration of artisan cheese in an appealing small-town, out-in-the-country setting that has been the Festival’s home since its inception,” says Georgs Kolesnikovs, event founder and director.

The third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival will take place June 1-2 in Crystal Palace on the Prince Edward Fairgrounds in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario. Cheese tours and a cooking class will be offered on Friday, May 31.

Earlybird ticket sales are under way at at www.cheesefestival.ca.

Prince Edward County is an appealing destination for cheese and food lovers for many reasons,” says Kolesnikovs. “The awesome array of wineries is a huge draw. The range of artisan food producers is quite impressive for such a small region.

“Soon, the County will again be a significant force in artisan cheesemaking. Award-winning Fifth Town Artisan Cheese will resume production later this year under new ownership, and a newcomer, County Cheese Company, aims to start production this summer. Of course, Black River Cheese has been in business in the County since 1901.”

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is a multi-faceted, two-day event that annually attracts thousands of consumers to meet, learn, taste and buy the best in artisan cheese and fine foods and sample fine wine, craft beer and crisp cider. Dairy Farmers of Canada is the lead sponsor, presenting seminars throughout the day in the All You Need Is Cheese® Annex.

The Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair features a Dairy Farm display for the enjoyment of young and old. Also on the program are Tutored Tastings where experts offer guidance on a variety of cheese topics.

The Cheese Festival also features a special Saturday evening social functions. Winners of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix are on the menu as the cheese course at Gastronomy on the Farm with Jamie Kennedy.

Last year, close to 100 exhibitors and vendors and more than 3,000 consumers made the event the largest cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast. One-third of the participating cheese producers come from Québec.

THE GREAT CANADIAN CHEESE FESTIVAL

Wow! Pulled pork sauced with cheddar fondue

A poached Asian pear, stuffed with pulled pork and topped with two-year-old Black River cheddar fondue was one of the taste treats at the Taste: Community Grown event in Prince Edward County.

It was created and offered by Amelia’s at The Waring House Restaurant, Inn, Conference Center, Spa & Cookery School, with pears supplied by Kendelson Orchards.

Black River Cheese was one of three cheese vendors at Taste, the annual celebration of local foods. Also participating were Empire Cheese & Butter and newcomer County Cheese.

Sail right to the door of County Cheese Company

Our lunch after docking at the County Cheese Company in Waupoos: Marvelous Magie de Ganaraska (right) and Voyageur, a strong blue with a unique hint of sweetness. Click on any image for an enlarged view.

If you sailed to Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, you could visit Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent. On the west coast, you could call at Salt Spring Island in the Strait of Georgia and visit Salt Spring Island Cheese. But you’d have to hike or cab to get to the cheese.

In Ontario, you can step off the boat and in less that one minute be inside the County Cheese Company to taste and purchase artisan cheese. Which is what we did this afternoon while on a boating holiday around Prince Edward County.

One-month-old County Cheese Company is based in Waupoos Marina just down the road from County Cider Company and Waupoos Estate Winery.

John Thomson of KendalVale Cheese and now also the County Cheese Company at Waupoos Marina in Prince Edward County.

A Canadian filmmaker turned cheese entrepreneur, John Thomson, opened a retail store adjacent to the Blue Moose Café in the marina on the Civic Holiday weekend. By the spring of 2013, Thomson plans to be producing sheep’s milk cheese in the Old Waupoos Canning Factory building on the marina property.

Thomson isn’t exactly a newcomer to cheese. He started KendalVale Cheese about a year ago. He transports Ontario sheep’s milk to Quebec where it’s turned into fine cheese at La Moutonnière, an established award-winning fromagerie operated by Lucille Giroux and Alastair Mackenzie in the village of Sainte-Hélène-de-Chester.

The KendalVale cheeses—Magie de Ganaraska, Commanda, Voyageur and Champlain—have quickly become favorites with cheese lovers in Ontario and chefs such as Jamie Kennedy. Thomson has set up his own distribution system and also represents the award-winning cheeses of La Moutonnière such as Bleu de La Moutonnière, Fleurs des Monts and Sein d’Hélène.

The County Cheese Company shares a building with Blue Moose Café steps from the docks at Waupoos Marina. County Cheese will operate the café during the fall, winter and spring.

Following the closing of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese early this year. Thomson saw an opportunity to develop a cheese production facility in Prince Edward County, often called the hottest new culinary destination in Ontario. He did consider making a bid for Fifth Town assets but decided to pursue his own direction with the support of Prince Edward/Lennox & Addington Community Futures Development Corporation (PELA CFDC)* and others, including Linda Bell, owner of Waupoos Marina.

By boat or other means, Waupoos is about to become a must-stop on any visit to Prince Edward County.

Black River Cheese Company, which has been producing cheddar in the County since 1901, is a short distance from Waupoos. There is a small dock at the rear of the plant on Black River but we’re not certain it can be reached by anything but a small boat. We’ll have a report on that in a few days.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs, aboard the power yacht At Last!

* PELA CFDC is a community-based, not-for-profit corporation whose objective is to encourage local entrepreneurship and economic development. PELA CFDC specializes in providing business loans, grants, and training.

Return to Barley Days: One-of-a-kind brews in the County

Brewmaster Alex Nichols begins the process of barrel-aging beer. Photo: Great Canadian Beer Blog

There is nothing like drinking maple syrup with your dinner—in a beer, that is. 

Barley Days Brewery in Prince Edward County specializes in crafting seasonal beers for residents to enjoy with festivities. With spring’s arrival, the sap begins to flow and Barley Days offers customers a Sugar Shack Ale, brewed with maple syrup from nearby Fosterholm Farm.

Judging by the reaction from customers on the brewery’s Facebook page, the season-specific beers are a huge hit. Stocks of the Sugar Shack Ale sold quickly at the annual Maple in the County event and the brewery has almost sold out its entire 2011 batch.

The company also offers a Yuletide beer made with County cherries, a harvest ale made with local wheat, a dark ale, a Loyalist summer ale and a May bock for consumers who still desire a craft beer once the maple syrup has dried up.

Founded by Christopher and Norah Rogers, Barley Days offers local residents, tourists and LCBOs with a great-buy local option. Supported by sales driver Donna Sauvé and brewmaster Alex Nichols, the local business have created a winning recipe for success.

Donna Sauvé on tap at Barley Days Brewery.

Situated at an old dairy farmhouse outside Picton, Barley Days has based its label and brewing on historical roots.  In the 19th century, barley and hops were the cash crops of the County.  The American demand for these ingredients was high and the settlers catered to the demand. Barley Days celebrates these boom years by reaching back to the days when barley enabled the County to flourish. With the recent winery expansions, the County is once again reliving the Barley Days.

As a craft brewery, Barley Days uses local, high-quality ingredients to cut down on shipping costs; yet, this allows the brewery to offer their seasonal, one-of-a-kind brews.

The brewery continues the local theme by using paintings by the famous artist, Manly MacDonald.  Four different bottles use MacDonald’s paintings, which were famous for their depictions of area landscapes.

When MacDonald’s images cannot be used for bottles, Barley Days employs local artists, such as Aidan Haley, whose work adorns the bottle of the 2011 Sugar Shack Ale. Each year the brewery showcases these local talents when the various seasonal beers arrive in stores.

BARLEY DAYS BREWS

  • Wind and Sail Dark Ale 5% alc./vol: A dark, heavy ale based upon a nutty and chocOlate flavour is a nice addition to a hot winter meal. Availability: Year-Round
  • Harvest Gold Pale Ale 4.8% alc./vol: A golden, light ale spiced with apple and peach. Availability: Year-Round
  • Loyalist Lager 4.5% alc./vol: A smooth, easy-to-drink lager that is perfect for the hot summer days. Availability: Summer
  • Yuletide Cherry Porter 5.5% alc./vol:  An unfiltered, cherry red porter that is a perfect supplement with turkey and cranberries. Availability: Winter
  • Working Man’s Stout 4.5% alc./vol: A heavy, roasted flavour is a perfect way to reward a hard worker. Availability: Winter-Spring
  • Sugar Shack Ale 5.5% alc./vol:  The famous County treat is the strongest brew by Barley Days and goes well with pancakes or any spring treats. Availability: Spring

BARLEY DAYS BREWERY

13730 Loyalist Parkway (Highway 33), Picton, Ontario   Telephone 613.476.PINT (7468)

The beer is available on tap at nearby Waring House (same proprietors) which offers tourists and locals a chance to taste the seasonal beers along with a meal. Consumers can also find the brew at many Quinte area LCBOs, although selection may be limited to the year-round brews.

Barley Days Brewery will be a Featured Craft Brewer at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival taking place June 4-5 at Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest-growing culinary destination and Canada’s newest VQA wine region. Barley Days beers will be available for tasting at the All-Day Cheese-Tasting Seminar Program and Cooks & Curds Cheese Gala on Saturday and during Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair on Sunday.

—Troy Stewart

Troy Stewart, a recent graduate of the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College looking for a career in PR, maintains a blog called PR with Troy. He likes his cheese and he likes his beer.