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


 

Hobby to business—Ian Treuer’s winding road in cheese

Cheese dreams come true for Ian Treuer of Winding Road Artisan Cheese.

Cheese dreams come true for Ian Treuer of Winding Road Artisan Cheese.

After almost a decade of research, learning and teaching about cheese, Ian Treuer is turning his passion into a career.

“I was looking for a hobby,” Treuer said. “I don’t really drink, so beer making was out. I made my first cheese at home eight years ago.”

As of February 15, Treuer is the owner of Winding Road Artisan Cheese in the County of Smoky Lake, Alberta. He purchased the existing Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese business after working there part-time in 2012-2013. It is located 20 minutes from the town of Smoky Lake and 90 minutes from Edmonton.

winding-road-logo

Treuer and his business partner/mentor, who works behind the scenes, have rebranded and changed the product line for the launch of Winding Road Artisan Cheese. Treuer is the cheesemaker, bringing his experience as home and professional cheesemaker, teaching cheese making classes and co-ordinating the first ever Canadian Amateur Cheesemaking Awards at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in 2015.

“I enjoy both the science and the art form,” Treuer said of cheesemaking. “There’s something about starting with a liquid and turning that liquid into a solid. I love working with the curds.”

When Treuer started his road to artisan cheese making, he followed Australian blogger Gavin Weber’s “Little Green Cheese” posts. Weber also creates cheese in his home kitchen. Now Treuer follows many cheesemakers on Instagram. Much To Do About Cheese is Treuer’s own popular blog about home cheesemaking.

Ian Treuer working part-time in the make room at Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese. Three years later, he's co-owner and the cheesemaker.

Ian Treuer working part-time in the make room at Smoky Valley Artisan Cheese. Three years later, he’s co-owner and the cheesemaker.

“I’m inspired on a daily basis,” he said. “I’m a fan of Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese in Woodstock, Ontario. It was a thrill to meet Shep Ysselstein, the cheesemaker, at last year’s Cheese Festival,” he said.

Pending licensing and inspections, Treuer hopes to start making cheese in March. His long-term goal is to obtain federal as well as provincial licenses.

Winding Road cheeses will be made using a thistle enzyme rather than traditional rennet.

“This will help give our cheeses unique flavors and hopefully set us apart from other cheeses produced in Alberta,” said Treuer.

To begin with, Treuer will be the cheesemaker with his business partner helping with administration, marketing and sales. Their initial market will be cheese enthusiasts in Alberta and eventually across Canada. The cheeses will be cow-milk cheeses, but they hope to team up with local goat dairies as well.

The first cheeses ready for sale will be:

  • Queijo Fresco – A traditional Portuguese fresh cheese made using thistle (cardoon) enzyme.
  • Fromage Blanc – A lovely light, spreadable cheese that is a perfect substitute for Chevre, for those who don’t like goat cheese, and cream cheese.
  • Lactic Bloomy Rind Cheeses – A washed rind cheese to be ready two to three months after they start production, and a firm cheese to be ready in six to seven months.
Cardoon.

Cardoon: unique enzyme.

The partners hope to process between 1,000-2,000 litres of milk per week. They have a 300-litre vat, so Treuer said he is focusing on quality over quantity.

This quality Treuer believes will come from the unique enzyme found in the Cardoon plant, allowing him to make unique “Made in Alberta” cheeses. One of his long term goals is to get licensed Federally so he and his partner can help put Alberta in the minds of cheese lovers when people talk about Canadian cheese.

Follow Ian Treuer’s progress on Instagram at @MTDACheese. A company website, http://www.windingroadcheese.com, should be up and running by May.

—By Joanne Fralick

Joanne Fralick is a cheese lover and freelance writer who lives with husband and son in Prince Edward County. She’s also Promotions Specialist for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Savvy Cool Curds: Canadian Cheese-of-the-Month Club

The Cool Curds graphic says it all: Cheese has been delivered at your door.

Savvy Cool Curds graphic says it all: Cheese has been delivered go your door.

Just in time for Christmas, Debbie Trenholm and I are thrilled to announce the first all-Canadian artisan cheese-of-the-month club in Canada: Savvy Cool Curds.

Savvy Cool Curds is our “whey” of strengthening the bond between Canadian cheese producers and consumers, sharing the stories behind the uber-talented, passionate, creative and often eclectic individuals who give so much of themselves for the enjoyment of others through one of the world’s favourite foods.

image001Over close to ten years of working with cheesemakers, distributors, industry associations, cheesemongers, retailers and sommeliers across our nation, never has it been so important to support local. Even in the face of increased competition from imports, Canadian cheesemakers are shining on a world culinary stage, trending big wins in major competitions such as the American Cheese Society Competition and the World Cheese Awards. Proof positive that we don’t have to look farther than our own backyard for a wide variety of tasty artisan cheese that rivals any across the globe.

For $55/month ($60 after December 30), your Savvy Cool Curds subscription brings all this cheesy goodness right to your front door.

Each month, a different Canadian artisan producer will take the spotlight and you’ll receive a package to delight: 4-5 hand-selected delicious cheeses (just less than 1 kg), plus my tasting notes, tips and tricks, along with cheese-laden recipes in our Curd On The Street eZine. Plus, you’ll become a VIP member of the Savvy Company family, giving you VIP invitations and special discounts to Savvy Events featuring Canadian artisan cheese, wines, and craft beer, too!

Our first months feature delicious Canadian artisan cheeses from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, Cow’s Creamery, Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères, and new on the scene Lighthall Vineyards & Dairy.

Canadian artisan cheese brings joy to my life everyday. Cow, sheep, goat and buffalo milk cheeses. Cheddar, aged and sharp, washed rind, soft and delicate, fresh, fruity, blue and bold or rustic and vegetal, they’re all so delicious.

Through Savvy Cool Curds, you, too, can experience the same cheesy pleasure. It’s the gift that keeps on giving (for others or yourself). Sign up today and spread the curd!

                                 —Guest blog by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier, Curator, Savvy Cool Curds, Savvy Company

Celtic Blue Reserve: Best cheese in all the Americas

Best of Show: Celtic Blue Reserve by Glengarry Fine Cheese.

Best of Show: Celtic Blue Reserve by Glengarry Fine Cheese.

Congratulations to Glengarry Fine Cheese​ for winning Best of Show with Celtic Blue Reserve at the biggest cheese competition in the United States!

A soft blue enriched with extra buttercream and aged four months, the cheese won top honours at the annual American Cheese Society Judging & Competition, held this week in Providence, Rhode Island. Some 1,700 cheeses were submitted for judging by cheese producers in North, Central and South America.

Two years ago, Glengarry’s Lankaster Aged was named Best Cheese in the World at an international competition in England.

Cheesemakers extraordinaire: Margaret Peters-Morris (left) and Wilma Klein-Swormink

Cheesemakers extraordinaire: Margaret Peters-Morris (left) and Wilma Klein-Swormink.

Margaret Peters-Morris, owner at Glengarry Fine Cheese, located in Lancaster near Cornwall, Ontario, give full credit to cheesemaker Wilma Klein-Swormink: “This cements 20 years of really hard work from myself and my staff. Through a lot of sweat and tears, we were determined to reach a real pinnacle in our career.”

Klein-Swormink has played a key role in cheesemaking at Glengarry since its inception in 2008 and produces cheese with the dedicated team at Glengarry as plant manager/cheesemaker.

Glengarry Fine Cheese and Glengarry Cheesemaking are located on the Peters family farm which has been in the family since 1967, Peters-Morris explains. “Our ancestral roots hail from the Netherlands and our parents have laid the framework for the family farm to grow and prosper in Lancaster where our parents started their dairy and crop farm which is now in the hands of the next generation who are continuing the dairy tradition and, now, the cheese factory is building its own tradition and reputation with the hard work and dedication that our parents instilled in myself and my brother.”

Margaret shares cheesemaking responsibilities with Wilma who is also the daughter of Dutch immigrants who also came to Eastern Ontario to establish a dairy farm.

A single herd of Brown Swiss cows provides the milk for Celtic Blue.

In addition to being named Best of Show, Celtic Blue Reserve won the blue-cheese category. Canadian cheesemakers won five other categories in the prestigious competition:

Best Gouda: Louis Cyr by Fromagerie Bergeron.

Best Gouda: Louis Cyr by Fromagerie Bergeron.

Margaret Peters-Morris started making cheese commercially under the Glengarry Fine Cheese banner seven years ago, but her involvement in cheesemaking across North America goes back two decades. She’s making a name now as an award-winning cheesemaker in her own right but for many years, Margaret was—and still is—the go-to-source for lactic starters and ripening cultures for cheesemakers from California to Quebec.

RELATED:

 

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.

Pharmacology to fermentation to wine to cheese at Lighthall

Cheesemaker Heather Robertson and three of the first cheeses made at Lighthall Vineyards and Dairy.

Cheesemaker Heather Robertson and three of the first cheeses made at Lighthall Vineyards and Dairy.

How does a pharmacist become Ontario’s first small-batch winemaker/artisan cheesemaker? Lighthall Vineyards and Dairy owner and winemaker Glenn Symons can explain:

He has been making cheese for personal use for the past two years, discovering new recipes and perfecting techniques along with Heather Robertson. She is a longtime friend and a 15-year cheese industry veteran. She has worked in cheese retail and cheesemaking at another cheese producer.

Lighthall Vineyards and Dairy will be one of 40 artisan cheese producers sampling and selling cheese at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 6-7 in Picton, Ontario.

Glen Symons, winemaker and cheesemaker, too.

Glenn Symons, winemaker and cheesemaker.

Symons had been a home winemaker since age 19. He started in pharmacy in 1993, taking over the Lighthall vineyard in 2008. Lighthall produces three still wines, two sparkling, including 2014 Lighthall The Fence Rosé, and and one dessert wine. The Fence the first rosé from its own vineyards. It is 100% Pinot Noir, refermented using the Charmat method.

All the wines are produced in a non-interventionist manner. Non-interventionist winemaking consists of doing as little as possible to the grapes from their growth to their eventual vinification.

Lighthall Vineyards and Dairy endeavours to produce the highest quality wines, primarily from their own grapes, with all employees and family members involved in every step of production, including vineyard work through to final bottling, said Symons. With the tasting bar inside the production area, they aspire to share this enriching experience with every customer who comes to visit.

“It’s much like making home vintage, but on a larger scale,” said Symons. “In some ways the commercial equipment makes the process easier.”

Cheesemaking has proven to be so much fun and the cheese so delicious that Symons and Robertson are sharing their talents with the public. They sell their three sheep’s milk cheeses at a farmers’ market in Kingston and at the winery. They produce three varieties:

  • Runner – a soft ripened cheese, the rind washed in Lighthall Chardonnay,
  • Cocotte – a rustic, earthy unpasteurized blue,
  • Brie de Milford – a soft, surface-ripened cheese with a hint of Prince Edward County terroir flavours.
Glen Symons and Heather Robertson toast they first cheese creations.

Glenn Symons and Heather Robertson toast their first cheese creations with his wine creations.

Symons is planning to expand his facility. For now, he and Robertson make the cheese off-site, but hope to soon have an on-site commercial kitchen. They will keep to the three current varieties, said Symons, producing in quantities sufficient to sell at the winery and in Kingston. They may try some seasonal cheeses or a more aged cheese in the future, said Robertson.

The winery is located at 308 Lighthall Road, Milford, in Prince Edward County, Ontario, and is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on Ontario’s newest artisan cheese producer, please visit Lighthall Vineyards and Dairy’s website www.lighthallvineyards.com

The fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival—the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada—takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, in Picton, Ontario, at the Fairgrounds. For complete information and tickets, please visit CheeseFestival.ca.

—Joanne Fralick

Joanne Fralick is a cheese lover and freelance writer who lives with husband and son in Prince Edward County.

 

Québec dominates Canadian Cheese Grand Prix

fromagerie-fritz-kaiser

Fritz Kaiser, a pioneer in artisan cheesemaking in Québec, was named champion in three categories at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.

Cheese producers in Québec, the birthplace of the artisan cheese movement in Canada 25 years ago ago, dominated the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix when winners were announced last night.

Fritz Kaiser, one of the pioneers in artisan cheesemaking in the 1980s, was named champion in three categories for cheese made by Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser:

  • Washed- or Mixed-Rind Semi-soft Cheese: Raclette
  • Flavoured Cheese with added non-particulate flavourings (except smoked cheese): Griffon Raclette
  • Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavourings: Pepper Raclette.

Fromage-AmourTradition_4coul-e1419193019649Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser is distributed across Canada by Fromages CDA under the Amour & Tradition banner. Fromages CDA, named for its founder and president Daniel Allard, will take over an entire wing at the upcoming Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton, Ontario, representing a total of 10 artisan producers from Québec, including the following Grand Prix champions and finalists:

Altogether, Québec cheese producers won 13 out of 27 categories in the Grand Prix plus the coveted Grand Champion.

Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère also won in three categories:

  • Cream-Enriched Soft Cheese with Bloomy Rind: Laliberté
  • Swiss-Type Cheese: Louis d’Or
  • Blue Cheese: Le Bleu d’Élizabeth.

With Laliberté, Morin was honoured as Grand Champion—the best of the best in Canada.

Other category champions from Québec:

Jan Schalkwijk of Sylvan Star Cheese was set to sweep all gouda categories until . . .

Jan Schalkwijk of Sylvan Star Cheese was set to sweep all Gouda categories until . . .

. . . when along came Adam of Mountainoak Cheese to capture the Extra Old Gouda category.

. . . along came Adam van Bergeijk of Mountainoak Cheese to capture the Extra Old Gouda category.

The biggest winner outside of Quebec was Sylvan Star Cheese which won three categories:

  • Smoked Cheese: Gouda Smoked Natural Cheese, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
  • Gouda (aged 1 to 6 months): Gouda Medium, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB
  • Aged Gouda: Gouda Aged, Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., AB

Other category champions outside Québec:

It doesn't get more Canadian than this: Punjabi immigrants, Amarjit Singh and his wife,  make Mexican-style mozzarella named Oaxacxa at their Ontario creamery (Local Dairy Products) and become Canadian Grand Prix champions.

It doesn’t get more Canadian than this: Punjabi immigrants, Amarjit Singh and his wife, make Mexican-style mozzarella named Oaxacxa at their Ontario creamery (Local Dairy Products) and become Canadian Grand Prix champions.

The Gala of Champions unfolded at Liberty Grand in Toronto, scene of a lavish awards ceremony cum cheese-tasting organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada. DFC has sponsored of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix since launching the biennial competition in 1998 to celebrate the high quality and proud tradition of Canadian cheese made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.

A jury of Canadian food industry experts selected from the Grand Champion and 27 category winners from a record-setting 268 cheese entries submitted by cheesemakers from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia. The submissions were then narrowed down to 81 finalists by the jury in February.

Laliberté will be the featured cheese and Jean Morin the guest of honour at the fifth anniversary Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 6-7 in Picton, Ontario. Many of the Grand Prix winners will also be in the spotlight at what has become the biggest artisan cheese show in Canada representing producers from coast to coast.

The Farm House Natural Cheeses of Agassiz, British Columbia, in quite possibly the prettiest setting for a chesse dairy in Canada, was named Grand Prix champion in tw0 categories.

Farm House Natural Cheeses, in quite possibly the prettiest setting for a cheese dairy in Canada in Agassiz, British Columbia, was named Grand Prix champion in two categories.