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

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.

Fuoco leads Canadian charge at Worlds

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Deliciously creamy Fuoco made with water-buffalo milk.

Who says Canadian cheese cannot compete on the world stage?

Jason Fuoco, a young Quebec cheesemaker who began producing cheese three years ago, was a major winner at the 2015 World Cheese Awards last weekend. His eponymous Fuoco, a soft washed-rind cheese made with water-buffalo milk, was named Best Canadian Cheese and honoured as one of the top 15 cheeses in the world.

Three Canadian cheeses were among the 62 which attained Super Gold recognition. They are:

Washed rind cheese

Farmhouse cheddar

  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. Cows Creamery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Hard cheese produced on small farm or dairy

“Fuoco displays beautiful balance between the paste and rind, soft creamy rich paste that runs through right to the finish, very lactic milk flavour with strong barnyard scent, wonderful with crusty bread. Would not pass up on this cheese! “

—Jackie Armet, Cheese Co-ordinator, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Two Canadian producers, Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser in Québec and Quality Cheese in Ontario, each returned home with four medals apiece.

Eight Canadian producers won gold medals:

Semi-hard cheese produced on small farm or dairy

Cow’s milk blue cheese

Cheese made with the milk of more than one animal

Washed rind cheese

Washed rind cheese

Ricotta

Ricotta

Semi-hard cow’s milk cheese

avonlea-clothbound-cheddar_sm

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar made on Prince Edward Island.

Ten Canadian producers won silver medals:

Semi-hard cow’s milk cheese

Soft goat’s milk cheese

Soft ewe’s milk cheese

Extra mature creamery cheddar

Mozzarella, fresh, cow’s milk in ball

Brie made from pasteurized milk

Washed rind cheese

Cheese made with the milk of more than one animal

Hard cheese produced on small farm or dairy

Soft or unpressed cow’s milk cheese with sweet savoury additives

alfred

Alfred le Fermier made by Fromagerie La Station.

Nine Canadian producers won bronze medals:

Creamery cheddar

Semi-hard cow’s milk cheese

Soft goat’s milk cheese

Mature traditional cheddar

Soft or unpressed cow’s milk cheese

Washed rind cheese

Washed rind cheese

Soft cow’s milk cheese

Soft or unpressed cow’s milk cheese with sweet savoury additives

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Nick Tsioros of Olympic Cheese, Toronto, was the sole Canadian judge on the jury.

Le Gruyere AOP Premier Cru made by Switzerland’s Cremo and Von Muhlnen was named Best Cheese in the World.

The biggest cheese competition in Canada, Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens returns in 2016 with the Awards Ceremony and Tasting Gala taking place in Montreal in mid-April.

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How many Cheese Grand Prix finalists have you tasted?

canadian-cheese-grand-prix_halfpagewidthThe 81 finalists in the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix have been announced. The prestigious biennial competition sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada saw 268 cheeses submitted in 27 categories.

The winners will be announced April 22 at a Gala of Champions in Toronto.

Quebec, home to the majority of Canada’s cheese producers, dominates the list of 81 finalists with 31 cheeses. Naturally, some of the larger producers have the most finalists: Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, 7 finalists, Sylvan Star Cheese, 6, and Natural Pastures Cheese Company and Fromagerie du Presbytère, 5.

The competition, open to cheese made exclusively with Canadian cow’s milk, first started in 1998 to promote achievement and innovation in cheesemaking and to spotlight the quality of Canadian milk.

Here are the 2015 finalists:category 1 fresh ch#196C2DE

Fresh Cheese

category 2 fresh pa#196C2EAFresh Pasta Filata

category 3 cheese w#196C2E9Fresh Cheese with grilling properties

category 4 soft che#196C307Soft Cheese with bloomy rind

category 5 soft che#196C2F8Cream-enriched Soft Cheese with bloomy rind

category 6 semi-sof#196C2EFSemi-soft Cheese

category 7 soft wit#196C2F0Washed- or Mixed-Rind Soft Cheese

category 8 semi-sof#196C305Washed- or Mixed-Rind Semi-soft Cheese

category 9 firm che#196C2F2Washed- or Mixed-Rind Firm Cheese

category 10 firm in#196C2DBFirm Cheese (except Cheddar and Gouda)

category 11 swiss 1#196C2ECSwiss-type Cheese

category 12 mozzare#196C2FFMozzarella (Ball, Brick or Cylinder) or Pasta Filata

category 13 ripened#196C2FBBrine-ripened Cheese

category 14 gouda 1#196C302Gouda (aged 1 to 6 months)

category 16 gouda 9#196C308Aged Gouda

category 17 extra g#196C2F9Extra Aged Gouda

category 18 blue ch#196C2E7Blue Cheese

category 19 flavour#196C2E4Flavoured Cheese with added non-particulate flavourings (except smoked cheese)

category 20 smoked #196C313Smoked Cheese

category 21 flavour#196C2F5Flavoured Cheese with added particulate solids and flavourings

category 20 smoked #196C313Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months)

category 23 medium #196C2F6Medium Cheddar (aged 4 to 9 months)

category 24 cheddar#196C2F3Old Cheddar (aged from 9 months to a year)

category 25 cheddar#196C2FCAged Cheddar (1 to 3 years)

category 26 cheddar#196C304Aged Cheddar (more than 3 years)

category 27 fromage#196C2DDFarmhouse Cheese

category 28 fromage#196C301Organic Cheese

Typically, many of the finalists and winners are available for sampling and purchase at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, this year taking place June 6-7 at Picton Fairgrounds in the heart of Ontario’s Prince Edward County, just south of Belleville in Bay of Quinte Region, near spectacular Sandbanks Provincial Park.

 

A Very Dairy Christmas to one and all!

From our house to yours, all the best of the holidays! May much cheese be with you in 2015!

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Baluchon: A love story

Childhood sweethearts Michel Pichet and Marie-Claude Harvey.

Childhood sweethearts Michel Pichet and Marie-Claude Harvey of award-winning Fromagerie F.X. Pichet. (Click on any image in the blog for an enlarged view.)

Baluchon is the story of a love lost and, two decades later, found again.

Marie-Claude Harvey and Michel Pichet were childhood sweethearts in the village of Champlain, Québec, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River near Québec City. But by the time they graduated from high school, they had drifted apart. She found a husband, he found a wife, they both had families before their marriages ended.

Twenty years later they met again. He owned an organic dairy farm. She wanted to make cheese. Obviously, their love was still there, now fired by a common passion for dairy farming and cheesemaking. Thus, they married and 10 years ago, Fromagerie F.X. Pichet came to be in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec. Baluchon was their first-born cheese.

Baluchon: Canadian Cheese of the Year.

Le Baluchon: Canadian Cheese of the Year.

The name in French refers to the small bundle of belongings travelers carried before the advent of mass transportation. Such a traveler, as a mouse character called Hapi, appears on all packaging for cheeses produced at the fromagerie on the 260-acre farm called La Ferme F.X. Pichet, after Michel’s father.

Michel and Marie-Claude are devoted to organic farming and cheesemaking. In Québec, the certification process is rigorous, but they cannot see proceeding otherwise. Michel says: “It’s our way of life.”

Their way of life lead them to dominate the 2014 Canadian Cheese Awards/Le Concours des fromages fins canadiens with Baluchon being named Canadian Cheese of the Year in addition to Best Organic Cheese and Best Semi-Soft Cheese.

In Sélection Caseus 2014, the prestigious competition for Québec cheese, Baluchon was awarded Prix du Public in the semi-soft category. Even five years ago, in the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, Baluchon was declared best organize cheese.

Even as Baluchon begins to curdle, already the sweet dairy taste is there.

Even as Baluchon begins to curdle, already the sweet dairy taste is there.

Baluchon is exquisite, exemplifying the best in an organic, semi-soft cheese with a washed rind. It is made with thermized cow’s milk and ripened for a minimum of two months. In Québec, thermized milk—heated to 60 degrees Celsius for 15 seconds—is considered raw milk.

Baluchon is a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth cheese that tastes of hazelnut, cream, butter and leaves a slight clover aftertaste, so you really do taste the terroir.

Tour the terroir at La Ferme F.X. Pichet and meet Michel Pichet and his cows in a pictorial we posted on Facebook after a visit in August.

The compact cheese plant is located on the farm in Champlain steps from the family home. Affinage rooms and the retail store are 20 kilometres away in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade.

Now is the time.

Fromagerie F.X. Pichet in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec.

When they were getting started more than a decade ago, Marie-Claude and Michel consulted André Fouillet, a cheese expert from France, who recommended they use a cheesemaking process he developed when working with Oka, the Canadian classic. Fouillet consulted with a number of Québec fromageries, witness the many semi-soft, washed-rind cheeses produced in the region. Jonathan Portelance, a collaborator at the time, was inspired by the fruity aroma and floral taste of the French Comté.

“But Balachon is unique,” says Marie-Claude, “because of our milk and our way of making cheese. Right from the start, we wanted to use non-pasteurized milk—for the taste. Good cheese starts with good milk. We prefer to use pure, organic milk because the integrity of milk is important to us. With conventional milk, you just don’t know what’s all in the milk.”

An organic milk producer and cheesemaker (who, incidentally, works at giant Saputo) suggested the name Baluchon as the cheese could be served on tables around the world. She still supplies some milk and remains a good friend.

Michel Pichet's talents as an artist are visible at the fromagerie.

Michel Pichet’s talents as an artist are visible at the fromagerie.

Why has Baluchon been so successful?

“Because of the distinctive aroma and taste that’s stems from a certain synergy,” says Marie-Claude. “Our milk comes from a mix of breeds, Holsteins, Swiss Browns and the Canadienne. In our pastures, we have a mix of five or six different plants, grasses, clover, sweat peas and so on. In the plant, we have a mix of talented people. All that ‘team work’ comes together in le Baluchon.”

Cheesemaker Remi Gélinas starts a new batch of Baluchon.

Cheesemaker Remi Gélinas starts a new batch of Baluchon.

Cheesemaker Remi Gélinas is a key member of the team. He’s been with the fromagerie less than two years but has 25 years of experience in cheese and milk production.

Click here for a pictorial of cheesemaking at Fromagerie F.X. Pichet.

What pairs well with Baluchon?

“Any tasty wine, red or white, that has a lot of aroma,” Marie-Claude says, expressing a preference for shiraz. In beer, she suggests a good amber or red.

Where is Baluchon available outside of Québec?

Baluchon now is widely available in cheese shops and Loblaws stores, especially since it was named Cheese of the Year in the spring. Baluchon and F.X. Pichet’s other cheeses are distributed by Fromages CDA which represents members of the Québec Artisan Cheese Guild. Telephone 1-866-448-7997 or 514-648-7997, email info@fromagescda.com.

Now is the time

Marie-Claude Harvey and Michel Pichet: poster children for organic dairy farming and cheesemaking in Québec.

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

Baluchon: Give it as a tasty gift for Christmas

Baluchon is exquisite, exemplifying the best in an organic, semi-soft cheese with a washed rind.

Baluchon is exquisite, exemplifying the best in an organic, semi-soft cheese with a washed rind.

Most years, we make cheese at home to give as Christmas gifts. This year, we are giving Baluchon, Canadian Cheese of the Year.

It’s a simple way to make a cheese lover happy, or to introduce a non-believer to Canadian artisan cheese.

  • Buy the Baluchon.
  • Buy a small slate or board.
  • Wrap Baluchon in plastic wrap so the cheese visible, add a handful of walnuts and apricots, and possibly a Christmas decoration.
  • Wrap in cellophane.
  • Attach a bright ribbon.
  • If your budget permits, add a cheese knife.

To really impress, add a wine or beer.

“Any tasty wine, red or white, that has a lot of aroma,” recommends Marie-Claude Harvey of Fromagerie F.X. Pichet, expressing a personal preference for shiraz. In beer, she suggests a good amber or red.

Voila! A great Christmas gift—easy peasy—and it be tasty.

Voila! A great Christmas gift—easy peasy and it be tasty.

Baluchon now is widely available in cheese shops and Loblaws stores. Baluchon and F.X. Pichet’s other cheeses are distributed by Fromages CDA of Montréal which represents members of the Québec Artisan Cheese Guild. Telephone 1-866-448-7997 or 514-648-7997, email info@fromagescda.com.