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Photo Diary | The Great Canadian Cheese Festival 2014


From cheesemakers, artisans, wineries, breweries and cider makers, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival was a cheese lovers' paradise on the weekend of June 7-8, 2014. Held at the Picton Fairgrounds in Ontario, the festival founded by Georgs Kolesnikov - the true ultimate cheesehead, was the place to be.

With Canada's best cheesemakers from coast to coast all under one roof, this was my second year of attendance and I certainly left with a smile along with a cooler filled with delightful treats. Oh yes, I came prepared and as it was June, the sun was shining. So make sure to bring water, sun lotion, a cooler with ice to store your cheeses for the car ride back home and a strong able body preferably a husband, boyfriend or partner will do. While all these items are essential, patience and maneuvering through the crowds are two aspects that go hand in hand. At TGCCF, folks are sipping on wines, sampling cheeses  and enjoying the sights when all of a sudden they dead stop right in front of you. Anxiety may come into play for some but for others just remain calm and the words 'excuse me' cannot be heard enough times.

With sample glass and tickets in hand, I strategically maneuvered my way around the festival as I pinpointed all must-see vendors on my handy dandy map. Though with two well able bodies with me, this proved to be challenging - plan out the window I guess. Let's not forget to mention that this year, advanced ticket holders received a nifty cooler bag which proved to be quite useful of course.

So what to expect at TGCCF other than cheese? 

You’ll be able to sample and purchase a huge selection of tasty artisanal foods made by a small-batch producers, mainly Canadian. Think charcuterie, chutney, savoury shortbread, bread, pasta, jams, chocolates, confections, meats, sauces, preserves, olive oil, condiments and more.

The fine wines of Prince Edward County, the newest VQA wine region in Canada, are naturally front and centre at the festival, but this year, for the first time, you’ll also be able to taste wine from the Niagara region.

Not a wine kinda person? Some cheese lovers say that a craft beer is a better match for artisan cheese than a fine wine. This year, these craft breweries signed up - Barley Days Brewery, Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, Creemore Springs Brewery, Highlander Brew Company, MacKinnon Brothers Brewing and The Publican House Brewery.

Want a lunch break even though you've been grouching on cheeses all day? This year, mobile food vendors were present - Urban Herb on the Curb, Picnic PEC, Seed to Sausage along with Pizza Via. From pizza to gourmet grilled sandwiches, poutine, sausages and much more, you won’t go away hungry.

But perhaps the most anticipated events at the festival were the the Tutored Tastings, Party with Makers and Mongers and Gastronomy with Jamie Kennedy. Though I did not attend, I followed closely along on Instagram and immediately regretted not buying tickets.

TGCCF is an event like no other in Canada as its main objective is to promote Canadian cheese and cheesemakers and the consumption of Canadian artisan and farmstead cheese. Meeting those faces of farmers and producers is a splendid experience and shows the true dedication that it takes to make their cheeses unique. Lastly, gathering in the beautiful Prince Edward County should have you convinced to attend the festival as it is known as the "Gastronomic Capital of Ontario" by The Globe and Mail.

A few highlights from the festival:

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Major Craig's display with Back Forty Artisan Cheese}

Le Baluchon, a semi-firm cheese ripened for 2 months from Fromagerie FX Pichet won Cheese of the Year as well as Best Semi-Soft Cheese and Best Organic Cheese. It has a sweet farmer aromas with a hazelnut flavour and an aftertaste of sweet clover

Let's go Quebec!

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Fromagerie FX Pichet}

Le Champlain, a soft cheese ripened for 45 days. It has a sweet taste of cream and butter, followed by a flavour of black olives.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Fromagerie FX Pichet}

Mariposa Dairy from Lindsay won Best Goat’s Milk Cheese and Best Sheep’s Milk Cheese.

My favourite would have to be their Apple and Cinnamon Chèvre - "reminiscent of your grandma’s homemade apple pie." It is an apple spread that is mixed into their fresh creamy goat cheese. Yummy!  Each log is hand coated with more apples, mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg to make our memorable creation. They use whole apple pieces rather than an apple spread to give it the look of grandma’s apple pie. The flavour is light and fresh for anytime of the year. It is stunning alone sliced as disks on a cheese board, crumbled on salad or baked inside croissant dough for breakfast or snack.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Mariposa Dairy}

A tad hot for my liking, Nossa Cucina's Chili Sauce had sweet hints and paired well with a creamy cheese such as a brie. It is made with chili peppers, roasted red peppers & sun dried tomatoes. If you want to be adventurous and stray away from pairing with cheeses, it can be used as a glaze for oven roasted chicken wings or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls. This hot and sweet sauce is very versatile and can be used as a marinade or as a condiment.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Nossa Cucina}

I've been hearing a lot of chatter about Three Dog Winery and after sampling their Vidal/Riesling blend, gosh was I over the moon. Though not available in LCBO yet, they do offer free shipping for a minimum of six bottles or pop by their winery.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Three Dog Winery}

Back Forty Artisan Cheese located in the Lanark Highlands of Ontario are all about handcrafted raw ewe's milk and had the pleasure of sampling it again at Chez Piggy as part of their summer menu cheese platter. 

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Back Forty Artisan Cheese}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Back Forty Artisan Cheese}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Back Forty Artisan Cheese}

An homage to Canadian comedic icon by Beau's.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Beau's All Natural Brewing Co.}

Being the first winery I ever visited in Prince Edward County years back, I just had to stop by the Waupoos Winery Estate table and say hi to Honeysuckle - the Vidal & Seyval Blanc blend.  

It has aromas of peach, yellow plum and orange zest that are complimented by soft floral notes. The fruit aromas carry through to the palate with a soft sweetness and crisp finish. Best on its own or with spicy dishes. Perhaps a dish with the Nossa Cucina's Chili Sauce

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Waupoos Winery}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Blyth Farm Cheese}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{That Dutchman's Farm}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Rosehall Run Winery}

Now this sounds like my kind of day:

Head to the Grange of Prince Edward Vineyard and Estate Winery for a day trip this summer for their locally focused picnics on the farm. Get a basket, blanket, a bottle of wine and lots of local and homemade treats and find the perfect spot overlooking the vineyards to enjoy the afternoon. 


The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Grange of Prince Edward Vineyard and Estate Winery}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Grange of Prince Edward Vineyard and Estate Winery}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Savvy Chef | Mustards}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Findlay Foods}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Seed to Sausage}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Plaisirs Gourmets}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Fromages l'Ile-aux-Grues}

Primarily known for their mozzarella di bufala, scamorza and ricotta, the Ontario Water Buffalo Company has done wonders with its products.

 The mozzarella di bufala - the most popular, is very moist and soft. This pure white cheese is best enjoyed within the first 24 hours of processing. One of the most popular ways to serve it is as part of the famous Caprese Salad.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Albert's Leap}

Water buffalo meat is a delicious alternative to beef, similar tasting, and a very healthy food choice. The water buffalo are naturally raised, making the meat flavourful and tender.

Be sure to mark your calendar for the Water Buffalo Food Festival in Stirling-Rawdon on September 6th!

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Ontario Water Buffalo}

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Hot Sauce Company}

The Bean Counter Cafe served up espresso (picture below) and key lime cheesecakes that were both refreshing and bite size!

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
{Bean Counter Cafe}

Until the next time on June 6-7, 2015.

To purchase tickets and view more information: www.cheesefestival.ca

For more pictures: click here

All images were taken with a Nikon D3100.
Rosalyn Gambhir
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[name=Rosalyn Gambhir] [img=http://i1139.photobucket.com/albums/n543/Rosalyn_Gambhir/Rosalyn_1.jpg] [description=A locavore at heart, Rosalyn Gambhir is the gal behind the blog The Staycationer. Whether its exploring the local food scene with her foodie partner-in-crime or taking in the view from her favourite cafe, Rosalyn is always a tourist, looking for the next exciting adventure. The Staycationer allows you to rediscover hidden gems in your very own backyard.] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/thestaycationer) (twitter=https://twitter.com/rosalyngambhir) (instagram=https://www.instagram.com/rosalyngambhir/)

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