Are you whey keen on cheese? With the largest cheese festival in Canada coming up this weekend (June 7 & 8), we want to help make your visit to The Great Canadian Cheese Festival the best experience yet. You will discover that Canadian cheese is so MUCH more than just cheddar! It will be a fun day meeting & learning from the dynamic people who put their heart & soul into crafting the cheeses. And new this year is a post-fest party Makers+Mongers that we are proudly sponsoring. It will be a fun (and delicious) way to unwind after the festival and mix & mingle with those involved in the cheese biz.
Tip #1 – How to Get There?
Hop on the Savvy Bus bound for The County stopping in at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival for the afternoon, then onwards to visit 2 wineries, then have dinner under the stars at the Makers+Mongers event. Sit back & relax. Let our Savvy Sommeliers take care of all of the details of this marvelous day trip. Pick up points in Ottawa (downtown & west end) as well as Brockville & Kingston. Only 6 spots left. Book your spot on the Bus >>
Tip #2 – Make your ‘Must Try’ list
While you may be blown away with the numbers of different cheeses on display at Cheese Festival, the obvious question is: Where to Start?
Here the list of cheese makers by province to help you map out your trip around the festival.
Tip #3 – How to taste a cheese
It’s certainly not rocket science, yet here is how the pros do it – as easy as Eyes, Nose & Mouth:
EYES – Admire the rind (outside) & paste (inside), the color & texture
NOSE –Take a big sniff – what does the aroma remind you of…A barn? fruit? nuts? earth?
MOUTH –Take a nibble – Do it taste like mushrooms? sour milk? grass? Saltiness? Herbs? Bitterness?
REPEAT & ENJOY of course…
Tip #4 – Be on the look out for these cheeses!
There will be over 200 cheeses…yes you read that right 200! Be forewarned and don’t try to sample them all. In addition to the recent award winners from the All Canadian Cheese Awards, here some to be sure to try at either the Cheese Festival or make sure to seek them out at your local cheese store.
Best of Show: 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Grand Champion
2013 American Cheese Society Category Winner.
Ricotta in Italian means re-cooked. This cheese is made from the leftover whey after making other cheese. This Ricotta reigned supreme, winning against over 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first ever for both an Ontario cheese, & fresh category cheese.
My Notes: Fresh, creamy, melt in your mouth. Very light, but rich & very versatile as a simple cheese to eat with a variety of garnishes/ condiments or used in cooking.
Inspired by their Swiss & French cultures, the resulting products are a marriage made in heaven & leaving their mark in Quebec. Cheeses are made from goats raised on the farm, in true “fermier” fashion.
My Notes: This soft-surface-ripened goat’s milk cheese has a unique pyramid shape, with a lovely, natural, slightly wrinkled, soft moldy rind, that on occasion displays spots of blue. The paste is creamy, velvety, firm towards the center & slightly softer closer to the rind. It has a fresh aroma, with a light acidity.
Organic farming techniques contribute to the aromas & flavors in their cheeses, as cows feed from forage fields of aromatic plants & flowers & care is taken to preserve flavors through the milking, handling & cheesemaking processes. One of the only producers of raw milk cheeses aged less than 60 days in Canada.
My Notes: Soft, lactic, surface ripened cow milk cheese. A rare find. The skin-like rind reminds Vanessa of intricate ivory lace, while the dense interior has the texture of a soft cream sandwich or cheesecake. Note pronounced flavors & aromas of fresh sweet milk & grass that linger and linger. Finger licking good!
Famous among Quebec cheeses, having won more awards over the years than one can keep track of. Simon Pierre, master cheese maker started off helping out & never left the business! Named as a tribute to his grandfather Alfred Bolduc who started the business 80 years earlier – as shown in the beautiful imprint inset into the rind of the cheese.
My Notes: A true, rustic, organic, raw cow’s milk farmstead cheese made in small batches, pressed & cooked, washed/turned by hand. It has a European style, but with local terroir, as a result of choosing closely the hay from their local Estrie region (terroir!). Note heavy woodsy, herbal & floral aromas, with layers of milky, grassy & buttery complexity on the palette, more pronounced with age.
Named for a mountain across from the cheese shop, not surprisingly big on taste!
My Notes: A semi-firm, farmstead, pale blush-colored washed-rind cheese whose ivory paste becomes suppler with age – softening closer to the rind. Aromas are pronounced at room temp & on the palate experience fruity, salty flavors, sweet & sour cooked milk. Dense texture is perfect for snacking, or melted as grilled cheese.
Owner Jan Schalkwijk, has been making cheese for over fifty years, from The Netherlands to Canada, has always been a dairyman, focusing on cows as a hobby.
My Notes: Named for power & strength, naturally ripened & touted as “lactose-free” after one week due to the cultures used & the varying of temperature from room to higher than average during the first stages of affinage. Aged for two years, it has strong flavors of nut combined with a smooth creamy texture.
Named for its local region (“kaas” the Dutch word for cheese), aged for 14 to 24 months, this extra old batch of Lancaster is from gourmet artisan cheese maker pioneer Margaret Morris.
My Notes: Firm to hard cow’s milk cheeses comes shaped in a loaf or wheel, covered in a waxy rind is a Gouda-style after Dutch farmstead cheese. It’s rich, dense & chewy with intense buttery, fruity, caramelized nutty flavors that linger forever.
My Notes: A beautiful, semi-soft, raw organic cow’s milk blue cheese, it has a natural rind with spots of dark clay. The creamy, silky, straw-colored paste is speckled with slate & blue-green veins throughout. Rich in flavor, with a hint of sweetness, spice & salt, it pairs beautifully with iced wine, cider or port.
New this year we are sponsoring the post-festival party called the Makers+Mongers serving up even more opportunity to mix & mingle with folks in the cheese biz while noshing on gourmet creations. Each dish will feature one of the top winning cheeses from the Canadian Cheese Awards.
Everyone welcome to join the fun.
BONUS TIP #6 – Even more ways to learn about cheese
And be sure to take part in the seminars too – including a Craft Beer & Cheese tasting by our own Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm. And my seminar: The People’s Choice Awards to select your favorite Canadian cheese.
Saturday at 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
The tables are turned…this time you will be the judge as you taste & score Canadian Cheese Awards winners to select People’s Choice for Canadian Cheese of the Year.
Here is your chance to sample the 16 best artisan cheeses made in Canada in a three-hour marathon tasting. Yes…3 hours of nothing but cheese! Evaluate and score them just like a judge would in a competition. You’ll be guided by two experts who served as judges at the Canadian Cheese Awards earlier this year, Vanessa Simmons cheese sommelier at Savvy Company and Janice Beaton, owner of Janice Beaton Fine Cheese and FARM Restaurant, Calgary. Your scores will be tabulated on the spot to then determine the People’s Choice Canadian Cheese of the Year. It will be interesting to compare your choice against the cheese the professional judges named at the REAL Canadian Cheese Awards on April 7 2014 in Toronto.
Tickets: ORDER NOW
Saturday at 2 p.m.
We’ve all been to a Wine & Cheese . . . but might Beer & Cheese be a better taste match?
Join Debbie Trenholm, Sommelier at Savvy Company and founder of Savvy Hip Hops Ontario craft-beer-of-the-month-club as she puts fine wines and craft beers to the taste test. The winning verdict of this Battle of the Taste Buds will be determined after enjoying many chunks of award-winning Canadian cheese paired with outstanding Ontario wines and craft beers. It’s not easy being cheesy, yet one thing is for sure, this tasting will be delicious!
Bonus: All participants will take home complimentary wine and beer tasting glasses.
Tickets: still a few spots left – ORDER NOW
We make it easy to be cheesey!
See you at the fest!