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Posts Tagged ‘Savvy Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons’

100+ hard-to-find wines, craft beers, ciders & cheeses too!

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

This is THE hottest ticket in town…and you’re invited to join us & bring a friend for FREE. We’re hosting the always popular 5th annual Outstanding in their Fields Taste & Buy event where you will meet the makers of the finest wines, craft beers & ciders from across Ontario…and gourmet artisans too!


Sip & Stock up for the holidays

On your mark….get set…Power Shop! To prep you for this special Taste & Buy night, we’ll send you the list of featured products AND our Savvy Sommeliers & Cicerones will be at the event ready to share ‘must try’ tips.

There’ll be wines of all kinds – sparkling, white, red & even port, PLUS a variety of craft beers & ciders too. You won’t find any of the featured bevvies at the LCBO or grocery stores.

Special PROMO
Buy a $70 ticket + bring a friend FREE


Look who is coming from Niagara, The County & Ottawa region too!

Amazing Wines * Aure Winery * Chateau des Charmes * County Cider Company * Fielding Estates Winery * Legends Estates Winery * Karlo Estates * KIN Vineyards * Melville Winery * Trail Estates Winery * Tuque de Broue Brewery * Veini Estates * Vineland Estates Winery …and more will be announced!


FREE Shipping

This is an OUTSTANDING offer! At this event, order 6, 12 or more bottles of ANY of your favorites & we’ll deliver by courirer to your home or office – absolutely FREE.


Event Deets

DATE: Thursday December 1st
NEW VENUE! Horticulture Building @ Lansdowne, Ottawa
V.I.T. RECEPTION: 5 to 7pm – special passes required


Shop for cheeses too

Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons will be shining the spotlight on hard-to-come-by cheeses from Ontario & Quebec that we’ve featured in our Savvy Cool Curds cheese-o-month-club. You can buy your new cheesey favorites to take home for the holidays.


Get the red carpet treatment….be a V.I.T.

Buy a Very Important Taster Pass (V.I.T.) for an additional $25 & enjoy advance access from 5 to 7pm…then stay on as long as you like for the main event. Limited to 150 passes.

This OUTSTANDING event always sells out quickly.
Buy your tickets >>


Hold on!!! There’s MORE…

For the Love of Cheese

Did you know it’s Cheese Month at the Canadian Agriculture & Food Museum? We are co-hosting these cheese-y activities every Tuesday evening – join us!
Nov 15: Wine & Cheese with a TWIST
Nov 22: Holiday Cheese Boutique
Nov 29: Fondue Fest & Racelette Rendez-Vous


Email us your favorite Canadian cheese & we’ll add your name to our draw for 2 tickets to any of these events. Need some help with pickin’ cheese? Check out our monthly Curd on the Street Magazine.

A FUNdraiser not to miss…

The Canadian Nurses Foundation called on us to create Sip & Savour FUNdraising event to help raise $1 million in one year to develop educational & special health care programs that will increase the number of nurses in Indigenous communities.

Join us on November 16 at The Westin Ottawa where Executive Chef Kenton Leier will be pulling out all of the stops to prepare an incredible menu paired with fine Ontario wines. It will be a delicious night with chefs & winemakers. Only 150 tickets….and selling quickly!

Don’t miss this event. Click to get your tickets >>


See you at all of these OUTSTANDING events…
– Debbie & the Savvy Team

Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)

Keep in touch with us…


101 Things to do in Prince Edward County

Posted by Debbie

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Where are you going this Long Weekend? We are always asked for travel tips. One destination we are frequently asked about is Prince Edward County.  Just a short 3 hour drive from Ottawa or 2 hours from Toronto, you can go for the day or a weekend getaway.

Stanners Vineyard vinesThis region, surrounded by water, is turning heads as Canada’s fastest growing wine region.  And it is not all about the wine either! The County has been named as Maclean’s Magazine’s Canada TOP 10 Places You’ve Got to See in 2014.

To help you discover all the neat things that are going on in The County, we got the Savvy Team together (over a glass of wine of course!) & jotted down 101 of our favorite (and there are still many more) things to do in Prince Edward County.

How far down the list can you get?  Do you know about other fun things to see & do in PEC that we can add to our list?

101 Things to Do in Prince Edward County Wine Country


1. Visit North America’s largest dry stone bridge at Karlo Estates.

2. Visit the Oeno Gallery at Huff Estates.

3. Do the Creepy Corn Maze (Oct).

4. Eat some freshly baked pizza at Norman Hardie’s.

5. Check out some great old barns at The Old Third, Closson Chase, Karlo Estates, The Grange of Prince Edward County and Hinterland Winery.

6. Sample amazing aperitif and dessert wines (and ports) – Sandbanks Winery, Hillier Creek, Keint-He Winery, Karlo Estates

wine_tasting_sparkling7. Taste some of the best Canadian-made sparkling wines at Hinterland, Huff Estates, The Grange, By Chadsey’s Cairns & Lighthall Vineyards.

8. Cheese Please!  All weekend long at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival (June).

9. Sample County wines at great local restos – East & Main, Blumen Garden & The Hubb.

10. Buy some artisan cheese to go with your wine at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co.

11. Toronto’s Drake Hotel now has a County location – Drake Devonshire.  Stay over or go for dinner.

12. Indulge in poutine and milkshakes at the Dari Bar in Wellington.

13. Enjoy some great apple cider & lunch of lamb burgers The County County Cider.

14. Need some coffee after sampling wine? Miss Lily’s Café or the Bean Counter in Picton.

15. Find your favorite mantra pinned to the wall in the Cherry Valley General Store (hint: they’re all about slowing down to smell the roses!).

16. Stop by one of many veggie stands – Laundry Farms, Hagerman Farms, Cherryvale Organic Farm.

17. Sit on the porch at a B&B or your weekend cottage and read Geoff Heinrick’s book A Fool & Forty Acres.

18. Pop in to the Agrarian Cheese Market & Speakeasy, featuring craft brews on tap, great ciders, wine and killer cocktails with live music on Fridays & Saturdays.

19. Take a cooking class at From the Farm.

20. Dining delight – Countylicious – twice a year, 8 restos offer a prix fixe culinary celebration for $30 or $35 plus grats & tax.

21. Chat with Bryan at Keint-He Winery.  He’ll help you pronounce that!

22. Get on your bike & ride the backroads or along the Loyalist Parkway.

Terroir wine festival23. Take in Terroir Wine Festival at the Crystal Palace (May).

24. Plan for a beach day at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

25. Attend the PEC Jazz Festival (summer).

26. Discover new local music talent at The Acoustic Grill in Picton.

27. Slide down the dunes at West Lake.

28. Harvest grapes with Norman Hardie & celebrate afterwards with a pig roast & bbq (fall).

29. Take a billion pix of the gorgeous gardens at Closson Chase then indulge in their wines.

30. Spend a Sunday afternoon on the patio at Huff Estates Winery listening to live jazz.

31. Red White & Blues festival at Rosehall Run features music in the vineyard.

32. Meet the dogs & owners at Three Dog Winery.

33. Get lost on the back roads.

34. Hear James call his Chardonnay vines ‘Bella’ at Long Dog Winery.

35. Stock up on your picnic goodies at Chef Michael Hoy’s Weekend Market at 106 Bridge Street in Picton.

36. Best bacon & eggs in town are at Picton Harbour Inn.

Debbie at 2012 harvest37. Harvest parties at Sandbanks Winery, Half Moon Bay Winery & Broken Stone are fun for the entire family. Here I am (photo at right) picking grapes at last year’s harvest – boy that was hard work!

38. Book a room at The Manse, Newsroom Suites, The Inn at Huff Estates, Merrill Inn or the cottage at Angeline’s.

39. Take an early morning walk on the ‘secret’ beach (at the bottom of Cold Creek Road).

40. Ice cream at Slickers.

41. Go apple picking at Campbell’s Orchards.

42. Sparkling wine awaits at Hinterland Vineyards – and peach slushies for the kids.

43. Visit the old-time school house at the Ameliasburgh Historical Museum.

44. Drinks & Dinner at Merrill Inn –guaranteed delicious!

45. What the heck is Wassail?  Ask around about this pre-Christmas festival where you sing for your drink. Does this photo get you thinking about Christmas?

46. Do a County Chardonnay-a-thon trying every Chard you can find.  Be sure not to miss Lighthall, Stanners, Exultet, Rosehall, Karlo….is just a start.

maple_web_logo47. Pull a pint of Pumpkin Ale at Barley Days Brewing Co.

48. Maple in the County is a great spring getaway

49. All aboard!  Stop in at the red caboose at 33 Vines Winery – it is their tasting room.

50. Visit the Lavender Farm when the lavender is in full bloom (June).

51. Chat with Pat at Del-Gatto Estates…where he lives la dolce vita!

52. Kick back & chillax in a Muskoka chair with a glass of Sandbanks wine…in their vineyard (must trys – Cabernet Franc Reserve, Baco Noir, Marchel Foch).

53. Go antiquing.

artstrail-bluesign54. Follow the Arts Trail & meet incredible artists along the way.

55. In the summer, sip Rose wines around the Wine Trail – see how they all are different – different grapes used, hues of pink…and tastes!

56. Catch a movie at the Regent Theatre.

57. Visit the gallery at Small Pond Arts to see Milé Murtanovski’s paintings made with wine.

58. Unwind one of the few classic drive-in movie theatres in Ontario: Mustang Drive-In

59. Take a break for wine touring & leisurely shop on Bloomfield Main Street.

60. Six Barrels for Six Chefs at Huff Estates Winery (June).

61. Get your heirloom tomatoes and lots of other fresh from the farm veggies at Vicki’s Veggies

62. How about a visit to Dead Peoples Stuff? (antique store).

63. Enjoy heaven in a glass with a sip of VanAlstine White Port at Karlo Estates.

64. Lunch al fresco at Casa Dea Estates Winery, Huff Estates, The Grange or Norman Hardie Winery.

65. Go house hunting – it does not cost anything to dream!

66. It might be a wine region, yet there is a distillery – 66 Gilead – that is a must visit.  Especially for their Canadian Pine Vodka, Loyalist Gin, rums & whiskies too.

67. Watch the sunset at North Beach.

68. Enjoy incredible classical music in a small church during the Prince Edward County Music Festival (September)

69. Make annual family traditions by renting one of the many of the Sunrise cottages.

70. Drop by Highline mushrooms to buy fresh gourmet mushrooms.

71. Homemade donuts like my grandfather would make await at Schroedter’s Market on Hwy 62.

72. Spend an hour or two checking out City Revival – a high end consignment shop.

73. Be marvelled by Lake On The Mountain – it’s mystical up there.

Premium Goat Milk Cheddar, Back Forty Artisan Cheese Co. and Black River Cheese Company74. Stop at Black River Cheese Co in Milford to try…and buy…all kinds of cheese.  Savvy Cheese Sommelier, Vanessa Simmons recommends: Maple Cheddar & fresh curds (TIP – when you put curds in the fridge, they lose their squeak)

75. Where else can wines be as easy as Not Red, Almost Red and Not White? At Sugarbush Wines.

76. Ride the waves at North Beach Provincial Park.

77. Go strawberry, raspberry or blueberry picking on the roadside – they grow wild!

78. Grab some wine after your round of golf at Picton Golf Course, Barcovan Golf Club or Wellington On The Lake Golf Course.

79. Pop in & out of all of the cool shops along Picton Main Street.

80. Bird-watching!! And don’t miss BirdHouse City.

81. Take the scenic route. Drive along the Loyalist Parkway – Hwy 33.  Start in Kingston or Napanee and it will meander all the way to Trenton.

82. Order everything on the chalkboard at The Hubb Restaurant in Bloomfield.

83. TASTE! at the Crystal Palace (late September).

84. Have afternoon tea or a treat at Tall Poppy Café in Wellington.

85. The December Busy Hands Craft Sale at Books and Company & Miss Lily’s Café, hosted by Vicki’s Veggies – great sale for gifts.

86. Pop into Greer Road Grocer at Rosehall Run Winery for neat locally made gourmet goodies.

87. Play life size chess in the vineyard at Casa Dea Estates.

88. Stop for Italian thin crust pizza at Bergeron’s Estate Winery…and have a glass of wine too!

89. Take photos of Lake Ontario with morning fog near Moonlight on the Lake B&B.

90. Buy Ontario wine – and beer! – not available in the LCBO – shop directly at the wineries & brewery in Prince Edward County!

91. Get married!

92. Running and drinking…drinking and running during Terroir Run (June) or county Marathon (Oct).

93. Taste wine in a converted cheese factory that now houses Exultet Estates.

94. Rent a cottage on the water for a week and really live The County life.

95. Stop at a garage sale.

96. Take the free Glenora Ferry.

97. Take a workshop at The Red Barns, an artisan’s playground, featuring blown and stained glass, pottery, and iron art.

98. Visit Canada’s first off-grid winery Redtail Vineyard.

99. Browse the books and say hello to Miss Ella Vader, the new book mascot at Books & Company.

100. Spend a weekend at Claramount Inn & Spa. Heavenly.

101. Stop by Huff Estates and get your picture taken with the giant steel pinecones.

…and the list goes on!   Even more tips and calendar of events can be found on Prince Edward County’s tourism web site is


Wherever you decide to go this Long Weekend…or anytime, why not work your way through this long list of things to see and do in Prince Edward County. It’s a beautiful place where you can make great memories of food, wine, great scenery – and more.  Call on our Savvy Sommeliers anytime on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) for tips of places to visit.

Enjoy Prince Edward County!





Cheese For Chillin’ Out

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

My cheese pick this week is a reflection of the cheesemaker herself.  Maggie Paradis of Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères in Ste. Sixte, Quebec, is laid-back, chill, goes with the flow (thus the cheese’s name) and doesn’t take life or herself too seriously (while remaining quite serious about making top notch artisan cheeses).

Among  the lineup of her famous soft cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses, La Coulée Douce is a 100% pure pasteurized, firm,  small wheel sheep’s milk cheese with an ivory slightly open (shows small holes) paste and thin, rustic, golden-hued washed rind.  Creamy aromas compliment rich, milky, slightly toasty and fermented fruit flavors with a grassy finish making it the perfect match for Quebec iced or apple cider as used to wash the rind from neighboring Verger Croque-Pomme.  Serve shaved on warm homemade peach or apple pie.  Find at The Piggy Market (Westboro) or at the Savour Ottawa Field House at Parkdale Market this season.



Cheese:  La Coulée Douce
Producer: Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères
PHOTO CREDIT:  La Coulée Douce by Vanessa Simmons





Say ‘cheese’ for a super summer snack

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

My cheese pick this week is one of my “go to” cheeses of summer, The Fleur-en-Lait from Glengarry Fine Cheese.  A short jaunt from Ottawa you can find them on Highway 34 just North of Lancaster, and South of Alexandria.  The Fleur-en-Lait is produced from milk from Ayershire cows that graze on the cheese factory site grounds and is styled after popular Trappist St. Paulin cheese, aged for 4-5 months.

An apricot-hued washed-rind covers The Fleur-en-Lait’s pale gold smooth, silky, semi-firm open interior paste (cheese-speak for the inside of the cheese with small holes throughout). Aromas are pungent & wildly grassy as if you’re standing in the middle of a farmer’s field with the sun shining on your face. Complimentary rich flavors are an expression of summer milk, with nut, fruity, and grassy characteristics layered over a slathering of butter.

Unwind on the deck with a a slice (or three) of this cheese and glass of wine – in particular, Ladies who Shoot their Lunch Shiraz or Tahbilk Viognier featured recently at Savvy Company’s “Let’s go to Australia” Sommelier led wine tasting.  Or, if you happen to be in the neighborhood, why not make a quick pit stop at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. in Vankleek Hill and match with their sensational seasonal Festivale beer.


CheeseThe Fleur-en-Lait
ProducerGlengarry Fine Cheese
Interesting Fact:  Cheesemaking is one of the main sources of income for many monasteries where monks follow the Rule of St. Benedict, stating “for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands”.

Enjoy! – Vanessa


Sizzlin’ for Summer: Cheese Thrill for the Grill

Posted by Vanessa

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Inspired by a favorite seasonal pastime & soaring temperatures, Guernsey Girl, this week’s cheese pick, is one of a handful featured on CBC’s In Town and Out with Michael Bhardwaj, & the perfect cheese companion for summer grilling adventures.  To listen to the interview – Guernsey Girl – In Town and out with Michael Bhardwaj & Vanessa Simmons.

Handcrafted in Jordon Station, Niagara, the milk is sourced from one of only a handful of Guernsey cow herds in Canada who call local 145-year old Comfort Family Farm their home.  Upper Canada Cheese Company, known for legendary firm, washed-rind Niagara Gold & soft, surface-ripened Comfort Cream can be credited with my cheesey version of fun in the sun.

Guernsey cows yield richer milk, higher in butterfat & protein than other milks.  More enriched in beta carotene, the cheese’s brilliant yellow color intensifies during summer. Guernsey Girl falls into the “fresh, unripened” cheese category & is considered a grilling cheese styled after Finnish bread cheese Juustoleipa or better known Halloumi.

Sometimes called a “bread cheese”, Guernsey Girl develops a crispy, toasty almost crunchy crust-like coating on the outside with pan frying or grilling & soft, gooey inside, yet remarkably still retains its form.  Caramelized, sweet, smoky & salty flavors combine with fresh milk taste & squeaky texture similar to fresh cheddar curds.  Any way you sear, skewer, slice or stack it – the keys to success are a clean, hot grill (med-high heat),  patting dry the cheese first, a little bit of patience & having extra on hand for your first attempt.  The final result is so worth the effort!

Guernsey Girl is available at Sobeys & select Metro & Loblaws stores.  Other great grillers include Halloumi (many varieties available at most grocery stores, or Middle Eastern Market Al Kalal on Kirkwood), fresh local feta (Clarmell Farms at the Manotick or Kanata Farmers’ Market, or Canreg Station Farm at Ottawa Farmer’s Market), or small soft wheels of goat or sheep’s milk  from Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères at il Negozio Nicastro on Wellington, or the Parkdale Market.  Buy these a little young for the BBQ, give them 2-3 mins on each side & watch them closely as these will melt.

Grilling cheeses are a great protein substitute for vegetarians (the ultimate in “grilled cheese”), served on their own as a side dish, or substituted into a Caprese salad for a change, with fresh tomatoes & basil, olive oil drizzle & balsamic.  They even work as dessert with fresh grilled pineapple, peaches, or plums, macerated berries & topped with a heaping scoop of Pascale’s goat cheese ice cream.

Catch more hot cheeses with Vanessa at upcoming HerbFest on July 29th, 2012 during her demo Summer Sizzlers – A Tasty Discovery of What’s Hot in Local Artisan Cheese from 9:30am – 10:30am & July 31 where artisan cheeses join grill favorites such as shrimp on the barbie as Savvy Company goes downunder during “Let’s go to Australia”, a fun evening featuring favorite summertime Australian wines.

Cheese: Guernsey Girl
Producer: Upper Canada Cheese Company
Interesting Fact: Guernsey Girl’s resistance to melting is due to a higher level of acidity and more closely knit protein network with tighter bonds that are harder to break when exposed to heat.

Enjoy! – Vanessa


Pairing Cheese with Craft Beers

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Amongst the kettles, bags of hops and bottling lines four family run brewpubs and breweries – Kichesippi Beer Company, Ashton Brewing Company, Big Rig Brewery, The Clock Tower Pub celebrated Ontario Craft Beer Week at Savvy Company’s Artisan Cheese & Craft Beer Tasting.  For more pictures of this fun event, visit Savvy Company’s Facebook album.

As Paul Meek, owner of Kichesippi, told the sold out crowd, “while there are lots of beers here, artisan cheese and Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons will be the rockstars”.   I selected regional artisan cheeses that would shine on their own, while provide a delicious compliment to the evening’s feature local brews.

Beer and cheese share a common origin – grain (beer made from grain, barley for example), and grain is fed to dairy animals, so with this cycle, it’s no wonder that the two are a true match. Engrained in ancient history, they are both primal foods: beer as the oldest fermented beverage and cheese with origins dating back to 8000 BCE.

Cheese and beer pairing is refreshing .  Beer balances out the salt content in cheese and cuts through protein/fats that sit on the tongue allowing a better tasting experience. I suggest to pair your cheese with a beer taking into consideration the weight of both, to ensure that one does not overpower the other (heavy beers with stronger cheeses – perfect match!).

 At the event, crowd favorite cheese and craft beer pairings included:

CHEESE: Goat Gouda  from Clarmell Farms, Osgoode, Ontario (goat milk)
BEER: Clocktower Kolsch or Ashton Blueberry Wheat

CHEESE: Bonnechere from Back Forty Artisan Cheese, Lanark, Ontario (sheep milk)
BEER: Big Rig Hefeweizen Wheat

CHEESE: Réserve La Pérade from Fromagerie F.X. Pichet Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Québec (cow milk)
BEER: Clocktower Red

CHEESE: Gré des Champs from Fromagerie Au Gré des Champs , Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Québec (cow milk)
BEER: Kichesippi 1855

CHEESE: Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from Cow’s Creamery, Prince Edward Island (cow milk)
BEER: Ashton Brown Ale

CHEESE: Bleu D’Élizabeth from Fromagerie du Presbytère, Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, Québec (cow milk)
BEER: Kichesippi Heller High Water or Ashton Brown Ale


Where to buy these artisan cheeses?

Here’s my shopping list of where to find the beer friendly cheeses in Ottawa & area:

Goat Gouda – Clarmell Farms/Glengarry Fine Cheese
Available from:  Clarmell Farms/Glengarry Fine Cheese, Serious Cheese Shop, Ottawa Farmer’s Market (Brewer Park), Kanata Farmer’s Market

Bonnechere – Back Forty Artisan Cheese
Available from: FoodSmiths in Perth, Serious Cheese, The Piggy Market, Carp Farmer’s Market

Réserve La Pérade – Fromagerie F.X. Pichet
Available from: La Trappe A Fromage

Gré des Champs – Fromagerie Au Gré des Champs
Available from: La Trappe A Fromage

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar – Cow’s Creamery
Available from:  Serious Cheese Shop, Farm Boy

Bleu D’Élizabeth – Fromagerie du Presbytère
Available from: La Trappe A Fromage, Ottawa Bagel Shop, Jacobsons Gourmet Concepts


Looking to discover more artisan cheeses? Every 2 weeks, I feature a different artisan cheese in my blog: Curd on the Street  Enjoy! 



Smokin’ Hot Bonnechere cheese

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

One of my earliest & fondest cheese tasting memories is my cheese pick this week, Bonnechere, from local Back Forty Artisan Cheese, hailing from Ottawa Valley’s own Lanark Highlands.  I was a young, unripened cheese enthusiast when I discovered Back Forty cheeses years ago, made from raw sheep’s milk & hand-crafted in the kitchen of owner Jim Keith.  This special find is named after the rugged Bonnechere River & mysterious cave landmarks of our region.

Bonnechere is one-of- a-kind artisan cheese.  It’s a semi-firm, double pressed and unique both inside and out.  A beautiful, chestnut patterned toasted rind covers the interior smooth ivory paste.  Hand torching gives Bonnechere smoky aromas and a very distinct caramel flavor.  As it ages, these characteristics amplify the tangy, sweet, and fruity body of the cheese.  Sour milk lingers with a slight amount of acidity. Produced in very small quantities with seasonal milk, it’s a hot commodity.  If you see this cheese, don’t blink, don’t hesitate, snap it up immediately.  I suggest The Piggy Market or Serious Cheese as a starting point.  Make these cheesemongers your best friend and you’ll never miss out.



Cheese:  Bonnechere
Producer:  Back Forty Artisan Cheese
Interesting Fact:  Pressing a cheese expels more whey and gives the paste a firm, dense texture.


Enjoy! – Vanessa