Posts Tagged ‘wine and cheese weekend getaway’

Ever tried 125 cheeses?

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, May 31st, 2012
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Calling all cheese lovers!

Melt away all thoughts of your ‘to do’ list this weekend and head to Picton for the 2nd annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival.  You will never have a weekend getaway like this.  Hosted by Cheese Lover Productions, over 45 artisan cheesemakers from coast to coast will be there along with renowned Canadian celebrity chefs, cheese experts, winemakers , brewmasters & cider makers too.

Tuck in for a full day on Saturday or Sunday at the Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair located in the historic and picturesque Crystal Palace.  Each table features a different cheesemaker offering chunks of cheeses to sample until your belly won’t take it any longer. Did I mention that over 125 cheeses will be showcased? That is quite a spread! During your delicious discovery to find your new favorite cheeses,  nibble, meet & learn from the people who have hand crafted each round of cheese.  They are more than likely the same person who milks the cows, goats & sheep too!  To top it all off, you can purchase the cheese – now this gives a new meaning to buying local.

And when you need a break from all of the grazing, sampling & sipping, grab a seat in one of the tutored tastings to learn more about the artistry of cheese making from Canada’s top cheese experts including Savvy Company’s own Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons.

Wine, beer and cider too goes great with cheese, so grab a glass to enjoy the flavours the combination makes.  The Cooks & Curds gala on Saturday is an evening of gourmet dishes ladened with cheese created by Ottawa’s Chef Michael Blackie of the National Arts Centre and Chef Jamie Kennedy of Toronto along with six other chefs from British Columbia to Newfoundland.  But there is not a ticket left for this one of a kind event!

Grab the kids – as they are welcome too – and head to Picton.  It is only a 3 hour drive from Ottawa.  Take the 401 straight there or take the scenic route along the Loyalist Parkway and take the Glenora Ferry (it’s free) across & get a taste for Prince Edward County.  I guarantee you will want to leave your to do list on the kitchen counter go back & explore more of ‘The County’ this summer.

Cheers & Enjoy!

-Debbie

More about the festival running June 1 – 3 at www.cheesefestival.ca 

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A delicious weekend of Quebec artisan cheeses

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
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This summer has been one more for wine sipping on the screened porch (given all the rain!) rather than tripping to winery visits.

One weekend, I hopped in my car for an adventure to Quebec’s Eastern Townships.  My discovery involved stocking up on delicious Ontario and Quebec artisan cheeses and a lovely Quebec Rose wine.

Our cheese trip started with visits to Glengarry Cheesemaking new facility near Lancaster (Ontario), and l’Abbaye Saint-Benoit-du-Lac, where a congregation of Benedictine monks whose practices include a range of agricultural endeavors, including cheese-making.

We headed down Highway 417 on one of the overcast July days, looking for the exit to highway 34, leading to Alexandria and Lancaster.  The rain held off, and just before we arrived at Lancaster (literally at the access to the 401) we found Glengarry’s facility and shop.  The shop includes a great display counter with the many varieties of pasteurized cow cheese they produce, other local delicacies such as dried apples chips, as well as windows looking upon the cheese-making facilities.  We tasted a wide range of cheeses, each one seemingly more appetizing than the last.  While we enjoyed all of them, I’ll mention in particular:

Figaro – yes, it made me feel like singing! It is a buttery, delicately flavored, melt-in-your-mouth cheese that was delightful on a crisp cracker – or on one of those slightly sweet apple crisps.  Left out on the counter that evening for 15 minutes before serving, it was literally like butter!

Alexandran – named for the local area, it’s a washed rind semi-soft cheese with a lovely nutty flavor.  Serve it on its own or with some dried fruits and a nice glass of port.

Barely Blue – this delicate blue cheese was a big hit. Its firm texture, delicate veining and characteristic flavor.  This would be a great match with an apple ice wine, perhaps from La Face Cachee de la Pomme, located near Hemmingford, Quebec.

After fighting our way through Montreal’s ‘big dig’ traffic jam (is every bridge under construction?), we meandered along back roads of the Eastern Townships until we found our way to l’Orpailleur, located just outside the town of Dunham.  A pioneer in the Quebec wine industry, the winery was founded in 1982 by two daring Frenchmen – Herve Durand and Charles-Henri de Coussergues – and their Quebecois partner, Frank Furtado.  By hilling up the vines in the winter, they were able to ensure their survival and, in 1985, produced their first vintage.  The tasting room reminds me of a rustic Quebec country home, with large maples overhanging the wraparound veranda.  Once inside we were warmly welcomed and invited to visit the small wine museum.  We tasted a number of l’Orpailleur (it means gold gatherer) wines, including their fabulous rose produced from a blend of hybrid grapes and a sweet white wine produced from Seyval Blanc, called Vin de Marquise.  Recently, we sipped the l’Orpailleur Rose wine with friends as we sat on the deck enjoying our mid-August heat wave.

The next day, we were determined to visit l’Abbaye Saint-Benoit-du-Lac and its local shop.  The Abbey was founded in the early 1900s by monks escaping anti-clerical laws in France.  The original building was completed in 1941, and includes incredible brick and tile work.  According to the material at the monastery, Saint Benedict said that to be a true monk, man must live by the work of his hands.  The work of the monks of Saint-Benoit-du-Lac includes a cheese factory (in operation since 1943), an orchard, a cider factory, a farm and a store, which is open to the public.  After visitng the site and listening to the monks lyrical chants, we wandered through the store, which was practically mobbed by avid shoppers.  Not only were the famous cheeses available, but also cider, homemade pies and tarts, honey, preserves and a variety of products from other monastic orders in Quebec.  Of the cheeses, we purchased a range including l’Ermite, their savory blue cheese, Frere Jacques, a mild washed rind soft cheese, and Le Moine, a Gruyere-style cheese. 

We came away with bags of cheeses for ourselves and our hosts, and then sat down on a veranda overlooking Lake Memphramagog to sip l’Orpailleur Rose and sample our purchases.  Sipping local wine & nibbling on artisan cheese – there is no better way to spend a afternoon!

If you want a nice little overnight or weekend getaway, consider a trip to the Eastern Townships, with a stop in Lancaster on the way.  In addition to l’Orpailleur, there are number of other wineries in the area, as well as lovely inns, spas and restaurants.  Like Ontario’s Prince Edward County, the Eastern Townships is an easy drive from Ottawa, and a gourmand’s paradise. Contact me if I can help you plan a wine and cheese trip.

Cheers, 

Susan

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