The Great Canadian Cheese Festival this past weekend showcased the best Canadian cheeses from across the country at Picton Fairgrounds in Prince Edward County, two hours east of Toronto. For a cheese lover, it was an event like no other. Divided between the Taste Ontario Pavillion and Crystal Palace buildings, there was over 500 different cheeses, foods, and drinks to try – from local beer, cider, and mead to cheese, honey, and chocolate.  Outside they also had more vendors set up in tents, cows and pigs to adore, and food trucks. Attendance was over five thousand people!
Tickets for one day of admission were $50 (although they had offered a buy one get one free deal earlier), a cost made worth it by the immense amount of samples available to try. As a cheese lover, I didn’t think I had a capacity on how much cheese I could indulge in – but to my surprise, there is. You could also purchase drink tokens, 10 for $10, to sample the alcoholic beverages. My partner and I didn’t get through half of them before having to tap out, because the samples of local beer and wine (mead too!) were so large.



We also attended “Canadian Grand Prix: You Be the Judge”, a seminar hosted by Debbie Levy from Dairy Farms of Canada. 268 cheeses in 27 categories were entered into the Grand Prix Cheese Competition and at this seminar we were able to try nine of them, from three categories. Educational and delicious, this seminar taught us how to analyze cheese with all of our senses and taste some of what are considered the best cheeses in Canada.

My favourites from those selected were:

Albert’s Leap Bel Haven from Quality Cheese (Vaughan, Ontario) in the enriched soft cheese with bloomy rind category. “A white, velvety rind surrounds the soft creamy interior paste of this triple cream brie-style cheese… notes of cultured butter, contrasting beautifully with the slightly chewy ring. The aroma has a delicate hint of mushroom”.

Louis d’Or from Fromagerie du Presbytere (Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick, Quebec) in the Swiss-type cheese category. “Made with raw milk from a mix of Jersey and Holstein cows… firm, washed and brushed rind cheese with delicious flavour notes of nuts and fruit and leaves and a lingering taste of sweet milk”.

St-Albert 5 Year Old Cheddar from St-Albert Co-operative Inc (St-Albert, Ontario) in the aged cheddar more than 3 years category. “5 years of natural aging develops the crumbly rich texture and fully mature cheddar taste with a complex spectrum of nutty, salt and slightly fruity flavours”.

I’m now happily indulging in my cheese festival purchases: fresh cheese curds (hands down, the squeakiest I’ve ever had) from the St-Albert Co-Op, cheddar from the Wilton Cheese Factory, artisan dark chocolate from hummingbird chocolate maker, and pumpkin honey from the Nude Bee Honey Co!

Next year’s festival will be June 4-5.

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Author Erika Simon

Freelancer from Toronto, creator of Working as a writer, graphic designer, and communications specialist with several Canadian companies and publications. Much love for travel, living naturally, and outside-the-box thinkers.

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