Tag Archives: Ontario

Curds and Eh: Best New Cheesemakers 2012 by Kelsie Parsons

The Cheesiry's Washed-Rind Pecorinos

Alberta’s The Cheesiry produces washed-rind Pecorinos

(Another amazing post–maybe one of the best so far– from Kelsie Parsons to look back over 2012 in cheesemaking.  For more of Kelsie’s blogs just type “Curds and Eh” into the search window on the home page or select Curds and Eh under CATEGORIES.  And for intro to his adventure click here.   Now I can’t wait to read his book!! SR)

This is the time of year when many people reflect on the past year. What’s new? What happened? What are the highlights?

2012 was a pretty awesome year for me. After years of dreaming, I finally took time off work and travelled across Canada to write a book about Canadian cheese. But this post isn’t about me, it’s about the wonderful people I met along the way.

Five Brothers, Nfld: Mozzarella, Goat Cheddar and Queso Fresco

Five Brothers, Nfld: Mozzarella, Goat Cheddar and Queso Fresco

It seems like every couple of weeks there’s a new cheese factory popping up somewhere across Canada. What an exciting time to be involved in cheese! Through this post I’d like to call attention to some of the best new cheesemakers out there.

In no particular order, here is my list of the top cheesemakers that began making cheese within the past couple of years. Some are new to the cheese industry, others have been working in it for years but only recently started their own cheese companies. Keep an eye out for their cheeses and if you get the chance take a wedge home to enjoy.

Jeff Fenwick-Back Forty

Jeff Fenwick-Back Forty

Back Forty (Lanark Highlands, Ontario) – Jeff Fenwick

Back Forty Cheese has been around for many years but this past year Jim Keith sold his company to Jeff and Jenna Fenwick. They’re a young couple who decided to move from Hamilton, ON to a beautiful property in the Lanark Highlands in Eastern Ontario. Jeff is the cheesemaker and Jenna is a talented textile artist who transformed Jim’s old sheep barn into her studio.

Bonnechere

Bonnechere

Bonnechere is one of my favourite cheeses ever. Jim Keith styled it after a rare French cheese and it’s actually scorched over an open flame, which gives it a unique toasted appearance. When Jim put his home and business up for sale I was terrified that we’d lose this awesome cheese. Fortunately, Jeff spent several months working with Jim to learn his techniques and Bonnechere continues to be as nutty and delicious as ever. Jeff is also producing Back Forty’s three other raw sheep milk cheeses – Madawaska, Flower Station Feta, and Highland Blue. Rumour has it that he has plans to create a new cheese as well. I can’t wait to try it.

Gunns Hill Cheese board

Gunns Hill Cheese board

Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese (Woodstock, Ontario) – Shep Ysselstein

Based just outside of Woodstock, ON, Shep Ysselstein is the owner and cheesemaker at Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese. Shep was raised on a dairy farm and became interested in making cheese after a trip to Thunder Oak Cheese Farm. He spent some time working at a farmstead cheese factory in the Finger Lakes region of New York and then apprenticed at Natural Pastures Cheese Company in Courtenay, BC. A highlight of his career was working in the Swiss Alps producing a cheese known as Berner Alpkäse. There, Shep and another cheesemaker milked 30 cows morning and night and spent their days making cheese.

Shep sniffs a core sample of Handegg

Shep sniffs a core sample of Handegg

Shep’s experience in Switzerland had a huge influence on him. He now creates 3 varieties of washed rind cheeses influenced by the ones he made and ate in Switzerland. His 20-25kg Handegg, is styled after Berner Alpkäse and named after the Swiss town where he made it.

Shep shows of a wheel of Five Brothers

Shep shows off a wheel of Five Brothers

One of Shep’s other cheeses is known as Five Brothers because he in fact has 4 brothers (two of which work on the family farm tending to their large herd of dairy cows and crops). On the outside, Five Brothers looks like a Gouda but cut it open and large eyes (holes) are revealed giving it the appearance of Emmenthal. The flavour is subtly sweet, with a nuttiness that increases towards the rind and the floral aromas of this cheese are wonderful. I highly recommend Gunn’s Hill cheeses.

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Cheese maker Adam Blanchard

Five Brothers Artisan Cheese (St. John’s, Newfoundland) – Adam Blanchard

Speaking of Five Brothers… another one of my favourite new cheesemakers is Adam Blanchard. He owns Newfoundland’s only artisanal cheese company – Five Brothers Artisan Cheese. Despite the name, the company consists only of Adam (though, like Shep, Adam does have 4 brothers). Five Brothers produces perhaps the smallest volume of cheese of all Canadian cheese makers. Adam doesn’t have an expensive pasteurizer, a huge vat or other impressive equipment.

The stov top and fridges where the Magic happens

The stov top and fridges where the Magic happens

His production facility consists of a commercial kitchen where he makes cheese in stock pots on the stove top and he cuts the curds with a fillet knife. He ages his cheeses in reworked refrigerators. Five Brothers produces mozzarella, queso fresco, cheddar, brie and the occasional blue. Restaurants in St. John’s feature Adam’s cheeses on their menus and he also sells his cheese at the farmers market where it regularly sells out.

Fice Brothers Aged, Cheddar-style cheese

Five Brothers Aged, Cheddar-style cheese

Adam is a chef by trade and is seriously into cheese and food culture. He has only been making cheese for a short while but I know he’s taking every opportunity to learn as much knowledge as possible about his trade (he recently completed a cheesemaking course in Texas).

From my brief stay in Newfoundland, I could tell that Adam is starting something really special. I seriously wish I could be in St. John’s so I can see his line-up of cheeses grow and evolve.

Ron Muise of Wandering Sheperd holding Lauchies Tomme

Ron Muise of Wandering Shepherd holding Lauchie’s Tomme

Wandering Shepherd (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) – Ron Muise

Ron Muise worked as a chef for years near Bath, England. He returned to Cape Breton Island, where his ancestors have lived since 1620 and he now has two young children, raises and milks sheep, and makes cheese. He says he left the restaurant business because he grew tired of working 18 hour days but I think Ron likes keeping busy.

Wandering Shepherd--Check out that Rind!

Wandering Shepherd–Check out that Rind!

Ron’s creativity in the kitchen translates well into his small cheese business Wandering Shepherd. When I visited, Ron was ripening 8 varieties of blue cheeses. He says, “As a cheesemaker you should follow your heart. You’re going to do what you love and I love blue cheese.”

Like most chefs, Ron enjoys experimenting and tweaking his recipes. He recalled a recent batch of blue that turned out particularly well but the recipe was written on scraps of paper that went through the wash. No worries, Ron laughed it off explaining that he remembers how he created that batch.

Besides blue cheeses, Wandering Shepherd also produces a bloomy rind cheese, clothbound cheddar and natural rinded cheeses such as Lauchie’s Tomme named after his son, Lauchland.  (More on East Coast cheesemakers)

Simon Hamel stacks trays of cheese in a misty ripening room

Simon Hamel stacks trays of cheese in a misty ripening room

L’Atelier (Sainte-Helene-de-Chester, Quebec) – Simon Hamel

Simon Hamel used to work at Fromagerie Tournevent (makers of Chevre Noir) and Fromagerie Eco-Delices (producers of some wonderful raclette) but he’s now working at La Moutonniere and making his own cheeses there under the name L’Atelier.

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Le Chevre a Ma Maniere

In a previous Curds & Eh! post I predicted that Simon’s ripened goat cheese, Le Chevre a Ma Maniere, would be winning top awards. Since then it won best artisanal goat cheese at the 2012 Caseus awards and it also placed third overall. Congratulations Simon!

While Simon showed me around La Moutonniere’s ripening rooms, he picked up a wheel of aged cheese, pointed to a reddish spot on it and said, “this is my favourite kind of mold, it tastes just like mushrooms!” He scraped it off and we savoured the flavour. No cheese, just mold. It’s that kind of passion and attention to detail that is needed to create an exquisite cheese such as Ma Maniere.

Marie Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France makes cheddar

Marie-Chantal Houde of Fromagerie Nouvelle France makes cheddar

Fromagerie Nouvelle France (Sainte-Elizabeth-de-Warwick, Quebec) – Marie-Chantal Houde

At Fromagerie Nouvelle France, Marie-Chantal Houde creates Zacharie Cloutier, a washed rind sheep cheese aged for 6 months. The rind of Zacharie Cloutier resembles an unwaxed Manchego or Petit Basque and the flavour is reminiscent of nuts and hay. It’s one of my favourite cheeses. Many others have picked it as their favourite cheese as well; in its first year of production, Zacharie Cloutier won as the grand champion of the 2011 Caseus awards and then placed first in its category in 2012!   (very worth seeking out but sadly it is very hard to find outside of Quebec last I checked with the distributor, merde SR)

Marie-Chantal didn’t win these awards by accident. She studied cheesemaking in Poligny, France; has worked as a consultant helping artisan producers develop recipes and she teaches classes at the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese. I would love to sit down with her and soak up some of her cheese knowledge.

This summer I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon watching Marie-Chantal work. She whistles and sings as she makes cheese and constantly has a huge smile. It’s obvious that Marie-Chantal absolutely loves what she does.

The Cheesiry (Kitscoty, Alberta) – Rhonda Zuk Headon

Rhonda...photo courtesy of www.osolmeatos.com

Rhonda…photo courtesy of http://www.osolmeatos.com

When I arrived at The Cheesiry, Rhonda made a couple of baa-lattes, lattes made with sheep milk, and we immediately bonded over our shared love of sheep milk and all things Italian. To celebrate her 30th birthday, Rhonda spent 3 months travelling Italy by herself. She fell in love with Italy and before she returned to Canada she began planning her next trip. Four months later she was back in Tuscany working in a restaurant in Montalcino and then on a farm near Pienza where she learned how to make pecorino (pecorino is the generic Italian term for sheep cheese). The farmer eventually let Rhonda make the cheese by herself, which must have been quite daunting but also a huge confidence booster.

The Cheeseirys Pecorino

The Cheeseirys Pecorino

Rhonda took her new skill with her back to Alberta where she now milks 88 ewes. Through the aptly named Cheesiry, Rhonda produces a variety of pecorino cheeses, including the one that she made in Italy. Her pecorinos have rustic, textured rinds and big bold flavours. Quello deliziosso formaggio!

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Shana Miller and Kelsie pose in front of an Upper Bench mural

Upper Bench (Penticton, British Columbia) – Shana Miller

Like most of the other cheese makers on this list Shana Miller isn’t new to the cheese world, she worked as the cheesemaker at Poplar Grove for years. This year she launched Upper Bench Winery and Creamery with her husband Gavin, a well-respected and very skilled winemaker.

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Both wine and cheese are made under the same roof at their facility in Penticton, BC. Shana displays a creativity and ingenuity in creating her rich and complex pasteurized cow milk cheeses. My personal favourites are King Cole, a Stilton-sized creamy blue; Okanagan Sun2, a square washed rind cheese; and Grey Baby, a surface ripened blue. They’re all perfect for indulging in with a (couple) bottle(s) of wine. Upper Bench is a must-visit spot for any foodie visiting the Okanagan Valley.

Upper Bench cheeses

Upper Bench cheeses on a campground cheese board

There are many other cheesemakers that have started producing cheese within the past couple years but these are my top picks for best new cheese makers. I’m sure this won’t be the last time you hear about them.

To all the above cheesemakers, thank you for your hard work, for taking a risk, following your passion and working everyday to make some of the best cheeses out there. I admire all of you and I can’t wait until we meet over cheese again.

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Curds and Eh: Breaking News-Fifth Town Cheese Back in Production

This scoop is by Kelsie Parsons.–SR
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Exciting news for all the curd nerds out there!
After closing their doors 8 months ago, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese has now been bought. Today is the first day back for a couple of the Fifth Town employees who are busy cleaning the plant and preparing for construction to start.
Fifth Town will start making cheese again in 8-12 months.
Cape Vessey (coutesy of the Great Canadian Cheese Festival)

Cape Vessey (courtesy of the Great Canadian Cheese Festival)

A year is a long time but it’s comforting to know that we’ll soon have access to they’re prized cheeses again. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll continue to make Cape Vessey, Lemon Fetish, Isabella, Operetta…and many others.
Update Jan 9: Confirmed that Fifth Town was sold to Patricia Bertozzi (of Bertozzi Importing) in Nov 2012. Her daughter Patricia Bertozzi is the new owner.
Background on the situation can be found at this post for cheeselover.ca , and here for the official closing news. SR

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Sustenance and Sustainable for Brunch….Think Red Fish.

Havin’ a Fish Fry at Red Fish

Last Sunday night a bunch of friends and I popped by Red Fish for a fish fry.  You can see Chef David Friedman back there (in the photo)  bringing out platters of lightly battered, crispy fish;  yellow perch, catfish and spelt all wild, all from Lake Erie.  Sides were creamy coleslaw, herb seasoned fries and a great green salad in a tasty vinaigrette (and if you think you can get a well-seasoned vinaigrette just anywhere –you’d think, right?– you’d be wrong).

Inside!

Red Fish is at 890 College, west of the lovely La Fromagerie (in case you need to pick up some 14 Arpents cheese) and they also serve brunch.  All the seafood at Red Fish is seasonal and sustainable, they are a partner with Ocean Wise.

While there I perused the dinner and brunch menus which looked pretty delish.  So thought I’d throw it out there on a SNOWY (snowy!) Sunday morning.

Brunch Menu Red FIsh

Steelhead Trout rillettes, comforting fish cakes and a steamy BC Albacore Tuna Melt all sound pretty good to me.  And don’t worry, you can still get house made scones and double smoked bacon.

And here’s part of the dinner menu while I’m at it…

So now, you really only have to make yourself breakfast.  A few spoons of peanut butter straight from the jar?  Yep, that counts.

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Almost Perfect Frozen Foods…wait, what?!

Doesn’t this sign just beg for a caption contest?   I just love it.  From the name itself to the visual image of the word PERFECT deteriorating and falling apart.

Time and time again Tad and I are baffled  at the name of this frozen food store when we drive by it on the way to Apsley (and the cottage)  along Hwy 7.

It’s just…well, when it comes to frozen chicken….I’d actually like it to be fully perfect.

I am thinking that whoever came up with this name is no longer in advertising.

(I just now noticed the sign for GUNS below the food sign.  See?  They advertise “Accuracy PLUS….not “pretty good accuracy, almost perfect”)

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Curds and Eh, Episode 5: THUNDER OAK GOUDA breaking new ground

This post is part of a guest blog series by Kelsie Parsons.   See the recent Globe and Mail piece about his travels.

Thunder Oak Cheese is famous for their Gouda. The Schep family produces aged and flavoured Goudas on their family farm in Thunder Bay, Ontario and are the only Canadian cheesemakers within a 650km radius!

It wasn’t until more than 30 years after Jacob Schep’s first trip to Thunder Bay that he began commercially producing cheese. Jacob Schep arrived in Thunder Bay from Holland as an exchange student in 1968. His dream was to work on dairy farm but unfortunately he was placed on a potato farm instead.

The following year Jacob returned with his partner Margaret to show her the land that he loved but after a 3 day train ride from Montreal to Thunder Bay, Margaret decided it was too remote and too far from her family. Back in Holland, Jacob and Margaret ran a dairy farm for 10 years but they found there wasn’t land available to expand so in 1981 they immigrated to Ontario and the following year they set up a dairy farm in Thunder Bay.

Thunder Oak Company

Their cheese factory opened in November 1995 and in 2007 their son Walter and has wife Joanne took over the cheese production. As Margaret recalls the past 30 years she laughs and says she never wanted to marry a farmer, move to Canada or end up making cheese but she ended up doing all of the above and seems incredibly happy.

Forms filled with Gouda Curds

Walter Schep is a 6th generation cheesemaker and his family still makes cheese in Holland and Belgium. His mother, Margaret, explains that their Gouda recipe has been passed down through her family for generations but making cheese is a lot like making cake – everyone in her family uses the same recipe but there are small differences in the final product.

Thunder Oak Gouda flavours (from the Thunder Oak website)

The cheeses at Thunder Oak are a rainbow of colours and cover a huge range of flavours. In total they produce 12 varieties of flavoured Gouda including sun-dried tomato, nettle, smoked, classic cumin spice, and jalapeno, their most popular. They also make regular Gouda at 4 ages (mild, medium, old, and extra old) and Maasdammer which is the size and shape of Gouda but has holes and a flavour similar to Swiss. Due to the demand for fresh curds Thunder Oak began selling Gouda curds, which are less salty than their cheddar curd cousins but equally as delicious.

Gouda Pressing at Thunder Oak

For anyone traveling across Canada or visiting Thunder Bay, Thunder Oak Cheese is a must stop destination. Visitors have a chance to watch Walter produce cheese every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and of course there are plenty of samples too. Thunder Oak’s cheeses are so popular locally that they can often be hard to find across the country.

It’s worth looking for at your local fine cheese retailer. Not to worry though, Thunder Oak is about to break ground on a new facility down the road that will double their size and allow them to keep up with the demand of their highly sought after cheeses.  Now that’s gouda news!*

*A Gouda joke is obligatory in any article about the classic Dutch cheese.  Read more about the city of Gouda itself.

For Curds and Eh 1 (the itinerary), click hereCurds and Eh 2 (Quebec), Click Here, Curds and Eh 3 (Quebec) , click here and Curds and Eh 4 (St.John’s).

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July 7–better than the Canada Day Long weekend (Farm, music, chefs) GROW FOR THE STOP FUNDRAISER

Better than the long weekend? Uh-huh.  In case you hadn’t heard, The New Farm’s 5th Annual Fundraiser for Grow For The Stop is happening this Saturday July 7.  Montreal band Stars will be performing amongst delicious, organic local food prepared by some of Ontario’s top chefs.  Here are the deets:
Saturday July 7th, 2012
Gates Open and Dinner: 5:30
Opening Band: 7:30
Stars Perform: 8:30
Admission: $45, plus eventbrite ticketing fees – http://www.eventbrite.ca/event/3540334235
Food and drink sold separately – cash sales

  • Rodney Bowers of Hey Meatball, Organic French Fries with Ketchup and Mayo
  • Chris Brown of The Stop Community Food Centre – Twin Creeks Grilled Pork Sausages with New Farm Cucumber Slaw
  • Kristin and Dan Donovan of Hooked – Fish Tacos served with Luis Valenzuela of Torito Tapas Bar’s Fresh K2 Milling Corn Tortillas
  • Matt Flett of Georgian College - New Farm Pulled Pork on Brick Street Bakery’s Artisanal Buns
  • Brad Long of Cafe Belong, New Farm Salad Greens and Spring Vegetables with Brown Butter Dressing
  • Giacomo Pasquini of Vertical Restaurant – Fenwood Grilled Chicken with Panzanella Salad
  • Aaron Bear Robe of Keriwa Cafe – New Farm Fried Green Tomatoes with Snap Pea Guacamole
  • John Sinopoli of Table 17 and Escari –  Spring Vegetable Frittata
  • Caesar Guinto of the soon to open, Creemore Kitchen – Heritage Grain Donuts with Sweet Beet Filling
  • Mapleton’s Organic Ice Cream
  • Ingredients distributed by 100km Foods Inc.
Bar Selections Generously Provided by:
  • Creemore Springs Brewery
  • Martini Bar by Tag Vodka with Local Flavours
  • Wine by Innisikillin
  • Organic, Fair Trade Coffee by Merchants of Green Coffee 
  • Cider by Avalon Orchards
  • Dairy by Organic Meadow 

  • The New Farm is a small diversified organic farm, near the Village of Creemore. Three years ago, The New Farm formed a partnership with The Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto, a wonderfully innovative and inspirational organization that works to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds community and challenges inequality. The New Farm does many things to support their work, including holding events on their farm that feature great music, dram and delicious food. They built a stage in their 100 year old bank barn and have had bands like Fred Eaglesmith, The Sunparlour Players and Elliott Brood perform. To date, The New Farm has raised over $50,000 for Grow for The Stop’s Food Program, where 100% of the money raised goes towards buying the best organic food grown in Southern Ontario for use in the Stop’s many programs and Foodbanks in Stayner and Collingwood.This year, The New Farm hopes to raise $25,000 on July 7th, with an event that will draw 500 people. The renowned Montreal Band, Stars will perform and this year, the event will showcase a variety of different food stations featuring a number of Ontario’s top chefs and restaurants.



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Curds and Eh: A Cross Country Cheese Tour, episode 1

Kelsie Parson: Canadian Cheese Tourist

Hi everyone, here is the first blog in the Curds and Eh series. Welcome Kelsie!

Hello fellow cheese lovers!

By day I’m the Cheese Manager at Sobeys Ira Needles in Kitchener and by night I’m a curd nerd who can’t stop reading about cheese (and eating it too!). I started working at Sobeys nearly 2 years ago and I’m responsible for a 36′ long cheese wall, which is home to 350 varieties of cheese.

Sobeys Ira Needles

Several months ago I told Russ, my store manager, that I was planning on taking the summer off to travel across Canada and write a book about Canadian cheese.  He was incredibly supportive but wanted to make sure I’d return to Sobeys when I’m done. Of course I promised I’d be back. When I began my travels Russ wanted part of me to stay with the cheese wall so he hired one of my staff to carve my head out of St. Albert Mild Cheddar!

From here…

To here….It’s quite the honour having my head in cheese! I’m still amazed! It’s like looking in a cheese mirror!

With a Jean and a beautiful wheel of Louis D’Or at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

I’m currently on week 4 of my cross-Canada cheese adventure. Recently I’ve visited cheese makers around Ontario and attended the Great Canadian Cheese Festival and today I’m heading to Montreal.

I’ll be in Quebec for a full month but I’m afraid I’ll still only try a handful of all the cheeses produced there. After Quebec I’m headed to the Maritimes and Newfoundland(!) and then across Northern Quebec and Ontario. The longest   the road will be driving from Thornloe Cheese near Lake Timiskaming to   in Thunder Bay. Ontario is a massive province! I’ll then spend the month of August traveling the Prairies, Alberta and B.C. When I consider my journey as a whole, 3.5 months seems like a really long time to be on the road but breaking it down province by province it seems like a whirlwind adventure. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to sharing the journey with you.

Poutine from St. Albert Cheese on Ottawa. Can man live on poutine alone?

Why such an epic cheese adventure? I’ve always wanted to write a book about Canadian Cheese and I figure now is the right time. In many ways I’m modeling my book after Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins. The book is organized by region opposed to style and as a reader I felt like I traveled around Europe with Mr. Jenkins. I’m aiming for my book to be about individual cheeses as much as it is about the people behind them and the regions they’re from. Of course there will be loads of photos in the book; I just wish I could make it scratch and sniff (what a stinky book!).

One thing I’m missing though is a title for the book. I considered simply Canadian Cheese. It’s too the point but not very catchy. I find cheese people usually have a cheesy sense of humour so I also considered titles such as The Whey Across Canada and Curds & Eh! I like them but I think there’s a better title out there. Now this is where I ask for your help. If you can help me come up with the perfect title you’ll be recognized in the acknowledgements and you’ll get a free book (when it’s printed).

See you again in two weeks,  Kelsie

My favourite pic (says Sue) Kelsie in storage!

BIO

Kelsie Parsons worked as a cheesemonger for Cheese of Canada and Provincial Fine Foods in Toronto and his photos of Canadian Cheese are featured in Juliet Harbutt’s World Cheese Book (2009). He earned his Cheesemaking Certificate from the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese and has since apprenticed at Monforte Dairy. In 2010, Kelsie was selected as a delegate to represent the Toronto Slow Food convivium at Terra Madere in Turin, Italy. Kelsie is the Cheese Manager at Sobeys Ira Needles in Kitchener and is currently writing a book about Canadian cheese. He also blogs at Sobeys.com/foodiefeature

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Ticket Giveaway for The Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair June 2/3

I’m very excited to be have two passes (courtesy of the The Great Canadian Cheese Festival) to give away for their Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair which takes place in Prince Edward County on June 2 and 3.   This is the second annual event and numbers for the Food Fair will be capped each day so these are hot little tamales.

Monforte Dairy’s triple-cream Bliss and hand-churned butter will be available at the event.

If like me, the above cheese board is your perfect meal, you won’t want to miss the Food Fair where you will find over thirty artisanal and farmstead cheese makers from across Canada plus a dairy farm for the kids (I  plan to leave my son in the care of a responsible–but fun-loving–goat), a food court and 80 exhibitors in total showcasing their wares.

These two tickets are worth $80 and with admission you get:

-10 tasting tickets

-a souvenir Festival cooler bag for cheese purchases  (this is much better than a leather purse, trust me)

-free parking at the Crystal Palace where the event is being held

-and you can sit in on the All You Need is Cheese seminars being put on by Dairy Farmer’s of Canada  (and taught by Deborah Levy who is fantastic and very knowledgeable)

Here is a link to FEATURED WINERIES, CRAFT BREWERS and ARTISAN FOODS.

Sandbanks Winery, PEC image from About.Com

And if you’ve never been to Prince Edward County, you really must try to see it.  It is a perfect weekend away.

There is also a COOKS AND CURDS gala on the evening of June 2 which features Canadian chefs cooking with Canadian cheese, paired with local brews and wine.  The first sitting is sold out but the second sitting is still open.

Information about getting tickets to everything (but obviously you’re going to win these) is available on the festival site as is accommodation information.  See you there!

HOW TO WIN:

If you think you’d like to attend simply email me at thespread@globeandmail.com with the subject heading CHEESE FESTIVAL GIVEAWAY and I will do a draw next Tuesday, May 22 and mail you the tickets if you win.

Good luck and please spread the word, forward this, tell your friends to pass on information about this amazing event.   Much appreciated.

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Terroir 2012: Making mouths water like crazy

Terroir 2012, proving you can never have too many cooks...

Slushy wet snow, smokey, wood-burning smells in the air and a warm packed room accented with aromas of cooking, scattered  beer cans and people unravelling themselves layer by layer from their outdoor gear.  Could have been an afternoon anywhere in Canadian cottage (or cabin) country.  Aside from the iPhones filling up with photos of just-foraged plants being sliced, fresh sausages being filled and local trout being smoked.

Connie DeSousa making sausages (yes, Top Chef Canada lovers, celebrity sighting!)

Plus the fact that the whole feast was being prepared by some of the most talented chefs in Canada (and some outside of Canada). It was a fantasy Thanksgiving-doppelganger afternoon at Mad Maple Inn in Bruce County this past Tuesday, April 24.

The dining room at Mad Maple, this is the view from the open kitchen.

The event was part of The Terroir Symposium 2012.  The day before had been a full house at the newly renovated Acadian Court, now run by Oliver and Bonacini (more on the symposium in another post).   I was fortunate enough to be invited on the following day’s tour of Grey Bruce Simcoe county–complete with bus ride, April flurries and a more moments of awesome than even the Book of Awesome could come up with (lunch featured wood-fired pizzas and was hosted by Michael Stadtländer at his Haisai Bakery and Restaurant.)

Check out Renée Suen’s photos for Toronto Life where she gives a preview of The Singhampton Project, Michael Stadtländer’s upcoming visual and edible feast at Eigensinn Farm.

We were hosted by Miriam Streiman who is opening Mad Maple Country Inn in this summer.  Above is the side table which served as the appetizer hang-out (if you weren’t stealing nibbles from the main kitchen.)   The yellow wax encased cheese is from Best Baa Dairy and the two cream cheeses came from newish producers Steacy and Scott den Haan of Primeridge Pure Dairy Products.

But let me get to the heart of it–the meal.  The formidable menu was posted on the wall after dinner was served and I had to take it in three pictures to get it all, as it reached down to the floor.  For more of the chefs and the food, check out Jessica Allen’s piece for Maclean’s.

THE CHEFS, THE FOOD AND THE LOCAL PRODUCERS

Beer Bread and birch plates

BRENT LEITCH, Two Kinds of Beer Bread, Creemore Springs and K2 Milling

CARL HEINRICH, RYAN DONOVAN, JULIA AYEARST, Trout on Kale with Mustard Vinaigrette, Kolapore Springs and The New Farm

So tender, so beautiful, so trouty

CARL HEINRICH, RYAN DONOVAN, JULIA AYEARST, BBQ Pork belly and trotters on baked beans, Blue Haven and The New Farm

CONNIE DESOUSA, Lamb organ Kielbasa with Brassica mustard, Twin Creeks Organic Farm and Forbes Wild Food

CRAIG FLINN, Black chicken soup with Jerusalem artichokes and wild mushrooms, Blue Haven, Creemore Springs and Wylie Mycologicals

JEREMY CHARLES, Wild Newfoundland Rabbit with Red Tail Flour pappardelle, wild mushrooms, speck, wild mustard and fresh herbs, K2 Milling, Forbes Wild Foods, Michael Stadtlander

JEFF CRUMP, Spit-Roasted Lamb with sauce gribiche, Twin Peaks Organic farm

BEN SHEWRY, Grated Potatoes , The New Farm, Tama Mutsuoka Wong

The grated potato salad with foraged greens and poached egg

Ben Shewry of Melbourne, Australia's much accoladed Attica restaurant, working on potato salad

Forager for Daniel NYC, Tama Mutsuoka Wong, talks about her finds which are going into the salad

JAMES ROBERTS, Potatoes gratin with wild garlic and shallot confit, The New Farm, Frobes Wild Food, Harmony Organic

PETER BURT, Fire-roasted beers and carrots and (and I can’t read the rest of the list, damn), The New Farm

CONNIE DESOUSA, Fresh Cheese Cheesecake with Rhubarb and almond Crumb, Harmony Organic

And finally my Cinderella…I never find out who she was, but man, was she a beauty!

And if you’re thinking–where was the bar?  It was there, in a cozy back room, the wine provided by Georgian Hills Vineyards.

And if you’ve been waiting to see a picture of Ivy Knight, woman-of-all-trades (and a back of the bus fun person–I am a front of the bus read a book person, it makes me sad sometimes) here she is.  Check out her awesome new website all about foodstuffs at swallowfood.com  and ask for an I SWALLOW sticker for your iPhone.

See the glee, the fun that was had?  She’s laughing because she just swore at me.  But then, I did cut off most of her face in this picture.  Even?

Fun was had, food was had, Tuesday’s will never be the same.   Though I might start eating off  birch plates (even sturdier than paper and disposable in the wood pile).

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Filed under Ruminations on the Edible, Top Chef Season 1, Travel and Food, Uncategorized