The 2nd Annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival happened the first weekend of June and it was a grand ol’ time. Even the dreaded rain did it justice and held off. Though I missed last years event I will book my weekend for this event from now on. Overhearing the conversations around me, it was exciting to hear a real mix of industry people, cheese lovers, food lovers and just people looking for something tasty–all gathered in one spot.
Above are the tents set up all around the Crystal Palace where the main part of the festival happened over two days.
And here is the interior, it was pretty jam-packed. You would buy tickets inside and use those to sample many delicious things such as cheese (of course) but also local wine, brew, preserves, breads and other fine food. And as much as there were loads of people there was plenty of opportunity to chat with the producers and learn more about them. It was very friendly and casual.
I used up many a ticket walking around with a sample of the 2009 Closson Chase Pinot Noir.
But a person does not want to ignore Chardonnay either so here I tried the 1812 from Palatine Hills Estate with Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. The wine is technically from Niagara Wine Country but it is a tribute to the anniversary of the war. So, who can fault that?
Then I moved over to the Back Forty booth where Jeff Fenwick was sampling their Highland Blue and the Bonnechere (with its toasted rind).
Jeff and Jenna Fenwick took over Back Forty from James Keith this spring. The rind of the Highland Blue is very beautiful with a little bit of bloomy mold developing. (or “bloody” mold if you copy my notes straight from my iPhone. Damn you autocorrect.)
From East coast to Ontario to West Coast, it is impossible not to recognize this beautiful trio from Salt Spring Island. Romelia is the pale gold lady, Blue Juliette is next to her and at the back is elegant Juliette herself. Some of my very favourite cheeses. Blue Juliette was the subject of the very first Spread Column (2008) ever, so I am particularly attached.
I then slid over to sample the amazing Alpindon and Nostrala from The Kootenay Alpine Cheese company from BC. Both cheeses showcase the raw, organic milk they are made from. If you see them while shopping make you try these guys. They will become a staple.
And I could not resist sampling this sheep’s milk, bloomy rind cheese called “Commanda” as a tribute to the Algonquin elder William Commanda– by John Thompson of Kendal Vale Cheese.
And to cleanse the cheese palate I stopped by the Mad Mexican booth where they make authentic Mexican food from fresh local ingredients. Everything was amazing. Here is a little description of their Salsa Morita from their site:
Morita Salsa (a.k.a. Salsa Roja):
The dried and smoked morita pepper, a native of Mexico, give this salsa its distinct earthy flavor. Made from fresh charred tomatoes and sweet onions, it has a medium heavy body with a touch of heat. This morita salsa achieves complex flavors reminiscent of smoked and fire grilled foods. It boldly stands alone as a dip or adds the spark to grilled meats, shrimp and tomato base sauces.
And this is me and Janice Beaton, the passionate cheese monger, owner of Janice Beaton Fine Cheese in Calgary and FARM a restaurant showcasing the wealth of Albertan foods. I had been dying to meet so was so happy to final talk face-to-face.
And I will continue this post tomorrow as I realized I have not even taken you INSIDE the building and already am going long!
Til then, S.