Giveaway: Great Canadian Cheese Festival

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I must have been a mouse in a former life. I adore cheese, the runnier and stinkier the better. Blue is a new love, one that started at Serious Cheese (1189 Bank Street) because of owner/cheese head Jamie Nadon’s 3 cheese pairing for pink champagne. Back story?

Jenn and I visited Nadon to help us find some accompanying cheese for Veuve Cliquot Rosé. He chose Cremeux du Jura, Ossau Iraty, and a mild blue Carles AOC, a French Roquefort. Actually, all the cheeses were French in origin. French cheese and champagne, the pairing worked beautifully!

I have returned to Serious Cheese to expand my cheese palate since. Two Saturdays ago, Jamie treated me and and longtime friend of foodiePrints, Abby, to a taste of Bleu d’Elizabeth, Blue Cheese Champion at the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.

Bleu d'Elizabeth

Bleu d’Elizabeth

This already sublime blue, I would later find out goes extremely well with a dryer port (Karlo Estates, 2008 Van Alstine Port). At the same time, I learned Ontario’s artisan cheese scene is young, Quebec’s is somewhat more mature, and there are few festivals dedicated to artisanal cheese. Where? How?

Let’s start with a phone call last Tuesday afternoon. foodiePrints’ wine blogger Claire called to tell me I have an event, hosted by Ottawa’s Savvy Company, to attend. She had a conflict. With no meetings the Wednesday, I found myself at Chef Steve Mitton’s Murray Street Kitchen, Wine, and Charcuterie (110 Murray Street). There, I joined local chefs, restauranteurs, other food bloggers, and Chef/Owner Dave Neil of the Piggy Market (400 Winston Ave) to learn about The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.

Great Canadian Cheese Festival's Ottawa Media Event

Great Canadian Cheese Festival’s Ottawa Media Event

Executive Chef Michael Blackie of the National Arts Centre

Executive Chef Michael Blackie of the National Arts Centre

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival will be held June 4-5th, 2011 at Crystal Palace in Picton, Ontario (Prince Edward County). It is billed as “Canada’s first national showcase of artisan cheese.” According to creator/director Georgs Kolesnikovs (@cheeseloverg), another cheese head, the festival will kick off with a keynote. Then there will be tutored tastings and a “Cooks and Curds Cheese Gala.”

The “tutored tastings” are entitled “Taste of Québec”, “Artisan Cheeses of Ontario” and “Blue” Canada. Gurth Pretty, author of The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisan and Fine Cheese, will lead a session.

The Cooks and Curds Cheese Gala will consist of 8 food stations and an impressive lineup of chefs, participating:

Jamie Kennedy, Jamie Kennedy Kitchens, Toronto; Anthony Rose, Drake Hotel, Toronto; Michael Blackie, National Arts Centre (NAC), Ottawa; Michael Howell, Tempest, Wolfville, Nova Scotia; Craig Flinn, Chives Canadian Bistro, Halifax; and Andreas Feller of Blumen Garden Bistro, Picton, Ontario.

The chefs will prepare tasting dishes with 8 “artisan, farmstead, and specialty” cheeses, paired with Ontario wines and craft beers.

The Ottawa connection doesn’t end with Chef Blackie. Cheese sommelier Vanessa Simmons of Savvy, will present a tutored tasting and seminar about Artisan Cheese in Ontario from 2:30 pm – 3:45 pm on Saturday (June 4th).

Savvy Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons

Savvy Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons

Local brewery Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company (10 Terry Fox Drive, Vankleek Hill) will participate with other breweries and wineries in Saturday evening’s gala. Beau’s will also participate in the Cheese Fair and Artisan Food Market on Sunday (June 5th). The Market is expected to feature 30 cheese makers and more than 100 different cheeses to sample and purchase.

To see the schedule of events, click here.

For those interested in seeing cheese-making first hand, tours will be offered at nearby Black River Cheese and Fifth Town Artisan Cheese with stops at cow and goat dairy farms on Friday (June 3rd). Local restaurants in PEC will also hold cheese-themed dinners Friday evening.

At the media event, I spoke with ever passionate Kolesnikovs. I met Richard Karlo of Karlo Estates winery. Andrew Craig of Ottawa’s Chutney Made Tasty was on hand with his chutneys. Steve Beauchesne was on hand with a sample of Beau’s current production of beer.

Cheese Head

Cheese Head

Richard Karlo, owner and proprietor of Karlo Estates

Richard Karlo, owner and proprietor of Karlo Estates

Karlo Estates Wines

Karlo Estates Wines

Steve Beauchesne of Beau's and Ottawa Tourism's Jantine Van Kregten

Steve Beauchesne of Beau’s and Ottawa Tourism’s Jantine Van Kregten

Chef Blackie gave us a sneak peek at what wonders he can cook up with cheese.

Pistachio Ricotta Glutinous Rice Ball, served atop wine Braised Elk, and garnished with feta

Pistachio Ricotta Glutinous Rice Ball, served atop wine Braised Elk, and garnished with feta

Something similar would be served later on that evening at the NAC’s Taste of Prairies event. This time, sweet, not savoury. But, more on that later…

And of course, we tasted some of the cheeses that will be featured at the festival.

Award-Winning Quebec Cheeses

Bleu D'Elizabeth, Fromagerie de La Presbytere

Bleu D’Elizabeth, Fromagerie de La Presbytere

Photo taken by Vanessa Simmons and used with permission of Savvy Company.

Louis D'Or, Fromagerie de La Presbytere

Louis D’Or, Fromagerie de La Presbytere

Award-Winning Ontario Cheese

From left to right:

  • Operetta, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
  • Figaro, Glengarry Fine Cheese
  • Cape Vessey, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese (back middle)
  • Maple Cheddar, Black River Cheese (front middle)
  • Aged Cheddar, Empire Cheese (back right)
  • Counting Sheep, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Photo taken by Vanessa Simmons and used with permission of Savvy Company.

What: Great Canadian Cheese Festival
Where: Crystal Palace in Picton, Ontario (Prince Edward County)
Saturday – June 4th – All-day Cheese – Tasting Program – $90
Saturday Evening- June 4th – Cooks & Curds Gala – $95 (both Tasting Program and Gala: $175)
Sunday – June 5th – Cheese Fair & Artisan Food Market – $40
There are $5-$10 discounts on tickets purchased in advance online.

To purchase tickets in advance, click here.

Courtesy of the Great Canadian Cheese Festival, we will be giving away one pair of tickets to the Artisan Cheese & Food Fair event, Sunday, June 5th.

Here’s the deal. Leave a comment to this post, telling us what are your favourite cheeses and how do you serve them? At noon (EST) on Friday, May 20th, 2011, we will use Random.org to choose one commenter. The chosen commenter will be awarded 2 tickets for admission to the Artisan Cheese Fair & Food Fair. One entry per person please.

Update: The contest is closed. In total, we received 17 viable entries.

  1. Cara
  2. @amwaters
  3. gizmar
  4. Renee Yoxon
  5. Jean-Marc Landry
  6. Nicole Burley
  7. Alea
  8. yannick
  9. Fumie
  10. K.Duffy
  11. Shakira
  12. Pauline
  13. carolynnlacasse
  14. sheryne
  15. Kirsten
  16. Britta Gerwion
  17. Jeff Scullion

Here is the number random.org chose.

capture from random.org

capture from random.org

carolynnlacasse wins the pair of tickets.

Congratulations. An e-mail will be dispatched shortly!

Thank-you to everyone who entered!

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.