The third annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival will take place June 1-2 in Crystal Palace on the Prince Edward Fairgrounds in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario.
This event offers the chance to connect with some remarkable products. "When you bite into an artisan cheese, you're really tasting the passion of the man or woman who made it, a person who cares about animals, about the land and about the ancient craft of cheesemaking," enthused festival founder and director Georgs Kolensnikovs, otherwise known as the cheesehead-in-chief, at a lively launch event held May 3 at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum.Georgs founded the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in 2011 to offer an opportunity for cheese lovers to sample the full range of Canadian artisan cheeses. Picton's historical Crystal Palace in Prince Edward County is the ideal location for the festival, says Georgs, because of its beauty as a rural setting and the fact that it's an easy drive from Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.
The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is the only event in Canada to bring together cheesemakers from coast-to-coast. Cheese lovers and foodies can meet, talk, taste and buy the best in Canadian artisan cheese while enjoying fine wine, craft beer and a cornucopia of artisan foods. If you visit the festival, be sure to check out the Taste of Ottawa Pavilion, featuring 10 local specialty food producers with their delicious products - everything from chutney to black garlic to cookies.
This year's Cheese Festival will showcase more than 125 different artisan cheeses - made by producers from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island - to sample and purchase at the Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair that runs Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2. There will also be special presentations on every hour and a Dairy Farm display for the enjoyment of young and old.
The festival includes several unique cheese-themed wine-and-dine experiences on Saturday evening. These include Gastronomy on the Farm with Chef Jamie Kennedy, Wine & Dine at Huff Estates with Chef Michael Hoy and Cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen and a dinner at the beautiful The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery, featuring FranÁois Gagnon of Top Chef Canada.
Cheese tours, cooking classes and tutored tastings are always a highlight of the festival. Among this year's guides is Ottawa's Vanessa Simmons, a cheese sommelier at Savvy Company, whose sessions will showcase cheeses from Quebec and Ontario along with expertly selected beverage pairings.