Naturally I had to venture up to Picton, in Prince Edward County, to check it out myself; let’s put the delayed report down to an epic cheese and wine coma.
The festival calls itself the “biggest artisan and homestead cheese show in Canada”, and 36 cheesemakers turned up to show off their produce, all made with the milk of Canadian cows, goats, sheep and water buffalo, using no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and no modified milk ingredients.
I was there on the first day of the weekend-long cheese-fest. There were so many samples being thrust politely in my direction, it was hard to know where to start, but the rich, creamy Maple Dale “aged” (Canadian for “mature”) cheddar was a big hit, as was the Dandelion wine jam by Henderson Farms, based on nearby Wolff Island.
Major Craig’s Inc put together a hearty charcuterie plate, and the four cheese wood fired pizza by the Flatbread Pizza company ensured that we didn’t go short of a square – or, rather, circular – meal.
Prince Edward County is, of course, famous for its wineries, so there was plenty of booze to keep everyone merry. The Waupoos ice wine cider was the perfect cooler in the sticky end-of-Spring weather, but the Pinot Gris by solar-powered Redtail Vineyards, and the draught beers by Church-Key Bewery were also appreciated. Luckily, I had a designated driver.
There were also cute goats:
And a one-week old bull; the farmer raved about its breeding, I was mainly impressed by its eyelashes:
After filling our chops with rich food, it would’ve been rude not to show off our expanded bellies at nearby Sandbanks Provincial Park, which boasts the world’s largest freshwater sandbar and dunes.
The park’s beautiful enough in the winter, but it’s even easier to admire its transparent water while wading knee-deep in the absurdly warm lake, or lounging on the rippled white sand.
I’m slightly in love with Prince Edward County, so the cheese festival was the icing, or maybe the mascarpone, on the cake.
What’s weird is that, despite being just over two hours from Toronto, tons of city-dwellers have never been to Prince Edward County and, in some cases, seem unsure as to where it actually is. It’s a lovely corner of Ontario well worth a daytrip or weekend break not only for its beaches but also for its wineries, cycling, camping and – as I now appreciate – cheese.