With a growing number of passionate specialty cheese makers and the rise of a new generation of dairy farmers, there’s never been a better time to appreciate locally produced cheeses in Ontario. The province is currently experiencing a renaissance of cheese making with a focus on quality and a commitment to the region’s landscape. There are many tasty, unique cheeses throughout Ontario that are even rivaling the spotlight of big cheese players across the globe. Many of them have taken top awards at both domestic and international competitions. This is truly an exciting era for Ontario’s cheese industry. Here are a few of our favourite picks.
Five Brothers – Gunn’s Hill
A tribute to Shep Ysselstein and his four brothers who built up a thriving dairy farm, this washed-rind cow’s milk cheese combines traits from Gouda and another Swiss variety called Mutchli. Five Brothers has a creamy, rich flavour with sweet overtones and distinctive eyes throughout the body of the cheese. In 2013, it won the best firm cheese in Canada at the prestigious Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.
Niagara Gold – Upper Canada Cheese
Niagara Gold is a homage to the washed rind, French cheeses produced by Trappist Monks of the Loire valley. The cheese is made from the milk of Guernsey’s cows (which is higher in Beta Carotene than other breeds) and results in a very creamy, buttery flavour with a golden tinge. It is delicately mild and sweet when young and gains pungency and piquant qualities with age.
Lankaaster Aged Loaf – Glengarry Fine Cheese
Named in combination of the town of Lancaster and “kaas” the Dutch word for cheese, this award-winning gouda is produced by Margaret Morris and her small dedicated team of cheese makers. It is made with pasteurized Brown Swiss milk from a nearby farm. Keeping with the tradition of how the Dutch farmers use to eat their cheese, it is shaped into a loaf to acknowledge the fact that it is meant to be sliced and eaten directly on bread for a sandwich.
Lindsay Bandaged Goat Cheddar – Mariposa Dairy
Produced in small batches, this aged goat’s milk cheddar has a firm and slightly crumbly texture. Once the wheel has been crafted, it is carefully wrapped up in layers of cloth using the old-school technique known as “bandaging”, so that it releases moisture and develops a deep concentration of flavour. It is made with 100% Ontario goat milk from local farms around Lindsay, Ontario.