7 Ways to Enjoy Cheese in Prince Edward County🧀
Oh, Cheeses of The County, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways!
Written by: Rebecca Brunette | The Edward Bed & Breakfast
From herbaceous goat cheese, to cheddar spiked with maple syrup, to truffle-infused buffalo cheese, Prince Edward County boasts a spectacular selection of locally crafted fromage. Many of The County’s most famed cheeses are made using traditional methods, beginning with milk from the resident sheep, cows, goats, and buffalo that call this man-made-island home. Terroir, you’ll discover, isn’t only for wine! You might even consider planning a cheese-route, which will take you from East end, Waupoos all the way to West end, Consecon.
Today we’re sharing top ways to enjoy cheese in The County that are almost too gouda to be true (our first and last cheese pun, we promise).
Just as you want to swish a sip of wine before buying a bottle, it’s wise to sample a new cheese before buying the whole wedge. Be sure to visit, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, an East-end producer of artisan goat, cow, buffalo, and sheep milk cheese. Not only do they produce 28 different, seasonal, handmade cheeses using milk from County and Quinte area farms, but they also offer them for sampling in their boutique tasting room/shop. We’re talking award winning cheeses like Buffalina, Cape Vessey, Truffalo, and Lemon Fetish generously displayed for your sampling pleasure. We dare you to leave empty handed—it’s truly impossible.
Just outside the hamlet of Milford you’ll find Black River Cheese Company, one of the original 26 cheese houses that once operated in PEC. This iconic store is open throughout the year, however sampling is available from May to October. Try their renowned Maple Cheddar or Goat Milk Cheddar. And if free samples and a picturesque setting aren’t enough to float your boat, we encourage you to purchase your cheese and literally set sail along the Black River for a truly unique experience! Located right on the water, Black River Cheese offers dockage to boaters.
Cheese Lover’s Tip: Get your hands on an Agrarian Market postcard, redeemable for a complimentary cheese tasting flight! Agrarian Market is a fresh food market, bakery and coffee house in Picton. You’ll find a large selection of Ontario, Canadian and International cheese and charcuterie featured at its extensive deli counter. And if you’re a repeat customer ask about their cheese club!
You’ll be guaranteed to warm the hearts (and fill the bellies) of those you love by gifting them a special selection of cheese, lovingly wrapped in a basket and topped with a bow. Cooke’s Fine Foods carries world-famous cheese, old world foods, gourmet chocolates and so much more. Ask about their Cheese Basket designed for the “cheese connoisseur.” The receiver of your gift will enjoy a variety of specialty cheeses and crackers including Cooke’s Special Old Canadian Cheddar made from Ontario dairy especially for Cooke’s.
Looking for something with a more personal touch? The Agrarian Market will customize your gift basket right down to the last crostini. Give them a budget to work within and they will kindly help you handpick a variety of cheeses, meats, preserves, chocolates, and even drinks. Packed into the cutest harvest basket, this is a gift that reflects the bounty of The County!
Cheese Lover’s Tip: Visit Zest Kitchen for a swoon-worthy selection of cheese related cooking & dining tools. Looking for a fondue set? A Brie baker? A Swiss girolle?—which exists for the singular purpose of shaving semi-firm cheese into ultra-thin rosettes. Ask owners Kyle and Jenny; if they don’t have it, they will do their best to special order it for you.
Whether you’re lactose intolerant or a die-hard vegan, there’s no reason for dairy dodgers to miss out on all the fun! Local cheese maker Paula of Caju Winds, crafts a plant-based line of cashew spreads that are 100% vegan and gluten free. Her regular offering includes Mildly Spicy, Thyme And Dill, Delicate, and Exotica. Not only are Caju Winds “cheeses” made from organic cashews paired with dried organic herbs from local farmers, they’re also fermented with a vegan probiotic that contains 10 different kinds of beneficial bacteria strains—sounds like guilt-free feasting to us! Caju Winds spreads are available at Penny’s Pantry, Agrarian Market, The Local Store, as well as select eateries and wineries. Check the Caju Winds website for an up to date list of retailers.
Keep your eyes peeled for markets, pop-ups and other special events that feature Viticult Foods, new to the County and serving up a variety of hard and soft plant-based cheeses to die for – taste a pairing with vegan wines from Karlo Estates to see for yourself!
In Wellington, you’ll find health foods galore at The GOOD Place, known as PEC’s local hub for the mindful and health conscious. They carry an array of Daiya “cheeses” including Cream Cheese, Cheddar, and smoked Gouda. And for those looking to make their own dairy-free pasta, try the Daiya alfredo sauce or Earth Island Parmesan. During the summer months Good Place will also stock Nuts For Cheese™ Smoky Artichoke and Herb, Un-Brie-Lievable, and Super Blue.
Cheese Lover’s Tip: Look out for select hard “cheeses” by Caju Winds throughout The County. Made for special occasions and in limited quantities, these harder varieties are a rare find!
Nothing says bucolic moment like a countryside picnic. From ready-made baskets to day tours that end in a feast, here’s how to picnic in PEC.
Picnics at the Grange Winery begin in May, when the grounds turn lush and green and the rolling hills over looking the vineyards bask in spring’s beauty. They pack a classic wicker basket with a local cheese and charcuterie board plus you get to choose the wine and location on the grounds for your alfresco meal. Baskets serve two to four people. Be sure to make a reservation if your party requires more than four baskets so you won’t be disappointed!
Looking for a place to picnic with the kids? Fifth Town has acres of grassy land away from the roadside where you can spread out your blanket, eat, and play a game of bocce ball. Order a prepared cheese board complete with five cheeses, charcuterie, olives and accompaniments, in advance or in-store. In addition to cheese, the Fifth Town shop carries honey and preserves made with fruit from their bees and orchard, as well as many Italian crackers and bread sticks which you can add to your outdoor feast. Finish off your picnic with in-house freshly squeezed orange juice or artisan ice cream made with 100% Ontario buffalo dairy.
Take your picnic to go by visiting the Agrarian Market. Build your own, or purchase their prepared offering which includes cheese, cured meats, crostini, house tapenade, wine jelly and ciabatta sandwiches. Picnics can be made for two or four people. For an ideal spot nearby, head to Benson Park for playground access or the Picton Marina for a view of the harbour. Be sure to place your order with the Agrarian Market in advance!
Fancy a feast with local hosts? The County Picnic offers a day-tour, which includes a guided walking tour of Wellington, bike rentals, tasting fees at two wineries, and ends with an epic Picnic made with 100% local PEC products! If you love to meet good people over good food, this is the tour for you. Enjoy Fifth Town cheese, Flossies Sandwiches, Cressy Mustard, pickled veggies and more, alongside hosts who can answer questions—such as “why does a picnic always taste sooo much better after a bike ride?”
Lastly, if you’re heading West in/out of PEC, plan to make a stop for Poutine at Tabersnack. This chip truck meets diner serves up homemade food with Quebec flair. Their Poutine menu offers eight delectable choices all dripping with gravy and heaped with squeaky cheese curds. Seating is available indoors or out. Only the steady handed should attempt to picnic in their vehicle, lest they end up with oozing cheese on the dashboard. Try the County Poutine: curds, shaved roast beef and caramelized onions. Yum!
Cheese Lover’s Tip: If you’re looking for a sunset picnic on the beach, be sure to keep a cooler bag handy to carry your cheese haul on hot days (no one wants to eat sweaty Cheddar). Fifth Town offers small foldable cooler bags for purchase in their shop—easy cheesy.
A rustic board overflowing with cheeses, fruits, olives, and bread is nothing short of gastronomic splendour. So simple, and yet, undeniably satisfying. Try a cheese and charcuterie board by those who live and breathe cheese…
You guessed it, Fifth Town. Order a cheese and charcuterie board for eating on their stunning patio. The Agrarian Market also assembles bespoke trays that can be completely individualized. Typically each tray will be prepared with a firm cheese, soft cheese, and blue cheese option. And if you’d prefer to enjoy your board in a restaurant setting—good news—you’ll be hard pressed to find a County restaurant that does NOT offer a tray, block, or board boasting many of The County’s best cheeses. The selection is often seasonal and based on the relationships the restaurants have formed with their trusted cheesemonger, so prepare to be pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer.
Planning to DIY your board at home? Everyone knows an Instagram-worthy cheese board is not made with cheese alone. Besides an array of alternate edibles (such as meat, pickles, nuts & spreads), you’ll want to have small bowls, spoons, and spreaders on hand—and perhaps a Kate Golding tea towel to finish the look? Visit Zest Kitchen and Cooke’s Fine Foods for all your serving ware desires, making sure to stock up on 2-ounce bowls to keep smaller items separated on your board. Butter spreaders are great for soft cheeses, jams, and honey. Be sure to pick up sheets of beeswax paper to wrap your leftovers (as if there’ll be any!).
Cheese Lover’s Tip: Get fancy and hire a chef to cook for you and your friends. This is 1000x better than a cheese pizza delivered to your door. This is Chef Matt DeMille, ready with all the ingredients (and dishware) to produce a true eating experience in your home. Eat With Matt DeMille offers a three course dinner starting with the County Platter: a selection of Canadian cheese and charcuterie, marinated olives + pickles & preserves and fresh baked focaccia. Bon Appetit!
What kind of a world would this be if Romeo had not known Juliette? Peanut butter had never met Jelly? The Internet had never been introduced to cat memes? We think you’d agree some things are just meant to be. And so it is with cheese and wine!
Lighthall Vineyards is among Canada’s first producers of wine AND cheese. The winery’s primary focus is on estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but they also produce a spectacular sparkling wine and small batch Gruner Veltliner. Owner/winemaker Glenn Symons hand-makes brie, washed-rind, raclette, pressed manchego, cheddar and feta cheese, all crafted from sheep’s milk. The cheeses offered at the winery change by design; each cheese is meant to compliment a small batch wine. Visit their tasting room for an unforgettable pairing experience.
For a more laid back approach to pairing, experimentation is encouraged! After a day of touring The County, take stock of all the tasty treats you’ve acquired. A handful of cheeses, wildflower honey, pickled green beans, fresh strawberries, and wine no doubt. Create your own bountiful spread to enjoy with two or three types of wine. Discover how the flavours compliment one another and be your own judge.
Cheese Lover’s Tip: Fifth Town Artisan Cheese runs tutored wine and cheese tasting seminars during the summer months under their unique (Re)Source Pavilion, which was built using only salvaged materials. The perfect nibble & nosh for a small group of friends looking to be guided.
We all know cheese comes from milk, but cheese isn’t typically the kind of recipe you Pinterest simply to whip-something-up on a rainy day. That’s why we’re lucky to have a local County farm willing to hold the hands of a small group of people each year, in order to impart the art of cheese making.
Littlejohn Farm offers cheese making workshops in the spring and early summer months when their goats give birth and farmers Zach and Luhana are able to use some of their milk. Included in this hands-on experience is a history of cheese making and a delicious world-of-cheese tasting with classic drink pairings to finish. Spaces are very limited and availability is subject to change.
This next experience isn’t exactly “make your own,” however, it will bring you close to the source. Hops & Heifers is a County farm growing hops and raising water buffalo. Their herd provides milk to several Ontario cheese making factories, including Fifth Town here in PEC. Rod and Lauren invite visitors to get up close and personal with the buffalo, which are known for their gentle manner. Hop on their safari truck for a tour of the hops farm and a chance to spend time with the herd. Stop by their on-site shop for meat and cheese products including Water Buffalo Cheese, Mozzarella, Caciocavallo, Asiago, Oxford Street, and Blue Cheese.