Eating Gouda in the Neighbourhooda

The second annual Canadian Artisan Tasting Fair hit Wychwood Barns recently for an afternoon of samples, samples and more samples.  It was an all you can eat cheese-athon, which doubles as both an extremely delicious way to spend an afternoon and a way to make your non-ticket holding friends jealous. Something tells me next year we’ll all be carpooling…

Running along the main hallway, over forty vendors lined the perimeter of the gorgeous, airy space.  We loved spying our Feast ON friends, including Sanagan’s Meat Locker (doing some silky smooth chicken liver toasts and terrific terrines), Monforte Dairy and VG Meats, serving up locally sourced snacks.  

Pretty in pink terrines from Sanagan's and the winners for Best Hair at the Tasting Fair.

Pretty in pink terrines from Sanagan’s and the winners for Best Hair at the Tasting Fair.

And speaking of cheese, another highlight was stopping by Creme Fraiche‘s stall.  The charming Junction cheese shop stocks nine different Ontario dairies at their shop.  Lucky for us, they had just as many different samples to try.  If you haven’t had the goat gouda from Glengarry Fine Cheese or one of the unique goudas from Mountainoak Cheese, you’re in for a tasty treat.  The goat gouda was lovely and mild, with a surprising hint of sweetness.  And Mountainoak, well they’ve gone and made a wild nettle flavoured gouda. Repeat – wild nettle gouda.  Both would make excellent additions to any holiday cheese board and are a surefire way to impress your Dutch guests.  You can bet we made a few “victory laps” to this station. 

Cheese please!

Cheese please!

In other cheese related news, we loved Best Baa Dairy’s ramembert, and not just for the pun.  The earthy flavours and smooth taste had us asking for a seconds.  And over at Upper Canada Cheese, the Jordan Station dairy was slicing samples of their Maple Smoked Comfort Cream.  It’s the kind of mind-altering cheese experience that will stop you in your tracks.  Pro tip: if you do stop by their dairy, make sure to grab some of their cheese curds!

Of course, with that much cheese on offer (not to mention Fifth Town Cheese, Back Forty, Gunn’s Hill and Leslieville Cheese Market‘s selection of over twenty different Canadian options) it only made sense to start pairing it with other fair fare.  Enter the artisanal bakers, craft brewers and charcuterie champions.  This line-up included crowd favourites Sawdust City Brewing Co., Barnstormer Brewing, Dough Bakeshop, Thornbury Bakery.  Bonus presentation points go to Speducci Mercatto, who carved up a show-stopping porchetta that would make a stunning centerpiece for any Game of Thrones viewing party. See the proof here.

Photo evidence that the Tasting Fair put a smile on our faces AND plates.

Photo evidence that the Tasting Fair put a smile on our faces AND plates.

We ended our tour of the Fair (aka Sample Town), at Bloomer’s, who we sweet-talked into saucing our donut bread pudding sample with both their salted caramel and their wild blueberry sauces.  With full tote bags of holiday gifts and happily spiking sugar levels, this year’s Canadian Artisan Tasting Fair is going down as a success in our books.  

The number and quality of artisanal producers, both in Ontario and across the country, is hugely exciting.  We can’t wait for next year, to meet some new favourites and continue to support those perennial producers that have helped us elevate our entertaining game.  We couldn’t be host(esses) with the most(esses) without you!

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