As gourmet citizens of the world, our appetite often sees us yearning for far-flung ingredients. But sometimes, what we are looking for is in front of us all along.
Ontario is a hub for world-class cheeses crafted by skilled cheesemakers using 100 per cent locally sourced milk. Since the 19th century, Ontario has been renowned for its high-quality cheddar. Today, the local cheese landscape has evolved significantly, with legendary cheesemakers creating an array of artisanal cheeses. From soft, unripened French-styles like camembert and brie to versatile cheeses like gouda, you won't be able to resist Ontario's growing list of award winning cheeses.
Semi-hard or hard cheese • Versatile • Intensifies with age
A very versatile cheese, cheddar is at home next to a myriad of flavours, from sweet and savoury to spicy. It comes in a variety of styles and ages — the more mature, the more intense. Try it from Balderson, Black River or Empire Cheese.
Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate
Pair this decadent treat with sharp aged cheddar like the one from Empire Cheese.
Try Ontario maple syrup with Black River Cheese 3-Year Cheddar from Milford, Ontario.
How to serve
When serving cheddar, cut it into thin rectangles or squares so that you can easily enjoy it with the crackers of your choosing. If the cheese is crumbly, hold the block firmly and use a small knife pointed vertically to gently break off chunks of different sizes.
6-Year Cheddar from Maple Dale Cheese Co. in Plainfield, Ont.
This cheese has been naturally aged for six years, resulting in a beautifully crumbly surface with salt crystals. It has a more pronounced, sharper flavour and aroma due to the aging process.
Soft cheese • Bloomy rind • Creamy and funky
Camembert may be similar to brie in appearance, but it has its own distinct qualities and intense flavour. Both have a bloomy rind; a creamy texture; and buttery, nutty flavours, but camembert contains less milk fat, giving it a funkier taste. Serve it sliced or warm. Drizzle with olive oil or honey, top with red chili flakes and rosemary, and bake in the oven at 350 F for 15 minutes. Try it from Upper Canada Cheese or Fromagerie St-Albert.
A nutrient-dense superfood, goji berries have a similar flavour to dried cranberry. Pair them with camembert.
The refreshing citrus, peach or floral aromas in riesling pair well with the buttery, nutty flavour of camembert.
Soft Cheese • Creamy and mild to strong and traditional
Blue cheeses sport the signature blue or green veining (or mottling) caused by an edible mold. Local Ontario cheeses have a milder taste than the traditional blue cheese — so don't be afraid to give this cheese a try. Ontario is home to several award-winning blue cheeses, including Devil’s Rock from Thornloe Cheese in Thornloe, Ont. and Bella Blue from Albert's Leap in Vaughan, Ont., which you can purchase at Quality Cheese.
Pair zesty horseradish with blue cheese. If it's too strong, mix the horseradish with a little cream cheese.
The sweetness of honeycomb is a beautiful match with creamy and subtly sharp blue cheese.
The rich aromas and flavours of stone fruits found in ice wine are harmonious with strong blue cheese.
The Celtic Blue from Glengarry Fine Cheese in Lancaster, Ont.
This beautiful cheese is soft and mild with a nice buttery aroma. Its blue cheese taste is gentle and not overpowering. Inside, it's creamy with delicate blue veining, while the outside sports a limestone hued natural rind. Try it with sweet honeycomb.
Semi-hard Cheese • Creamy and buttery • Hint of sweetness
This cheese originated in the Netherlands, but thanks to the craft and skill of local cheesemakers, Ontario gouda-style cheeses have become some of the most sought after. One of the most popular cheeses in the world, gouda is creamy and buttery with hints of sweetness. Its flavour becomes more complex as it ages. Try it from Mountainoak Cheese or Thunder Oak Cheese.
How to serve
Slice along the side of the gouda to form nicely-cut long wedges. Try pairing it with sweet and spicy red pepper jelly, and a glass of VQA riesling.
Black Truffle from Mountainoak Cheese in New Hamburg, Ont.
The luxurious flavour of black truffle is right at home in this creamy gouda. Uniquely aromatic and flavourful, this decadent cheese is perfect to break out on special occasions. Mountainoak Black Truffle has won several awards, both in Canada and abroad.
Soft cheese • Bloomy rind • Mild with a creamy centre
Made with cow's milk, brie-style cheeses are soft and buttery with a deliciously creamy centre. The bloomy rind is edible. Ontario produces a variety of unique and delicious brie cheeses, each capturing the unique style of its maker. Serve it sliced or bake it in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 F. For additional flavour, score the top and add fig jam, honey or red pepper jelly.
Rinds that are created as a result of the cheesemaking process are edible, while ones that are applied afterwards, like wax casings, are not. Brie and camembert-style cheeses have mold-based, bloomy rinds while parmesan and other aged cheeses have hard rinds — all of which you can eat, or save and use later to flavour soups and sauces.
Olives are a cheese board staple. Try sweet, buttery Castelvetrano olives with Belle Marie Double Crème Brie from Albert’s Leap.
Creamy and smoky cheeses like brie have met their match in the fruit-forward and buttery flavours of local Ontario chardonnay.
Crisp and crunchy apple paired with creamy brie is a classic flavour and texture combination. Try it with Honeycrisp apple.
Brigid's Brie from Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese in Woodstock, Ont.
This soft-surface, ripened cheese is made from cow's milk from their family farm, and comes in 200 g wheels. Each batch is delicately handled to preserve the creamy centre.
Soft or semi-soft cheese • Pasta filata cheese
Mozzarella is a mild, supple and refreshing cheese that gets its flavour from cow's milk. It carries the light scent of whole cream. For those with delicate and sensitive palates, this light cheese is a crowd-pleaser. When melted, the flavour profile changes, becoming more stringy and mellow.
Heat things up
To add a little warmth to your cheese board, try out this simple dish. Start by preheating the oven to 400 F. In a mixing bowl, add cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, like the one from Ferrante Cheese in Vaughan, Ont. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette. Pour the mixture onto a baking tray and roast for about 15 minutes. Serve warm with crispy toasts or crackers of your choosing.
Discover an array of local cheesemakers and cheese shops across the province
Wilton Cheese Factory
287 Simmons Rd., Odessa
The Wilton Cheese Factory, outside Kingston, has been making quality, artisanal cheeses since 1867. Don't miss their fresh cheese curds.
1120 County Rd. 8, Campbellford
Empire Cheese has been crafting a large variety of delicious traditional and flavoured cheeses for over 140 years.
Lakeview Cheese Galore
848 Lakeshore Rd. E., Mississauga
Everything from Alpine-styles to creamy blue is up for grabs at this emporium for Canadian artisanal cheese in Mississauga.
Farmhouse Artisan Cheese Shop
345 Kerr St., Oakville
Oakville's only shop dedicated to cheese is well worth a visit. Come for the French-style triple cream, stay for the chorizo and duck foie gras.
Thunder Oak Cheese Farm
611 Boundary Dr., Thunder Bay
Jacob and Margaret Schep's come from cheesemaking stock and brought their brand of gouda to Thunder Bay in 1995 — lucky us.
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese
Prince Edward County
It's not just wine that benefits from its terroir. Fifth Town Artisan Cheese uses P.E.C. milk from local farms to make tasty handmade cheeses.
These are just a few gems that await your visit. For more on Ontario cheeses visit milk.org