Cheese is a love that everyone can understand, whether it be Top Chefs or foodies to your family and friends, cheese is something we all love and can bond over.
There has been a long appreciation of cheese since the beginning of time.
According to an ancient legend, it was made accidentally by an Arabian merchant who put his supply of milk into a pouch made from a sheep's stomach, as he set out on a day's journey across the desert. The rennet in the lining of the pouch, combined with the heat of the sun, caused the milk to separate into curd and whey. That night he found that the whey satisfied his thirst, and the cheese (curd) had a delightful flavour which satisfied his hunger.
Today, we’re celebrating those who keep the traditions of cheesemaking strong in our region so we can continue to enjoy their delicious creations for years to come! Here is our list of our favourite local cheesemakers, whose products you can find at The Cheese Wedge.
Great Lakes Goat Dairy
Located in Wyoming, Ontario for over 15 years, Anthony & Marj founded Great Lakes Goat Dairy (2008) with the love of cheese and value of farming in their heart. Anthony and Marj both had worked on their family farms growing up and they immersed themselves in the art of cheesemaking.
In 2010 they won Young Farmers Awards & in 2011 the farm won the Forage Master of the Year award for all of Ontario.
Goat dairy products are incredibly tasty and go well with a wide variety of foods. In addition, they have been endorsed by many doctors as a healthy alternative to cow dairy products. It’s easier for your stomach to digest and is also good for people who are lactose intolerant. It has tryptophan, that same sort of mellowing agent that turkey has. Goat's milk has been proven to be higher in protein, potassium, calcium and magnesium, which is why so many have started to embrace it as a health conscious option.
A favourite cheese in our shop is their Caramelized Onion Goat Cheese, which is always flying off the shelves. It has their Goat Cheddar is mixed with a tantalizing blend of caramelized onion that goes perfect with BBQ season. Try their Greek Goat Cheese for a burst of flavour of the Mediterranean or their Maple Cheddar Goat Cheese blended with 100% Canadian maple syrup for a mild and subtle sweetness.
They have a full list of recipes on their website for you to experiment with. Check it out at https://greatlakesgoatdairy.com/
Great Lakes Goat Dairy has their own retail store located in Wyoming, Ontario that is open to the public.
Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese
Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese is a small artisan cheese plant nestled within the rolling hills of Oxford County, Ontario. The cheese plant is located within the heart of the Dairy Capital of Canada and is only minutes away from downtown Woodstock. The milk used to create their cheeses comes from the neighbouring family dairy farm, Friesvale Farms, where the finest Canadian milk is produced. To ensure cheeses that are of top quality and taste Gunn's Hill Cheese are hand crafted using traditional cheese-making methods. Shep Ysselstein is the Owner/Operator of Gunn's Hill.
Shep’s journey began on his family dairy farm. He has had numerous opportunities studying and making cheese in the United States, British Columbia and Switzerland. It was during these adventures that he developed a passion and skill set for cheese making. Although each experience offered infinite learning opportunities, it was during the time when he was making cheese in the Swiss Alps that he truly fell in love with the art and mastered his technique. Gunn's Hill Artisan Cheese is now producing three unique, hand crafted Swiss style cheeses. Today, there are two full time cheese makers and a team of staff that work diligently to produce some of Canada's finest award winning cheeses.
Some of our favourite cheeses come from Shep and his team. Brigid’s Brie is a top favourite made with cows milk, aged 6 weeks and has a beautiful creamy centre. Another favourite is Dark side of the Moo. It is a mild and creamy cheese with buttery flavours and soaked in Dark Side Chocolate Stout from Woodstock’s Upper Thames Brewery. We carry lots of Gunn's Hill cheeses, come try out a few and enjoy the flavour profiles Shep and his team have created for your enjoyment.
Gunn's Hill have their own retail store, where you can also visit and watch the cheesemaking process. You can book a personalized tour online for $10 per person. Check out their website, https://gunnshillcheese.ca/
Mountain Oak Cheese in New Hamburg, Ontario was founded by Adam and his wife Hannie van Bergeijk. They took over their family dairy farm in Holland in 1976. In 1981, they both attended the renowned cheesemakers school in Gouda, that is a centre of cheesemaking expertise for over 300 years. After seeking a brighter future for their children the van Bergeijk’s immigrated to Canada in 1996 where they purchased their present farm. With the intention of just being dairy farmers, It wasn’t long before they were making cheese for their own consumption. Then finally creating a state of the art processing plant that allows them to continue the tradition of great tasting, high quality Gouda-style cheese from their own dairy cows. They plant their own seed, care for and harvest their own crops and treat their animals with respect and personal care.
They help take care of our environment, leaving the smallest possible carbon footprint by producing their cheese right there on the farm with no extensive travelling or cooling.
Our favourite Goudas include their Black Truffle Gouda, uniquely aromatic and often thought of as a cheese to be saved for special occasions. This cheese has a flavour that separates it from all others.
Farmstead Smoked Gouda is another favourite. Naturally Applewood smoked at their own facility, they take smooth and creamy Farmstead Mild Gouda and give it an enjoyable smoky flavour.
If you haven’t heard of Quark, you must try it! Quark is a fresh cheese with a smooth, creamy & spreadable texture. It is known and loved by athletes for its high protein content. It can be topped with maple syrup, fresh fruit, jam or just enjoyed plain. It is great in everything from lasagna to cheesecake.
Quark is a great source of protein, calcium and a variety of vitamins and minerals. No preservatives, no added sugar, no thickeners and no food dyes. Just pasteurized whole milk with bacterial culture and rennet.
Mountain Oak has a Farm Store that customers can go to and purchase if in the New Hamburg area. They are also starting Farm Tours every Saturday for the month of May at a cost of $15 per person. Check out their website, https://mountainoakcheese.ca/
Amarjit Singh is a self-taught cheesemaker and the owner of Ingersoll's Local Dairy which he has owned and operated with his wife and son for 3 decades.
Amarjit makes Indian and Mexican cheeses and has even won the Canadian Grand Prix for his Mexican Oaxcaca (the top award for Canadian Cheese making).
No one would expect an award-winning Latin American cheese from a Canadian Sikh of Indian descent but, it’s mostly explained as a byproduct of Canada’s multiculturalism.
In the past two decades, Singh has travelled to cheese factories in Mexico, Italy, England, France, India, Turkey, and Cyprus to learn different styles and techniques. Currently, he and his staff of seven make over a dozen dairy products, including Oaxaca, queso fresco, duro blando, chihuahua, koch käse, crème fraîche, cultured butter, ghee, yogurt, dulce de leche, and, paneer.
Local Dairy’s cheeses are some of the best reproduction cheeses that you can get from Latin America this side of the boarder. The products are unique and hard to get as there aren’t many cheesemakers making them.
Our go-to for tacos is the Oaxaca and the quark is to die for in smoothies or on its own. Get to know these interesting cheeses and experiment with them in your kitchen!
Check out their website for recipes for these unique cheeses, www.localdairy.ca