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First national cheese showcase a family affair

A Celtic Blue or Louis d’Or may not be the first cheese on your child’s tongue, but an inaugural event is providing the opportunity for children to taste a variety of Canadian artisan, farmstead and specialty cheese, and to experience first-hand how cheese is made.

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival will make its debut on June 4-5 at the historic Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, the fasting-growing culinary destination in Ontario and newest VQA wine region in Canada.

For the first time in Canada, the festival will bring together cheesemakers from coast-to-coast so cheese lovers, foodies and culinary tourists can meet to learn, talk, taste and buy the best in artisan, farmstead and specialty cheese – and sample fine wine, craft beer and artisan foods.

Petra Cooper (left), founder of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, demonstrates the tranformation of milk into cheese to Grace Scutella and Mayor Peter Mertens. The festival will feature fun for families during a cheese-making for kids seminar Sunday.

On Sunday, festival-goers can sample – and purchase – more than 100 different Canadian cheeses at the Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair. A presentation by Petra Kassun-Mutch, of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, on Cheese Tasting for Kids and Cheesemaking for Children is sure to be educational and entertaining. Organizers aim to make it a fun day for young and old. Wineries and craft breweries will offer beverages for sampling by adults.

It will be the first time the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix winners will be available for tasting and purchase, and adults can learn how to make cheese at home with Margaret Morris-Peters of Glengarry Cheesemaking & Dairy Supply and Glengarry Fine Cheese.

Slow food and agricultural sustainability are the themes for the day.

Saturday June 4 is age of majority only featuring all day tasting seminars led by experts on topics such as Taste of Québec, Artisan Cheeses of Ontario, Whey Out West, Cheese Pairing with Wine or Beer and Battle of the Blues (as in cheese), culminating in the Cooks & Curds Cheese Gala where eight leading chefs will use Canadian artisan cheeses to create eight tasting dishes that will be paired with local wines, craft beer and cider.

Friday June 3: A bonus day has been added for those interested in seeing cheesemaking first hand.  Cheese-plant tours will be offered to nearby Black River Cheese and Fifth Town Artisan Cheese with stops at cow and goat dairy farms.

Some local restaurants will be offering cheese-themed dinners Friday night as well.

Advance registration is a must for:
All-Day Cheese Tour, Friday, June 3
All-Day Cheese-Tasting Seminars, Saturday, June 4
Cooks & Curds Cheese Gala, Saturday, June 4
A limited number of tickets will be available at the gate for:
Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair, Sunday, June 5
Purchase Cheese Fair tickets in advance online at www.CheeseFestival.ca.   Special ticket pricing for children and youth.

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