What makes cheese something we crave so much? Is it the slightly salty flavour, or because it’s the ultimate comfort food? Whatever the reason it’s a fact that cheese added to pretty much any dish only makes it better.
No matter where you are from, cheese has played an important role in our gastronomic evolution. What would pizza be without cheese? Crust. A ham and cheese sandwich would be a sad slice of ham between two even sadder slices of bread. And poutine! We won’t even go there.
Let’s take a moment to honour the mighty cheese and all the flavour and comfort it brings us. Search out flavourful cheeses made with love in a region known for producing excellent artisanal products.
Bring home the best cheese in the province using our Cheese Lover’s Guide to Ontario’s Highlands.
Back 40 Artisan Cheese – Cheese Maker
1406 Gulley Rd., Mississippi Station
Tucked among the scenic backwoods of Frontenac County sits a cute little creamery and cheese house. The cheese house here is under construction until 2022 but you can order ahead from their selection of unpasteurized small-batch cheese made from sheep’s milk. Pick up onsite and while you’re there, have a lovely picnic at this beautiful waterfront location.
Cheesy Bonus: Cured meats pair beautifully with really good cheese, so while you’re in the area, make the short drive to Sharbot Lake to the artisan meat shop, Seed to Sausage and add some meat for your cheese to make an epic charcuterie board.
The Barn Chefs – Cheese Maker
This spot is for true cheese connoisseurs! The Barn Chefs’ owners, Sarah Woods and Luca Molteni, travelled to Italy to study Italian cuisine, and brought back the secrets to making really great artisanal cheeses and meats. Their products give you a taste of Italy in rural Ontario. Naturally, they are located in Hastings County, which has been officially trademarked as the Cheese Capital of Canada!
Cheesy Bonus: Take your cheese and meats stash to The Gut Conservation Area for a charcuterie picnic beside the Crowe River as it tumbles through a 30-metre high gorge.
Ivanhoe Cheese – Cheese Maker
11301 Hwy 62, Madoc
No trip down Hwy 62 is made without a detour to this longstanding Ontario cheesemaker, Ivanhoe Cheese. This factory outlet is the place to go to stock up on your cheesy favourites from Ivanhoe, and you’ll find a little bit of everything here. Browse antiques, or order an old-fashioned milkshake for an old fashioned daytrip.
Cheesy Bonus: In Madoc, 7/62 Brewery makes really good charcuterie boards that will complete your cheesy experience in Hastings County. And naturally cheese tastes extra good when accompanied by a cold beer.
Milkhouse Farm & Dairy – Cheese Maker
Find sheep to table cheese at this small, artisanal dairy near Smiths Falls. Produced from a flock of British milk sheep, Milhouse Farm & Dairy uses unpasteurized milk and is made in small batches between May and October. Place an order for pick-up at the farm or you can also find their cheese at several local shops, like Valley Custom Cutting and The Pickled Pig in Smiths Falls, or Foodsmiths in Perth.
Cheesy Bonus: Smiths Falls is just a short drive from the farm and makes the perfect spot for a picnic lunch beside the scenic Rideau Canal. Stop by The Pickled Pig to pick up a hearty sandwich or charcuterie board to dine on.
Ontario Water Buffalo Co. – Cheese Maker
3346 Stirling-Marmora Rd., Stirling
If you’re looking for something different, you’ll find it here. Made from water buffalo milk, the cheeses made here are unique and flavourful. Try their buffalo mozzarella for a totally different take on this popular cheese, or their Caciocavallo, Asiago, or Azzurro Di Buffalo for a little more cheesy adventure. Take a guided or self-guided tour of the farm to see these friendly buffalo up close.
Cheesy Bonus: While you’re at the Buff Shop, look for buffalo soap from the Rawdon Creek Soap. Co. Buffalo milk is naturally high in vitamins and minerals that make deliciously decadent soap. After picking up your cheese learn more about the cheese heritage in Hastings County at nearby Farmtown Park.
Perth Cheese Shop – Cheese Store
64 Gore St. E., Perth
What don’t they have at the Perth Cheese Shop? Find cheese, cheese boards, cured meats, and artisan cheeses you’ll fall in love with. True cheese lovers will want to sign up for their Fresh from the Cheese Cellar cheese-of-the-month club or The Bragging Board, a charcuterie-board-of-the-month club. Get your charcuterie in a cone for some on-the-go-fare.
Cheesy Bonus: While you’re in Perth, be sure to visit the Mammoth Cheese, a permanent display in recognition of the 22,000lb cheese sent by Lanark cheesemakers to be exhibited in Chicago at the World’s Fair in 1893.
Calabogie Rustic Farms – Cheese Store
5258 Murphy Rd., Calabogie
Find artisanal cheeses from area cheesemakers here, as well as local farm-fresh products from the Ottawa Valley. These folks carry cheese from Beking’s, Balderson, Gunn Hill, and Glengarry cheesemakers. Drop by their farmstore and browse the goodies in person or order online for pick-up.
Cheesy Bonus: Speaking of cheesy meals, include in your visit to Calabogie a stop at Redneck Bistro to try one of their cheese-focused gourmet poutines like Three Little Pigs (bacon, sausage, pulled pork) and Gastro (bacon, onion and mushroom).
Farmstead Cheesehouse and Gelateria – Cheese Store
2545 Greenwood Rd., Pembroke
If you are looking for a selection of local cheeses, this can be your go-to in the Ottawa Valley – they source their cheeses from family farms in Ontario and Quebec. While you’re there, try their authentic Italian gelato made by a true gelatiera, Fiona Petermann (who knew there was a title for gelato makers?).
Cheesy Bonus: While in Pembroke, head to the downtown to browse their cute boutique shops – check out Dot. and Cork and Coral.
Balderson Village Cheese Store – Cheese Store
1410 Highway 511, Balderson
They may not make cheese here anymore, but the Balderson Cheese Store is still stocked with Balderson-labeled cheeses, among others. They are also a good place to get anything cheese related, like cheese boards, cheese knives, and they serve up a mean ice cream cone as an added bonus.
Cheesy Bonus: When you’re done stocking up on cheese, drop by The Amish Store next door and browse their collection of handcrafted furniture and home décor.