Is there anything better than bonding with friends over a really good baked brie? Or do you delight in sneaking a nibble out of that special award-winning cheese you have been hoarding? From Instagram foodies to the old-fashioned grandmas… cheese is a love that anyone can understand.
The appreciation of cheese is a passion that goes back almost to the dawn of time. It is an ancient art, but more and more local artisans are adding their creative and modern spin to the mix. Creamy, salty, hard, aged, tangy, fruity, buttery, clean; whatever your preference, you will be able to find a cheese to love in the Hamilton area.
Here is a selection of some of our favourite local cheese makers and retailers:
The Udder Way
Slightly off the beaten path, cheese lovers have to plan a visit. Specializing in French-style goat cheese pyramids, they create them through the traditional lactic set method and offer the pyramids in traditional ash covered rind and various other flavours (like chilis and herbs). When asked about their most popular item, Tor Krueger, Cheesemaker and Co-owner, states that it is definitely “Our sun-dried tomato and garlic goat pyramid, Pomodoro di Picco.” Canadians, rejoice! The Udder Way also sells containers of fresh cheese curd, plus products from other artisan Canadian cheese makers in their retail store.
410 RR 20, Hannon
East Hamilton Cheese Company
The latest arrival on the Hamilton cheese scene (yes, there’s a scene) is the Crown Point favourite, East Hamilton Cheese Co. Selling a variety of cheeses from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, water buffalo’s milk, and even vegan and cashew based cheeses, they specialize in only Ontario produced cheese – preferring to deal directly with the farms and manufacturers themselves. Owner Yvette Cowe believes their most popular items are their dairy-free cheese, as well as 5 Brothers or Handeck by Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheeses. A favourite of customers also seems to be their sharp, aged cheddars (five and six years old) made by Jensen Cheese.
187 Ottawa Street North, Hamilton
Taj Mahal Spices & Cheese
The owners and partners at Taj Mahal Spices & Cheese, Milap and Arnie, pride themselves in offering their clients a “Positive Space”, celebrating diversity both in life and in cheese! Customers are able to try many different Canadian and European cheeses, as well as vegan, dairy-free, and lactose-free cheeses. The partners agree that their most popular item in the small, but mighty, Ancaster shop is likely their 14-year aged extra-extra old Ontario cheddar. They also offer local artisan foods like meat-pies, gluten-free pierogis, Foundry ice cream and Dawson’s Hot Sauce, which all have a large fan base in the Hamilton area.
356 Wilson Street East, Ancaster
Mickey McGuire’s Cheese
A favourite in Dundas for over 25 years, Mickey McGuire’s Cheese carries over 400 varieties of cheese spanning from locally-made, to Canadian-made, to imported favourites. The staff at Mickey McGuire’s is also extremely knowledgeable and ready to help you find a new beloved cheese. From brie and aged cheddar, to Oka, cheese curds, and lactose-free cheeses – interesting and unusual cheeses can be found at this little Dundas shop.
2 King Street West, Unit #1, Dundas
Family-owned Paron Cheese is one of the oldest cheese companies in Ontario. Established in the 1930’s, the family creates their cheese based on old Italian styles, with each hand-crafted cheese made in the traditional style. A favourite among customers is their Montasio cheese, which when fresh is mild with a nutty texture, and it develops a rind and stronger flavour as the cheese ages. Discover old world flavours at Paron Cheese!
400 Regional Road 20 Hwy East, Hannon
Important Rules For The Best Cheese Platters
Keep strong cheeses away from subtle flavoured cheeses when placing them on the same board.
For the best flavour, always serve your cheese at room temperature rather than straight from the fridge.
A proper cheese knife is most useful and you really should try to use a different knife for each cheese.
Label the cheeses so you can share the information about your cheese choices with your guests.
by Heather Peter