Niagara Falls Blog

What to Look for at the 6th Annual Greater Niagara Region Home and Garden Show 2016

NFHblog5The Niagara Peninsula is easily one of the most fertile places in all of Canada and North America as is evidenced by our wealth of wineries, vineyards, orchards, and farms. Blessed with a mild climate, an abundance of fresh water, and rich, well-draining soil, it’s common practice for many people in the region — not just professional famers, landscaping companies, and vineyard owners — to plant and maintain impressive gardens and tend to luscious and intentional landscapes.

Maybe that’s the reason why one of the newest annual traditions in the Niagara region is the early spring home and garden show held the first weekend in March at the Scotiabank Convention Centre.

Whether you’re coming to Niagara for a quick romantic getaway, a business meeting, or to take in some much-needed R&R at one of the world’s best tourist destinations, if you love home improvement, landscaping, or gardening, plan your Niagara trip to coincide with this event.

Open to the public from Friday, March 4th at 2 p.m. through Sunday, March 6th at 5 p.m., for just $7.00, you can see, read, listen, sample, and learn from some of the best in the home, garden, and landscaping industries. Full of exhibits, displays, vendors, and demonstrations, here is some of what you should look for at the 6th Annual Greater Niagara Region Home and Garden Show.

The Complete Home Improvement Centre

NFHblog6For anyone who loves renovating, updating, or just generally improving a home, this year’s Complete Home Improvement Centre will be a definite highlight. Learn tricks and tips for those do-it-yourself projects you’ve been putting off. Discover the latest in materials and design, from flooring and roofing to storage and lighting.

Even if you’re completely satisfied with your home the way it is now, you’re likely to find great ideas and products that will help you make better decisions about what to do in the future.

Garden, Landscape and Outdoor Living Showcase

While the landscapers and gardening experts taking part in the Greater Niagara Region Home and Garden Show will mostly be offering insight and advice for homeowners and growers in the Niagara region, much of the information you can glean about getting your yard and flowerbeds ready for warmer weather is applicable no matter where you live.

Find out what to plant for a robust-looking summer yard. Learn about when to put spring flowers in the ground and how to keep them safe from late frosts. Discover which trees, bushes, and plants will keep your yard and landscaping looking great through the autumn months. For anyone looking to bone up on how to best improve the look of their home’s exterior, the Garden, Landscape, and Outdoor Living Showcase should not be missed.

Gardening Seminars

As the trend toward a larger and healthier local food economy continues to gather steam throughout North America, one thing anyone with a little bit of earth can do to help out is plant a garden. Whether you own a half-acre or you just have a little roof space on which to place some raised beds, the Gardening Seminars held throughout the weekend will answer many of your questions about how to garden most effectively given your space and your ambition.

For home, land, and garden improvement Niagara-style, head to the Scotiabank Convention Centre this March 4th through the 6th.


5 Reasons You’d Rather Spend Your College Spring Break in Niagara

nfhblog1.jpfWhen it comes to possible college spring break destinations, cooler climes rarely make the list as students flock by the thousands to warm and sunny beaches throughout the southern United States. While many enjoy a rowdy week off from studying and other adult-like responsibilities, the endless party and beach scene isn’t a fit for everyone.

If you’re wondering where to spend your upcoming college Spring Break, but you’d rather avoid tending to sunburn and talking about which bar has the best Jello shots, consider spending a week in Niagara. From the giant indoor water park to the lower drinking age, the area has a lot to recommend it — especially for college students looking for a great experience that won’t require them to forego plenty of rest and relaxation.

1. The Water Park

One of North America’s largest indoor water parks can be found in Niagara Falls at the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. Filled with 125,000 square feet of water-centered entertainment, you can zip down a six-story high water slide, hit the full-size wave pool, and relax in the adults-only hot tub. For water fun that can keep you and your friends entertained without requiring any sun block, Fallsview is perfect.

2. The Drinking Age

Especially for students who are attending college in the United States, spending a week in Niagara — with its legal drinking age of 19 — is an obvious perk. Why spend your Spring Break with a fake ID and the potential for legal woes somewhere in the U.S.? As long as you’re 19 and drink responsibly, you can enjoy everything from the area’s world-renowned wine to a happy hour Long Island Iced Tea.

3. The Poutine

nfhblog2If there’s one thing college students do on a regular basis, it’s eat inexpensive comfort food at all hours of the day. While pizza, nachos, burgers, and donuts are all available in the Niagara region for your Spring Break enjoyment, a popular Canadian dish called poutine can be had as well.

French fries covered in fresh cheese curd and gravy, poutine is one of those dishes whose simplicity betrays its remarkable tastiness, and you can find it at a dozen different restaurants in the area with a dozen different variations.

4. The Scenery

Whether you routinely take photos for your own personal enjoyment or for the enjoyment of others in posts to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, the scenery at Niagara Falls is its own perfect reason to spend your Spring Break here. The waterfalls, the parks, the Niagara River, the vineyards, and farms — the entire Niagara Peninsula is ripe for unforgettable photos.

5. The Pace

While it’s true that Niagara Falls is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, March and April aren’t busy times. For the college student genuinely in need of a break, the slow and easy pace of Niagara in spring is ideal. You’ll have no crowds to push through and few waits to endure at concerts, bars, restaurants, and wineries.

Spring Break in Niagara will afford you the chance to spend your time exactly as you choose at the speed you desire so when you head back to school, you’ll be truly rejuvenated.

Spend your Spring Break in Niagara and get the rest you need while having the time of your life.


Eat Your Heart Out in Abruzzo (in Niagara)

NFHblog1One of the most exciting aspects of any vacation is getting to eat three square meals a day in a brand-new place. From Chicago to Paris to the outback of Australia, food is one of the best reflections of history, culture, people, and place.

While it’s true that almost any trip will afford you new dishes to taste, for the visitor to Niagara, taste is an experience that is second to none. From the many excellent restaurants gracing the city of Niagara Falls to the farm-to-table establishments in the towns and wineries that make up the Niagara Peninsula, eating in Niagara need never be an afterthought.

Nowhere is this truer than in the Rainbow Room, a fine dining Italian restaurant operated under the watchful and creative eye of celebrity chef, Massimo Capra. Born in Italy, Capra routinely offers specialty culinary events at the Rainbow Room centered on the regions or towns of his homeland, and on Friday, March 4th, he’s highlighting Abruzzo.

About Abruzzo

Abruzzo is a region in Italy that covers just over 4,000 square miles and is home to some 1.3 million people. Known as a land of poets and artists, the people hold fast to many forms of traditional artisanship including their pasta making. Considered the greenest area in all of Europe, roughly one third of the area has been set aside as protected nature preserves and national parks. Abruzzo’s parks and reserves are, in many ways, responsible for assisting in the survival of up to 75 percent of the wildlife in Europe, including many rare species such as the Golden Eagle, the Apennine Wolf, and the Small Wading Dotterel. It is a diverse and fertile place, and, of course, it’s known for its cuisine.

Abruzzo Cuisine

True to form, the region of Abruzzo has fantastic food that differs in many ways from other parts of Italy. For instance, roast lamb is a common regional ingredient and is enjoyed in a wide variety of incarnations. Some of the area’s most popular dishes include:

  • Maccheroni alla Chitarra, a pasta that is similar in shape to spaghetti that is formed when pressed through a chitarra.
  • Gnocchi carrati, a dish that includes bacon, pecorino, and eggs.
  • Pastuccia, a polenta stew that features eggs, cheese, and sausage.
  • Pecora al cotturo, which is lamb that has been stuffed with a wide variety of mountain herbs before being cooked in a copper pot.

The Rainbow Room Event

NFHblog2The cuisine of Abruzzo will be on full display during the night of the March 4th culinary event, and each course will be paired with wine from the region as well. Masciarelli Winery is a fantastic winery that started with a vineyard that covered just 2.5 hectares. Today, it boasts over 300 hectares scattered across the Abruzzo region, which allows for wines that aren’t just distinct to Abruzzo but distinct to the many different terroirs within the region. Abruzzo, then, is honored in every bite and sip taken throughout this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For a taste of Abruzzo while you’re in the heart of Niagara, reserve your seat at the Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra now.


Pairings and Icewine: How to Get It Right

nfnblogj7.jpegTo many people around the world, Niagara’s claim to fame begins and ends with the stunning trio of waterfalls for which it is named. What other reason could there possibly be to travel to the Niagara region except to gaze upon such a majestic and unparalleled onslaught of water?

Well, you could list the restaurants, festivals, biking, fireworks, parks system, and entertainment, but if you want to give a single, simple answer: icewine will suffice. Known as “liquid gold,” icewine is the crown jewel of Niagara’s viticulture in many ways. Delicate, delicious, and difficult to make, icewine is harvested during the winter months but easily enjoyed all year long — especially when you know what to serve it with.

Cheese

Cheese is an ideal companion to icewine, so long as you use cheeses with strong flavor. Milder cheeses tend to disappear in the presence of icewine’s sweetness and complex acidity, which is why you can always choose blue cheeses like Roquefort or Gorgonzola. If you don’t like blue cheese, hard, aged cheeses also work well. Go for a Parmigiano Reggiano or a very aged Sharp Cheddar.

Spicy Foods

Spicy food is another fabulous pairing for icewine’s sweetness. Whether you’re eating Thai, Indian, Mexican, or Creole, the spicier the dish, the better your glass of icewine will taste. Besides the way its sweetness balances the spices present, icewine — because it’s best served chilled — can also serve as a bit of a cooling presence should your mouth start to feel feverish.

Salty Foods

Another great way to enjoy icewine with a meal is to serve it alongside salty dishes. From anchovies to olives and capers, enjoying icewine in conjunction with salt will enhance your experience of both the food and the wine.

Rich Foods

Finding a sweet wine to compliment rich foods such as foie gras, pate, or a meat such as duck can often be tricky. These types of food are higher in fat, and therefore, the dish doesn’t give up much room to the sugars present in a lot of sweeter wines. However, icewine isn’t just a sweet wine; it also has a welcome amount of acidity in it. This complexity allows icewine allows to complement rich food very well.

nfhblog8.jpegDesserts

It may seem counter-intuitive to add a sweet wine to your dessert course, but icewine pairs exceedingly well with sweeter dishes. Because there is such a wide range of icewine available, you can also get remarkably picky about what type of varietal you serve with what type of dessert. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Vidal icewine pairs quite well with a wide range of fruit-based desserts, whether you’re serving a banana pudding, a peach cobbler, or a pineapple upside-down cake.
  • Riesling Icewine is also prefect with citrus, pineapple, honeydew, and kiwi.
  • Cabernet Franc icewine complements berry-centered desserts whether you’re working with strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. Or, if you’re serving a rich dessert like chocolate, custard, or a crème brulee, look for a Cabernet Franc icewine so that the wine and the creamy richness of your dish won’t be in competition with one another.

Whether you serve it on its own or as an accompaniment to these many food pairing suggestions, Niagara icewine is a treat of exceptional range and quality.


Where to Get a Great Cocktail in Niagara

nfhblog5.jpegNo matter what time of year you visit, vacationing in Niagara will afford you ample opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself. From the casinos and the shopping to the simple pleasure you’re sure to get from taking in the region’s eponymous waterfalls, there is so much to see and do that almost anyone can have a good time here — even the lover of quality cocktails.

While Niagara certainly doesn’t have the speakeasy and prohibition-style cocktail reputation enjoyed by larger urban areas such as New York City, that doesn’t mean the spirits snob will suffer. Here are a handful of places where you can get a great cocktail in the Niagara region, whether you’re enjoying it along with dinner or as the precursor to even more cocktails.

The Rainbow Room

One of the finest restaurants in the region, The Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra also boasts an excellent wine list, a full bar, and a delightful cocktail selection. Whether you make a reservation for dinner or you come in for a mid-afternoon drink and snack — something light and fresh-tasting that will pair well with a salad, for example — you simply cannot go wrong with this establishment. Everything from the food and decor to the view is top-notch, which makes the cocktails taste that much better.

nfhblog6.jpegThe Keg Steakhouse

A chain that has numerous locations throughout Canada, The Keg Steakhouse is a great place to get a steak or a martini. Especially if you like your martinis made in line with the classic style — a.k.a. gin-based — their Cucumber Collins is a must. Hendrick’s Gin is shaken with simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, muddled English cucumber, and fresh rosemary before being topped with a bit of 7up.

Two Black Sheep

Located in St. Hamilton, this small and hip space is the perfect place to grab an unusual and expertly crafted cocktail. Charcuterie plates, local wine, chocolates, oysters, and booze abound. If you’re looking for a cocktail experience that feels like it’s a direct homage to Brooklyn, Two Black Sheep will fit the bill. They’re open every day from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m., and they also feature dollar oysters between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. every day. It’s the perfect place for an early evening hangout or an after the party nightcap.

Avanti Bar and Grill

An Italian restaurant in Niagara Falls, Avanti Bar and Grill can be counted on to provide a good cocktail, regardless of the type of liquor you’re seeking. A simple establishment that features excellent fare, you can easily sit down at the bar and enjoy everything from a Manhattan or a Negroni to a Chocolate Martini. Should you also be hankering for a meal, their pizza is excellent, too. They also offer plenty of beer specials for whenever you decide you need to pace yourself a bit.

Whatever it is that calls you to Niagara, don’t neglect the cocktail-loving side of yourself. Whether you find yourself in Niagara Falls proper or in St. Catharines, the region has plenty of restaurants and bars where your love for fine spirits can be both awakened and sated.


Spotlight on the Niagara Brewing Company

NFHblog3.jpegWine enthusiasts the world over have been taking notice of the Niagara Peninsula for over three decades now thanks to the region’s remarkable wine makers and grape-friendly terroir. It’s a trend that seems to show no sign of slowing as, every year; more and more people realize that Niagara wine is some of the finest in the world.

This emphasis on wine and wine culture can sometimes make the beer enthusiast on vacation to Niagara wonder if there’s anything of merit regarding his or her alcohol of choice. The answer is a resounding, “Yes.” While craft beer brewing is relatively new to the Niagara scene, the results are nevertheless worthy of drinking and praise. Throughout the region, beermakers of all kinds are flexing their muscle and honing their craft, and the Niagara Brewing Company is one of the finest.

The Brewer

Located less than a half mile from the waterfalls, the Niagara Brewing Company finally opened their doors in June of 2015. Located at the site of the former Foxhead Inn, Niagara Brewing Company started in order to fulfill a quest to create daring and memorable beers. And to accomplish that goal, they’ve put a veteran brewer in charge of their brewing operations.

Gord Slater has been working in breweries and brewpubs for over 30 years across all of North America. Seen by many as the founder of Ontario’s craft brewing scene, he was actually one of the people who, in 1984, led the charge to convince the government to move forward with legislation that would legalize brewpubs in the province. Since that time, he has crafted numerous recipes, the most notable in his mind? A hopped German lager that won Best of Show at a beer show in Germany. He brings all that expertise to bear on his efforts at the Niagara Brewing Company.

nfhblog4.jpegThe Beer

The Niagara Brewing Company routinely makes one-of-a-kind beers, but their staples also shine. The Beerdevil IPA honors the daredevils of Niagara Falls with a flavor that is not for the faint of heart. Hoppy and malty, it’s well-balanced, but also just a little bit off its rocker. The Amber Eh? Ale is a traditional ale that’s light and toasty with just a hint of hops. The Niagara Premium Lager is exactly what you’d expect from a smooth, clean, and crisp lager, but it gains just enough specificity from its slight sweetness and hint of citrus.

Beer on Ice

Another great thing about the Niagara Brewing Company is they don’t content themselves with simply conducting business as usual. Beer on Ice, a beer-centered event slated to take place on February 5th, couples Niagara icewine with specialty chocolate beers crafted for the event by Gord Slater. For anyone who loves beer or wine — or both — it promises to be an evening unlike any other. Guests can meet Gord Slater, and, in addition to tasting the brews, they can also enjoy food pairings selected exclusively for the event.

Beer may not yet be as synonymous with Niagara as wine, but with the help of breweries like Niagara Brewing Company, it soon will be. So the next time you come to Niagara, be sure to spend some time exploring the taps.


4 Lesser-Known Niagara Museums Perfect for Low-Key Afternoons

NFHBlog7.jpegAs any local or regular visitor to Niagara can tell you, the place is full of entertainment options. Arcades, nature hikes, bird watching, musical theater, indoor water parks, concerts, and more— from sun-up to long past sun-down, there really is always plenty of fun to be had. In fact, there’s so much fun to be had in Niagara that it’s hard to keep track of all of it — especially when what you need is something to do on a low-key afternoon.

If you’re planning a trip to Niagara in the next little while, and you’d like to partake of some of the lesser-known entertainment options so as to not exert too much energy before nightfall, here is a closer look at four museums that are sure to delight.

The Wedding Museum

Since Niagara Falls is known as the Honeymoon Capitol of the World, it’s only fitting that a wedding museum should also exist within its city limits. Visitors will enjoy looking over wedding dresses and tuxedos that reach from the present day all the back into the 1870s. In addition to wedding attire, there is a large collection of other women’s and men’s clothing dating back into the 1830s. The Wedding Museum is also the home to an impressive hat collection that spans almost two centuries, and many of these pieces are on display, too.

Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum

NFHBlog8.jpegLocated in a historic two-story limestone building that’s almost 150 years old, the Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum marks and commemorates the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, the Battle of Chippawa, and the War of 1812 overall. An expansive collection of artifacts related to the time and the war is housed in the museum, including numerous rare prints of Niagara Falls over the years. Open to curious visitors and researchers alike, the museum offers hours throughout the year in an attempt to keep the history of the region — and the early 19th-century war that affected it so greatly — alive. The museum also includes artifacts and displays related to the African Experience in Niagara Falls, as the region was an important stopping point for escaped slaves from the United States before the Civil War.

The Willoughby Historical Museum

While it’s only open to tours during the offseason by appointment, a visit to the Willoughby Historical Museum will afford you a chance to see artifacts from around the region, as well as insight into what life would have been like a hundred years earlier in Willoughby and Chippawa when Canadians lived a much more rural existence. In addition to preserving history, the museum also houses genealogical records that reach back generations. For anyone with ancestry local to the area, it’s a fascinating and unparalleled resource.

The Battleground Hotel Museum

Another museum to mark the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, the Hotel Museum sits on top of a portion of the Lundy’s Lane battlefield directly across from the Drummond Hill Cemetery, where some of the worst fighting of the War of 1812 occurred. Visits to this museum are guided and include tours of rooms that look much the same way a tavern would have looked back in the early 19th century. Open daily from May until November, visitors during the winter months are still able to book a tour through appointment.

Whether you love exploring more of the region’s history or you’re just looking for a lazy and interesting way to spend an afternoon, these four museums offer a unique look into one of the world’s most fascinating regions.


It’s the Holidays! Here’s Some of the Best Fudge in Niagara

NFHBlog5.jpegNiagara Falls is known for many wonderful things and deservedly so. From the waterfalls that made the region famous to the world-class and award-winning wineries and vineyards that fill the countryside in and around it, any visit to Niagara Falls is bound to include unforgettable experiences. While it may seem improbable to the uninitiated in the ways of decadent fudge, Niagara’s fudge shops are just one more reason to love the place. Rich, creamy, and easy to find, here is a look at some of the best fudge in Niagara, just in time to help you get your fix this holiday season.

Swiss Fudge

A favorite since it opened in 1966, Swiss Fudge is located in the Fallsview Casino Resort and boasts swoon-worthy fudge, gifts, chocolate, and more. Known for using only the finest ingredients to make their world-famous fudge, everything they use, from the butter and cream to the chocolate and nuts is always premium. All their fudge is made according to the traditional method, too: heated on cast iron stoves in copper kettles before being spread out to cool on marble. Some of the most popular flavors include:

  • Canadian Maple
  • Irish Cream
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter
  • Oreo
  • Double Chocolate
  • And more!

Fudge Factory

NFHBlog6.jpegLocated on Clifton Hill, the Fudge Factory features over 20 different flavors of gourmet fudge, all of it made fresh, right there. They also have a Candy Bar that allows you to purchase over 50 different types of candy and chocolate in bulk and at bulk-rate prices, which means you won’t have to choose between satisfying your craving for delicious fudge and your craving for Sour Soothers. Perhaps the best thing about the Fudge Factory is the fact that it’s open every day of the year, and during the busy season from June to September, they don’t close down until 1 a.m.

Reg’s Candy Kitchen

Situated in the Rainbow Bridge Plaza, Reg’s Candy Kitchen has been wowing visitors to Niagara with delicious fudge since 1967. Homemade by Reg Wall, the fudge at Reg’s is always creamy, rich, and sweet — just like their famous peanut brittle — and all of it is made on-site at the Candy Kitchen through a traditional process that can be watched when you stop by to visit. 15 flavors are always available, including:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate Walnut
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Rocky Road
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Pecan
  • And more!

Ye Olde Fudge Pot

Since 1976 the Smith family has been crafting and selling fudge at festivals, fairs, craft shows, and events all across the Niagara region and Canada. All-natural ingredients and traditional fudge-making practices make sure the fudge at Ye Olde Fudge Pot is some of the best you’ll ever taste. The next time you catch an event or fair in the Niagara region, be on the lookout for the Smith family’s fudge, since they’ll likely be in attendance.

So, come up to Niagara and fill up on fudge this holiday season — it’s just one more reason to love visiting no matter what time of year it is.


The Best Niagara Wines to Serve With a Turkey Dinner

NFHBlog1.jpegAll across Canada, the United States, and throughout much of the world, families and friends will soon gather to celebrate and mark another holiday season. In between catching up with one another, opening presents, and taking long and treasured walks down memory lane, the activity that’s bound to receive the most preparation and attention is definitely holiday eating. While every get-together will have its own spin on the classics, whether you’re indulging in latkes or Christmas cookies, one solid standby that will appear on almost every holiday table is roast turkey. This year, let that bird shine, by pairing it with a perfectly chosen glass of Niagara Peninsula wine.

Regardless of how you feel about wine the rest of the year, if you’re planning to head up to Niagara around the holidays, take some time out to shop for a handful of wines that will make your holiday turkey even tastier. From a subtle pinot noir to a lively riesling, here are some pairing suggestions you can only find in the Niagara Peninsula.

Pinot Noir

A good pinot noir is a great choice for turkey, especially if red wine is the go-to preference of the family and friends with whom you’ll be dining for your holiday meal. Higher in acid and lower in tannins than other reds, a pinot noir won’t overshadow the flavors in poultry the way a more tannic wine like a cabernet sauvignon would. Also, a pinot noir pairs well with traditional side dishes like potatoes and gravy and a rich, herby stuffing. Some great Niagara pinot noirs can be purchased from the following wineries:

  • Flat Rock Cellars
  • Five Rows Craft Winery
  • Inniskillin

Riesling

NFHBlog2.jpegA little bit of sugar can be a great help with the saltiness that often accompanies a holiday meal, and a crisp and off-dry riesling is often seen as turkey’s best companion. Especially if you can find something that has a bit of fruit it in, a riesling can sit next to turkey as well as the finest of cranberry sauces. Some of the best rieslings in the Niagara Peninsula come from the following wineries:

  • Cateau des Charmes
  • Flat Rock Cellars
  • Thirty Bench
  • Ravine Winery

Red Zinfandel

Zinfandels can be a little tricky to find, which is a shame, because as far as holiday turkey pairings go, they’re a great dry choice. Lush, fruity, deep without being heavy, a good red zinfandel (or a blend that includes the grape) can work well with both turkey and the cheese plate that precedes dinner. Look for a zinfandel that has a little higher alcohol content, as those tend to be a bit more complex. A couple Niagara Peninsula vineyards and wineries that can be counted on to produce these wines include:

  • Reif Estate Winery
  • Inniskillin

Make the most of your trip to Niagara this holiday season. While you’re taking in the sights and sounds, be sure to stop in at some of the region’s award-winning wineries and grab a bottle of wine or two to enjoy with loved ones while you indulge in a turkey dinner.


For Cheese Lovers Only: What You Need to Know About the Upper Canada Cheese Company

image001For the average eater of cheese, cheddar is cheddar and a gouda is indistinguishable from provolone. To the cheese lover, however, there are worlds of difference to be experienced even within the same variety of cheese. No two gorgonzolas or comtes are alike given the fact that everything from where the cheese was made to how long it was aged can all heavily influence a cheese’s outcome.

For a while now, the Niagara region has been a destination for oenophiles, but increasingly, cheese fans are finding the place a wealth of flavor as well. The artisanal cheese scene is flourishing in the Niagara Peninsula, and here is a look at one of the area’s crown jewels: the Upper Canada Cheese Company.

Origins

Founded and built by Wayne Philbrick, the Upper Canada Cheese Company got its start when Philbrick’s summer travels though Quebec awakened his interest in artisanal cheese. A construction contractor who had also tried his hand at winemaking, ever since that summer trip, Philbrick has been gung-ho over cheese. He has undergone extensive training as a cheesemaker, and, today, his cheese shop not only sells the two artisanal cheeses they produce in-house, but the Upper Canada Cheese Company’s store also features scores of products from local and international makers, making it a great stop for visitors to the Niagara region who want to know more about the foods, wares, and cheeses produced in Niagara and throughout Ontario.

The Cheese

The skilled and careful cheese makers at the Upper Canada Cheese Company make two types of cheese, and they are both of the semi-soft variety. One is called Comfort Cream, and it is remarkably similar to a French Camembert. The other is called Niagara Gold, and it is based on a type of cheese made by Trappist monks in France’s Loire Valley. Occasionally, a ricotta cheese is also made and sold.

The Milk

image003Behind the excellent cheese and craftsmanship of the Upper Canada Cheese Company is the milk that’s used to make their cheeses. Only milk from Guernsey cows is used, and the ones that supply the Upper Canada Cheese Company come from the herd that resides at the Comfort Family Farm. Guernsey cows are rare — there are only six Guernsey herd in all of Canada — and they are known for producing a golden milk that’s higher in butterfat and, therefore, richer in flavor. They also enjoy a storied history that reaches back into the 10th century onto a small island in the English Channel called the Isle of Guernsey.

Bred there by militant monks charged with keeping pirates at bay, the Guernsey line developed from two French cattle breeds: Norman Brindles and Froment du Leons. First introduced to the Americas in 1840, the Guernsey line became a part of the Canadian landscape when a bull and two heifers were brought into the country in the middle of the 19th century.

For anyone who delights in cheese, a stop at the Upper Canada Cheese Company is a must. They are located in Jordan Station — just a short 20-minute drive from Niagara Falls — and are open seven days a week.