The Cheese and Meat Festival

When the sun’s out and gorgeously beating down on a weekend mid-May, people in Victoria require an exceptional reason to stay inside for a few hours. The Cheese and Meat Festival, held at the Roundhouse at Bayview Place, was one such reason.

There were more than forty purveyors of all things meat, cheese, and associated delicacies. It was an excellent opportunity to explore beer, cider, wine, macaron, hummus, Jamon Iberico, and much more. Above and beyond the samples, it was an occasion to chat with a number of the people “behind the curtain”.

Cory Spencer, Haltwhistle Cheese co’s cheesemaker and herd manager, introduced me two kinds of cheese with the exact same recipe, but different types of milk. The Tomme de Vallee, made with their own farm’s goat’s milk, was a nutty, earthy but gentle French Alpine cheese. The Thombury was made with Balme Ayr Farm’s Ayrshire cow’s milk and yielded a vague washed-rind-esque stink and a deeper flavour. This tasting was one of my top moments of the afternoon.

I was delighted to finally sample some of Cure Artisan Cheese and Meat’s Thuringer Salami and Kielbasa Sausage, having still not yet managed to visit their Cobble Hill home. Paired with Smak Dab’s impeccable mustards, the meat and smoked cheese sang.

There were a lot of lovely drink samples, too. Duncan’s Stillhead Distillery soft-launched their fantastic Wild Blackberry Vodka at the festival. Other favourites included de Vine wines & spirits’ “Honey I Shrunk the Mule” with their Honey Shine Silver (honey rum from fermented wild-gathered clover, honey mead twice distilled), Rootside Ginger Beer, Salt Spring Wild Cider’s exquisite and straightforward dry traditional cider, and Sheringham Distillery’s Coffee Liqueur. E:Ne Raw Raw Bar’s sparkling and still sake were a very welcome, clean, and inspired shift.

The Roundhouse is a beautiful venue. Spacious, classy in its rustic and acoustic appeal, it framed the Meat and Cheese Festival well. Plus there was free parking for all, ideal for those who may have left their vehicles there for the night.

The afternoon was a success, and there were several stations I didn’t manage to explore. But I must admit, Picnic Charcuterie’s pancetta stole my heart. Owner and “Tofino’s Meat Lady” Tina Windsor’s flawless, soft, salted cured pork perfection, “on toast, the fat melts right in,” was my show stopper. I’m still dreaming about it.

Perusing the program after the event, I learned that the Meat and Cheese Festival also supports Growing Chefs; the Island Chefs’ Collaborative brought this Vancouver program to Victoria in 2014. It’s an in school classroom gardening and cooking program that teaches and inspires young kids about food and the food cycle. That was the final bow on a tastily wrapped afternoon of great flavours, people and experiences. Well done.

Pictures by Gillie Easdon

Top:  Tina Windsor & her Picnic Charcuterie booth

Inset: Haltwhistle Cheese Co display


Comments are closed.