With deep-fried cheese curds, poutine and a pogo stick, we celebrate 44 years in love

Whenever a road trip takes us into Northern Ontario, we always plan a stop at Nickel City Cheese in Chelmsford near Sudbury.

The beginning of our road trip out West was no different, except we had a special anniversary to celebrate: 44 years in love.

Who would have thunk that chance encounter on August 25, 1978, during registration at the Russian Academy of Classical Ballet in Toronto would lead to this: An anniversary celebration in Room 112 at Valley inn Motel in Azilda on the outskirts of Sudbury, Ontario, a short drive from Nickel City Cheese in Chelmsford where from the on-site food shack we ordered delicious deep-fried curds, an excellent poutine with curds that really squeak, and a house-made pogo stick that we shared as a meaty app.

The libation was a lovely Grand Cru champagne, Brimoncourt Extra Brut, gifted to us by good friends Maris and Sarmite on the occasion of my recent 80th birthday. Smooth and creamy, it elevated our simple meal to unexpected heights.

Nickel City Cheese is the outcome of a dream Nicole Paquin cherished for many years while toiling as a civil servant in the Ontario Attorney General’s ministry in Sudbury. She was originally from Québec and grew up with fresh curds readily available.

“I remembered the fromage des villages from where I grew up in Québec, and wanted to bring that here,” she said. “We had fresh cheese on a regular basis.”

She took early retirement, studied cheesemaking at University of Guelph, and in August, 2018, opened the doors of Nickel City Cheese.

She makes cheddar exclusively and offers nearly 20 flavours of fresh cheese curds. Thus, it was a natural progression to open a Poutinerie run by her son next to the creamery. And, eventually, a donut shop that features funnel cake, and now an ice cream stand, too.

The milk comes from a Dairy Farmers of Ontario co-op supported by 14 local farms.

Double disappointment

On our return trip from the Rockies, we planned to again stop in Chelmsford for deep-dried curds and the excellent poutine. Much to our chagrin, we found the Poutinerie closed for the season—even though the website says it will be open until November 1.

To add insult to injury, the fast-food joint in Chelmsford that specializes in deep-fried chicken ran out of chicken just as we placed our order, so we ended up eating barely warm burgers for dinner back at the motel.

Dare we visit Chelmsford again?

Footnote: In a recent email, Nicole Paquin confirmed the poutinerie, donut shop and ice cream shop are closed for the season while the cheese shop hours are as follows:

  • Monday to Friday—10am to 5:30pm
  • Saturday to Sunday—10am to 5pm

Nickel City website: https://nickelcitycheese.ca/

Nickel City on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NickelCityCheese

Why only fresh cheese curds squeak

Video Wednesday: Dr. Art Hill and Christina Marsigliese of Department of Food Science, University of Guelph, demonstrate why only fresh cheese curds squeak.

Generally speaking, supermarkets and chain grocery stores refrigerate cheese curds which reduces or eliminates squeak. For truly fresh curds that squeak as they’re supposed to, shop at specialty cheese stores or go directly to the source at the cheese dairy.

Start your day at #TGCCF with free cheese curds

Is there anything better than fresh cheese curds?
Is there anything better than fresh cheese curds?

The first 1,000 cheese lovers through the doors at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival will receive a free sampler of fresh cheese curds made by St. Albert Cheese Co-operative earlier in the day.

It’s one of the many ways we’ll be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the biggest cheese show in Canada. It also celebrates remarkable recovery by St. Albert Cheese Co-op from a devastating fire two years ago.

The free cheese curds will be available on Saturday, June 6. We have another giveaway in the works for Sunday, June 7.


•   Sample and purchase more than 150 outstanding Canadian artisan and farmstead cheeses from 30+ Canadian cheesemakers coast to coast.

•   Plus artisan foods, plus fine wines and craft beers, plus a food court. In total, more than 500 different cheeses, foods and beverages on offer.

•   An insulated Festival cooler bag for hauling fromage and other purchases home.

•   Glass for sampling wine and beer for 19+.

•   Admittance on first-come, first-served basis to seminars in the All You Need Is Cheese Annex presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada.

•   Live music by Starpainters duo. Click here for a sampler.

•   All You Need Is Cheese magazine courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

•   A photo op with Yvette, a water buffalo, in the Festival Dairy Farm.

•   Special admission pricing for seniors 60+ and groups.

•   Families are welcome with children 15 and younger admitted FREE when accompanied by an adult.

•   FREE parking.

Click here to order your tickets today!

Visit CheeseFestival.ca for complete information including special events such as. For assistance, email info@cheesefestival.ca telephone 705.632.1503.

Plan to make a weekend of it in Prince Edward County, as one day won’t be enough to sample all 500 cheeses, foods and beverages on offer—and see all that the County has to offer: Three dozen wineries, two cheese plants plus spectacular Sandbanks Provincial Park.

Find accommodations to suit your tastes and budget by clicking here. For assistance, telephone Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism & Commerce at 1.800.640.4717.

Spread the cheese love. Use the hashtag #TGCCF when tweeting about the biggest cheese show in Canada.

Video: Curdy Girl loves her cheese

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I’m 24 hours late for Video Wednesday but delighted, nevertheless, to introduce you to Curdy Girl aka Wendy Furtenbacher aka The Girl Who Really Loves Her Cheese. She is Canada’s newest cheese blogger and a hoot. Play the video clip and you’ll see what I mean.

By day, Wendy works at a professional association in Toronto. By night and on weekends, she indulges in her passion for fromage. Here’s her story, in her own words:

Like many people, I grew up with Kraft singles thinking that was good stuff. At least, it was fun to eat, all individually wrapped, but given that I’m from Québec, my first recollection of natural cheese is cheese curds. Nobody does squeaky cheese like the Québecois  cheesemakers—squeaky, fresh, salty and available at every corner store by the cash register.

I can safely say that my palate has expanded quite a bit. Blues, Alpine cheeses, washed rinds, aged cheddars (clothbound in particular) are usually found in my fridge, along with milder fresh cheeses like chevres and buffalo mozzarella.  I am always open to trying new cheeses.  Sheep-milk cheese is a particular favourite.

Typically, I shop for my cheeses in farmers’ markets and specialty cheese shops. I have the most fun when I buy directly from the cheesemaker or highly knowledgeable cheesemongers who are passionate about their cheeses. I like a little education with my purchase.

As Enthusiast Director on the Board of the Canadian Cheese Society, I head up communication vehicles such as the monthly Cheese Slice News, and edit the Canadian Cheese Society Newsletter. I am also a member in good standing of La Société des fromages du Québec and the American Cheese Society.

Wendy is currently enrolled in the Professional Fromager program at George Brown College and has taken numerous cheese-appreciation classes around Toronto. And here’s a plug for her services: “I am available for corporate, reception or special event consultations and writing opportunities in cheese.”

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Cheese-head-in-chief at CheeseLover.ca, Georgs Kolesnikovs is busier than heck these days with planning for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on the first weekend in June.

Good cheese hunting: Day 7, in Montreal

We had a reservation for dinner at famed Au Pied de Cochon, so we aimed to pace ourselves during the day, starting with a light breakfast.

Lunch in our hotel room is a store-bought Caesar salad with parmesan bits and a big chunk of delightful Celtic Blue from Glengarry Cheese.
At Au Pied de Cochon, we let it all hang out with fois gras poutine for a starter followed by pork four ways with mashed potatoes, gravy and not a vegetable in sight. The cheese curds in the poutine are divine, produced by La Fromagerie Champêtre.
At CheeseLover.ca, we're big fans of The Wild Chef, aka Martin Picard, owner of Au Pied de Cochon. He strolled through the restaurant while we were eating, but we were too shy to say hello.

Related links:

Good cheese hunting: Day 5, leaving Eastern Ontario

Tasting our way across Eastern Ontario’s cheese country has been great fun, but Montreal and Quebec beckon.

Gulp! Our second poutine in as many days, this one from Celine's Casse-Croûte in Hawkesbury, Ontario.
We are thrilled to chat with Margaret Morris at Glengarry Fine Cheese in Lancaster, Ontario. Via her cheese-cultures business, Margaret has played an important role in cheesemaking in North America since 1995.
Mmm . . . Celtic Blue from Glengarry Fine Cheese. Great to eat as is, but Margaret Morris suggests we try her blue on baked chicken breast. As if we will have any left by the time we return home!

Related links:

Good cheese hunting: Day 4, still in Eastern Ontario

First poutine of the trip—and an outstanding example of layered cheese curds, fries and gravy—at Nancy's Kitchen, a chip truck in Limoges, Ontario.
First cheeseburger of the trip, and a good one at that, at Nancy's Kitchen in Limoges.
Two plastic forks and one paper plate—Yes, we're still locked out of the trunk—help us devour an excellent white chocolate lemon cheesecake from Lock 17 Bistro at Burritts Rapids.