Best Bites: The seven most memorable cheeses of 2022

Maggie’s Christmas Cheese Ball/La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères.

We bring the curtain down on 2022 with the help of friends in fromage recalling the most memorable cheese that crossed their palates during the past 12 months. We add our favourites, too.

Check out the tasting notes and make up your shopping list for the next visit to a cheese shop or, better yet, right to the cheesemaker. If you like, you can order online for convenient home delivery.

Let’s begin with cheese educator and cheese sommelier Vanessa Simmons, our BF in fromage:

My most memorable cheese taste of 2022 is Maggie’s Christmas Cheese Ball by Maggie Paradis of La Fromagerie Les Folies Bergères. Not only does Maggie make a variety of amazing goat, sheep and cow milk cheeses, but she and her husband, shepherd Christian Girard, are passionate, talented and wonderful people.

This coveted, sell-out cheese makes an appearance once a year for the holidays and is a combination of Maggie’s locally made cow and sheep milk cream and hard cheeses with a few added extras like scallions, lemon juice and sriracha that deliver its zing and umami, savoury flavour. Finished with crushed pecans for festive flair, it’s the best, silky, cheesecake-like cheese ball you will ever enjoy—made with love.

Pair with a local oaky Chardonnay, caramelized onion, bacon or apricot/peach jam and your favourite crusty baguette or sourdough bread and you have an instant party on your hands.

Gurth Pretty is a professional chef and cheese connoisseur whose goal is to show to Canadians and the world the delicious cheese produced in Canada. He combined his love for Canada and his passion for cheese to write The Definitive Guide to Canadian Artisanal and Fine Cheese and The Definitive Canadian Wine & Cheese Cookbook, co-written with Tony Aspler. These days he owns and operates Lakeview Cheese Galore in Mississauga, Ontario.

Greystone/River’s Edge Goat Dairy.

One of my most memorable cheese this year was Greystone, produced by Katie and Will at River’s Edge Goat Dairy. They use the milk from their herd of goats, located at their farm near Arthur, Ontario.

The appearance of this ash-coated, white bloomy rind goat ball reminds me of a French Bonde de Gâtine cheese. As Greystone ripens, its paste becomes creamier and develops a more noticeable goat aroma.

It is a delicious artisanal farmstead cheese!

Jackie Armet is a longtime friend in cheese who has worked with me as cheese co-ordinator at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival and then the Canadian Cheese Awards. A graduate of the Professional Fromager program at George Brown College in Toronto, Jackie lives in Prince Edward County and offers in-person tutored tastings and consulting services via Cheese Experience.

Wildwood/Stonetown Artisan Cheese.

My most memorable and impressive cheese this year is Wildwood made by Stonetown Artisan Cheese in St. Marys, Ontario. It was given to me as a mystery cheese and I felt it was from Europe. It has all the features that make Comte and Appenzeller outstanding. It could certainly be a challenger to the throne.

For Debbie Levy, longtime cheese educator, the cheese experience of the year was delivered by Blue Moo made by COWS Creamery of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Blue Moo/COWS Creamery.

We are fortunate in Canada to have some great blue cheese makers and now I have added Blue Moo to the list. Love the texture of this triple cream. Although it’s a milder blue, there is something about its buttery savoury notes that just has me reaching for more!

During a cross-Canada road trip this year, we spent the better part of a day with Chef Dustin Peltier in the tiny make room at Loaf and Honey in Winnipeg learning about the trials and tribulations of producing Golden Prairie.

Golden Prairie/Loaf and Honey.

The recipe and method behind the cheese dates back to the 1700s in Trappist monasteries in France. It has been made in Manitoba by Trappist monks at Notre Dame des Prairies monastery since 1918, since the 1940s by Brother Alberic. When Dustin Peltier learned Brother Alberic, then in his 80s, planned to stop making Fromage de la Trappe, he was determined to continue the tradition. He spent a year being mentored by Brother Alberic, aiming to continue making the cheese in its traditional way, with raw, unpasteurized milk.

Unfortunately, Dustin ran into a bureaucratic maze at Manitoba Agriculture, which prevented him—or any other artisan producer in the province—from using raw milk in cheese production. Thus, he was forced to use non-homogenized, pasteurized organic cow milk in the making of Golden Prairie. The cheese is still hand-washed daily and aged for 60 days before being released to the public.

Golden Prairie has a unique flavour profile, with a touch of tang and loads of dairy. Only available for purchase in Manitoba at selected cheese shops.

During our camping trip to the Rockies, we also visited an old friend in cheese, Ian Treuer, now cheesemaker at Lakeside Farmstead Cheese in Sturgeon County just north of Edmonton. Here we found two memorable cheese tastes of 2022:

Chaga Cheddar/Lakeside Farmstead.

We’ve already reported on how the world’s first Chaga Cheddar came to be with its unique appearance and distinctive flavour, all the result of cheddar curds soaking in a bath of chaga tea before being molded, pressed and aged for up to seven weeks. The resulting cheese is beautifully marbled and has a creamy texture and mild, nutty flavour.

Clothbound Cheddar/Lakeside Farmstead.

The other memorable cheese we discovered was Lakeside Farmstead Clothbound Cheddar, a truly full-flavoured cheddar. Each wheel is made in the old-world tradition, hand-wrapped with cheesecloth, then sealed with wax and carefully aged for a minimum of one year. Clothbound Cheddar exhibits delightful nutty, fruity/citrus and caramel/sweet undertones with a complex and lingering finish. It has some crumble and crystallization providing a desirable mouth feel. All in all, it’s really delicious.

Lakeside cheese is available only in Alberta at present, from selected cheese shops and a retail store at the farm open Wednesday through Saturday.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at, has never met a cheese he didn’t like . . . well, hardly ever. Follow him on his travels across Canada on Substack at On the Road, Across the Sea.



World’s first Chaga Cheddar created at Lakeside Farmstead

Cheesemaker Ian Treuer prepares to move blocks of Chaga Cheddar into the aging room at Lakeside Farmstead after it has air-dryed following a soaking in chaga tea.

Here are two things you need to know about Jeff Nonay, a third-generation dairy farmer in Alberta. He enjoys a cup of chaga tea. He has a passion for cheese.

Three years ago, Lakeside Dairy, a thriving dairy, beef and potato operation 30 minutes north of Edmonton owned by Nonay and his partner, Coralee, expanded into producing cheese. The Nonays hired Ian Treuer to, firstly, lead-hand the design of the cheese plant and, then, to become the head cheesemaker at Lakeside Farmstead.

One day Jeff asked Ian whether a cheddar infused with chaga, a type of fungus that grows on Alberta birch trees, might be worth developing.

After some trial and error, the first Chaga Cheddar in Canada—indeed, in the world—came to be.

After soaking in a bath of chaga tea, cheddar curds are molded, pressed and aged for up to seven weeks. The resulting cheese is beautifully marbled and has a creamy texture and mild, nutty flavour.

Jeff Nonay is all smiles with the way Chaga Cheddar looks and tastes. Photo by Curtis Comeau Photography.

Says Jeff: “We soak our curds in a chaga tea, imparting flavours of smoke, sweetness, earthiness. The brewing tea fills the room with smells of being around a campfire. While the cheddar and chaga flavours meld together, the texture quickly becomes creamy and smooth. The outside of the curd stains with the rich dark tea and makes for a spectacular looking cheese.”

Adds Ian: “Our chaga cheddar has an interesting flavour. You get the mild to medium cheddar flavour, but the chaga imparts an almost smoky, caramel/dark chocolate flavour.”

Cheesemaker Ian Treuer holds chaga, a type of mushroom or fungus that grows on birch trees in Alberta—and in northern climes around the world.

Chaga’s most noted accolade is its antioxidant power, according to Untamed Feast, the local experts who source the sustainably harvested chaga used by Lakeside. Chaga is also nutrient dense, containing the B vitamin complex, vitamin D, potassium, copper, selenium, zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium. Chaga is used to balance blood sugar and blood pressure, to purify the liver, to relieve pain, to modulate the immune system and as an overall tonic.

The cheese produced at Lakeside is truly “farmstead” in that milk comes solely from the dairy barn a mere 200 feet/60 metres from the cheese plant.

Adds Treuer: “The cows have a nutritionist that designs their feed. And that, to me, makes it a better milk to use.”

In addition to Chaga Cheddar, Lakeside produces Cheddar, Clothbound Cheddar, Butter Cheese, Brie, Alpine Cheese, Fromage Blanc, Cheese Curds, Cottage Cheese and Cultured Butter. The cheese is available only in Alberta at present, from selected cheese shops and a retail store at the farm open Wednesday through Saturday.

Ian Treuer first started making cheese at home more than a decade ago: “I was looking for a hobby and it was that or make beer—and I don’t really drink.”

It wasn’t smooth sailing at first.

“That first cheese was a hockey puck. It was hard . . . but I was determined to eat it,” Treuer said.

Treuer kept working at it, which eventually led to teaching classes and working at smaller cheese operations. Then, in 2019, he was asked to become the head cheesemaker at Lakeside Dairy.

Cheesemaker Ian Treuer is shown in the aging room at Lakeside Farmstead with wheels of Alpine, a raw-milk cheese that is aged 12 to 24 months.




“I spent 20 years in another career and then the opportunity to work in cheese kind of arose. I have a very understanding and supportive wife, who allowed me to leave a really good job to pursue cheese.”

Treuer calls the process of making cheese his happy place. He says no cheese is identical, as the result is influenced by the subtle differences in each batch of milk.

Wheels of Washed Rind Cheese and Brie are ready to be packaged and shipped to retailers and customers.

Lakeside Dairy owner Jeff Nonay is known in the Edmonton food scene for his beef. He says that helped get his foot in the door of local restaurants and retailers and on the minds of consumers but his ultimate goal was to add cheese to his offerings.

“It was produced only 200 feet away on our dairy farm, where it all started, and transformed here to something consumers can really wrap their taste buds around,” Nonay said.

Lakeside Dairy is a Nonay-family run dairy, beef and potato operation north of Edmonton that now also produces farmstead cheese.


Nonay has had cheddar on the brain for a decade, after visiting a Québec dairy farm with its own cheese plant on site.

Five years ago, a devastating fire gutted a barn and killed 140 cows at the farm that has been in operation for decades.

“We lost a building, we lost animals and we needed to make decisions on what that meant on the farm,” Nonay said.

He said the fire was a fork in the road: a chance to look at what was lost and make decisions on other ways to run the business—and that included making cheese.

After Nonay rebuilt the barn, he started construction on the cheese plant.

“I could see in Québec (at Fromagerie du Presbytère) how it was done, and what we needed to do,” Nonay said but then the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down.

Like aging cheese, patience is key. Nonay kept pushing, had the plant completed and began making cheese with Treuer in charge of production.

Nonay and Treuer have come up with a new flavour made from a type of fungus that is often found growing on birch trees in Alberta forests.

The world’s first chaga cheese has a fairly mild taste with a slight nutty flavour.

“It’s truly amazing, where we have been able to come up with something unique in the world of cheese,” Treuer said.

Your intrepid reporter first met Ian Treuer almost a decade ago when Ian was a judge at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. The vat in the background holds 2,500 litres of milk which will yield 250-350 kilos of cheese.

These days Ian Treuer’s daily commute is a short one: a mere 100 steps separate his residence and jobsite at Lakeside Farmstead.

After tasting, testing and tweaking recipes for nearly a year, Lakeside Farmstead’s first cheese product, fresh curds, landed on store shelves in October, 2020.

The issue of milk sourcing is important. This is single-herd cheese, and just like single estate in the world of wine, the singleness of the raw product speaks to terroir (French for taste of place) and the very essence of the product. The taste, the smell and the texture of the cheese is not only a result of Treuer’s fine-tuning, but also because of what the animals are fed and how they’re raised.

While Ian Treuer turns milk into cheese, and Jeff Nonay tends to all aspects of farm life, including turning manure into compost, the dairy barn team ensures the cows receive the best food and care in a clean, low-stress working environment.

Lakeside milks 160 cows and finishes more than 150 beef animals a year.

“Sometimes I ask myself if I’m crazy to be doing all of this,” Nonay says. “Though when I look back, sitting in a rocking chair years from now, I want to think that the cheese is probably the coolest thing we did with our ability.”

The cheese idea sprouted after a young man from Québec came to the farm as part of an agricultural placement project for his education. “He had a backpack with a guitar, some maple butter and a block of amazing cheese inside,” says Nonay recalling the student’s arrival. The cheese was award-winning Louis d’Or, a Canadian classic.

When the placement ended and the young man returned to Québec, Jeff received a thank you note from his father, who, as it turned out, was Jean Morin, a fourth generation dairy farmer and the highly respected cheesemaker at Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick east of Montréal, maker of Louis d’Or and other award-winning cheeses.

Over the years, a friendship between the Alberta farmer and the Québécois fromager blossomed, and with that friendship, visits to Morin’s facility and an introduction into cheesemaking. Two of Jean Morin’s sons, first Charles, then Alexis, completed their placement at the Nonay farm.

More than a thousand people show up for Friday evening socials during the summer at Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, about two hours east of Montréal.

“Everything Jean did spoke to my soul,” Jeff Nonay says, inspired not only by the creative process but by the enjoyment he witnessed from Morin involving the small community in his work at the church-turned-cheesiry, for in Sainte-Élizabeth-de-Warwick, those who make cheese together, eat, drink and rejoice together, too.

—Georgs Kolesnikovs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at, has never met a cheese he didn’t like . . . well, hardly ever. Follow him on on his travels across Canada on Substack at On the Road, Across the Sea.

Credit: Much thanks to Global News in Edmonton and the Eat North website for coverage of developments at Lakeside Dairy from which portions of the above report have been excerpted.