Did you know (according to TLC and Dairy Farmers of Canada):

Archaeological surveys show that cheese was being made from the milk of cows and goats in Mesopotamia before 6000 B.C.

Travelers from Asia are thought to have brought the art of cheese making to Europe, where the process was adapted and improved in European monasteries.

Cheesemaking is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, as well as in Homer. Chances are King Tut enjoyed cheese as well. The tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs show traces of what is believed to be cheese.

The world’s largest consumers of cheese include Greece (63 pounds per person each year), France (54 pounds), Iceland (53 pounds), Germany (48 pounds), Italy (44 pounds), the Netherlands (40 pounds), the United States (31 pounds), Australia (27 pounds), and Canada (26 pounds).

There’s an organization called the Artisan Cheese Marking /Cheese Education Guild in Toronto offering Cheese Appreciation courses, tastings, discussions and electives such as “cheese board recommendations and service” and “cheese trolley and restaurant display techniques”. How cool is that?

Did you know that wine and cheese parties (80s flashback alert!) are enjoying a renaissance? But instead of pedestrian cheddars and sneaker-brie, folks are indulging in a cornucopia of amazing cheese flavours from Ontario, Quebec, Spain, France and, of course, the US. Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches (sourdough, rustic, multi-grain, focaccia, Challah or flax seed bread topped with an alphabet-choice of Boursin, brie, buffalo mozzarella, Cambozola, Emmental, fontina, Gouda, gruyere, smoked cheddar or Swiss). There’s something very comforting about a warm fire and a chilled glass of Niagara Reisling accompanied by a slather of creamy Riopelle de l’Isle cheese oozing into a warm slab of baguette.

Which brings me to the next item – soup.

Now’s the perfect time to get out the crock pot/slow cooker/Instant Pot and assemble farm fresh ingredients for a pot of warm autumn soup. How about Curried Red Lentil and Swiss Chard Stew? The recipe calls for a can of garbanzo beans/chick peas, but I made a pot today and I think the beans would be too much of a good thing, because the soup is thick and hearty and warming. I used white onions from Hope Farms, sweet green and red peppers from Niemi Farm and added a few tablespoons of Patak’s mild curry paste. The paste gives it a bit of bite and makes a nice counterpart to the bright green chard I bought from Summerside Farms at the Market a while back.

With apologies to Omar Khayyam: A fresh-baked loaf from Vince’s, a wedge of buttery Canadian cheese and a bowl of thick, hot homemade soup….