All posts by Natural Pastures

Unveiling the Charcuterie Wedding Cake Trend: An Inside Look at Spoon & Spade

By Anyssa Jane

 In recent years, the traditional wedding cake has met its match: the charcuterie wedding cake. This delightful trend is capturing the hearts (and taste buds) of couples looking to make their big day uniquely memorable. At the forefront of this delicious movement are Toni and Katie, the dynamic duo behind Spoon & Spade, a small female-owned charcuterie business based in Victoria, Vancouver Island. Their commitment to “farm to table” principles ensures that each charcuterie board not only tastes amazing but also supports local producers and promotes sustainability.

Gone are the days when a multi-tiered, sugar-laden cake was the only option for a wedding centerpiece. Today, many couples are opting for charcuterie wedding cakes, which offer a delectable array of aged and fresh cheeses, cured meats, and gourmet accompaniments. This trend reflects a broader cultural shift towards celebrating food that is both artisanal and aesthetically pleasing.

One of the primary benefits of a charcuterie wedding cake is its versatility. Unlike traditional cakes, which cater to those with a sweet tooth, charcuterie cakes can appeal to a wide range of palates. They can be customized to include a variety of flavors, from creamy Natural Pastures Comox Brie, as found beside other local artisanal delights in the cake above, to spicy salami and savory prosciutto.  This ensures that every guest finds something they love. Additionally, these cakes are perfect for pairing with wine, adding an extra layer of sophistication to the celebration.

Founded in 2020 by Toni and Katie, Spoon & Spade has quickly become the go-to gourmet charcuterie company in Victoria, Vancouver Island. This female-owned business prides itself on creating beautifully crafted charcuterie boards that elevate any occasion, from intimate gatherings to grand celebrations. They each bring unique skills to the business: Toni with her Culinary Arts diploma and Katie with her artistic touch and a joint passion for florals and design, making them stand out in the event business.

At Spoon & Spade, the belief is that food brings people together. Their gourmet grazes and event tables include custom-made spreads, jams, jellies, and mustards, all made with the finest ingredients. As more couples embrace the charcuterie wedding cake trend, businesses like Spoon & Spade are at the forefront, offering delicious and visually stunning alternatives to traditional wedding cakes. Toni and Katie’s dedication to quality, sustainability, and local products makes their charcuterie creations a perfect reflection of today’s cultural values.

Natural Pastures Cheese Strikes Gold at the Royal Winter Fair 2023 with Bufetta – A Water Buffalo Milk Delight


COURTENAY, BC, CANADA — January 9, 2024

Natural Pastures Cheese, a renowned artisanal Canadian cheese producer located in Courtenay, British Columbia, is thrilled to announce its recent triumph at the prestigious Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. The esteemed competition, held in 2023, saw Natural Pastures Cheese’s Bufetta, a delectable water buffalo milk product, clinch the Gold Medal in recognition of its exceptional quality and flavor. Since November 1922, Toronto has held the annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair which is a tribute to Canadian agriculture. Held annually at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds, it has been considered the world’s largest indoor agricultural, horticultural and equestrian fair.

Bufetta, crafted with precision and care, exemplifies Natural Pastures Cheese’s commitment to sourcing the finest ingredients and employing traditional cheese-making techniques. Made with non-GMO, grass-fed water buffalo milk, and “BC Dairy” cow milk (made with 70 % Water buffalo milk and 30% Cow milk) Bufetta boasts a distinct profile that sets it apart from your average feta. The rich, creamy texture and unique flavor have made it a sought-after choice among chefs and food enthusiasts.

The heart and soul behind Natural Pastures Cheese’s success lie in the expertise of its master cheese maker, Paul Sutter, of Swiss descent. With many years of dedicated service to the company, Paul Sutter has played a pivotal role in developing and perfecting the water buffalo products that have now earned them the prestigious Gold Medal at the Royal Winter Fair.

“We are truly honored and delighted to receive the Gold Medal at the Royal Winter Fair for Bufetta,” said Doug Smith – Operations Manager at Natural Pastures Cheese. “This recognition is a testament to the hard work and passion of our team, particularly our master cheese maker, Paul Sutter. His expertise and dedication have been instrumental in creating exceptional water buffalo milk products. We extend our gratitude to the Royal Winter Fair for providing a platform to showcase the best in Canadian cheese.”

The Royal Winter Fair is renowned for its rigorous judging process, making Natural Pastures Cheese’s Gold Medal win a significant achievement. This accolade further solidifies the company’s standing in the Canadian cheese industry and highlights its dedication to producing exceptional artisanal cheeses.

For more information about Natural Pastures Cheese and its award-winning Bufetta, please visit [website link].

About Natural Pastures Cheese: Natural Pastures Cheese is a distinguished artisanal cheese producer located in Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada. Committed to crafting high-quality cheeses, the company focuses on using the finest ingredients and traditional cheese-making techniques to deliver exceptional flavors. Distribution is available through Lekker Food Distributors, Gordon Foods Services and select distributors across Western Canada and Ontario.

Media Contact: Media Contact Person’s Anyssa Jane – General Manager, Natural Pastures Cheese 250-334-4422

For other results:

2023 Goat, Sheep, Water Buffalo & Mixed Variety Cheese Competition
Show Results – The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair – 2023 (

It has won Gold/ 1. Place in the category of Feta or Feta Style – Natural with or without brining

Water Buffalo Babies – Shaw TV Port Alberni

The water buffalo love their creature comforts. Cleaning and new bedding means they have to leave the barn. Which means they have to go outside. Check out this video from Shaw TV, on when they get moving. Filmed at Coleman Meadows in Port Alberni.

Our water buffalo milk comes from Coleman meadows and McClintock Farms here on Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada!

Soup recipes from Natural Pastures Cheese

Amsterdammer Cheese Bliss: Elevating Natural Pastures Cheese with Eric Akis’ Apple and Parsnip Soup a new winter favorite

Inspiration Behind the Recipe

Renowned culinary expert Eric Akis has always been a source of inspiration for food enthusiasts, and his recipe for “Apples and Parsnips” is no exception. The ingenious combination of sweet apples and earthy parsnips creates a harmonious blend of flavors, making it a delightful soup for the colder months.

Natural Pastures Cheese: Elevating the Dish

Eric incorporated our very own Amsterdammer Cheese. Handcrafted by our Swiss Cheese makers here in Courtenay, BC with precision and care, our cheese adds a creamy and savory dimension to the soup, elevating it to a whole new level of indulgence. The distinct flavor profile of our cheese complements the sweetness of apples and the nuttiness of parsnips, creating a symphony of tastes that dance on your palate.

The Natural Pastures Difference

What sets Natural Pastures Cheese apart is our commitment to using only the finest, locally sourced ingredients Vancouver Island Canadian milk. Our cheese is crafted with passion and expertise, ensuring that each bite is a testament to the quality and dedication we pour into our products. From the lush pastures of Vancouver Island, we bring you a taste of nature’s bounty in every slice.

Cooking Instructions


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 2 apples, cored and chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Natural Pastures Amersterdammer Cheese, shredded (or choose your favorite variety)
  • Fresh chives for garnish


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic, sauté until softened.
  2. Add parsnips and apples, stirring to combine. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in vegetable broth, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until parsnips are tender.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.
  5. Stir in Natural Pastures Cheese until melted and well combined.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with fresh chives, and serve hot.

Acknowledging Eric Akis

We extend our sincere gratitude to Eric Akis for inspiring this mouthwatering recipe. His culinary expertise and dedication to creating memorable dishes align seamlessly with our values at Natural Pastures. For the original recipe and more culinary inspiration, visit Eric Akis’ Apples and Parsnips Recipe.

At Natural Pastures, we believe in the power of exceptional ingredients to transform a simple dish into a culinary masterpiece. Join us on this journey of flavor and indulge in the richness of our handcrafted cheese. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, our cheese is sure to elevate your culinary creations. Try Eric Akis’ inspired soup recipe, and let the symphony of tastes created by Natural Pastures Cheese leave you craving more. Cheers to savoring the finest flavors nature has to offer!

charcuterie board

Thanksgiving Cheese Sampler Selection

This Thanksgiving, savor the exquisite flavors of Natural Pastures Cheese products, knowing that your holiday feast would lack its essential touch without a sumptuous platter showcasing the likes of Bourenkaas, Aged Farmhouse, Courtenay Cheddar, Amsterdammer, and Cracked Pepper cheeses and Brie!

Its our pleasure is to curate an opulent selection of artisanal cheeses and complementary condiments for you, your beloved family, and cherished friends.

Our cheese selection encompasses a delightful diversity of options, but do note that some, such as Cracked Pepper, are available in limited quantities. Therefore, we recommend making your choice promptly to ensure you secure these rare treasures.

When your Thanksgiving day arrives, all that remains is for you to plate up your delightful cheese assortment on a beautiful board. Display them elegantly at your holiday table, and let the festivities begin!

This Thanksgiving, let the star of your feast be a captivating cheese platter that brings family and friends together. Secure your order today, and we have it ready for pick up in Courtenay for you Thanksgiving celebration.

Your Thanksgiving Sampler promises an extraordinary culinary journey:
$145 – pick up price ( shipping is extra )

  • A generous selection of 5 cheeses, featuring the rich flavors of Bourenkaas, the rustic charm of Aged Farmhouse, the bold character of Courtenay Cheddar, the nuanced sophistication of Amsterdammer, and, if you’re lucky, the limited edition delight of Cracked Pepper. -+200 grams
  • 2 Jars of Saltspring Kitchen Co. Candied Jalapeno Relish and Apple Fig & Fennel.
  • As YOU Like It – Mango Chutney 125 ml
  • Ladjager bites from Grimm’s 125G
  • 2 bags of Jenny Marie’s Crackers 100 g each
  • 1 tin of Wild Spring Salmon 160 g
  • 1 Bulb of Garston’s Garlic ( we recommend roasting to have with Brie on crackers)
  • Big D’s 50 grams of charcuterie honey
  • Cheese Knife
  • Additionally, you’ll receive a fact sheet detailing the cheese descriptions and suggested pairings with 40 Knots Wine.
  • You may upgrade and add on as needed
    recommended addon’s 200 G Natural Pastures Butter , Natural Pastures Fondue, Cheese Flight 6 mixed cheese rolls

Please bear in mind that we dispatch wedges of cheese approx 200g and while the exact cheese selections in your Sampler sizes may vary, rest assured that we will make every effort to include Bourenkaas, Aged Farmhouse, Courtenay Cheddar, Amsterdammer, and, Cracked Pepper. In the event of limited availability, we reserve the right to substitute any item with a product of equal or greater value. Your Thanksgiving celebration is our priority, and we want it to be a cheese-filled success!
This offer expires November 1, 2023 call for updates.

Embark on a Culinary Adventure

“Embark on a Culinary Adventure: Island Gourmet Trails Unveils the Flavours of Comox Valley, One Bite at a Time!”

Nestled amid the breathtaking landscapes of Vancouver Island, the Comox Valley beckons with its fusion of oceanic beauty and verdant expanses. A hidden culinary gem, this region boasts award-winning cheeses that derive their distinct flavours from the pristine environment.

At the heart of the Comox Valley lies our Artisan Cheese Shop in Courtenay, where both locals and visitors are warmly welcomed. Our passion for cheese often sparks engaging conversations, especially with the groups led by Island Gourmet Trails owner Gaetane Palardy. She offers enthralling day tours, guiding you through the valley’s lush landscapes to savor the essence of the area.

Located in the heart of Vancouver Island, Comox Valley has an abundance of organic farm products, fresh seafood, superb wines, and more. Whether you call the Island home or are passing through, set out on a culinary adventure with Island Gourmet Trails!

Unveiling a Tapestry of Flavours and Culture

Founder and tour operator, Gaetane Palardy, a seasoned chef and who has travelled the world, curates experiences that ensure you’re embraced as a friend wherever you go. Her enthusiasm for local products is contagious, and she is always delighted to share some of her favourites with you.

“It is always a pleasure to bring visitors on a tasting tour with Island Gourmet Trails to the Natural Pastures shop. They are happy to learn that so many varieties of quality cheeses are made here in the Comox Valley. It is a great opportunity for them to get some cheeses to eat during their trip or to bring home.” 

Gaetane Palardy, Owner and Tour Operator, Island Gourmet Trails

There is no need to worry about your itinerary, or how to navigate the Valley. The team at Island Gourmet Trails customize your tour ahead of time. All you have to do is enjoy the beautiful scenery and be entertained with local history and stories.

Savour the Local

This is your passport to the behind-the-scenes narratives! Meet local producers and see the passion they put into their products. Find out what makes them unique to the area. You might even pick up some trade secrets to try at home. Then learn where the locals go! You will hear about so many additional activities and places to visit during your stay. Gaetane and her well-informed guides are happy to share suggestions to make your stay memorable beyond your tour.

What might you see on a tour of the Comox Valley?

Did you know the area is home to over 400 farms and is Canada’s top oyster producer? Every corner unveils something delightful to sip or savor. Island Gourmet Trails empowers you to relish this culinary abundance. Traverse bustling farmers’ markets, indulge in wineries, raise a toast at craft breweries and distilleries, and relish the artistry of bakeries and organic farms.

The journey extends to picturesque orchards, world-renowned cheese factories (ours included!), organic chocolatiers, oyster and scallop farms, vibrant fishing docks, and fragrant lavender farms.

Your Food Odyssey Awaits

Ready to embark on an unparalleled escapade blending food and fun? Gaetane and her guides await, eager to accompany you on a day-long exploration of the Comox Valley. Whether you’re an experienced globetrotter or a budding epicurean, this journey has something to delight you.

Your next adventure is just a click away at Island Gourmet Trails. Bon appétit and happy trails! 🍴😋

Connect with Island Gourmet Trails on Social Media

Eat, Drink, and Brie Merry!

‘Tis the cheese-on to enjoy Natural Pastures

The holiday season looks a little different again this year, but whether you’re entertaining two or a few, we’re serving up a helping of inspiration. 

Retro or just plain rad? We’re bringing back fondue

What could be better than this classic winter warmer? Add a little pizzazz to a night in with a bubbly pot of cheese fondue. It adds just the right amount of fancy but with minimal fuss. You just need a few ingredients, a stovetop, and a willingness to stir. We love using a creamy combo of Natural Pastures Amsterdammer, Boerenkaas, and Aged Farmhouse. Find our full recipe here. Your dipping possibilities are endless! 

You’ll want to act fast on this one

Our Triple Cream Camembert is available now – but only for the holiday season! Indulge in a decadent, smooth, richer version of our award-winning Camembert. A creamy finish complements a delicate note of mushroom. Find it in our store and at Thrifty locations throughout BC.

Camembert is delicious served on its own or topped with chutney or tart jam. For optimal flavour, serve at room temperature. Get melt-in-your-mouth cheese by baking in the oven at 325°F for 10 minutes. ⁠Considering a wine pairing? Try a dry Rosé, Gamay, Pinot Noir, or Merlot. 40 Knots Winery has you covered! 

Graze board, charcuterie, cheese platter – delicious by any name

Speaking of melty, rich Camembert, it’s a star for any cheese board. You can also substitute our Comox Brie for a more traditional taste, or our Buffalo Brie for something a little more unique. Add grapes, berries, a variety of nuts, and cured meats – the only limit to the combination is your imagination. Would you rather order a ready-made board to save time and present your guests with a little added oomph? Our friends at The Local Picnic in Victoria can add some sparkle to your holiday table or some dazzle to a date night.  

We’d love seeing your cheesy creations on Instagram, so follow us and tag us in your photos: @naturalpasturescheese. To get more recipes and pairings, follow us on Facebook!

Fresh mozzarella summer recipes

Summer is coming at you! Are you ready?

As the countdown to summer continues, we are excited to share with you some of our favourite recipes that include our delectable Mozzarella di Bufala.

This mild flavoured soft cheese is made from the rich milk of the water buffalo and is thicker and creamier than cow milk. Buffalo milk is high in nutritional value and is made with 100% free range water buffalo milk on Vancouver Island.  

Satisfy your summer cravings with a fresh fruit and cheese board

We all know and love a charcuterie board in the spring and summer (or any time, really). But what about a fruit and cheese board? Peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew, apples, blackberries, and slices of our decadent mozzarella will be sure to make you an instant hit at any outdoor get together. The mozzarella is unsalted, so sprinkle a light dash of salt (we love Clever Crow’s red wine salt!) to bring out layers of flavour.

Indulge in a caprese salad with grilled peaches

This simple salad is made with only four ingredients: Fresh basil, peaches, balsamic oil and of course, our Mozzarella di Bufala. Perfect for summer, and so easy to make. To grill the peaches, sprinkle with a quick drizzle of olive oil and toss them onto a hot grill. The sugars in the peach caramelize into a mouth-watering sweet and smoky flavour. The only other step is to layer the grilled peaches, basil and Mozzarella di Bufala on a plate, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic oil and add a pinch of salt. Enjoy!

Savor every bite of this mouth watering marinated bocconcini

Nothing quite brings the flavours out of our favourite cheese like marinating It in olive oil and a mixture of fresh spices. Try this marinated bocconcini recipe by drizzling the bocconcini in olive oil and adding capers, Italian parsley, fresh thyme, and minced garlic. Let the ingredients sit for at least four hours in the fridge and serve at room temperature. For full recipe details, click here.

We hope you enjoy these simple summer recipes as much as we do! We’d love to hear about your delicious creations, so please tag us in your photos. And to get more recipes and cheesy ideas follow us on Facebook!

Best snacks for hiking, biking & picnicking.

Spring has sprung!

At least in BC it has.

We’re getting out more and more with the kids for outdoor adventures. And to keep us going, we pack a hearty snack that is healthy, easy to deal with, and portable!

Here are some fun snack ideas for your next bike ride, picnic, or hike in the woods:

1) Homemade “Lunchables”!

Of course, cheese and crackers are an easy win and great snacks for hiking. Customize these snack kits to suit your wee ones tastes. We have a variety of ring molds and cookie cutters at our house, making it simple to cut the cheese to match the cracker size. Uniformity is key!

  • We like Aged Farmhouse, deli ham, and a cracker of choice, often Ritz.
  • Or try Comox Camembert on a crunchy Raincoast Crisp with fig jam.
  • Or, Garlic & Chives Verdelait with smoked salmon.

All of these go in a Bento Box, which you can find anywhere at your local department store, variety store, or online.  

2) Tortilla Rollups!

In our camping days, we often pack several peanut butter & jam tortilla rollups and they are the prized item of the trip. You can really wrap anything in a tortilla and it will be amazing (provided you are eating it outside!).

Lately we go for slices of Courtenay Cheddar, or Amsterdammer, turkey, and spinach with a spread of spicy English mustard like Keens, or even a spinach or onion dip, all wrapped in a tortilla. If you fold these like a burrito, there is little chance for mess. These wrap up nicely in a beeswax wrap, a sandwich bag, or even some parchment paper.

3) Greek Salad.

We love a salad with big chunks of Buffeta, chopped red onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and black olives, all tossed in olive oil, oregano, some red wine vinegar and a little salt and pepper. We use mason jars to store these, or in a plastic container.

Fresh and delish! Bring a hunk of bread for a bigger day outside.

What’s your go-to adventure snack? Hit us up with ideas – we’d love to hear them.

Woman enjoying wine and cheese and video chatting from her smartphone.

How to host a virtual cheese tasting.

We’re all finding new ways to enjoy our loved ones from a safer distance. With a little technology and some ingenuity, why don’t you try hosting a virtual cheese tasting this holiday season? If you’ve got an internet connection with a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, you’re in luck! 

Follow these 4 simple steps

Step 1: Acquire the cheese.

Choose between 3 & 5 cheeses and try a variety of tastes and textures to add more interest to your plate for your virtual cheese tasiting. Here’s a nice selection to consider…

  • Comox Brie – a soft cheese is a must for every cheese plate. Try our award winning brie or camembert to add a creamy buttery texture.  Check the best-before date. A soft cheese with two weeks or less on the best-before date will be getting softer and stronger. If you want a gentler, tangier taste, look for a younger soft cheese with 4 weeks or more left on its best-before date. You can also test the soft cheese by GENTLY squeezing the sides. The more give, the stronger the flavour. 
  • Amsterdammer – this popular cheese has a mild flavour and buttery texture. But don’t be deceived, mild doesn’t mean bland. Let it warm up on your plate to release the full flavours.  
  • Boerenkaas – this is a great cheese-plate choice as it is strong enough to stand up to a beer or red wine, but versatile enough to pair with any of the fruits and nuts on the plate. 
  • Pacific Wildfire Verdelait – it’s always a good idea to include a cheese that everyone can talk about. This adventurous cheese combines locally grown habanero peppers with fresh cracked black pepper to add a little fire to the gathering.
  • Aged Farmhouse – our most popular variety, this cheese is loaded with rich, bold flavour. Its hearty nature will pair well with clean flavours like apple and pear. Let it warm on your tongue and enjoy the depth of flavours that are released.

What should you pair with your cheeses?

The choices are endless! Here are some ideas to try…

  • Fresh or dried apples, pears and figs.
  • Nuts such as cashews, walnuts and almonds.
  • Fresh preserves or even simple honey make a fabulous pairing for soft cheese.
  • And it’s always fun to experiment with new combinations – try something sourced locally like an artisanal mustard or a smooth, dark chocolate from a shop around the corner. Most importantly, play and have fun!

Have each virtual cheese tasting invitee acquire the same cheeses and pairings, whichever ones you choose. You can procure our cheeses at any Thrifty’s, online through, or if you’re local to Courtenay, head over to our Artisan Cheese Shop at 635 McPhee Ave, open from 9-4, M-F. We also have a list of independent grocers and other retailers on our “Where to Find Us” page.

Step 2: Choose your guests & video chat tech of choice.

Pick a video chat app that you’re most comfortable with – if you’re familiar with Zoom, go for it, others may find that a Facebook Messenger chat is easier to handle. Set up a meeting, send out your invites, and you’re good to go.

Tech tips for you to include in your invite:

  • Wear a headset to improve audio quality for everyone.
  • Mute your mic if you have a lot of background noise in your space, unmute when you want to speak.
  • Have a light shining towards your face rather than behind you to avoid being backlit.
  • Position yourself in a spot with a strong internet signal.
  • Prop your device (phone, tablet, laptop) somewhere stable so that you can be hands-free. That leads us to step 3…

Step 3: Setup your device.

You’ll want to set your laptop, tablet, or phone in such a way where you can be hands free, with a good view of your place setting. A tabletop setup works well, with your device’s camera pointing toward you. You may need some books piled behind the tablet to hold it up. A damp dish cloth can prevent slipping.

Make sure your wireless internet is on and working. Close down any applications or tv’s that may be using your internet signal. Unmute, and turn your volume up to 50–80% of max. Make a test call to one friend to make sure everything is working. Have everyone agree on a landscape or vertical orientation of their device, which will maximize your screen real estate.

Step 4: Go!

You’ll inevitably spend the first 15 minutes either waiting on your guests, or troubleshooting the technology. It’s best to have a tech-savvy person on hand to help smooth the way. Also wine.

Once everyone is on (we recommend no more than 6 people total) you’re good to go. Establish an order for the tasting and get rolling.

Tasting Glossary

Here’s a vocabulary of cheese tasting words that may help you describe what you’re tasting:

  • Grassy
  • Pungent
  • Earthy
  • Citric
  • Sweet
  • Gamey
  • Lactic
  • Lingering
  • Sharp
  • Lemony
  • Buttery
  • Nutty
  • Herbaceous
  • Toasty
  • Spicy

Everyone will detect flavours in their own unique way, which makes for interesting conversation. Maybe you’ll get some ideas on wine pairings, or recipes that would work with these flavours? Like a book club, a cheese tasting is meant to create conversation, which will of course take on its own life.

A virtual cheese tasting is a great way to connect with your friends or relatives this holiday season. It’s also a great gift idea: choose your people, send them the cheese, and get ready for an awesome time.