If you love cheese and can’t wait to learn more about it, today’s your lucky day!
Welcome to Chatelaine’s Cheese Forecast, where we recommend four delicious cheeses for you to discover in the month ahead. We’ll be share tasting notes and details on the who, what and where of how these Canadian cheeses were made.
Whether you have a regular cheese rotation but want to broaden your horizons or you find going to a cheesemonger a little overwhelming, our cheese forecast will provide a helping hand.
To kick things off, allow me to take you on a little cheese tour across Canada. I’d never be able to come close to highlighting the best wedges in one go — that’s what our monthly cheese journey will be about — but let’s jump in with an introduction to the incredible variety of cheese styles and milk types hailing from provinces coast to coast.
If one (or all) catch your eye, the good news is there are a lot more Canadian varieties available in grocery stores and fine-food shops than ever before. Your local cheese shop may offer some of the more specialized product and, if they don’t have it in stock, they’ll definitely be able to suggest a close alternative (worst case being you sample a lot more cheese).
1. Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, COW’S Creamery, PEI.
Style: Clothbound Cheddar
Milk type: Unpasteurized cow
Region: Charottetown, P.E.I.
Perfect for: your go-to snack cheese
This beautiful cheese with its mottled grey-brown rind is made in 10-kilogram wheels that are aged for minimum 12 months in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. Created in 2007, Avonlea is made using traditional cheddar-making techniques, most notably the wrapping of the cheddar in cloth (muslin or cheesecloth) for aging. Thus the reference to “clothbound” or “bandaged cheddar.” If you’ve never had a clothbound cheddar, you’ll find it has a little more crumble but it also has a less sharp, more rounded, nutty flavour than the aged cheddars most of us are used to.
COWS owner Scott Linkletter, and cheesemaker Armand Bernard, revived this centuries-old production method after being inspired by a clothbound cheddar Scott tasted while travelling in Orkney, in northern Scotland. Using the Orkney cheese as the base recipe for his P.E.I. version, he then perfected the process after consulting with traditional English cheddar makers.
2. Blue D’Elizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytère, QC.
Style: Blue-veined cheese
Milk type: Unpasteurized organic, farmstead cow
Region: Sainte-Élizabeth de Warwick, QC
Perfect for: topping a salad or burger and always a great after dinner-finale when entertaining
This is one of my favourite blue cheeses ever (not just in Canada). It’s also the one I try to push on people who tell me they don’t like blue cheese. Yes, a wedge will be pungent and earthy, but it’s also wonderfully balanced — while I wouldn’t describe it as mild, it’s full-flavoured with sour cream and salt notes, and a lingering sweet finish. If you’re used to a blue that’s all sharp edges and tangy finish, now’s your chance to find a blue you can love.
The cheesemakers, brothers Jean and Dominique Morin, are fourth-generation farmers on La Ferme Louise D’Or, named by their grandfather. The family has been farming organically for over 25 years, and the milk that goes into their cheese comes fresh from their own herd every morning.
3. Romelia, Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, BC.
Style: Soft, washed-rind
Milk type: Pasteurized goat milk
Region: Salt Spring Island, BC
Perfect for: a great cheese board addition for its size, good looks and full flavour (but it won’t scare people off!)
Many years ago, when I interviewed David Woods, owner of Salt Spring Cheese company, he told me that people come to Salt Spring Island to “get a life, not a job.” But I might move there for the cheese. You may be most familiar with the gorgeous goat chèvres the company sells in many stores across Canada — a snowy white dome covered with pink edible flowers, fiery pepper flakes or silky roast garlic.
Romelia is a twist on a typical washed-rind style of cheese in that it is made with goat milk (you may be more familiar with washed rinds like Quebec’s Oka or the French Époisses, and associated them with cow-milk products). Romelia shows off a distinct copper-coloured, wrinkled rind. Named after Rommy, an employee with fiery red hair, when you find a wheel at peak ripeness, the interior is soft and and dense and coats your mouth with an intense, savoury flavour and a smooth finish. Younger and firmer versions of Romelia are still tasty, but will be not be quite as ripe and pungent.
4. Eweda Cru, Best Baa Dairy, ON.
Milk type: Raw sheep milk
Region: Fergus, ON
Perfect for: a sandwich with ripe tomatoes, afternoon snack or the kids’ lunch (with a few crackers)
Eweda Cru, encased in a green wax rind, is a little more intense in flavour than its sister cheese, the Eweda—yellow wax—which is made with pasteurized milk and has a has shorter ripening time. Due to the longer aging, Eweda Cru develops a nutty, meaty flavour and a long, rich finish. This cheese is lovely in a fresh sandwich, served on a cheese board, or sliced up to carry as an afternoon snack with a crunchy apple. If you’re not sure if you’ve had a sheep milk cheese before think about the Spanish Manchego or French Roquefort.
Best Baa Farm owners Eric and Elisabeth Bzikot, who moved to Ontario from Manitoba in 1998, create all their cheese from milk which comes from their own herds, and believe strongly in adhering to and promoting sustainable-farming practises.
They produce yogurt, as well as as Camembert-style, ricotta and washed-rind cheese, all made from sheep’s milk.
TIPS FOR SERVING YOUR CHEESE
- To enjoy your cheese to the fullest take it out of the fridge about 1 hour before serving.
- If you’re serving four cheeses together, use a different knife for each one so the flavours of, say, a bold blue, doesnt’t affect the others.
- Never overthink cheese! Serve simply with baguette, seasonal fruit and a little side of honey. Add a green salad and you’ve got dinner.