Let’s hear it for Canadian cheese! With over 1,050 cheeses being produced in this country, we have something incredible to celebrate, and with a range of terroir as different its inhabitants, you know Canadian cheeses will be as diverse as the people who make them. While you’re enjoying the activities of our country’s 150th anniversary this weekend, make sure you hug your neighbour, sing loud our anthem, and feast on some local fromage.
Here are three distinctly Canadian, distinctly unique cheeses to consider:
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, Cows Creamery, Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island’s motto should be “Small But Mighty” because for such a little island, their food producers are sure making waves. Case in point, the Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from Cows Creamery where cheesemaker Armand Bernard works on this recipe that has roots stemming from the Scottish Orkney Islands. Island Holsteins produce the milk for this cheddar wrapped in cloth and turned while it ages for at least a year before being sold.
The Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is firm with a slightly dry and crumbly texture. It has a rich, robust flavor of mushrooms and earth that finishes with a welcoming fruity tang. The cheddar has won awards since 2008 including Canada’s Best Aged Cheddar (1-3 years) at the 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, and North America’s 3rd Best Clothbound Cheddar in 2014 at the American Cheese Society Competition.
A big brawny strong beer, like the high-flying Ichorous from Blindman Brewery is just what this island cheddar needs. No surprise; everyone knows Alberta and the Maritimes are BFFs anyway.
Devil’s Rock, Thornloe Cheese Inc., Ontario
If you’re afraid of the deep dark blue—as in cheese—fear not, and start with this one; even those first entering the world of blue cheese can’t help but get hooked. The milk comes from cows raised on green pastures, fresh air and the clean waters of Northern Ontario. The result? Pure magic.
The typical sharp pungency of a traditional blue cheese is softened in this case by higher fat content making this cheese extremely approachable and addicting. You’ll not only buy one for yourself, you’ll start buying them for friends. Get ready: you’re suddenly going to have more friends, but that’s okay, because we’re a friendly bunch, ask anyone around the globe. Come visit, we’ll share our cheese!
Wine pairing: Grand Pré fortified wine, Nova Scotia. A match made in heaven (or, Canada. Same thing).
Comox Camembert, Natural Pastures, British Columbia
At Canada’s far western reaches on Vancouver Island is where you’ll find Natural Pastures, a cheesery that sources milk from Island cows and turns it into 20 unique creations including the Comox Camembert, an umami-loaded soft and salty cream-bomb. Paul Sutter, took over the cheese-making reigns in 2002, and the awards have rolled in ever since including a bronze medal for this camembert at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest. Not bad for a little cheese from a little town, I mean, this is only the world’s largest technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition with a record-setting 2,948 submissions. Oh, Canada!
Wine pairing: 8th Generation Riesling out of the island’s neighbouring Okanagan valley. Makes sense: we were raised to be good neighbours.
Happy Anniversary, Canada, may this be the start of a long history of artisanal foods, diversity, tolerance, acceptance, breaking through barriers, and making friends (and cheese) wherever we go.