Top Ten - Our current favourite Canadian cheeses.
Origin: Canada of course!
Milk Type: Cow, goat, and sheep.
It’s time for the National Wine Awards of Canada, and we’ll be thinking about the best of the best from Canada’s winemakers. It seems like a good time to consider some of our current favourites in the Canadian cheese world as well.
I canvassed my enthusiastic coworkers about particularly delicious and memorable cheeses that were on their minds these days. Here are the top ten, in no particular order:
Grand Trunk – A firm, nutty cheese made by Stonetown Cheese in St Mary’s, Ontario. The wheels are aged for 18-24 months, which really brings out the slight caramel notes on the finish. Perfect for a cheese board, but great as a snack on its own, too.
Angélique-À-Marc - An absolutely fabulous soft cheese made by the Fromagerie de l’Île-Aux–Grues in Québec. These medium-sized wheels are wrapped in bark, which imparts a subtle, grassy taste. "Marc" is artist Marc Seguin who designed the label, not the spirit, as some of you may have been thinking. Made in small production it can be scarce, but worthy of keeping an eye out.
Le Chèvre a Ma Manière – This slightly wrinkly, soft goat is from l’Atelier Fromagerie in Québec. The format is a small very flat disc, and the flavour is more towards the nutty end and less barnyardy, but the texture is the thing that will leave you wishing you had bought two.
Madelaine – Made by Fromagerie Nouvelle France in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. This is a rare breed in Canada, as sheep’s milk is a bit of a complicated venture. The fromagerie makes a few cheeses but we love the Madelaine. It's a soft-ripened square, with just enough earthiness to make it memorable, and plenty of the delicate fruitiness that I think of when I describe sheep’s milk. The other thing they are famous for at Nouvelle France is their jars of sheep’s milk yogurt, which have a cult following.
Cow’s Extra Aged Cheddar –A great cheddar made by our friends in PEI. We did a blind cheddar tasting with all of our cheese mongers last week, and this came in second place! Aged for 18 months, it is just in the sweet spot of creaminess and sharpness. Nice clean finish.
Creekside Creamery Raclette – A great version of the classic mountain cheese from a new dairy in the Fraser Valley. It has beautiful, full flavour, and it’s so nice to have a local option to make raclette night complete. They make a fun garlic or cumin wheel also.
Thea – An amazing, aged sheep cheddar from Mariposa Dairy in Ontario. I love the rich taste and the nice, fruity sharp finish. It’s such a unique sheep’s milk cheese, and all the aging time really makes this cheese a standout.
Ruckles – From Saltspring Island Cheese, this is a perfect combination of fresh summer flavours. Small rolls of fresh, tangy goat cheese are topped with chopped chives, fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil. Perfect for this time of year smeared on a crusty loaf or added to your salad. Makes it feel like the sun is shining even when it’s not.
Treizième Apôtre – is a fairly new cheese for Fromagerie du Presbytère in Québec. They make a number of iconic cheeses, but this cheese made from a neighbour’s raw goat milk is a great addition to their stable (or choir, if we want to stick with their church theme). Washed rind, medium texture, with a lovely white paste and the taste of straw and toasted nuts. The "Thirteenth Apostle" is definitely top ten material.
La Galette de la Table Ronde – Another great washed rind from Québec. This small wheel has a fairly delicate and grassy taste when it’s younger but gets a little spicier and runny as it ages. The rind is slightly wrinkly, and the paste is very yellow from the rich organic milk used for this beauty. It really stands out in flavour, even amongst all the other great washed rind cheeses made across Québec.
Pairing: Celebrating Canadian makers seems like a good theme to stick with this month. Find a local bakery that makes a tasty loaf of bread, and if you frequent any farmers markets, find some fresh veggies or a locally made preserve to round out your cheese selection. Enjoy the beginning of summer.