Four Great Canadian Cheeses

30 Apr

Every year, Dairy Farmers of Canada awards prizes to the best 100%-Canadian cow milk cheeses in 19 categories at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. They had a record-breaking 225 entries this year. With our own artisans offering that kind of selection, it’s worth going beyond classic French or Italian options next time you’re assembling a cheese platter.

On Saturday, I invited over some friends to help me get through a swag bag of some of this year’s winners. Our critiques were more along the lines of “I’d buy that” than “I’m blown away by the bloom on this rind.” But really, you don’t need to be a cheese expert to appreciate a great hunk of cheddar or blue–just a cheese lover.

Debbie, Vijay, Sue and Nadia, cheese lovers

Here are our thoughts on the cheeses we tried, along with tasting notes from their producers.

Firm Cheese: Gunn’s Hill Five Brothers, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, ON

What the cheesemaker said: “a cow’s milk cheese that combines traits from Gouda and a Swiss variety called Appenzeller. At eight months old it has a firm yet creamy texture and rich diverse flavours with sweeter overtones. Distinctive eyes are scattered throughout the body of the cheese.”

Our verdict: “Nice and firm, nutty, not too sharp–milder in taste than you’d expect from that first whiff when you open the packet.”

Blue Cheese: Bleu d’Elizabeth, Fromagerie du Presbytere, QC

What the cheesemaker said: “Natural rind, blue-veined with a balance of salty flavour. Made with organic farmhouse milk.”

Our verdict: “Zippy, almost citrusy, clean–it would be really nice on a steak or in a salad with walnuts and balsamic dressing.”

Soft Cheese with a Bloomy Rind: Le Noble, Fromagerie Domaine Feodal Inc., QC

What the cheesemaker said: “Made from pasteurized cow’s milk, this soft cheese with bloomy rind has a light aroma of fresh mushrooms and final notes of butter and almond.”

Our verdict: “Buttery delicious, great with something sweet like quince jam or fig.”

Fresh Cheese and Grand Prize winner: Ricotta, Quality Cheese Inc.

What the cheesemaker said: “a soft Italian cheese that is semi-sweet to mild in flavour. It has a milky aroma and a creamy flavour.”

Our verdict: “Light, fresh and creamy. It’s less grainy than you’d expect from ricotta–it has the texture of mascarpone without the sweetness. Good with lighter fruits like pear. And it says a lot about a ricotta that it can beat out the blues and the ripe Camemberts and Bries in a cheese contest.”

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What we’d like to know is what your favourite made-in-Canada cheeses are. Please share in the comments section below.


5 Responses to “Four Great Canadian Cheeses”

  1. John May 8th, 2013 at 10:38 PM #

    I’m a great fan of real aged cheddar — love President’s Choice 4- or 6-year-old. The big name brands taste rushed and artificial by comparison.

    • Peter Epps May 10th, 2013 at 1:47 PM #

      The finest Canadian cheese is Black Diamond Fine Reserve Cheddar, comparable
      to any fine English Cheddar, made in Belleville, Ontario. BUT WE CANNOT BUY
      IT IN CANADA ( Not even mentioned in the article )

  2. Derk Duermeyer May 10th, 2013 at 1:48 PM #

    I originally come from the Netherlands and love many different types of cheeses, especially Balderson’s Extra Old Cheddar Cheese.

  3. Amanda May 10th, 2013 at 1:50 PM #

    Anything from Sylvan Star Cheese just outside of Red Deer, AB (especially the triple cream brie when you can find it!) Gort’s Gouda Cheese outside of Salmon Arm, B.C. makes some great cheeses too!

  4. shareen May 23rd, 2013 at 7:53 AM #

    Wisconsin cheddar. It’s sharp, tasty and well-aged and naturally orange, a real delight!!

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