American Cheese Society: Favorite Cheese (Part 6- last entry)

You have to love a cheese company that makes it almost impossible to find out they make one of Canada’s best cheeses from their website. Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is a cheese I actually first tried at last year’s Fancy Food Show. That was an odd experience because they didn’t have a booth. No, the cheesemaker was lugging around a 30-or-so lb. wheel and commandeering empty tables to give out samples when he found a potential buyer.

I like when people who try to sell me cheese actually feel comfortable lifting one, know what I mean?

Looks heavy, doesn’t it? DSC00137

Avonlea is an awesome cheese in a segment of the cheese world that is rapidly glutting. It’s a clothbound cheddar, different than typical supermarket cheddar because it is wrapped with lard-lubed cheesecloth and aged with hands-on care. Most cheddars in the supermarket (and certainly most cheddars we sell) are made in 40-640 lb blocks and aged in plastic, sitting in cold storage until someone buys them.

The standard bearers for traditional cheddars are the phenomenal English ones like Montgomery’s Cheddar or Keen’s Cheddar, both cheeses made with generations of tradition. New, non-English, versions keep popping up that are also amazing like the Cabot Clothbound (aged by Jasper Hill), The Fiscalini bandage-wrapped, and, at times, the Beecher’s Flagship Reserve. The clothbound cheddars have different flavors than the block cheddars. They may never get that bitter-sharpness one associates with extra sharp Vermont cheddar, but they have a lot more complexity. I tend to use most of my cheese adjectives for these cheeses: the great ones are grassy, milky, sharp, sweet, and earthy. These are some of the best cheeses in the world and, from what I’ve tasted so far, Avonlea is a great addition to this list.

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