Cheese-lovers rejoice – the results from the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix are in! It’s time to pull out your cheeseboards, polish your slicers and prepare for a world of homegrown flavour. Our very own Andy Shay (a.k.a., The Big Cheese) was on the panel of judges and personally tried 268 cheese nominees. There were many winners, but here are four of our favourites — plus recipe inspiration for your next party.
Cheese name: Mountainoak Farmstead Premium Dutch Gold
Where it’s produced: Mountainoak Cheese Ltd., Ontario
Category win: Extra Aged Gouda
Background: The van Bergeijk family uses time-tested techniques from their native Holland to create great-tasting and high-quality cheeses. The family controls the entire cheese-making process, starting with fresh milk from their own dairy cows. To get the freshest product possible, they pipe milk directly from the dairy to the onsite cheese factory. In fact, the milk is so fresh it enters the cheese facility at the same temperature it leaves the cows! The end result is sweet, aged Gouda with hints of caramel and nuts.
Try it today: Our Creamy Gouda & Rosemary Polenta is the perfect dish to show off this winning cheese. Or try it in a shredded atop freshly grilled veggies for a flavourful side dish.
Cheese: Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar
Where it’s produced: Cows Creamery, Prince Edward Island
Category win: Aged Cheddar (1 to 3 Years)
Background: Traditional British technique and local Prince Edward Island milk come together for a distinct Canadian cheddar. Avonlea Clothbound is aged in cloth for one year, so it’s crumbly and less sharp but more nuanced than cheddars aged in wax or plastic coatings. And true to its PEI roots, it develops an earthy potato flavour.
Try it today: A modern take on classic cauliflower and cheese, our Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Sauce is a showstopper entertaining side or appetizer. Taste test a few slices before adding it to the sauce — we suggest pairing them with a smooth pale ale.
Cheese: Sylvan Star Smoked Gouda
Where it’s produced: Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd., Alberta
Category win: Smoked Cheese
Background: This creamy, melting Gouda has a campfire aroma that adds sophistication and depth to macaroni and cheese. And like all Sylvan Star cheeses, it’s lactose-free. Made fromheat-treated milk, the cheese is crafted by the Schalkwijk family, who moved to Alberta in the ’90s. Missing the cheese from their native Holland motivated them to feed their cravings by making homemade cheese with milk from their own cows.
Try it today: Guests will devour this cheese in our Ham & Smoked Gouda Croquettes, but try a few slices their on its own to fully appreciate the smoky flavour.
Where it’s produced: Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser Inc., Quebec
Category win: Flavoured Cheese with Added Non-particulate Flavouring (except smoked cheese)
Background: The term “raclette” refers to both the cheese that originated in Switzerland and the grill upon which it is traditionally melted before being scraped onto boiled potatoes, gherkins, grilled meats and veggies. This semi-soft washed rind cheese from Quebec has a smooth texture, pungent aroma and hazelnut flavour.
Try it today: For a beautiful brunch sandwich that’s sweet and savoury, serve our Bacon & Fig Grilled Cheese. Or keep it traditional and melt raclette on the grill.
Keep it Classic
Sometimes, simplicity is best. To appreciate the fine nuances of each of these winners, make them the stars of your next cheeseboard. Let each cheese shine on its own or pair it with fruit (dried or fresh), nuts and cured meats for a contrast of flavours. Not sure where to begin? Our video has tips to get you started. Save us a place at your table!