Happy Cheese Lovers’ Day, one and all! This is a glorious day for mongers to relish and crackers to fear.
Once people realize the depth of my love for cheese (usually to the tune of “Yeah, I have a cheese blog,” and “there are four different types of cheese in my single-tenant fridge at any given time”), they often ask me for a favourite. I take this as seriously as any food-lover being asked to eat just one thing for the rest of their life and specify a category before throwing out any names.
I’ve toyed with posting a cheese Wall of Fame (Wall of Fromage? Yep, sold) listing some such albeit-rotating favourites and Cheese Lovers’ Day seems like as good a time as any to start, especially since it coincides almost perfectly with my blog’s first-post birthday.
A quick note: These are by no means a reflection of the “best” cheeses I’ve ever had – I am not a cheese critic and appreciate it all as an endeavour. The following is a list of my personal favourites: one woman’s trash is another’s treasure and all that. I cribbed the types from my cheese bible, The World Cheese Book, and made my best attempt at categorizing these beloved wheels, but please feel free to argue with me.
Cheese the Day’s Wall of Fromage, 2015:
Fresh cheese: Bella Casara Burrata
My caprese salad used to mate with Italian mozzarella out of necessity. Now we have a home-grown option, and it is the definition of melt-in-your-mouth. While I melt (ha) for any fresh mozzarella, this one holds a special place in my heart. Dare you not to eat the entire thing once you’ve cut in even a little (not least because part of the joy of burrata is its fleeting consistency).
Aged fresh cheese: Le Cendrillon by Alexis de Portneuf
This is an area that I need to experience more. I haven’t had many aged fresh cheeses, but tasting Le Cendrillon is like acing a triactor on your first trip to the track: you don’t have to know the competition to know the payout is good. I snagged only a little bite of this last year and still fell in love.
Soft white cheese: Saint Angel
This is a brand-spanking-new addition to my favourites. I tried this after finding it on sale (!) at St. Lawrence Market recently and licked the paper it was wrapped in. Multiple times. It’s like as densely creamy as a butter castle and as light as a cloud. Five points to Gryffindor if you can eat it without once closing your eyes.
Semi-soft cheese: Highland Chief with Single Malt Whiskey
This is a tough category because it varies so widely; I’ll admit that my favourite often changes depending on which good semi-soft I’ve had most recently. In this case, it’s a seasonal cheese that has the salty bitterness of old cheddar but an unbelievably creamy texture with an elasticity that could slap you out of the daze you no doubt fell into upon tasting the sweet, smoky whiskey tang.
Hard cheese: Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar
This cheese will always make me think I’m having a picnic in a field of sweetgrass, where you can also catch a hint of recent-rain smell on the breeze. It’s that earthy, sweet and pleasure-inducing.
Blue cheese: Blue Haze
It’s hard not to become devoted to Blue Haze like groupies or a cult following, but it’s just that powerful. It’s not often you come by a smoked blue, and it becomes even more intoxicating when coupled with honey.
Flavour-added cheese: Sartori Bellavitano Balsamic
I can’t imagine this one ever being overtaken, since it’s the first cheese with which I remember becoming absolutely obsessed, and may have sparked my curiosity in trying new cheeses. It’s always, always good, and one of the few cheeses I devour with no accompaniment.