I was raised at the altar of Balderson cheddar. My dad is a fiend for Balderson – any time cheddar comes up, he has the same response: “You know who makes good cheddar? Balderson,” uttering Balderson the same way a flower might sigh, sun. I like Balderson for the same reason I cheer for the Steelers – at my dad’s
insistence encouragement. But if you’ll keep my secret, it’s not my favourite cheddar. That’s Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar.
St-Albert Cheese Cooperative‘s Extra Old Cheddar 5 Years, however, can run with the head of the pack. It’s nominated for this year’s Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in the aged cheddar (more than 3 years) category. It delivers the lightness, subtlety and hint of sweetness I crave from a cheddar. At first taste, it’s a beautifully-clean taste, as easy to set off in flavour as it is aesthetically.
Look at that crumbly texture. It’s not too dry, though, a pet peeve of mine when indulging in aged cheddar. It’s milky, and although it has a slight salty, sour tang, it won’t wear out its welcome. Some cheddars linger in aftertaste and become something else altogether. This one has a clean finish. It’s better when it’s allowed to sit for a while, though I think it’s better still slightly colder than room temperature. Burst some cherry tomatoes in the oven and you have the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
This cheddar’s spell isn’t overpowering or deep, and it won’t be leading any cults any time soon. It’s a gentle indulgence; the kind that leaves you craving more but won’t lead you to devour bite after bite, trying to match that first salty hit. Where Balderson is addiction, this is satisfaction. That’s something to write home to dad about.
This is the second profile of eight cheeses I tried ahead of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Click here for more on the awards.