Cheese Profile: Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar

By Marcella Wright, ACS CCP™

Avonlea 1 I have a confession to make: my To-Do list of cheeses and things that go with cheese to review as of this writing has more than fifty items. During my cheese travels, it became increasingly hard to stay on top of the list. Now, that my time is my own, the list slowly becomes more manageable…

One of the cheeses on my list is Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar made by the maker of COWS Ice Cream. COWS, an institution on Prince Edward Island (PEI) since 1983, makes premium ice cream containing a whopping 16% butterfat. Slow-churned to reduce the presence of air, that process also prevents hard-freezing of the ice cream and helps it melt slowly in the mouth, extending its enjoyment. In a Reader’s Digest opinion poll, COWS was named “Canada’s Best Ice Cream” and more than once has made “top ten ice creams” lists.

In 2006, COWS began making cheddar cheese after COWS Owner, Scott Linkletter, visited Scotland’s Orkney Island. While there, he fell in love with a cheddar made on the islands and he partnered with a local cheesemaker to make on PEI what would become Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar.

Avonlea is made using vegetarian-suitable rennet and thermalized milk; milk gently heated higher than the temperature when it leaves the cow, but lower than the FDA-required 161° F to constitute pasteurized milk. Following the cheesemaking process the cheese is made into twenty-two pound truckles that are wrapped in cheesecloth and coated with a lard to allow breathing while keeping unwanted bacteria from the cheese. It is turned and brushed regularly while it ages a minimum of twelve months.

Avonlea 2I met Scott at the 2013 ACS Conference in Madison, where I first tasted Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. This batch’s paste was the color of pale buttercups and crumbly. I tasted notes of pineapple with a toasted almond finish. It was yummy, a technical term to indicate it was luscious… another technical term and a favorite word of my mother…

Michael Meadows, COWS’ Atalanta Rep, sent me home with a wedge of Avonlea which I paired with Kelly’s Jelly’s Pine-a-peno and Marcona Almonds. I chose these to enhance the pineapple and toasted almond notes I found in the cheese. The jalapeno in the jelly added a fun finish to the cheese. I enjoyed these pairings with a glass of a slightly sweet Washington State Riesling.

Please visit my website where “It’s All About Cheese”.


Posted December 17, 2014