Cheese Profile: Canadian Red Leaf Cheddar

By Marcella Wright, ACS CCP™

Marcella March Profile PIcI spent the last several weeks in Georgia helping transition my parents into Assisted Living. While my mom and I waited for my dad to recover from hip surgery, I introduced her to several new cheeses and pairings that were not “too far out there”. Last month’s profile featured Marieke Goudas which my mom loved, even though she initially expressed reluctance to go beyond her “Cheese Comfort Zone”.

I needed a cheese to pair with Salumis my friends at Creminelli Fine Meats had sent my way, and I headed off to the local Ingles. Even though Ingles doesn’t offer in-store cut and wrap, they do carry an extensive selection of pre-wrapped cheeses. Keeping in mind my mom’s comfort zone, I decided to ferret out a new cheddar (cheddar being her favorite style of cheese). I found several of my favorites from Cabot and Tillamook and smaller batch producers. Nestled in one basket were squares of a Canadian Cheddar that caught my eye: Red Leaf, a two-year cheddar imported by DCI, which is now part of Saputo. It was a win-win; a new cheese for me to taste, and cheddar, which I knew mom would enjoy.

To impress my mom, something I guess we never outgrow, I created a platter of the meats with the Red Leaf Cheddar, some sticks of the Marieke Gouda with Cumin and other favorite accompaniments including a Northeast Georgia local Sourwood honey from Blue Haven Bee Company. I threw in a couple of sliced boiled eggs, which stood out visually on the plate, but went well with the cheeses and meats.

Red Leaf CheddarRed Leaf Cheddar is full-flavored, bold with a distinct nuttiness that finishes with a tingle at the back of the mouth. It crumbles well but melts once it hits your palate. This cheddar turned out to be a perfect pairing with the meats–and when drizzled with the Sourwood honey, it was amazing. With roots in England, it’s understandable why so many Canadian Cheddars are true to the traditions of the finest English Cheddars. In January, I profiled another outstanding Canadian Cheddar, COWS’ Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. Like my mom, I love Cheddars… what’s not to like???

My mom loved the “crunchies”, the crystalized deposits of calcium-lactate that are the result of proteolysis (the protein breaking down as the cheese ages). These deposits are common in many low-moisture, aged cheeses, including cheddars, goudas and grana-style cheeses. In goudas and grana-style cheeses, these deposits are the result of the breakdown of amino acids known as tyrosine. While they may look the same in cheddars and parms, the two are different in their chemical make-up… but they are still crunchy and sweet… pretty much all I need to know…

As for impressing my mom… I did… she even asked for seconds… ahh…

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Posted March 26, 2015