Avonlea: Rich and robust with a lovely hint of Spud Island

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar was named Canadian Cheese of the Year at the 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards.

Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar’s recipe comes from the Orkney Islands, north of mainland Scotland, with the cheese made in the style of traditional English cheddars by Cows Creamery of Prince Edward Island.

Scott Linkletter, who started Cows Inc. in 1983 by famously making ice cream, was visiting the Orkneys with his wife 15 years ago when they were so taken by the local cheese that he cajoled a Scottish cheesemaker into sharing the recipe. The recipe became the foundation for the Cows signature cheese, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, introduced in 2006. Ten years later, Avonlea was named Cheese of the Year at the Canadian Cheese Awards.

While developing the recipe for the clothbound cheddar, Linkletter and head cheesemaker Armand Bernard created a second cheese, PEI Cheddar. Other cheddars, such as Appletree Smoked, followed.

How Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is made by Cows Creamery in Prince Edward Island under the guidance of head cheesemaker Armand Bernard.

Milk of Holstein cows from small local farms in the rolling hills of Prince Edward Island is gently heated—but not pasteurized—to allow beneficial microbes to thrive and give depth of character and flavour. The salt air and iron-rich soil of Prince Edward Island combine to add flavour and quality to the cheddar.

Cows makes Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar in 10 kilograms wheels, and ages it for 12 to 16 months at 10–12 degrees Celsius and 90% humidity.

The multi-award-winning cheese gets the “clothbound” name from traditional cheddar-making technique of wrapping it in cheese cloth, a method that originated in Somerset, England. The town of Cheddar, where cheddar cheese gets its name from is in Somerset.

The name Avonlea comes from link between Prince Edward Island and Anne of Green Gables. As Scott Linkletter explained to Sue Riedl of The Globe and Mail: “We thought that was a great name because of the connection with Anne of Green Gables. At the time of Anne, this is the way cheese would have been made.”

COWS Ice Cream has been a family tradition on Prince Edward Island since 1983. From a small kiosk on the famous Cavendish Boardwalk, the COWS brand now has seven locations across PEI, two in Nova Scotia, two in British Columbia and one each in Alberta, Ontario and Beijing, China. The COWS brand has expanded over the years with cheese and butter lines, as well as the popular COWS-themed merchandise.

Cheesemaker Armand Bernard pulls a sample from a wheel of Avonlea to monitor the aging process.

The Linkletter family has also invested in Raspberry Point Oysters with oysters being shipped across Canada, USA, Japan and Denmark. The oyster line started as a bit of a hobby for Scott Linkletter, who used to harvest oysters with his father near his summer home on New London Bay.

But the man is a serial entrepreneur, if there ever was one, as he also has launched Anne of Green Gables Chocolates, BOOMburger and Moo Moo BBQ Grilled Cheesery, among other ventures.

How does Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar taste? Among Canadian cheddars, quite unique, truly exceptional.

The flavours and aroma are rich and robust, fruity and nutty, with a hint of baked potatoes, as befits a cheese made on Canada’s spud island, Prince Edward Island. The texture is firm, slightly crumbly as the cheese ages beyond 12 months.

It’s an outstanding Canadian cheese, perfect for cheese boards and snacking. Stick a wedge in your glove compartment for your next road trip.

Check with your favourite cheese shop for availability or order online for convenient and safe home delivery:

You can order boxed selections of cheese and butter direct from Cows Creamery in Charlottetown by clicking here.

You can also order Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar via Amazon.ca.

Enjoy!

—Georgs

Georgs Kolesnikovs, Cheese-Head-in-Chief at CheeseLover.ca, has never met a cheese he didn’t like . . . well, hardly ever.

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