My cheese adventure has led me to Cambridge, Ontario for a meeting with the “Cheddar Chief”.
George Batarsch is the owner of Daniel’s Cheese and Deli in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. He is also know as the “Cheddar Chief” by his Twitter followers. Displayed on the front door of his store is a sign proclaiming that Daniel’s is “Home of the Cheddar”.
Daniel’s Cheese and Deli is a small specialty store specializing in cheese, deli meats and dips but most notably cheddar cheese … Canadian cheddar cheese. He does carry cheddar imported from Wisconsin (The cheddar capital of USA) as well as Australia. But the cheese case was full of Canadian Cheddar cheeses and organized by age.
George offered me a cheddar tasting experience of aged cheddars from 3 years to 12 years. I understand that the flavour of cheddar changes with age. But it was the chance to actually experience cheddars, from the same cheese makers at different stages of aging.
The Cheddar Chief has a passion for aging. He buys his cheese old and then continues to age it further in aging coolers set at optimal temperature. George explained that the conditions in which the cheese age is critical. If the storage area is too cold the cheese does not improve. It’s frozen in time. The cheese might be 8 years old but if it doesn’t mature because it’s too cold then you may be getting an 8 year old cheese that has missed a few years.
I could probably write an entire book describing and explaining the tasting experience that I had during a few hours pillaging George’s cheese case. But I’ve decided to boil it down to this … George has nurtured his cheddar from mild to wild and everything in between.
It was interesting to discover how the cheddar cheese texture shifted at different ages. As a rule, older was drier and more crumbly. I tried to determine my preference for texture alongside taste. Admittedly, I tried so many cheeses that I became a bit overwhelmed. The result? I left with a new appreciation of texture, but no conclusions. Texture is component that I will work to focus on and appreciate more during future cheese tastings.
Did I come away with a favorite Cheddar cheese at Daniel’s? The answer is no. Because I truly liked them all and appreciated each one for it’s subtle difference. It’s like trying to decide which child is your favorite … it’s impossible. My kids are different and I love them each for their uniqueness. Did I love them more when they were younger or as they grow up? Again, impossible to decide because I love them at each stage. And so it is with Daniel’s cheddars.
My suggestion is to spend some time trying the Cheddar at each stage of aging, young through old. I think that is the only way to gain any perspective.
Thank you to George, the Cheddar Chief, and Daniel’s Cheese Store for that opportunity.