Below follows a selection of fine Norwegian farmstead cheese makers and some of their cheeses.
AVDEM – LESJA
On top of the Gudbrandsdalen valley, where east meets west lies Lesja. A rural urbanization 900 metres above sea level mainly concerned with farming. The Gudbrandsdalen valley starts at Lillehammer and goes north west. Avdem is a farm making farmstead cheese. Conventional farming but unpasteurized cow’s milk is used for cheese making. Two washed rind semi firm cheeses are made here. Fjelldronning (Mountain queen) is the prime product. 4 kilo wheels that is matured for at least 4 months. Light red-yellowish rind and pale yellow paste with only a very few scattered small holes.
The other is smaller and younger; Mor Åse (as in Ibsen’s Peer Gynt). Wheels of about one kilo, matured for a month or so. Very fresh and delicate.
Avdem also makes yoghurt, butters and sour cream in addition to brown cheese from whey with added cream with a very dark color and concentrated taste. Their Huldreost is served at restaurant Noma in Copenhagen.
To drink: Mor Åse and Fjelldronning goes well with Cabernet Franc based reds.
BRIMI SÆTER – GARMO
Brimi sæter is at the outskirts of the Jotunheimen mountain range. All the animals are moved up here for the summer months and they make a summer cheese called Seterost (Chalet cheese) from unpasteurized cow’s milk. A cheese stored for at least 12 months. The cheese is marked with vintage. Hard, yellow with distinct tast of salt. Barnyard aroma.
To drink: A light and fruity red wine.
DERINNGARDEN – EIDE PÅ NORDMØRE
Derringarden makes organic cheese from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Derringarden spesial is a semi firm washed rind cheese with a mild taste. Any beginner’s dream. They also make a small bloomy rind cheese called Snøtind (Snow peak). Very mild and gentle, too mild and gentle for my taste.
To drink: An unoaked Chardonnay or a mild and fruity red. A NV standard Champagne will also do.
HITRA GÅRDSMAT – HITRA
Traditional firm cheese, cave aged at the Island of Hitra. Hitra is most famous for their crabs and farmed salmon. Farmstead unpasteurized cheese aged from 8 to 12 months. Sweetish and nutty taste with a juicy texture in spite of being firm.
To drink: This cheese has no problems negotiating a full bodied red wine. But I would prefer the elegance of a red Burgundy or a white from the same area.
KJERRINGØY GARD – KJERRINGØY
Nothern Norway, just north of Bodø where Knut Hamsun used to live and wrote some of his famous novels.
Blå Kjerringøy is a blue cheese made from organic and unpasteurized cow’s milk. Very farmstead. Pale yellow paste with only a few blue veins. Wonderful dark and somewhat sticky rind. Fine balanced taste where the salt is very well integrated.
To drink: A German white, Kabinet quality. If red is the only thing, try Italian Amarone.
MUNKEBY KLOSTER – LEVANGER
Munkeby kloster is a monastery under the guidance of Abbaye de Citeaux, south of Dijon in France. Munkeby is like the cheese Abbaye de Citeaux a Reblochon style soft cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk delivered to the monastery by the neighboring farmers. Brother Joel was responsible for the cheese making at Abbaye de Citeaux before he moved to Norway.
To drink: A light and fruity red, or a trappist beer. A white from the Jura or Burgundy also becomes this cheese well.
OSTEMAKER ØVERLI – PASVIK
Exotic this, almost as far north east as you can get i Norway, right on the Russian border. If you happen to be in Kirkenes a couple of hours’ detour to visit this farm is worth it.
Gaivo is a Gouda style summer fresh semi firm cheese from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Matured for three months. Pale yellow paste, compact texture. Somewhat dry in the mouth but very tasteful in spite of just three months maturing. Tomé Pasvik is another semi firm cheese he makes. Recipe from southern Europe made from arctic milk. Fine character with hints of spice. Pale yellow, compact paste without any holes. A thin, but hard rind, grey but with a multitude of other colors. Non edible, but very decorative. Both these cheeses will do well with some freshly baked bread, country butter and a glass of wine.
To drink: A fruity red from the Beaujolais, Loire, Veneto or, as always, a Chardonnay of European origin. I’ve even had Riesling, and it was a delight.
RUESLÅTTEN YSTERI – HOL
Lord Garvagh is an unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from partly Jerseys and partly the very Norwegian breeds Telemark and Norwegian Red Cattle (NRF). Mountain cheese coming in wheels of approximately 2 kilos. Semi firm texture. Lord Garvagh was one these British Lords that came to Norway every summer for salmon fishing in the rivers, hunting or just rambling the mountains. Originally from the Londonderry county. Built his own stone chalet that is still there in the Hallingdal mountain range. Washed rind cheese as most mountain cheeses. Matured for at least six to eight weeks but often longer. A very delicate cheese that is at its best if matured a little longer than two months.
To drink: A fruity red wine, or as always; a dry white from the chardonnay grape.
Kubb (log) is a fresh cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk in a Chèvre style. Formed as a tiny log with hints of bloomy rind. Very mild and gentle cheese.
TINGVOLLOST – TINGVOLL
Kraftkar from Tingvollost not far from Kristiansund on the north western coast of Norway is a pasteurized blue cheese. One of Norway’s most reputed farmstead cheeses with gold medals from the Cheese World Championships in Birmingham, UK. Blue veins. Taste starts out quite gently but accelerates as you chew it. Fat cheese with 65% fat in dry matter. This is because cream is added.
To drink: A bottle of good Port will be excellent here, or the Norwegian Iseple (Ice apple).
VOLL YSTERI – KLEPP, JÆREN
Just outside of Stavanger this. Voll was the first farmstead cheese maker to be authorized for manufacturing unpasteurized cheese. A former farmer now solely cheese maker. Makes a Raclette style cheese, well aged.
To drink: A good Chardonnay wine.
AURENES GARDSYSTERI – UNDHEIM, JÆREN
Jæren is the garden of Norway. In the back hills up from the coastline just east of Stavanger there is this goat farm called Aurenes. Knudenosten is a Chèvre style Norwegian goat milk cheese. Has become very famous and popular among the public and starstruck chefs alike. Flat and round like a hockey puck. Rind with light mold. Unpasteurized and made from late February till mid September. Has not been made this year due to organizational hick-ups, but it seems like it is back on track from March 2015. Charming with a wonderful but not pungent taste of goat. A world class Chèvre style cheese this.
To drink: A typical cheese for a glass of dry and crisp Sauvignon blanc.
RUESLÅTTEN YSTERI – HOL
A fresh goat milk cheese Chèvre style. Made from unpasteurized milk from neighboring farms in Hallingdal.
Delicate cheese with a mild and gentle taste. Sometimes appears in a matured variety; be prepared for a somewhat more pungent experience.
To drink: A dry white from the Sauvignon blanc grape.
UNDREDAL – AURLAND
Kvit Undredal, a semi firm goat’s milk cheese from the midst of the UNESCO world heritage area around Flåm, Sognefjord on the west coast of Norway. A lot of tourists have sailed past Undredal on board the huge number of tourist ships that visit Flåm every summer. Fine taste of goat but nothing pungent. Comes in three varieties, fairly fresh, medium aged and well aged which means 8 months to a year. Balanced with well integrated salt. They also make an unsalted cheese called Sognakvitost. Try it and you will realize how important salt is for a tasteful cheese.
To drink: White, dry and crisp. But a light red will also do. If you’re there try something from the local and artisanal Ægir brewery at Flåm. I am sure they’re happy to recommend something that pairs well.
OSTERIET I SAMNANGER – TYSSE
This is from a farm just outside the City of Bergen, and you might be lucky enough to find the owner at the market during the summer, at least on Saturdays. Bergen is the only place you can get it outside the farm itself. Also available at a few select restaurants in Bergen. The only cheese in Norway that is made with ewe’s milk. The cheese is called Sterke Nils’n and has 20% ewe’s milk and 80% cow’s milk. Unpasteurized. Matured for a while. She has eight ewes and three cows, so that’s exactly how exclusive it is. A favorite with Jamie Oliver this.
To drink: A Chardonay of good standing.