Thousands sort of pilgrimage to the Lofoten Islands up in northern Norway every year for, no – not to taste the chèvre style Sommersnø – but to climb the mountain peaks, go on eagle and whale safaris, do ocean rafting, fishing, or contemplating in breathtaking surroundings and of course enjoy the gastronomic affluence that you are surrounded by wherever you go in the archipelago. Sommersnø is part of the latter. An organic chèvre style raw milk cheese made by a Dutch couple at Lofoten gårdsysteri.…
Three Norwegian chèvre style cheeses today. Not a typical Norwegian tradition this, so the inspiration comes from France. Most of us connect chèvre with the Loire, and of course there is a lot of chèvre made there, but not only. Many excellent chèvres are made elsewhere in France. Within Norway, artisan making of chèvre has only started up with the scope of the last 10 years. The goats are Norwegian milk goat, which is a very healthy race, due to the fact that the complete race was sort of redeveloped in the 1990s, a huge project costing more than a hundred million Euros. The result is as said, a healthy race producing high quality milk and no paratuberculosis among the animals.
Three Norwegian chèvre style cheeses
They are all made within the scope of the same week. Oldest is Kubbeost, a log of about 200 grams. Made up in the valleys in central southern Norway. Lille Aske gained a Super Gold at the world Cheese Awards in London 2017. From the South west of Norway, inland from Stavanger to be very broad. Finally Myrull from the mountain areas south west of Trondheim. Based on the dates they were made, they should have a lot of similarities, but still, they’re from three different small scale dairies.
The famous one, drier than the others. Slightly runny inside the rind, due to the work of the Geotrichum candidum. Rind somewhat hard for this type of cheese, Covered in ash (aske means ash). Core is beautifully al dente. Clean milk and fine acidity. If you have time to wait, it will give you a small bite at the end. Best as it is, with some honey. Alas, Bo making this cheese, is winding down, not stopping but reducing volumes focusing on the local market.
Myrull is a mature, but still fresh, organic chèvre style cheese with milk from their own herd. An even and creamy paste. Well made. Rind is off-white and well integrated with the rest of the cheese. Gentle milk flavour and umami. If you are very sensitive to bitter tones, you might detect some. It’s probably from the rind though. Had a discussion with Sister Noella at Abbey of the Regina Laudis in Connecticut, USA a few summer ago. Not about fresh chèvre style cheeses, but about Geotrichum candidum and the fact they might well give som bitter flavours. So she never eats the rind. G. candidum is very commonly used to form the rind of chèvre and chèvre style cheeses.
Of the three cheese this fares the best on the grill.
From Hallingdal. That’s on the east to west route, or vice versa of course. This log appears fresher than the two others. Could be it is almost double the volume and same age, so it seems more moisture is left in the cheese. It is matured for eight days before being packed and sent off. The curd is rolled by hand and salted. This cheese has a distinct saltiness to it. Apart from that, fresh milk, grass and herbs. Mild and very likeable. Creamy, but also a little crumbly. This makes wonders in a summer salad.
I am fairly traditional and prefer a dry white, usually a Sauvignon blanc. But if you’re looking for a variation you have some fine dry whites from the south of France made from the Pine de Picpoul grape. I quite fancy this variation.
None is available outside Norway, as far as I know.
When I taste cheese I use a form developed by the Academy of Cheese, helping me to be as objective and consistent as possible. But our taste and olfactory systems are not identical, so some are more sensitive to certain aromas or flavours than others, which probably will influence the score. Whether a cheese is good or not, use and pairings is a personal opinion and outside the scope of the tasting form.
Osteperler started out in English as “Tasteful moments”, and cheese does absolutely represent some tasteful moments. But I changed the name as I turned the site into Norwegian with English as a partly side language. Now I plan to turn Osteperler around again writing in English with raw milk cheeses from around the world as my playground. That said, they will be mostly European as here is where we find most of the raw milk cheeses of the world. But, North America does have a fair and seemingly increasing share.
It’s been ten years since I started out, in a month or so at least so I thought it was time to make a change. That’s partly also my nature.
So what does osteperler mean, exactly? Literally speaking cheese pearls. Pearls in this context in Norwegian will probably be the same as a gem in English, so the translation would be cheese gems.
Osteperler will also be a good site for sourcing Norwegian cheese gems, up and coming as they are, twice World Cheese Awards winners, 2016 in San Sebastian and 2018 in Bergen. Very well done for a relatively young cheese nation, at least from a modern cheese making aspect. Norwegian farmstead cheese deserve a place at the international cheese platter, so my hope is to contribute to that happening, both here and physically helping the cheese makers out. Norwegian cheese is so much more than Jarlsberg, which is not a Norwegian cheese unless you buy it in Norway, and the somewhat exotic brown cheese. Jarlsberg is absolutely a Norwegian cheese brand though.
So far I have also made some videos in Norwegian, I plan to start making some in English as well. They will be posted here as appropriate, and at my YouTube channel. Thursday evenings I do a streaming, in Norwegian, and so it will be.
Isn’t Parmigiano Reggiano exactly that, or Parmesan if you like? Well, there is Mozzarella di Bufala and then there is Mozzarella from cow’s milk. The original is from Buffalo’s milk. And the same applies to Parmigiano Reggiano. Well, any Parmigiano Reggiano is made from cow’s milk, but as this cheese has become increasingly popular around the world, the need for more milk has exploded and with that the introduction of a high yielding cow. Hence the Holstein making most of the milk for today’s Parmigiano Reggiano. But it’s not the original, that’s the red, white and brown cows respectively. They yield less milk, but milk that is more suited for cheese making. Then there is this thing about sticking to what’s original. Some don’t bother, other’s think that’s important. I belong to the latter.
I do not know how much more milk a Holstein makes a day compared to the originals, but I assume the difference is considerable. And that difference probably means money – and money talks. If you think breed is breed, milk is milk, feeding is feeding, pasture is pasture and even dairy is dairy, well then I thing you are wrong. That’s why the breed thing is so important. It’s about history, culture and not least keeping to the original.
Parmigiano Reggiano of milk from solely brown cows
The brown cow, or Bruna Italiana is an old cow when it comes to making Parmigiano Reggiano. Probably not one of the originals but it has an ideal protein/fat ratio for cheese making. The Bruna Italiana is originally a Brown Swiss that was long ago brought across the alps to the plains of the Po river and has over time become Bruna Italiana as it is known by now – in Italy.
Bruna Italiana is not an extinction threatened breed
Unlike Vacche Rosse and Bianca Modenese where they keep working to rebuild herds, the brown cow is quite widespread most of all because of the cheese making qualities of the milk. Why then is Bruna Italiana so special? Because as I just said of the qualities of the milk and because they are not all that many using this breed for making Parmigiano Reggiano.
Some cheesemakers use some milk, often in blends with other breeds, but the farm Valserena use solely Bruna Italiana (or Vacca Bruna if you like) and have done so since the farm was founded back i 1879. They had a plan and imported the animals from Switzerland. Since then they have worked steadily with farming, cheese making, breeding and not least establish Parmigiano Reggiano with milk from brown cow as a quality brand. Which was crowned in 2005 when the Disolabruna® Consortium was etablished. With the PDO together they represent both protection and recognition.
Valserena – the farm
A farm housing 260 milking cows in addition to calves and pigs. The milk from these 260 milking cows is enough to make 14 cheeses every day. They also grow wheat, corn and sugar beets. The pigs are fed on whey and corn.