Say Cheese! ~ Cheese From Around the World
Cheese is something that most people eat without really giving it too much thought, whether they’re slicing Gouda for a sandwich, enjoying a cube of Cheddar from a cheese platter, or eating a Mozzarella-laden pizza. For cheese makers however, cheese is more than just a food, it’s a passion. The world’s top cheese experts happily make the biannual pilgrimage to the United States, to battle it out for the title of “World’s Best Cheese” at the World Championship Cheese Contest.
According to the results from the 2012 Championship, the best cheese in the world is currently produced by the the FrieslandCampina cheese factory in Steenderen, The Netherlands. While FrieslandCampina maybe a large multinational dairy corporation, which drew some criticism at the time from international cheese lovers (who generally favour small specialised establishments), their Vermeer (Gouda-style cheese) nevertheless managed to beat out the other 16 finalists. Cheese lovers looking for a taste of this fine diary product will need to have deep pockets however, as a wheel of their Vermeer sold at auction after the competition for roughly £5,300.
The competition’s second place winning cheese in comparison was a smear ripened semi-soft Winzer cheese from Bergkäserei Grundbach, a small dairy located in Wattenwil, Central Switzerland. This quaint establishment joined the growing number of illustrious Swiss cheese producers who are making an international name for themselves, with the 2006, 2008 and 2010 winners of the World Championship Cheese Contest all having come out of Switzerland.
It is therefore unsurprising that the title of the world’s third best cheese also belongs to a Swiss product, created by SO Appenzeller Käse GmbH in Appenzell, roughly 100 kilometres east of Zurich. This traditional Swiss “Käserei” welcomes tourists and cheese enthusiasts with open arms, even offering free glimpses into their cheese making facilities and short cheese making lessons and tastings.
Another cheese producer that really made a name for itself during the 1980 and 1998, 2010 and 2012 World Championship Cheese Contests is the Bornholms Andelmejeri cheese company, which is located on a small Danish island in the Baltic Sea. Famous for their blue veined cheese, the company has even held cheese tastings and dairy tours for the Danish Queen, Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II.
Other amazing cheeses which come highly recommended by the World Championship Cheese Contest’s panel of judges, are: the Sharp Cheddar from Cracker Barrel, which is owned by Kraft Foods; FrieslandCampina’s Edam, Mild Gouda and Flavoured Gouda; and AgroPur Fine Cheese’s smear ripened soft cheese, surface ripened goat’s milk cheese and brie.
Those who are especially interested in learning about cheese may even consider travelling to Madison, Wisconsin, USA for the 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest. Most cheese-a-holics, who attend the event find that there is nothing cheesy about having all of the world’s best cheeses in one location, some of which are available for tasting by the general public.
Greg is an avid eater and traveller who hopes you enjoyed his article and hopes you get time to sample one or more of the above examples!