Searching for god smak (“good taste”)
I’m finishing up a week of traveling the fjords and roads of Norway, trying to scope out the cheese scene in this country better known for salmon and sweaters. One of the first things I discovered on my Scandinavian beat is that the average Norwegian refers to her/his cheese by color: they have their white cheese, their yellow cheese, some blue cheese, and plenty of brown cheese. Color indicts familiar supermarket cheese. They know, for instance, what to expect from a slice of white cheese.
Based on my detective work this week, however, this color-coded approach to cheese may soon become obsolete. Norway’s fledgling community of cheese artisans are shaking things up with a new generation of choices like Camembert-style wheels, aged goat cheeses, raw milk blues, and handmade alpine-style washed curd cheeses. Even the country’s macro-cheese producer, TINE, is introducing “Jarlsberg Reserve,” a super-aged version of this iconic factory cheese; the reserve wheels are matured for more than a year. It may still look like “yellow” cheese, but Norwegians (and Americans) will be surprised by its deeper taste. All in all, this is a region to watch—and visit.