I had to take a second look at the food newswire dispatch when it landed on my screen. For a moment, I thought I was being pranked by a Scandanavian blogger reporting on the 2023 World Cheese Awards. But it turned out I was wrong…
Husband and wife cheesemaking team Ole and Maren Gangstad
with their World Champion Cheese, Nidelven Blå.
Please compose yourself and try not to laugh when I tell you that this year’s World Champion Cheese is… a Norwegian Blue.
I suspect that no Monty Python fan would have been able to resist at least a little giggle. After all, the comedy team’s ‘Parrot’ sketch is a favourite of millions. For those who may not get the connection between the topic of today’s post and the Pythons, suffice it to say that the centrepiece of the sketch is a Norwegian Blue parrot. A dead Parrot. “Bereft of life, it has shuffled off its mortal coil and joined the choir invisible. It has ceased to be. It is an ex-parrot.”
Not that kind of ‘cheesy’
As cheesy as the Python’s bit may be, it cannot, however, match the winner of this year’s 35th World Cheese Awards in Trondheim, Norway. Cheesemaker Gangstad Gårdsysteri prevailed over 4,501 other entrants from more than 40 countries in the contest with its Nidelven Blå (Bleu). It’s described simply as a medium soft bleu cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk.
“It has this sort of short creaminess, like real dense fudginess,” one judge remarked.
Another praised its balance and, “fruity overtones, maybe some wine-like characteristics that really speak.”
A third simply called it, “the perfect bleu cheese.”
Big things from small packages
General Manager Maren Gangstadt describes Gangstad Gårdsysteri as, “a small dairy farm based just two hours from [Trondheim]. So having this happening on our home turf means a lot. And having all the crew from the dairy here adds an extra spark to it.”
Supporting independent food and drink
That’s the mission statement of the Guild of Fine Food (GFF), based in Gillingham, UK. The GFF is the proud parent of the World Cheese Awards. The event takes place every fall in a different world-class cheesemaking realm. And the organizers do not take their responsibility lightly.
According to the Awards’ website: “Cheeses are sent from all round the world to be judged in a single day by carefully assembled teams of technical experts, buyers, retailers and food writers. [Dozens of] judges work in teams of three, to identify any cheeses worthy of a gold, silver or bronze award. […] Each of the teams then nominates one exceptional cheese as the Super Gold from their table.
“These top-flight cheeses are then judged a second time by the Super Jury – a panel made up of […] 16 internationally-recognised experts – who each select a cheese to champion in this final round of judging. The Super Jury, representing all four corners of the globe, then debates the final cheeses in front of a live […] audience, before voting to choose the World Champion Cheese.”
I can’t claim to be a big fan of bleu cheeses. But I congratulate the Gangstad Gårdsysteri team for overcoming immense odds to win the 2023 championship. And I look forward to some future competition, after which I can report the Super Gold winner is a small, family-operated dairy just a couple of hours from Ottawa!
~ Maggie J.