If your answer to the question “what is the best cheese in the world?” is always “my favourite is gouda”, you’re not alone (please watch She’s the Man if you don’t understand this reference). But you also wouldn’t be too wrong. You see, the World Cheese Awards has picked a winner for the best cheese and yes, it’s a type of gouda! I know I’m not the only person who’s excited by this. Right?
A family farm in Norway called Ostegården has taken out the top title in the World Cheese Awards with a divine aged gouda that goes by the name of fanaost. Made by Norwegian cheesemaker, Jørn Hafslund, fanaost scored the #1 place over 3,472 other (probably also delicious) cheeses from around the globe, with the 230 judges from 29 countries voting after a day of blind taste tasting.
The tiny farm only has 12 cows, so not only is it the smallest dairy farm or producer to win the prestigious title in the 30 years that the awards have been running, it’s also absolutely epic that such a small family-owned business is playing in the big leagues!
“I have no words. Our herd of 12 cows produces nice milk to make this Dutch-inspired fanaost cheese, which we have been making for 12 years. Cheese makers here look out for each other and work together, so this is for Norway!” – Jørn Hafslund
In fact, the farm is what makes the cheese taste so good and what is the reason it took out the win, with the judges saying its origins and flavour “really delivers a sense of place.” The aged gouda is said to be delightfully savoury and crumbly, with rich flavours that linger. Ostegården is right next to a fjord and the 12 lucky cows roam divine pastureland, which is likely why fanaost tastes so pure and untouched. “We have up to 14 types of grasses here, all with their own special flavours, this gives our milk a unique taste,” cheesemaker Jørn told Matador Network.
Interestingly, it was never planned for Ostegården to produce cheese. The farm started making the good stuff 12 years ago as a way to use up excess dairy stores and well, look at them now, winning the award as the best cheese in the whole world. Besides fanaost, the farm also produces soft cheese similar to a camembert cheese and brie, plus sides like chili and pear jam.
As for the other cheese varieties that won awards in categories ranging from bronze, silver, gold, and super gold, 15 of the 78 super gold cheeses were from Spain, 13 from Italy, nine from the United Kingdom and eight each from the United States and Norway. So, you now know where to travel to if you’re a cheese fanatic like me. You can view all the cheeses that scored super gold status here.
Image source:Elisa Michelet