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Try the worlds best cheeses 

Nidelven Blå – the world’s best cheese in 2023! 

Learn more about why so many Norwegian cheeses, including Nidelven Blå, are winning prizes around the world!

The answer is grazing here …

… and is processed here.

Norwegian cheese is some of the best in the world. Three of our cheeses have even won the top prize at the World Cheese Awards, in 2016, 2018, and 2023! Learn about Norwegian dairy farms and find out where you can get your hands on these tasty delights.

And the winner is ... Nidelven Blå!

2023 marked a record-breaking year for the World Cheese Awards, with more than 4,500 cheeses competing to become the world champion. This year, the prestigious competition was held in Trondheim in Trøndelag. The blue cheese “Nidelven Blå” from Gangstad Gårdsysteri became the world’s number one cheese.

“We’re a small dairy farm based just two hours outside Trondheim, so this happening on our home turf means a lot. Having all the crew from the dairy here makes it extra special,” says Maren Gangstad, general manager at Gangstad Gårdsysteri.

Do you want to sample this award-winning cheese? Gangstad Gårdsysteri is one of the highlights on the Golden Road, one of Norway’s tastiest cycling trips. Make sure to also try its Camembert and spreadable cheeses, too! The route is also home to plenty of other farm shops, eateries, and cafés that offer local produce, including incredible cheeses. 

World-class cheese

Kraftkar from Tingvollost was the first Norwegian cheese to win the World Cheese Awards in 2016. That was when people really got a taste for Norwegian cheese. But how did we get there?

“The answer is threefold: changes in Norwegian farming traditions, changes in Norwegian tastes, and, last but not least, fantastic ingredients,” says Bernt Bucher-Johannessen.

Bucher-Johannessen is a Norwegian author and cheese connoisseur who is general manager of HANEN, an organisation that promotes the best of the Norwegian countryside. In his book Osteglad, or ‘The Pleasures of Cheese’, Bucher-Johannessen and his co-authors give readers a tour of our national cheese adventure.

“Around the year 2000, the law was amended to permit Norwegian farmers to produce more products than just the milk they delivered to the national dairy, including cheese from unpasteurised milk. For almost a century, this had not been common practice due to the fear of using unpasteurised milk,” says Bucher-Johannessen.

“People were influenced by Europe and inspired to revive local cheesemaking traditions. This, combined with the pioneer spirit among Norwegian farmers, became the start of a cheese revolution,” he explains.

Cheese rookies

Before this shift, Norwegians thought of cheese as something to use as a sandwich topping. This was reflected in the rather dull selection of cheeses available in most supermarkets. But the national palette changed in line with the growing popularity of Central European cuisine.

“The different characteristics of taste were recognised as something extraordinary. Local food production also received a boost, which set the stage for local cheesemakers. Today, they are among the world’s best.”

From Finnmark in Northern Norway to Rogaland in Fjord Norway: More than 110 local cheesemakers produce both white and brown cheese in different shapes and sizes. Some supply supermarkets at home and abroad, while others are limited to local shops and taking part in regional farmers markets.

“If you step into a Norwegian supermarket today, the situation is entirely different. You’ll find a large selection of Norwegian cheeses at the cheese counter,” says Bucher-Johannessen.

The great breakthrough

Much has happened since Kraftkar won the World Cheese Awards (WCA) in 2016. Since then, several of our cheesemakers have achieved top rankings at the international competition. The Gouda-style Fanaost won the WCA in 2018, while the brown cheese from Stordalen Gardsbruk won silver the same year, and Nidelven Blå was the latest winner in 2023.

You can try all of the award-winning creations in Norway – and many more! Some are soft and mild. Others really pack a punch. You can even find a broad selection of spreadable cheeses.

Norwegian farms have some of the very best ingredients. Thanks to regional variations in taste, you can experience the different parts of the country with your taste buds!

“Norwegian milk is unique, especially milk from cows that spend their summer holidays in the mountains eating nutritious wild grass. It’s probably the most typically Norwegian milk there is,” says Bucher-Johannessen.

The Milky Way to great taste

In Bucher-Johannessen’s opinion, cheese made with this milk is a must-try when you come to Norway.

“This milk is called ‘stølsmelk’ and is more flavourful. It's also more yellow thanks to its beta carotene content. That’s the reason why Norwegian cheeses are sometimes referred to as ‘yellow cheese’,” he explains.

Visit a Norwegian dairy farm

To discover your favourite cheese, visit a local cheese producer, or ysteri as we say. You can, for example, pop by Hol Ysteri in Hallingdal where they sell several award-winning cheeses from the region. Other ysteris that offer internationally acclaimed cheeses include Gangstad Gårdsysteri and Tingvollost in Trøndelag. Last but not least, Avdemsbue in Lesja is well worth a visit – part of the building is even cheese-shaped!

Norway also has several urban cheese producers. Check out Winther at Aker Brygge in Oslo or Stavanger Ysteri in the Stavanger region. 

Many local farms welcome visitors, so you can see, taste and learn about Norwegian cheese heritage. You can also enjoy fun farm activities and pet animals. If you fall in love with the cosy atmosphere, book a farm stay! Don’t forget to bring home some treats from a farm shop. 

If you come to Norway in summer, check out our mountain farms and find one where you can to taste our beloved sweet brown cheese.

Hot tip: check out Norsk Gardsost’s interactive map, which shows local dairy farms and creameries in Norway.

What should you pair with cheese?

With the cheese revolution came the need for appropriate drinks to achieve the perfect taste pairing. In Norway, there are long traditions for craft beer production. New microbreweries continue to enter the scene and are collecting international awards. But it’s not only beer that goes well with cheese. Popular Norwegian cider is also a great alternative.

“Sweetness is essential, regardless of what drink you choose. But when it comes to Norwegian beer or cider, it is just as good as white wine,” Bernt Bucher-Johannessen says.

He does have a word of warning though.

“Avoid drinks that contain a lot of acids when eating blue cheese. If not, it might turn into a bad experience,” he concludes.

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