What makes a world cheese

Norway, a fish-obsessed, largely coastal country of 5.25 million people, is punching above its weight in the international cheese judging stakes. Having collected the top award in 2016 for a blue cheese, Norway returned to the top of the pile in Bergen with a Gouda-style cheese last week.

Fanaost made by Ostegården was the clear winner with a score of 72 out of a possible 80 in the final round of tasting at the city’s Grieghallen, which played host to this year’s awards.

Cheese maker Jørn Hafslund was on stage with the trophy, and was soon joined by Gunnar Waagen, maker of the 2016 World Champion Kraftkar – as the audience celebrated.

A Norwegian cheese, a traditional Brun Geitost (brown cheese) made by Stordalen Gardsbruk, also took joint second place with an AOP Ossau Iraty from Fromagerie Agour. So overall it was a very good day for Norway and its cheese industry.

The World Cheese Awards saw a collection of 3,472 cheeses assembled from 30 countries, for a team of 235 judges from 41 different nations to assess. The rain did not put anyone off, and nobody was distracted by the magnificent scenery from their task of judging.

The host country had the awards as part of a brand-new festival, Matnasjonen Norge, in partnership with Hanen, an organisation promoting the best that the Norwegian countryside has to offer, and the Norwegian Artisan Cheesemaker Association.

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