Go beyond Brie in these three cheese-loving countries.
By Andrew Evans
From the special food section in the October issue of National Geographic Traveler.
Outside the dairy trinity of France, Italy, and Switzerland lies some compelling competition– literal lands of milk and honey that promise new tastes in new places.
WALES From thorn-hedged pastures comes the farm-made caws (cheese) that embodies the fiercely independent spirit of this ancient culture. Caerffili (or Caerphilly)– a crumbly yet flavorful cheese that miners ate to replenish salt lost through perspiration in the coal pits– provides a savory Welsh response to ubiquitous English cheddar. Find Caerffili cheese in groceries throughout Wales. Be sure to visit the Big Pit Museum in Blaenafon; the Blaenafon Cheddar Company uses the former mines to age its cheeses, including varieties washed in Welsh Penderyn whisky. In Carmarthenshire, Caws Cenarth Cheese produces award-winning Golden Cenarth cheese and has a visitors center. Annually in September, Cardiff hosts the Great British Cheese Festival featuring some 450 cheeses.
TASMANIA Australia’s wild island is home to national brands such as King Island Dairy, whose Bass Strait Blue delivers a subtle bite. Take a ferry to isolated King Island, where dairy cows outnumber humans four to one. Bruny Island Cheese Company also resides offshore on bird-rich Bruny Island. Its one-day-old cow’s milk cheese is best eaten on-site. On the main island, visit Ashgrove Cheese, where smooth handmade cheeses are infused with local flavors such as Tasmanian lavender and wild bush tomato.
ICELAND This northern country takes immense pride in its 1,100-year-old breed of grass-fed cows that produce a rich, earthy milk. The most common Icelandic cheeses are hard and Gouda-like, but artisanal varieties show star qualities. Stóri Dímon stands out as a delicate and creamy rinded cheese with a faint blue vein. It goes well with water crackers and Icelandic blueberry jam. After a taste, hike to the mountain for which the cheese is named– Stóri Dímon is a sleepy volcano in south Iceland.
Subscribe to National Geographic Traveler magazine.