On my last voyage cheese was a continual bone of contention. Long voyages require rationing of cheese. Cheese, for some reason, is one of the most craved foods aboard. It must be the combo of fat and salt that in the colder wetter weather is totally irresistible.
We have some incredible organic aged Dutch Gouda cheese on board which is produced, I think, by a man who lives in Friesland in a lighthouse. It’s really amazing but we have strictly divided it up into 30 portions to have 1/8th of a wheel of cheese a week so the crew can still enjoy exceptional Dutch Cheese after the Caribbean.
Fortunately for us, the Slow Food president of Norway, Ove Fossa, stopped by the ship and offered to take us on a local cheese tour! Before we even left the dock Ove presented us with a local Norwegian delicacy of ‘Brunost’ AKA brown cheese which is made from boiled whey. It has an unusual taste a bit like a combination of toffee and cheese.
We visited a delicatessen which specialises in the regional cheeses. Particularly of note was an aged hard goats cheese manufactured by a ‘presidio’ Slow Food selected producer. We then headed via the beach at Sola to meet cheese activist, raw milk cheese producer and farmer Hans Voll at his dairy. In order to see around the dairy we had to walk through a bath of disinfectant and wear funny little blue shoe covers and lab gowns. The smell was really distinctive in the processing room.
Hans was instrumental in overturning the ban in Norway on producing cheese from raw milk. Raw milk cheese production was banned from 1952-1997. Hans makes his cheese in small daily batches immediately from unpasturised milk direct from the mornings milking on his farm. The curdling process is started almost immediately and most of the whey is strained off to prevent the presence of sugars stimulating feeding acidifying bacteria in the cheese. The type of cheese produced at the end is similar to a ‘raclette’ cheese and really tasty melted.
The cheeses need polishing twice a week to remove surface moulds on the rinds which would otherwise prevent good air circulation.
We got to sample a ridiculous amount of cheese and left with very full cheese bellies and a round to share with the rest of the crew back at the ship where we found Amaury, our Belgian 1st mate, making cauliflower cheese. Our new cheesy acquisition was swiftly grated into the mix.
Recipe – Cheese soup from Jaeren
cook 1 litre of vegetable soup
Melt 100 g butter and blend with flour
slowly blend with veg stock and let simmer
Add 3 dessert spoons of milk
Add 1 cup carrots and a cauliflower
Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer 10 mintues and then add 300 g of grated Jaeren cheese
Serve with bread