You think your gig is hard? Well how about this: having to choose the best cheese in the world. You can plunk American down at the bottom, maybe Monterey Jack is slightly above that, but then suddenly you’re confronted with a lot of difficult choices. However, despite being a tough job, someone’s got to judge cheese, and that someone is the team from the World Cheese Awards.
Last month, the annual cheese event held its 29th competition, considering a record number of over 3,000 cheeses entered from 31 different nations around the globe. 266 experts from 26 countries all converged on the Spanish coastal town of San Sebastian to grade all those cheeses in a single day, handing out Bronze, Silver, Gold and Super Gold honors to their favorite selections. Then the best 16 cheeses went on to a final judging panel where a single dairy product rose to the top as World Champion Cheese.
This year, that honor went to Kraftkar from Norwegian cheesemaker Tingvollost, a relative noob in the world of cheese having only opened up shop in 2003. Adding to the honor is that Kraftkar is the first cheese from any Scandinavian country to take home the coveted title, with most previous winners hailing from cheese meccas like France, Switzerland and the UK. “I have no words. It is marvelous. I don’t believe it,” said Tingvollost’s Gunnar Waagen. “We’ve made cheese for about 10 years. We are a little family in the middle of Norway trying to do our best every day. We get up early and sleep late.” Well, terrible news, prepare to sleep even less because there’s about to be a massive uptick in demand for your products.
Judge Nick Trioros of Canada’s Olympic Cheese tried to explain why Kraftkar, a blue cheese made from cow’s milk, is so exemplary. “The mold in this cheese is developed really nicely. It’s very evenly distributed,” he was quoted as saying. “On top of that, the texture is great: when it crumbles you get a soft creaminess. And on the finish, it coats your tongue with a real soft landing.”
As one final jewel in Kraftkar’s crown, for the first time ever, the World Cheese Awards also named a Champion of Champion, picking the best cheese from all 29 of the competition’s previous winners. Tingvollost took that honor as well, with the Guild of Fine Food, the group behind the World Cheese Awards, heralding it as “the best cheese ever made.”
Now we have to find out if it pairs will with crackers?