Thursday, October 6, 2016

Happy Birthday Jarlsberg: The Norwegian Cheese Turns 60

Jarlsberg cheese crisps: crackers with cheese baked right in
Aged cheese is prized among cheese connoisseurs but Jarlsberg cheese is celebrating a different kind of aging process: its company.

At a party to celebrate Jarlsberg's 60th birthday, I learned a few things about Jarlsberg. The cheese is is naturally lactose free. This is good news for those of us who have trouble digesting dairy. There is a part-skim variety, still tasty, and smoked version.

There are also other cheeses in the Norwegian specialty cheese collection, many of which we got to sample at the party. [Note: Although Jarlsberg was originally made in Norway, the stuff we get in the US is made here; the other cheeses from the company are imported).

Tine Ekte Geitost, a brown cheese made from goat milk, is sweet since the milk is cooked and it caramelizes. It can be used in desserts, which may seem odd until you think about cheesecake and cannolis, other desserts with cheese.

I bought some Geitost for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and served it with apples; traditionally, apples dipped in honey are served at Rosh Hashanah, and this was a nice twist 

There was Snøfrisk cream cheese, made from 80% goat’s milk and 20% cow’s cream; new flavors are coming, including red onion and thyme; horseradish;  and dill and garlic. These are nice spread on crackers.

And speaking of crackers, we got to try Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps, crackers made with Jarlsberg cheese baked right in. Flavors include rosemary and olive oil; chipotle; garlic and herb, and sea salt. Instead of a grilled cheese with tomato soup, you could crumble these into your soup bowl.

The Jarlsberg party was held at Aquavit, a Nordic restaurant that has its origins in Sweden. and, a rarity for New York, a female chef. Emma Bengtsson, a Stockholm native, used the different cheeses in a few appetizers, like smoked salmon with cream cheese and warm cheese puffs.

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