The 9 Best Destinations In The World For Cheese Lovers
For the cheese fiend in your life.
Some people travel to ‘say cheese’ in jealousy-inducing photos around the world, others do it to eat cheese – foodies hitting the road for their next delicious fix. There are so many places that are Gouda, or even great for international cheese experiences and no, they aren’t all in France. So Brie adventurous, and open your mind and passport to the whole world of cheese – eat until you Camembert it any more. We promise you’ll have Edam good time.
What: Cheese-rolling in Gloucestershire
Do you have a love of cheese and a death wish? Than this could possibly be the event for you! For decades, the people of Brockworth in Gloucestershire have been gathering around the extremely steep Coopers Hill to watch as a large Double Gloucester cheese (a semi-hard cows milk cheese) is rolled down the hill, with scores of men and women chasing, falling and bouncing along after it. Paramedics usually wait at the bottom to scrape up and patch up the losers (and winners.) Anyone can enter and there are usually four racing categories – the prize is a whole wheel of cheese so what’s not to love? It’s usually held as part of a wider food and wine festival in the region so no doubt it will be a delicious adventure even if you come off second best.
Less a cheese experience and more a religious experience, this combination of hot chips, gravy and fresh cheese curds will warm up even the coldest Canadian winter day. Originating from Quebec, this dish is all but impossible to replicate in Australia because of our strict laws around unpasteurised dairy products. It’s worth the trip north just for the moment when you bring your fork to your mouth and see those curds stretch and melt into your messy puddle of crisp potatoes and salty, fatty gravy. Swoon. In Montreal, Poutine is taken very seriously – try La Banquise for a choice of more than 30 topping combinations including pulled pork, jalapeños or even vegan cheese and gravy.
What: King Island Dairy
Located about halfway between Tasmania and Victoria in Bass Strait, this island is a food lover’s paradise. Incredible seafood and beef are abundant, but King Island is most famous for its century-old dairy which takes advantage of the mineral-rich soil, salt spray and cooler climate to produce award winning soft cheeses. Take a tour of the factory and sample the oozing blue, Brie and Camembert varieties before heading to the dairy shop and stocking up at bargain prices. The island itself is great for a weekend away, with gorgeous views, beaches and restaurants. There’s even decent surf, but you might want to bring your wetsuit for those Roaring Forties winds.
Fondue might be more famous, but real cheese lovers know that when it comes to Switzerland, raclette is the way, the truth and the light. Perfect as a meal post-ski slopes, or as a dish in a beautiful Zurich restaurant, raclette is both a type of cheese (semi-firm, cow’s milk) and the name of the traditional way of preparing this cheese into a meal. The huge (often up to 6 kilogram) wheels of raclette are cut in half with the cut side heated in front of a fire or special machine. Once toasted and melty, the soft parts are scraped off onto something carby like potatoes or toasted bread chunks. It’s traditionally served in alpine regions, and accompanied by pickles, cured meats and a sprinkle of paprika.
What: Oaxaca Cheese
When your mum or dad made tacos from the Old El Paso meal kit, they were probably doused in sour cream and grated tasty cheese. Authentic Mexican food is nothing like that – it’s fresh, light and full of citrus and smoky flavours – but it does sometimes involve cheese. Oaxaca cheese might be unlike anything you’ve tried before however: it’s a mild and salty cow’s milk stretched curd cheese with a stringy and slightly chewy texture. Sold in balls from which a length is unravelled, weighed and cut, Oaxaca melts beautifully and adds a gentle creaminess to meals. Try this ‘Mexican mozzarella’ melted into a quesadilla at a food stand, or melted over a tlayudas (a kind of Mexican tortilla pizza.) However you eat it, just make sure you say it right – Oaxaca is like ‘wa-hah-ka.’
#6 Tibet and Nepal
Chewy yak’s milk cheese may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Chhurpi is currently taking the foodie world by storm – popping up on menus in New York, Beijing and Paris. The cheese actually comes in two forms – soft curds that are used for cooking, and hard chewy cubes that are a little fermented and often slightly smoked. Generally sold at roadside stalls, or straight from yak farmers in the Himalayas, the cheese is eaten almost like chewing gum by locals, with one cube lasting for more than an hour. So pop one in, start chewing and while you do, take in the incredible views that you are no doubt surrounded by. It’s one of the truly unique cheese experiences of the world.
What: Pag Island
The sheep on Pag Island live a pretty amazing life. Grazing the salty grasses of the hills of a rocky island in the middle of the stunning Adriatic Sea, hand milked every couple of days and then turned back out to roam again – it’s a pretty sweet deal for this unique breed that’s lived exclusively on Pag for centuries. The hard, distinctive and salty Paški Sir cheese they produce is aged for a year, pungent and wonderful served with wine. Most producers on the island are family businesses and will gladly walk you through their labor-intensive cheesemaking process and factories for free. The island also isn’t just good for sheep; it’s a human paradise too with crystal clear beaches and great mountain walks.
The king of stinky blue cheeses, roquefort has been the subject of more international rules, appeals and newspaper stories than probably any other dairy product. This sheep’s milk cheese is technically banned in the US, and was only recently allowed into Australia. In its native France, the cheese is subject to incredibly strict rules regarding its origin and production. Only cheese made in the southern Aveyron region can be called roquefort, and it must be aged using certain mould from the local caves. But just one bite of this intensely creamy, tangy and slightly sweet cheese and you’ll see why it’s worth fighting for. A visit to the caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon is a must for all cheese lovers, to see the passion of the locals as much as for the opportunities to sample this genuine delicacy.
What: Emilia Romagna
In a country known for its food, you have to be pretty special to stand out, but the northern region of Emilia Romagna is definitely something special. It’s the home of prosciutto, balsamic vinegar and – most importantly for you cheese fiends – the birthplace of Parmigiano-Reggiano or authentic Parmesan cheese. Any food tour through this picturesque region will have you groaning in pleasure from the sheer array of delicious treats on offer. The fruit and vegetables are perfection, and the filled pastas like tortellini are usually insanely good. For our money, the best bet is to combine a few of the best in a simple snack. Shake a drop or two of aged balsamic onto a shard of salty Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Chase it down with a luscious curl of Parma ham and you’ll never look back.