Chances are you've never heard of Gjetost, and if you're wondering whether or not you've tried it, chances are you haven't. This is definitely not a flavour to be easily forgotten. I was introduced to this Norwegian goat cheese a few months ago at a friend's grandparents' summer home. We'd been driving up to Hornby Island for a weekend of camping and beaching and got very lost along the way - thus, we had to spend a night at her grandparents' place up-island (the laughs about just pitching a tent in the backyard and calling it a weekend were endless.) In the morning, they served toast, fruit and porridge to fuel us for the journey ahead, along with a thin slice of this strange cheese.
"We tried it last night at our neighbour's place and loved it so much they gave us a hunk. It's a goat cheese but it tastes just like candy," her grandmother informed us as we sat, poised to pop this cheese in our mouths. My initial thought was that "candy" was a strange way to describe a cheese's flavour. Two seconds later, I realized just how spot-on her description was.
Remember Mackintosh Toffee? This cheese must be infused with it. It's the only feasible explanation. It was the strangest, richest, most confusing and indulgent flavour collaboration I'd had the pleasure of experiencing in a long time. I was bewitched, bothered and bewildered. Did I like it? After the small sliver had literally melted on my tongue (most liken the consistency of gjetost to a firm fudge) I decided I quite did. And obviously, the first thing I did upon arriving home was google this crazy cheese.
What I found: gjetost (pronounced YEHT-ost) is made by boiling a mixture of milk (goats or cows milk, or a combination of the two) cream and whey until the water evaporates and the milk sugar caramelizes, giving it it's signature tan hue and caramel taste, and it's a love-it-or-hate-it kinda thing (quite literally, most blog posts had a title along the lines of "Gjetost: you either love it or hate it" or "Gjetost Cheese. Love it? Hate it? Post your vote!")
I found a block of the brand most commonly found in North America, Ski Queen, at a farmer's market in London, Ontario and reaffirmed that I fall in the "love it" category last week. I grated some on top of whole-wheat naan and toasted it in the oven with thinly-sliced apples and although it melted a little strangely, it was heavenly - like a tart, cheesy, nutty caramel apple on warm bread. Word on the street is, it's also delicious with waffles, sliced with apples or pears and of course, on it's own, in paper-thin slices (this stuff is RICH.)
Check the specialty cheese section of your grocer or deli or a cheese-stand at your local food market for this strange and exotic delicacy today and watch your taste-buds fly into a tizzy.
Tried it and have more ideas for how to eat gjetost? Let me know! I've got a block in my fridge that I intend on enjoying in every possible way!