World champ cheese

Kraftkar, a cheese made by Tingvollost, takes the top prize in a field of 3,021 entries

Photo: Tingvollost Photo Tingvollost Chairman Gunnar Waagan receiving World Champion award.

Photo: Tingvollost Photo
Tingvollost Chairman Gunnar Waagan receiving World Champion award.

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

On Wednesday, November 16, a Norwegian blue cheese, Kraftkar, made by Tingvoll­ost, sold by gourmet shops and counters across Norway and served in Scandinavian restaurants, was named World Champion in the 29th annual World Cheese Awards, held in San Sebastián, Basque Country, Spain.

The story behind that happening is both old and new. It’s old because Tingvollost is located in Tingvoll township at the Saghaug Gård (Saghaug Farm), in operation since the early 14th century. The name Kraftkar (hulk of a fellow) is taken from the local legend of farm hand Tore Nordbø, who was said to possess supernatural powers and was so broad shouldered that he had to walk sideways through doorways.

It’s new because Tingvoll township is on the west coast of what is now Møre og Romsdal County, as the crow flies 34 miles northeast of the city of Molde. Cheesemaking began there in 2003, after the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture changed the relevant regulations to allow local dairy farmers to make cheese from the milk from their own herds of dairy cattle. The change, implemented by Agriculture Minister Lars Sponheim, an agricultural economist by education, was visionary. It opened up for artisanal cheesemaking involving production by hand, reviving the traditional craftsmanship of cheesemaking at dairy farms across the country.

Photo: VisitNorway Dairy director Egil Smith Meyer and the award-winning Kraftkar cheese.

Photo: VisitNorway
Dairy director Egil Smith Meyer and the award-winning Kraftkar cheese.

By 2009, Tingvollost and Kraftkar gained national and then international recognition, in that year winning the Norwegian cheese championships and being awarded a medal at the Nordic cheese championships held in Denmark. In 2011, Kraftkar was awarded a Gold Medal at the World Cheese Awards, initiated in 1988 by the Guild of Fine Food (GFF) based in Dorset, England.

At the 2016 World Cheese Awards, co-sponsored by the Basque government and by the Associación Artzai Gazta co-op of Spain, Kraftkar emerged the champion, in a field of 3021 cheeses from 31 countries.

Visiting Tingvollost:
VisitNorway.com has an updated listing on the Tingvollost Open Farm Shop, link: www.visitnorway.com/listings/tingvollost-open-farm-shop/11824

Further reading:
• “Norwegian Blue Cheese Named World Champion,” Guild of Fine Food Press Release, Nov. 16, 2016, link: gff.co.uk/norwegian-blue-cheese-named-world-champion

• “Kraftkar, un queso azul noruego, mejor del mundo en los World Cheese Awards 2016” (Kraftkar, a Norwegian blue cheese, best in the world at the World Cheese Awards 2016), Press release by the Basque government, link: www.elmundo.es/vida-sana/2016/11/16/582cc065e5fdea03028b465d.html (in Spanish)

• “Norway is now home to the best cheese in the world,” VisitNorway Press Release, Nov. 17, 2016, link: www.visitnorway.com/media/news-from-norway/norway-is-now-home-to-the-best-cheese-in-the-world

• “Nordmenn vil ha kortreist mat” (Norwegians want local foods), a short profile of Tingvollost, Norwegian American Weekly, Aug. 15, 2014, page 2, digitized version of paper edition, link: norwegianamerican.com/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/189_08-15-14_DIGITAL.PDF (in Norwegian with short summary in English)

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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