Gjetost and banana—a culinary wonder!
Cheesetique’s “polarizing” sandwich brings a touch of Norway to the grilled cheese
Christine Foster Meloni
I couldn’t believe my eyes. There it was on the menu under Grilled Cheese Sandwiches:
Gjetost and Banana: A culinary wonder! Gjetost (a caramel-like Norwegian cheese) and sliced Banana on Cranberry Walnut Bread. The perfect mix of sweet and savory. $10.
Gjetost is Norway’s most popular cheese. Norwegians may eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The name means goat (gjet) cheese (ost). It was originally made only from goat milk but now it can be made with a combination of goat and cow milk. However, to earn the gjetost designation, it must contain at least 10% goat milk. It is a pasteurized cheese that is aged into small cubes for one to two months.
The Cheesemonger describes this unusual cheese as “sweet as caramel, with the texture of a dense, buttery fudge” (website: www.thekitchn.com). A reviewer on the Murray’s Cheese website says that “it may have the firm, smooth texture of fresh fudge and taste like molten caramel, but this confection is 100% cheese.” It is a popular energy snack with Nordic skiers and is sometimes called “ski cheese.”
Being a lover of gjetost (after all, I am a self-respecting Norwegian American), my choice for lunch was clear: the Gjetost and Banana grilled cheese sandwich. And I was certainly not sorry that I had made this choice. My sandwich was absolutely delicious!
The restaurant offering this Norwegian culinary delight is Cheesetique. It is not located in Minneapolis or Seattle but in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Arlington. Quite amazing to find a Norwegian grilled cheese sandwich in this area.
But Cheesetique is an amazing place. It is a small, intimate restaurant. It is also a cheese shop that offers a selection of more than 200 cheeses. Cheeses from the U.S., France, and Italy predominate.
If you live in or are visiting the Washington, D.C., Metro area, stop in at Cheesetique for this special treat. Tell them Christine from the Norwegian American Weekly sent you! It is located at 4056 Campbell Avenue in Shirlington Village, Arlington, VA.
A word of warning: Angel Rivera, the Assistant Front of House Manager, told me that this sandwich is not to everyone’s liking. She called gjetost a “polarizing” cheese because you either like it or you don’t. For this reason, my favorite sandwich is not always on the menu. It rotates on and off. You might want to call ahead to check before you go. The telephone number is (703) 933-8787. Of course, you will always find other delicious possibilities on the menu. And there is another Cheesetique in the Del Ray section of Alexandria, not too far away.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 23, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.