This part of my life began when my very sick partner was diagnosed with Celiac. Even the slightest exposure to gluten can make him very ill for several days, so I have pursued gluten-free options with thorough aggression. In the U.S. a recent surge of gluten awareness means we have more choices than ever, but it still means hunting and analyzing and tracking down parent companies. After several years now of doing so, I want to share my tricks and tips with others who are still struggling.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Gluten-free in Norway: Cheeses
Cheese is not the religious fervor that it is in France, but it is still pretty important to the Norwegian culture. (See what I did there?)
I've sampled a good selection of cheeses found in the chain supermarkets in Trondheim for you, and review them here. There are a couple of traditional cheeses I did not sample, primarily because caraway seed is a popular ingredient, and I'm not a fan.
This brown cheese is one of those national traditions that don't always translate well. Whey, milk, and cream from either goats or a mix of goats and cows are boiled until all the water evaporates and the sugars caramelize. If I had to describe the taste to an American, I would say to take a sweet, melt-in-you-mouth dulce de leche caramel sauce, and mix it with shelf-stable canned spray cheese. I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but am told by a very reliable source to eat it as part of a strawberry sandwich with butter.
This classic swiss-style cheese is nutty, creamy, and delicious, and we use it as our all-purpose cheese for sandwiches, salads, crackers, and snacking.
This is a much milder gouda-style cheese, if you don't want the strong swiss flavor. Most shredded cheese you'll buy will be a combination of Norvegia and Jarlsberg.
In Europe, you can't call it Parmigiano-Reggiano, or even Parmesan, unless it is made in specific areas of Italy. Grana Padano is a similar-tasting cheese that goes beautifully with a dollop of lingonberry jam on a piece of whole-grain gluten-free cracker. It has become my favorite snack.
A sweet, beautifully creamy spreadable goat cheese that is better than anything I have ever found in the U.S.
Really stretching the definition of "cheese," but this is apparently a phenomenon for Norwegian youth, and I'm told that care packages sent to students always includes a tube. There are other flavors of course, including ham, shrimp, and jalapeno, but the bacon flavored is the original and the most in demand. It definitely tastes like bacon. It's a bit too salty for me, but I can see a teenager sitting with a textbook and just eating it straight from the tube.
Of course, being so close to the rest of Europe, you can get excellent Roquefort, Camembert, Brie, and other imported cheeses. Labeling laws are strong across Europe, so check for allergens (not always, but usually in bold font) on the label.
What do you eat all this delicious cheese with? These are our favorite gluten-free crackers:
The Wasa crackers are fairly hard, but whole-grain with lots of fiber. They make great open-face sandwiches with lunchmeat and spreadable cheese, and are even fairly tasty with Nutella.
The Salti crackers are made by Schar, and are very close to Ritz in flavor except for being a little saltier. They are really too salty for me, but we don't eat a lot of salt so most folks will find them perfectly tasty.
If you can find it, Odin brand Potetbrød (shown below) is sold by the box and labeled "glutenfritt." They are crispy sheets of potato cracker, and taste a lot like Pringles with less salt and more toasty flavor. They're too fragile to spread on, but paired with some Jarlsberg and fresh fruit, they make a perfect lunch or snack.