Truly, one of life’s great delights is cheese. Whether served after dinner with Ligurian olives, melted into a mornay sauce or simply between two slices of freshly baked bread, it can be either an elegant or a simple pleasure.
“Dessert without cheese is like a beauty with only one eye”– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, author of The Physiology of Taste
Although you may be able to get Limburger or Camembert in your local deli, nothing beats tasting it in the region that it is created. The wonderful news is that many of the world’s best cheese producers have opened their borders again and the time is ripe to explore them. If you’re seeking some off the beaten track experiences, then perhaps you should choose a luxury guided tour to one of these incredible destinations. Discover the small towns where specialty cheeses originate and perhaps uncover some new cheeses in surprising places. It’s the perfect excuse to feast your way through your vacation.
From the Oldest to the Bubbliest
A land of snow-capped peaks and bucolic meadows, Switzerland is not just famous for its chocolate, but also its cheeses. Many people will associate Emmentaler with the country, instantly recognizable from its signature eyes. However, cheese lovers will find there are many more varieties to enjoy on the Majestic Switzerland tour with Luxury Gold.
Visit La Gruyères, the mecca of cheese in Switzerland, on the eighth day of your luxury tour. There you will experience the ultimate treat, a bubbling fondue made with the local delicacy. Don’t miss the chance to try Sbrinz, one of the oldest cheeses, that was first mentioned in official records in 70 A.D. It pairs well with a glass of Barolo.
The Cheese Regions of France
Visitors to France are spoiled for choice with the variety of cheeses on offer. In Bordeaux where it’s customary to have cheese with your wine, try a velvety Merlot with a flavorful Tome de Brebis with Piment d’Espelette. The famous cheese cave at Baud et Millet houses over 100 varieties and is an excellent place for cheese tasting tours.
In Normandy, you can explore the Cheese Museum and President Farm, where Camembert originates. If you’re venturing to the French Alps, try Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie and Beaufort cheeses. Travel on Luxury Gold’s French Vogue tour and enjoy a gourmet food walk, which will take you to tiny cheese shops of Paris.
Scotland and England
Although Scotland isn’t the first place one would think of when it comes to cheese, travelers will find an excellent selection of farmhouse cheeses in the small country. From the marbled Cambus O’May that melts in your mouth, to the salty and tangy Lanark Blue that is created from raw sheep’s milk. England is famous for its Stilton, as the town of the same name can be found in Cambridgeshire, though the cheese is no longer made there. The crusted, blue veined cheese is often served in celery or broccoli soup and sometimes blended into a mouth watering sauce for steak.
In the rolling valleys of the Cotswolds, you’ll see where the semi-hard Gloucester cheese is made and an annual cheese rolling competition takes place. Guests traveling on the British Royale tour can discover more about cheesemaking in the United Kingdom and sample some of the delightful offerings, including Stilton, found on many restaurant menus.
A Feast for All the Senses
In a country where cheese is central to their national dishes, it’s no surprise that Italy has some well-known cheesemakers. Mozzarella, gorgonzola, pecorino, ricotta, Parmigano-Reggiano – Italy has such a diverse range of cheese tastes that you could spend your whole vacation trying a new one each day. Join the Ultimate Italy tour and make sure you sample a few on your 12-day adventure.
If you’re journeying to Sardinia, you may come across the controversial casu marzu containing live insect larvae that is exclusively made on the island. It is a traditional delicacy on the island, but it is actually illegal in the EU and the United States.
The Region of Don Quixote and Manchego
Those familiar with Spain will most likely have tried Manchego, the sheep’s milk cheese that comes from the herds of Albacete, Toledo and Ciudad Real. It’s buttery flavor goes well with a glass of Tempranillo and it can almost be spicy when matured for a lengthy period. Join the Spain & Portugal in Style tour and you’ll certainly see Manchego on sale at the markets of Andalusia on Day 7 of your journey. If you venture further north, you’ll find Basque specialties such as Ossau-Iraty and the smoky Idiazabal.
A Well-Kept Secret
Travelers on the Timeless Scandinavia tour may be surprised to discover that Norway is home to two world champion cheeses, Kraftkar, a blue cheese and Fanaost, a semi hard cheese that comes from a tiny dairy farm south of Bergen. The moist, coarse Gamalost is a unique cheese that is celebrated in a four day festival every year in the town of Vik, set amid the western fjords of Norway. It has a distinctive smell and is enjoyed with buttered bread and cranberry jelly.
The World’s Largest Cheese Producer
The United States produces the most cheese every year and it also exports the most cheese around the world. However, does that mean that it has best cheese, or is it simply quantity over quality? That’s no longer up for debate, as Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue no.1 took first place at the World Cheese Awards in 2019.
On the Vibrant Quebec and New England tour, you’ll venture into Vermont, which is home to some of the most incredible artisanal cheeses in the country. Try Cabot Clothbound Cheddar with some crisp apple slices or Vermont Shepherd Verano, an earthy cheese made from sheep’s milk.
Canadian Cheese Culture
Samuel de Champlain brought cows from Normandy to Canada in the early 1600s, and thus began the tradition of cheesemaking in the country. Cheddar cheese became one of the main exportable products of dairy farmers for over 50 years, but that declined over the course of the 20th century.
Discover the cheeses of Quebec on the Indulgence in Eastern Canada tour. The area is home to over 100 cheesemakers and you’ll enjoy a tasting picnic on day 6 of your vacation. Look out for the creamy Cantonnier, with notes of hazelnut and the sweeter Allegretto.
Pair with a Fruity Red
In a country that has established itself on the international wine scene, it’s perhaps predictable that it has a robust cheese market too. Gippsland Blue is aged in underground cellars to develop blue vein characteristics; this is a wonderful accompaniment to a sweet dessert wine. Mandolin is a supple, crumbly cheese from south Australia that develops a rusty red appearance.
If you’re looking for luxury guided travel Down Under, check out Inspiring Australia with Luxury Gold.
Cheese Tastes All Over the World
If you’re craving a cheese tasting experience this summer, then check out Luxury Gold’s last minute specials. Several of the luxury guided tours listed above have great savings right now, or you may even discover a new artisan cheesemaker somewhere unexpected. It’s time to get out and explore again.