The un-brie-lievable destinations behind your favorite cheese
For those gastronomically curious about the diversity of cheese to titillate your taste-buds, National Cheese Lover’s Day is just around the corner. Celebrated universally on 20th January, this day gives cheese lovers a chance to indulge in the decadence of cheese tasting as well as for newbies to experience cheese varieties that go beyond the regular processed cheese. Booking.com, the digital leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of unique places to stay, a range of must do travel experiences and seamless transport options, has populated some of the best destinations across the world to go cheese tasting.
Bandel, West Bengal
The Bandel cheese, a salty, crumbly thing, owes its name to the town of Bandel in West Bengal, which was once under Portugese territory. A gourmet food, this cheese connects the historical European food legacy to the roots of medieval Bengal. Available as small dumpling-sized balls in the New Market area of Kolkata, Bandel has a very dry texture and smoky flavour, and is often soaked overnight to soften. It is then added to dishes—sprinkled on crackers, tossed on salad, or sometimes, like feta, indulged covertly on its own
Produced in the surrounding region, travelers to Gouda can purchase wheels of the local delicacy at the city’s Thursday morning market that takes place from April through to August. Having first started in 1395, this bustling market has kept its traditional charm, with farmers and traders ‘clapping hands’ to confirm a sale in front of the historic city hall buildings. Travelers should also visit “de Goudse Waag”, which means the Gouda scale, was built in 1669 and originally used for weighing cheese. Now it’s home to the tourist information office as well as the Cheese and Crafts Museum, which offers cheese tasting, tours and craft demonstrations.
Local legend says that Cheddar cheese was discovered by accident when a milkmaid accidentally let a pail of milk stored in the cool caves go bad, turning it into hard cheese. Adventurous visitors to the village of Cheddar can explore these chilly caves at Cheddar Gorge, the largest gorge in the UK. After exploring and working up an appetite, cheese-lovers can stop by the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, where visitors can see the cheese being made from start to finish at the working dairy and visitor center
Monterey, California, USA
Named after both its place of origin and the entrepreneur who began selling it commercially, Monterey Jack cheese has become a staple of many Americans’ fridge or cheese board. This white, semi-hard cheese made using cow's milk is known for its mild flavor and slight sweetness. Originally, Monterey Jack was made by Franciscan friars of Monterey of Alta California in the 18th-Century. A local businessman, David Jacks identified the delicious opportunity and started selling it all over the state, where it came to be known as “Monterey Jack's” or “Jack's Monterey”. Whilst there are no dairy farms in the city of Monterey city itself, the destination’s rich cheese history makes it the perfect travel destination for cheese lovers from around the world.
Asiago, a township in Italy, not only shares the name of but was the birthplace of Asiago cheese. In this town, travelers can visit Azienda Agricola Waister Di Rela Riccardo which is a small, niche cheese factory where visitors can feel like an authentic dairy farmer as they witness the various stages of cheese production. With Asiago though, it’s all about the taste, and visitors can sample the cheese available onsite. If one factory isn’t enough, travelers visiting Asiago can also head to Caseificio Pennar Asiago or Pennar Dairy Cooperative Shop, a specialty shop offering fresh and quality cheeses to purchase.
Munster, a small commune in France, is home to the strong-smelling soft cheese with which it shares its name. La Maison du Fromage (Cheese House – Munster Valley) is the perfect destination for those with a soft-spot for Munster. The Cheese House offers films, exhibitions, educational workshops, and of course the opportunity to indulge in a tasting or two. Munster cheese was first made here as early as 1371, and history-lovers will be excited as the region is also home to the Ruins of Munster Abbey, the 16th century Lion fountain in the Market Square or even just exploring the town itself which dates to 1550.
Ciudad Real, Spain
Ciudad Real is the home of Manchego Cheese, a delicious cheese made from the milk of the Manchega sheep breed. For a mouth-watering experience, travelers should head to Finca de Las Terceras, a farm dedicated to producing Manchego cheese, in the southeast of Ciudad Real, Spain. Here, travelers can witness cheese connoisseurs producing the finest cheese from scratch and can even buy these fine delicacies at the farm. Foodie travelers of all tastes can find what they’re looking for in the city’s Plaza Mayor, with a variety of restaurants set amongst the historical square. Ciudad Real is home to plenty of cheese shops, so visitors can sample the varieties on offer and pick their favourites