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Just when I was pondering which cheese to offer you for the month of June, the wonderful widely cast Heinzelcheese network came up with these two beauties: an Indian friend who lives in Copenhagen brought them as a surprise when we were having lunch together in London – thanks Priya! – from a fantastic cheese shop that’s been entirely focussing on organic, Osten ved Kultorvet (ost means cheese in Danish).
Both are from Thise Mejeri, equally fully committed to organic, of which I’ve long been a fan. Their buttercream-like Cornflower made its appearance on this blog years ago (back then with rather embarrassing pictures… we’ve come some way). And now two cave-aged Thise cheeses, apparently (long distance research isn’t always that easy) from two different gruber.
First there is the old lime pit in Hjerm. It dates back to the late 19th century, had been abandoned since 1956, inhabited by bats, until in 2009, rather unexpectedly, it was offered to Thise to use as a cheese cave. Which of course is very cool, in the literary sense of the word, because the temperature is pretty stable at 8°C and the humidity almost at 100%, all completely natural – conditions that can be recreated with the help of modern technology, but then, as anything „recreated“, will never be exactly the same.
Unfortunately I still haven’t visited Thise, in Denmark’s north-west (it’s on my list!), but they describe the cave on their website: „…from a small forecourt you enter directly into the „cathedral“ via a relatively narrow corridor; an area of some hundred square metres. The vaulted ceiling almost floats 5-6 metres above the ground, but is supported by large natural pillars…inside the cathedral there is no daylight and it is completely quiet. If you turn on the electric light, you will see a fantastic drapery on the walls and all the way up to the top of the vaults. Parallel but slanting layers, white and black, lime and flint. Geologists call the beautiful striped wallpaper a „climate barcode“. Each layer represents a climatic period of up to 100,000 years. Inside the cathedral there are 22 layers, representing deposits over 2.2 million years.“
The Blå Grubé was developed with this cheese cathedral in mind. It is as creamy as the Cornflower (an equally generous portion of cream is added), but made with a different blue mould culture, somewhat more dense in texture, the aroma a bit less on the sweet and stronger on the umami.
And then there is th cave in Daugbjerg, also a former lime pit, half an hour’s drive east from Hjerm, in direction of Aarhus. That’s where the Daugbjerg Grubeost Elbo is matured. A somewhat smaller amount of cream is added to the (on principal at Thise really fantastic) milk, and the result is a semi-hard cheese of a type truly beloved by the Danes. According to Osten ved Kultorvet its name goes back to the Elbodalen near Vejle, which seems to have had a very good reputation for pastures in the 1950s. Milky and discreet, Elbo reminds me of Danbo, but has much more character.
High time to finally travel to the north of Denmark…