Oh, happy day! Quite by accident, I have discovered a wonderful new cheese! (Perhaps discovered is a bit of a stretch; Norwegians and the editors at Saveur have been enjoying it for some time, several millenia in the case of the Norwegians.)
Gjetost (YEHT-ohst) is the Norwegian cheese par excellence. According to my copy of the Food Lover's Companion, it is "made from a combination of goat's and cow's milk whey." Caramel-colored and semi-firm, it resembles, well, a caramel. (I know, my powers of analogy wow you. They even amaze me sometimes.) It is also mildly sweet. The color and flavor both result from "slowly cooking the milk until its sugars caramelize."
How did I find it, you ask? I confess, somewhat bashfully, that I am a daring experimenter. New flavors scare me not! Though perhaps I should mention that happenstance had just the smallest bit to do with it. You see, I was experimenting with goat butter one day and, without my glasses on, mistakenly nabbed this cheese instead from the market shelves. It sat directly next to the goat butter (which Fate later decreed I would eat and find, and I quote, "icky, nasty, like lard in flavor and texture." Don't go running out to try it all at once, folks.)
But this gjetost was a revelation. Though it sat in the fridge for a month or more, in a fit of curiosity (no, no, not desperation, I had a cheddar ripe and ready for the eating if I'd wanted it) I opened the package. Curious color, I thought, and sniffed it like all good foodies do. It smelled like a caramel, a childhood favorite, so I cut off a chunk and ate it. Mildly tangy, like a chevre but infinitely less so, with just enough sweetness to temper, even dominate, the traditional goat flavor.
I went running around the apartment in a fit of glee. And then, in a show of great discipline that is my hallmark, sat down to tell you about it.
In its native land, it is served on brown bread, but if you don't have any (or like me, don't like it) try it with crisp sesame crackers, thick wheat biscuits or on a fruit tray with pears and melon. Or eat it alone. And pretend to others that it's a revolting, acquired taste so you don't even have to share.