In a world full of cheese makers, why is Denver's selection so limited?

We say Peter, not Pierre; we shake hands instead of kissing on the cheeks; and we drive instead of hopping on the metro. And yet, says Karin Lawler, co-owner of the Truffle, "When you ask someone to name a cheese, they're going to say Brie." This Gallic bias often translates to party trays and after-dinner courses filled with Brie and bleu d'Auvergne, with maybe an Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano, English Cheddar or local Haystack Mountain goat cheese thrown in for good measure.

Why, in a world full of cheese makers, is the selection so limited?

See also: - Chef and Tell: The Truffle's Rob Lawler on Spam musabi, brains, glutards and his favorite cheese - Pete Marczyk, chef-owner of Marczyk Fine Foods, sounds off on why food regulation makes him want to throw his baguette - Best Cheese Shop 2012: The Truffle

I've been pondering this question since I first tasted ekte gjetost at Trillium, the Scandinavian-American restaurant I review this week. Made from caramelized goat's-milk whey, ekte gjetost is so far from Brie, blue and other common cheeses, it seems to constitute an entirely different food group. For starters, the color is dark tan, not the usual white, off-white, cream or orange. Sticky and soft in texture, like fudge or natural peanut butter when it's cold, it boasts a flavor reminiscent of caramel. At the restaurant, chef-owner Ryan Leinonen plays up the sweetness with accents of toffee almonds, figs and slices of apple and pear.

Hoping to find ekte gjetost before my family gathers for the holidays, I called several cheese shops around town. The Truffle doesn't carry it, but it does sell Havarti, a popular semi-soft cow's-milk cheese imported from Denmark. Marczyk Fine Foods sells Danish Havarti, too, both plain and dill, but not the caramelized gjetost. Continental Deli offers a broader selection of Scandinavian cheeses, including Norwegian Jarlsberg, Danish Esrom and five kinds of Havarti -- but, alas, no gjetost. After a few more calls, I finally tracked down this unusual cheese at the King Soopers at Ninth and Downing, along with a fine Danish blue that would be just right for the Scandinavian-themed cheese plate I'm planning to serve next week while the turkey browns.

In the meantime, check back tomorrow when my review is posted here to see what other surprises Trillium has in store.


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Gretchen Kurtz has worked as a writer for 25 years; during that time she's stomped grapes in Napa, eaten b'stilla in Fez, and baked with Buddy Valastro, aka the Cake Boss. Her work has appeared in publications including Boulevard (Paris), Diversion, the New York Times and Westword. Our restaurant critic since 2012, she loves helping you decide where to eat and drink tonight.
Contact: Gretchen Kurtz

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