Definition of a Turophile
A turophile is someone who loves cheese. Turophiles understand there are many words for describing cheese: creamy, smoked, hard, soft, blue, pungent, fresh, aged, artisan and salty. Actually, choose any word you are fond of, and it likely can describe this addictive dairy product.
While we’ve previously written about travelling for connoisseurs of rain, we want to now help those driven by the desire to try cheeses of all the above qualities. There are many destinations where you can indulge your passion for cheese, especially in western Europe.
1. Normandy, France
France is synonymous with cheese production. Many of its regions rightfully compete for the title of top cheese producing region. Auvergne (Roquefort, Cantal), Alsace & Lorraine (Munster), and Burgundy (Époisses) are a few of the renowned manufacturing regions in France. However, Normandy wears the crown if you’re a turophile.
Located in the northwestern part of the country, Normandy is a producer of soft Camembert and Livarot, as well as semi-soft Neufchâtel. All these popular cow’s milk cheeses define the French gastronomy scene. While touring the historic region, visit the Cheese Museum near Vimoutiers and the Cheese Factory in Livarot.
2. The French Alps
The French Alps produce Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie, Beaufort and Bleu de Sassenage, among other types of cheese. Traditional cheese-making methods are still very much alive here. Enjoy the scenic landscapes of the mountainous region while you are there, too.
3. The Netherlands
The homeland of semi-hard Gouda (cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s cheese) and Edam (cow’s or goat’s cheese) is another dream destination for turophiles. This is especially true during the spring and summer months, when the countrywide cheese markets open. The Edam Cheese Market is typically open in July and August in the town of Edam. Don’t feel shy about haggling there!
The Gouda Cheese Market, running from May to August, offers “real, traditional Gouda.” You can also find other delightful cheese markets in Alkmaar, Hoorn and Woerden.Tip: Woerden hosts the only traditional market, a must for true turophiles and cheese-lovers. Others are more tourist-oriented.
3. The Cheese Route, Germany
As one of the biggest importers of celebrated French and Dutch cheeses, Germany is an obvious candidate for this list. Still, this big European country has its own cheeses that make it a competitive producer. Soft Bavaria blue cow’s cheese and semi-soft Limburger are a couple not to be missed.
But, if you are a passionate turophile, you can’t go to Germany without visiting its Cheese Route. You can find the route in the Schleswig-Holstein state, nestled between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, north of Hamburg. This traditional cheese-making area is home to many small producers and is a revelation for cheese aficionados fortunate enough to discover it.
4. La Mancha, Spain
You will find the next exquisite cheese-producing destination in La Mancha, Spain, extending roughly from Toledo to Cuenca. Semi-soft Manchego, made from sheep’s milk, is the signature cheese of Spain. And it is no wonder, since it is one of the world’s most versatile types of cheese. It goes well with many dishes and ingredients, including honey.
To learn all there is to know about Manchego, visit Artequeso Farm in Finca La Prudenciana. Tip: If you prefer goat’s cheese, go to Avila, northwest of Madrid. Once there, look for Monte Enebro.
5. Asturias, Spain
Located in the northwestern part of Spain, Asturias is known as “the Land of Cheese.” Cabrales, a semi-hard cheese made of sheep’s, goat’s or cow’s milk, is one of the most popular types manufactured there. Other cheeses with protected status (D.O.P.) from Asturias are Casín, Afuega’l pitu and Gamonéu.
6. Emilia Romagna, Italy
Next to the fairy-tale landscapes of Tuscany is another great cheese-eater’s paradise. In Emilia Romagna, local manufacturers produce Parmigiano Reggiano, known as “the King of all Cheeses.” This hard, granular delicacy is made from cow’s milk, either pasteurized or unpasteurized. The Museum of Parmigiano Reggiano in Soragna allows you to taste the cheese in various stages of maturation.
If you are as passionate a biker as you are a turophile, all the better. Emilia Romagna boasts the longest bike routes in Italy. Tip: In the Piedmont region, bordering Emilia Romagna, you can find the town of Bra. The Bra Tenero manufacturer produces a flavorful, soft cheese with D.O.P. status (which every turophile will recognize), great for making fondue.
7. Somerset, the United Kingdom
Fans of hard cheese with a sharp flavor should make Somerset, England a mandatory stop in their cheese-hopping tour. This county in southwest England is the original producer of Cheddar, the most popular cheese in the world. The epicenter of Cheddar cheese production is its namesake village, featuring a cheese factory and nearby caves used for maturation. Tip: In September, the traditional Frome Agricultural & Cheese Show takes place in Bunns Lane.
8. Gruyères, Switzerland
Switzerland is another mandatory stop for cheese fans. After all, we don’t use the saying “as good as Swiss cheese” for nothing. To take advantage of a wide-ranging offer of cheeses and great sightseeing opportunities, head to Gruyères. This beautiful medieval town produces the semi-soft Gruyère, made from cow’s milk. Attend a cheese-making demonstration in a chalet on Mount Moléson and visit Le Maison du Gruyères, the cheese factory and museum.
9. Vermont, U.S.A.
A wide range of popular cheeses awaits you in the state of Vermont. Follow the Cheese Trail leading you from one producer to another. The Green Mountain region, however, is the highlight of the cheese-hopping tour.
There, local manufacturers excel in the production of various artisan cheeses native to regions around the world. You will find Gouda, Mozzarella and, most of all, Cheddar among many other cheese varieties along the way. Tip: Jasper Hill is among the best manufacturers of cheese in Vermont. Its signature product is Harbison, a soft-ripened cow’s cheese.
Summary: Turophile Destinations for Cheese-Lovers
Being a turophile isn’t easy, that’s a fact. A lifetime is too short for trying all the cheeses and exploring all the cheese-producing destinations. But if you can settle for the former, there might be a way. For a bit of (almost) everything, visit Wisconsin and California in the U.S.A. Wisconsin produces around 600 types of cheese, while California produces upwards of 250 varieties. Cheddar, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack and Provolone are some options to consider while you are there.