Västerbotten Cheese, produced only in Burträsk, Sweden since 1872, is hailed by Swedes as the "Emperor" of Cheeses." And rightly so. Similar to the finest Italian parmigiano reggiano in texture, flavor, and - unfortunately - price, it is a tangy, delightfully sharp hard cow's milk cheese (but slightly sweeter and more crumbly than Parmesan). Legend has it that it was created by dairymaid Ulrika Eleonara Lindstrom who either a) was so busy with other chores, or b) so busy flirting with her gentleman visitor that she forgot to stir the curds.
Swedes enjoy Västerbotten cheeseit both on its own and as the central component of Västerbotten pie, a rich cheese quiche traditionally served at August crayfish parties. Because it takes a while to make (it has to age for an entire year), is highly sought-after by Swedes, and is produced by only one dairy, Norrmejerier, it isn't easy to find in the United States (IKEA used to carry it, but that's in doubt now that they're changing their Marketplace to carry only IKEA-branded products). However, it's worth the price when you can find it - one word of warning, though. Once you've tasted it, you may never want to settle for parmigiano reggiano again. It's simply that good.
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