Next weekend, the Almkäse Olympics – a competition for Alpine cheese – take place in Galtür for the 25th time. More than 100 Alpine dairy farmers will compete with their products and hope to win gold, silver or bronze. Hermann Huber, the chair of the Regional Culinary Delights Paznaun Alpine Cheese group, tells Trisanna exactly what it’s all about.
A good cheese can be hard, it can be soft, it can taste nutty or mild. But if you’ve ever visited the Cheese Olympics in Galtür, you’ll know that sometimes there’s a world of difference between a good cheese and a very good cheese. On 28 September, at any rate, there will be any number of really good cheeses in Paznaun once again – this is when the Alpine Cheese Olympics celebrate a small anniversary with the 25th edition of the competition.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s sport or cheese, when you hear the word Olympics, you know it’s always about gold, silver or bronze. In this case, though, it’s not about medals, but coveted harp-shaped trophies in these colours. Over 100 dairy farmers from Austria, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will compete for these awards on the day. “The prerequisite for all participants is that their cheese is prepared with fresh Alpine milk. In addition, only cheeses which were produced on a registered, managed mountain pasture are eligible for the competition,” explains Hermann Huber. He’s the chair of the Regional Culinary Delights Paznaun Alpine Cheese, and has been a part of the 30 – 35 person jury for twenty years.
The event is organized by the young rural population, with the support of the Regional Culinary Delights Paznaun Alpine Cheese group. “About two weeks before it begins,” says Huber, “we start the build-up.” This year, some 3 000 cheese lovers are expected in the Galtür sport and cultural centre. Because it’s not only the participants and the jury members who can test good cheeses, it’s open to all cheese lovers. Between 11 in the morning and 6 in the evening, the public can also taste and buy Alpine cheese, mountain cheese, Emmentaler or Tilsiter.
The jury itself works on a very clear points system: “From 28.5 points it’s gold, with 17.5 you win silver, and with 17 points you are awarded bronze,” explains Huber. But what actually makes a good cheese, in his opinion? “A good appearance, good perforation – but above all, great taste.”
Alongside professionals such as Huber there’s also another jury of very young cheese experts. The children’s jury taste the cheese selection blindfolded – and then choose the best.
The Almkäse Olympics, by the way, was originally created to provide dairy farmers in the Alpine region with an opportunity to present their homemade cheeses to a wider public – and to strengthen regional produce. A concept which still works well today.
25th Almkäse Olympics
- When: 28 September 2019
- Time: from 11.00
- Who: Over 100 Alpine dairies from Germany, Austria, Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
- Where: Galtür’s sport and cultural centre
- Entrance: 10 euros until 18.00, 15 euros after 18.00