Scrumptious World Cheeses – from Italy to Colombia

If you’ve got a penchant for cheese chomping, you need to read about these wonderful world cheeses. Recent studies claim that this dairy stuff is addictive – but let’s be honest, we already knew that. In this article, travelers share their 10 favorite scrumptious world cheeses – from the Netherlands to Colombia and the Philippines. I also weigh in, chatting about cheddar in Wisconsin vs. cheddar in England. So, my delightful dairy addicts, read on to see if your favorite fromage made the list!

Cheddar – Wisconsin, USA
The cheddar of my childhood.

Did you know that American football fans in Wisconsin wear cheddar cheese wedges on their heads? It’s true! Although not real cheese, the “cheese heads” of Wisconsin not only support their home football team (the Green Bay Packers), they take serious pride in Wisconsin-produced cheddar. Wisconsin, America’s dairy state, has claimed many awards – beating out other world cheeses for big titles.

Cheddar is often eaten on Ritz crackers as a snack – or cheekily scoffed plain because it’s just that good. Wisconsin cheddar comes in many flavors and ages, but the new cheese is formed into squeaky curds. Wisconsinites especially like to eat cheese curds deep-fried, a very special snack, indeed.

On Wisconsin! I took this photo at the Madison farmer’s market on the Capitol Square. 

Tastiest World Cheeses - WI Cheddar

Edam – Edam, Netherlands
Blogger: Janine from Fill My Passport

I am a cheese freak. No joke. Bring it on with crackers, sprinkled on pasta, as a side with wine- everything. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that while traveling through the Netherlands I was stoked to grab a slab of Edam with a glass of Merlot.

This delicious cheese originates in the cute little town of Edam outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. This semi-hard cheese is aged and developed with a wax rind and traditionally sold in large wheels for consumers to purchase. Luckily for those of us who are traveling on lengthy trips, Edam doesn’t spoil and will last quite a long time. Just ensure you keep it in a cold and dry place to enjoy with every bottle of wine you buy on the road.

What I love about this cheese (in addition to its shelf life) is the sharp taste and its ability to bring out the flavour pigments when paired with a great glass of red. I also love that it complements meats, in particular charcuterie plates, perfectly! When over in the Netherlands, do try to grab some Edam as a snack, a side dish, or even as a souvenir to bring home.

See more on her Instagram feed.

Tastiest World Cheeses - Edam

Kesong Puti
– Philippines
Blogger: Jerny from The Jerny.

White Cheese, which is locally known as ‘Kesong Puti’ is commonly produced in the towns of Bulacan, Samar and Laguna, which are located relatively near to the Philippine’s capital city of Manila. However, the white cheese producers can also be found further south in Cebu and Bacolod.

Kesong Puti is an unaged, soft, and is made from skimmed carabao’s milk, salt, and rennet. The cheese tastes a little bit salty and has a soft texture. Some versions of this white cheese are slightly sour because, in place of rennet, vinegar is used. Kesong Puti is a popular breakfast fare, paired with locally baked bread and black coffee or fresh milk.

See more on her Facebook page.

Tastiest World Cheeses - Kesong Puti

Caciocavallo Podolico – Puglia, Italy
Blogger: Cris from LooknWalk.

Caciocavallo podolico is a cow’s cheese which can only be found in Italy’s Puglia (Engl: Apulia) region, particularly in the Apennine Mountains and in the Gargano peninsula. Stroll any of the markets and you are bound to be attracted by this interesting cheese.

Its origin can be traced back to the 5th century AD, when the barbarians invaded the area. They brought with them a species of long-horned cattle from Ukraine. Those cows’ descendants can now be found grazing the aromatic herbs in the Gargano area. The spicy and strong cheese (caciocavallo podolico) is left to ripen, sometimes even for 3 years, but you can find similar cheeses (such as caciocavallo dolce) in the markets as well).

I’ve discovered this cheese during my first trip to Italy (2012). I still love it, and during my long stay in Italy last year I indulged quite a bit in this cheese.

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Tastiest World Cheeses - Caciocavallo podolico

Gouda – Netherlands
Blogger: Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations.

When the Dutch talk about cheese, they often don’t specify a brand. They just call it kaas, pronounced like “kahz” – whether it’s Gouda cheese, etc. What people do specify, however, is the age of the cheese.

Jonge kaas is the “youngest,” and therefore the mildest cheese, with a taste quite close to butter. It’s smooth and easy to slice. The older the cheese, the stronger and crumblier it is. So oude kaas – old cheese – is hard to slice, dry and very sharp. In between young and old is a whole range: jong belegen, belegen, and oud belegen. My favorite is belegen; it has just the right balance of smoothness and strong flavor. Dutch cheese makers also occasionally flavor their products with nettle, mustard or clove.

In the Netherlands, people generally eat cheese for breakfast and lunch. They use a cheese slicer to make extremely thin slices and arrange the cheese in a single layer on buttered whole-grain bread. Simple, yet flavorful, they eat it either folded or open-faced.

Next time you’re in the Netherlands, make sure to visit a cheese shop. Often samples are available; so you’ll get an idea of the enormous range of flavors that fall under the heading “kaas.”

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Tastiest World Cheeses - Gouda

Parmigiano-Reggiano – Parma, Italy
Blogger: Kavita from Kavey Eats

Visiting Parma in Northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region is a must for food lovers, home as it is to both Prosciutto de Parma (Parma ham) and Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan cheese). It’s also not far from Modena, the home of balsamic vinegar, so that’s a third reason to go!

One highlight of my visit a few years ago was the opportunity to visit a traditional producer of parmesan cheese, and to follow through the entire process from heating and curdling the milk, to straining the curds and packing them into molds for pressing, to soaking and turning the young cheeses in brine that allows salt to gradually penetrate into the cheese – and finally to the maturation room where the huge wheels are aged for anything between 12 and 30 months. No wonder this famous cheese has a PDO (protected designation of origin) that strictly controls production and guarantees quality.

The other highlight of the trip was enjoying this cheese at every meal taken in the many cafes and restaurants of the region, where it is an integral part of the menu. We loved it served as an aperitivo (at the start of the meal), paired with a selection of local charcuterie and a glass of sparkling red Lambrusco.

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Tastiest World Cheeses - Parmigiano-Reggiano

Oscypek – Poland
Blogger: Kaylie from Happiness Travels Here.

Oscypek is a cheese from Poland produced using unpasteurized salted sheep’s milk. It is produced in the Polish Tatra Mountains around Zakopane. Protected by the EU as a regional specialty, the production is controlled to preserve its heritage and guarantee authenticity. The milk is collected from a single breed of Polish mountain sheep, the curds pressed into wooden molds to give the characteristic spindle shape and then hung to dry in a smoke-filled hut. This gives the cheese its characteristic flavor and golden color.

Only available at certain times of the year, Oscypek cheese is usually saved for festivals and special occasions. Cooked over a grill to give the outside a crust with a hot and moist center often served with cranberry sauce, it makes a great festive treat.

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Tastiest World Cheeses - Oscypek

Queso Costeño – Colombia
Blogger: Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker.

“Coastal Cheese” is a staple in many Colombian households. Queso costeño is typical of the country’s Caribbean region, where many ranches and people are dependent on the cattle industry. It can be found in any northern farmer’s market and vacuum wrapped in supermarkets. As there are no preservatives in the market version, it doesn’t keep for a long time. Buy it fresh in the morning before the sun gets hot and consume it on the same day.

While many of the cheeses are homemade and the recipe may differ, the cheese usually ends up being squishy-soft, and salty, yet watery. The texture can be quite smooth or contain bubbles. Locals often prefer it grated over sliced bread, and serve it in a little heap with just about anything. If you follow the coastal diet, you’ll probably end up eating it with scrambled eggs in the morning, inside an arepa for lunch, and generously sprinkled over a salchipapa con todo in the evening. As it’s not a fancy cheese and you’re not in a wine country, pair any such meal with a bottle of Postobon (a popular soda) or a bottle of water to offset your sodium intake. 

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Tastiest World Cheeses - Queso Costeño

Old Amsterdam – North Country, Netherlands
Blogger: Clemens from Travellers Archive.

If there is only one thing that makes a perfect match with red wine on a cold autumn evening, it’s Old Amsterdam cheese. This cheese is super aged and is made from pasteurized cows milk. It belongs to the Gouda family, but it may be completely different to any Gouda you may have tried before. The name, which is not a surprise, comes from the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, where the cheese was originally produced. However, today Old Amsterdam is made in North Country, which is located in the west of the Netherlands.

Old Amsterdam cheese is usually aged for two years. During this time, professionals consistently check the cheese, which ensures its high quality. Once the cheese is sold, it’s labelled with “Premier Grand Cru Classé” – standing for outstanding quality. Old Amsterdam has an ivory color and a rich, nutty, robust flavor with hints of caramel and butterscotch. The texture is firm.

My favorite place to enjoy Old Amsterdam is the small, traditional Café Kalkhoven in Amsterdam’s beautiful Jordaan district. It lies right in the middle of the famous 9 straatjes. This café is authentic and cozy, offering a whole plate of Old Amsterdam for little money – and it goes down a treat with heavy red wine.

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Tastiest World Cheeses - Old Amsterdam

Cheddar – Cheddar, England
The cheddar I’ve trans-“cheese”-ened to enjoy. 

Because cheddar cheese is so embedded in Wisconsin culture, I wrongly assumed that the cheese had been invented in my home state. However, since being corrected by my British husband on our first meeting in Taiwan, and after moving to the UK, I had to include British cheddar on the world cheeses list. After all, the famous fromage was invented in Cheddar, where caves provide the ideal environment to produce the cheese.

British cheddar cheese seems to be more crumbly and less fatty than the American counterpart. So if you’d like to ramp up the flavor of cheddar without the distinct sharp taste of American aged cheddar, you’ll enjoy the salty English variety.

Hankering cheese in London? You’ll love this cheese tasting in Hampton.

Similarly to the USA, residents here slap cheddar onto burgers, but instead of grilled cheese, they have open-faced cheese toasties. They also occasionally add it to their “baked beans on toast” concoction. It sounds weird, but London expat life has me fully accustomed to it.

The two chunks of cheddar sit in the bottom left corner, among other yummy world cheeses.

Tastiest World Cheeses - UK Cheddar

So queso lovers, which of these world cheeses enchanted you? And what other varieties do you recommend? Sound off in the comments below!

Tastiest World Cheeses. Pinterest


  1. I have very rarely met a cheese I didn’t like, and there are literally hundreds I love and quite a few that I absolutely ADORE! Lovely to read other bloggers’ favourites too. Thanks for inviting me to collaborate!

    1. Author

      I think we’d be good travel (and dining) buddies, Kavita. It sounds like we’re quite similar in that sense 🙂 Thanks for sharing about parmigiano-reggiano!

  2. I remember being in absolute heaven when I was first got to visit a cheese shop in Netherlands. I kept trying all the different varieties but the one that I really liked the most was the aged and smoked goat cheese. Yummm… My mouth is still watering!

    1. Author

      Aged, smoked goat cheese sounds delicious! I keep hearing that the Netherlands has fantastic cheese, and I would love to go “[eat] for myself,” haha. 😀

  3. Oh my! Cheese! It has to be the best food group out there. Would love to have a cheese platter of all of these.. Yum…

    1. Author

      That’s a great idea, Katherine – I’d also love to try a world cheese sampler!

  4. Are you cheesing me?! I’d eat every one of them and more!
    South Africa ? is also surprisingly delicious and appreciated- if you’re ever on SA’s wine route, go wild with their selection

    1. Author

      Lol, I had never heard that SA had nice cheese… I suppose their wine overshadows it, but I will definitely have to check it out now. Thanks for the tip, Raluca!

  5. You had me at cheese! I love cheese and love finding great cheese and wine whenever we travel. Great list.

    1. Author

      Thanks Lisa! I agree, it’s fun to be able to sample different varieties from all around the world. 🙂

  6. Oh my I am a huge cheesehead – no matter what country I am in I have to try some cheese and explore the varieties and regions of cheesemaking. This was great to read and now I need to go eat some cheese.

    1. Author

      Haha, I am glad you’re inspired… I’m just about ready to plan a trip based solely on cheese, but I guess I’ll be at a cheese festival in Birmingham later this month! 🙂

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