Calgarians find DIY solution to get their beloved ‘Holy Grail of cheese’ from Denmark

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Store manager Janeen Norman loves to offer customers all kinds of Danish cheese samples at Alpine Sausage in southwest Calgary.

“Creamy Havarti, Danbo with caraway, the Danish Bleu,” Norman said.

But there’s one cheese missing from its usual spot in the cooler at her European-style deli.

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“The Holy Grail of cheese!” Norman said.

She was referring to Esrom cheese, a favourite among her customers who grew up eating it in Denmark.

“Yeah, it’s wonderful!” Finn Spanggaard said.

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Norman had been importing Esrom for years, but then suddenly, her suppliers stopped supplying it.

“I can’t get a straight answer actually on what the problem is,” Norman said.

It’s left a lot of her customers pining for a piece of their beloved cheese.

“It’s kind of frustrating,” Lynette Graversen said.

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But fortunately for the many Esrom-loving Danes in Calgary, there’s a do-it-yourself solution.

“When I go back home I fill a suitcase,” Teddy Juliussen said. “This time I brought five kilos of Esrom cheese [back to Calgary].”

Canada Customs is fine with people bringing in quantities like that.

But for the sake of his fellow passengers, it’s a good thing Juliussen didn’t pack his stash of Esrom in his carry-on bag for the flight back to Calgary.

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“It’s very pungent,” Norman said.

“When you’re a child, it’s ‘the stinky cheese,'” Graversen said.

“Most Canadians, they just [say], ‘No, we can’t eat that — it smells bad,'” Juliussen said. “So they won’t even try it.”

Juliussen always shares the Esrom he brings back to Canada with his friends, coming together to savour the flavour.

“It’s just like being in heaven,” Juliussen said. “I’ve never been there, but that’s what I imagine.”

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Norman is doing everything she can to try to get her regular shipments of Esrom flowing again.

“We’re working with the Danish consulate, the Canadian consulate in Denmark,” Norman said “I took it online, onto Facebook. I did tag the Queen of Denmark [and said], ‘If the Danes could just please send Esrom cheese.'”
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In the meantime, Juliussen and many other Calgary fans of the cheese will continue finding a spot for Esrom in their luggage when they come back from Denmark.

“I’ll have to go back to Denmark soon to get some more,” Juliussen said with a laugh. “It’s the taste of heaven!”