CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (
) -- When asked what makes some hunks of cheese more
than others, Kurt Gurdal says it starts with the animals.
"The type of milk is big," says Gurdal, cheese buyer and manager at
, a family-run cheese store in Cambridge, Mass., that's renowned for its underground cheese-aging cave, dedication to regional farms and legendary customer, Julia Child. "Different types of milk will have a lower yield."
|Aged for up to 3 years in an old French munitions depot, Comte Marcel Petite sells for up to $32 per pound.
Sheep (whose milk is sweet and gamey) and goats (who give tangy milk) produce less milk than cows, mainly because farmers milk them only in the spring, summer and early fall. Cows are milked year-round, Gurdal says. This explains why Brebis Pardou, a sheep's milk cheese from Aquitaine, France, costs $36.95 per pound at the store, and Bleu du Bocage, a goat cheese from the country's Vendée region, costs $38.95.
And milk yield helps to explain why the cheese from Algens Hus, a small farm in Bjurholm, Sweden, costs around $420 per pound. The cheese, generally thought to be the most expensive cheese in the world, comes from the milk of tamed moose. There are several moose at Algens Hus, but farmers Christer and Ulla Johansson milk only three of them: Juna, Halga and Gullan.
Moose are moody, and the slightest disturbance will make a moose cow temporarily dry up, according to the Algens Hus Web site. It takes up to two hours of complete silence to milk a moose, with each milking yielding no more than two liters of liquid.