I am sure that most Norwegians will agree with me to just skip the akvavit and go for the brunost. As I experienced, even the Norwegians try to deny the existence of akvavit and there is a sound reason to do so - the taste. :) On the other hand, you just cannot go wrong with brunost.
It is common thing to eat, but I think Norwegians like to mention it to foreigners as something typically Norwegian (that they have to try). If you want numbers, this report says that 10.673 tonnes of brown cheese was produced last year (about the same amount as butter). 63.424 tonnes of "white" cheese was produced. 9.235 tonnes of brown cheese was sold, 49.312 tonnes of other cheeses. According to these numbers, from one of the biggest dairy companies, other cheeses are more popular than brown cheese.
Yes! it was the first Norwegian food I tried (then pinnekjøtt, lutefisk (yuck), elg/rein sausage etc.) when I first visited my boyfriend's family 4 years ago and so far I've seen it in the fridge of every family/friend of his! I personally prefer the stronger one and it goes perfectly with svart kaffe :)
They're generally described as tasting of caramel. People who taste brunost for the first time and don't like it, are often the ones who were expecting it to taste anything like, well... cheese. ;)
The mild, lighter coloured varieties (often sold as Mysost or Fløtemysost) taste almost like fudge, while the darker ones have a stronger, more complex taste with a tangy twist.
Personally, I much prefer the darker varieties, but the lighter ones may be the safer bet for a first taste. They're so sweet that children would gladly eat them like candy.
My girlfriend is Norwegian, so one of the things i tried (and fell in love with!) is brunost. We visit each other a few times a year, so when she comes to me, she brings me a "care package" full of brunost, pineapple soda and some dried cod (Can't be 100% but i think its called tørrfisk?) And i buy myself some for the trip back when i visit her!
I am headed to Norway for the first time next week, and I can't wait to try brunost! However, as a lover of fruit sodas, I'd also like to hear more about this pineapple soda. :-) Is there a brand name for it, and is it widely available nationwide (as of June 2019), or is it likely only to be found in the larger cities?
Ski Queen gjetost in a small red cube of packaging is amazing. It doesn't taste like any other cheese in America. Imagine you mixed cream cheese with strong mustard and caramel. It is very difficult to slice, and you'd want to eat it in very thin slices, which is why Norwegians use their special cheese slicers. Some grocery stores carry them if enough people ask for it. Many stores will special order it. It doesn't hurt to ask. The more popular it becomes, the easier it will be to find!
It is made not out of the curd, but the whey from the milk, wich often not being used by human consumption, very clever. In the Netherlands, the whey is used in a drink called "Taksi", almost only drink by children. Before that the whey was throw away by cheesemakers, what is a lot because you need 100kg milk for 10 kg cheese.