Say “Cheese” in Kostroma, the Cheese Capital of Russia

Say “Cheese” in Kostroma, the Cheese Capital of Russia

John Seckel is an American expat who heads our affiliated Moscow office. He has lived and worked in Moscow for many years, and continually finds new places to explore. Here he invokes his status as a Wisconsin cheese-head to critique a new museum in the Golden Ring city of Kostroma. (The Golden Ring is a modern name given to the ancient towns that form an elliptical circle to the north and east of Moscow.)

When I heard that a Cheese Museum had opened in Kostroma, a provincial city on Moscow’s Golden Ring, I knew a visit was in my future. Being from Wisconsin, I get a lot of heckling about being a cheese-head. Well guess what­ – I am!

I love cheese. Give me a pizza and you have to double the cheese. My portion of buckwheat kasha (yes, we eat that here and like it) has to have melted cheese on top. While I was growing up in Wisconsin, cheese was always there. And when it wasn’t, my mom was off to the cheese factory to get some.

This was a museum made just for me.

John and the Moscow office staff with their Cheese Museum guide Photo: John Seckel

John and the Moscow office staff with their Cheese Museum guide
Photo: John Seckel

Cheesy Museum?I found the museum kind of cheesy at first, with the guides in their Styrofoam cheese hats, but I really was blown away by what I did not know about cheese. This one small region, Kostroma, was a major force in bringing the production of cheese to Russia.

In the Kostroma region, in the 1880s, peasants were given cows. In return, the peasants had to turn in a portion of the milk for the production of cheese. These early cows reproduced, and the herds grew. In 1878 the first cheese factory opened in Kostroma and with this, the history of cheese making in the region began.

(click on photo for larger version) 

European Cheese SpecialistsCheese specialists from Europe were invited to teach the art of making a good cheese. They found that the cows and the nature of the Kostroma area had a hand in creating the special taste of the “Kostromskoy Cheese.” Turns out that the mixture of grasses that the cows were eating gave the cheese a special flavor and aroma.

Russian Cheese Specialists ­– CowsApparently, Russia developed a special breed that could produce up to 40 liters of milk a day, compared to about 15 liters a day from other cows at that time. The Russian cows also had thicker skins, giving them more protection against insect attacks.

John trying his hand as a milkmaid Photo: John Seckel

John trying his hand as a milkmaid
Photo: John Seckel

Eat your CheeseThe Kostroma Cheese Museum is fun and interactive. It’s a break from all those (wonderful) churches on the Golden Ring. And then you get to taste the cheese at the end and have the opportunity to learn which cheeses go with what drinks and foods and how to eat cheese. I had no idea that I was eating cheese the wrong way, and not getting the full flavor of it.

Time for the tasting Photo: John Seckel

Time for the tasting!
Photo: John Seckel

What was I doing wrong, you may ask? To answer that question, you need to go to the Cheese Museum in Kostroma! Spoil yourself and buy a few small chunks to eat before you leave Russia. I’m sure the Kostroma farmers would love it if you bought more, but the customs officials of your home country might not.

In any case, this cheese-head from Wisconsin gives the Cheese Museum in Kostroma two thumbs up!

Eat Your Golden Ring Cheese with MIR

MIR has more than 30 years of travel experience to Russia, with affiliate offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Siberia offering on-the-ground support, and tour managers that clients rave about. MIR’s full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

Visit the Cheese Museum in KostromaCall us to plan your own itinerary to Russia and include a stop at the Cheese Museum in Kostroma. MIR specializes in personalized, private journeys – each trip handcrafted to your interests, dates and pace. We love to take your ideas and weave them into a trip tailored especially for you. (more about our custom and private travel expertise)

Or you can opt to explore the Golden Ring towns on MIR’s classic small group tour: Russia’s Imperial Capitals & Ancient Villages.

Contact MIR today at or 1-800-424-7289 to learn more.


(Top Photo: Cheese-rolling – one of the many interactive exhibits at the Kostroma Cheese Museum. Photo: John Seckel)

PUBLISHED: October 15, 2018

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