Local Heart, Global Soul

March 30, 2018

Drooling Cheese And Fabulous Views…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Visiting the Gondola in Christchurch was family outing that was a complete success.

There was something for everyone and we were all taking in the exhibitions and sights.

Soon though, stomachs rumbled and hopeful noises were made from our offspring with reference to the Café.

“Lolly cake” New Zealand Lolly Cake, the favourite of generations of Kiwi’s… was especially a target on their radar, a particular bakery speciality of New Zealand.

When Little Mr found out that they also made toasted sandwiches, he was set. The Café was our next stop.

The cheese in the toasted sandwich turned out to be both a source of frustration and amusement, being so soft and melted that it drooled out of the toasted sandwich in every direction.  Little Mr managed to enjoy it regardless, and later devoured the Lolly Cake that he had been looking forward to.

I delighted in a brownie and Kiwi Daughter found not only some Lolly cake but also some delicious peach iced tea. Delicious all round! The tables in some of my shots look empty, but that’s mostly because they had been filled with people who had young children.

Trying as much as possible to take photographs to exclude the faces of young children on my blog, I waited to take photographs until they left. I’m finding one unexpected problem that appears to be the result of today’s “camera age” where every little move is documented (yep, of course that’s me guilty too of course! but I don’t document my children relentlessly like some parents do), that some children are now conditioned to constantly posing for photographs.

On occasion I am trying hard to exclude a small child and the same kid thinks that since someone is pointing a camera even slightly in their direction, this is their cue to take part in a photo-shoot. Some even run into the shot when I move to one side, clearly thinking that if there is a photo, then surely they should be in it. It’s a startling by-product of multiple devices we carry these days that all contain cameras. I was rather surprised to see that a couple of the people taking photos further along the balcony appeared only interested in taking Selfies with the view in the background, rather than any photographs with just the view.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 21, 2016

In The End The Cheese Course Is The Best Of All…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Technically if you want any dinner party to follow correct ettiquite, the cheese-board course should come before dessert, but like many people outside France I choose to serve it after my post about food that included some of the sweet stuff.

Philistine, I know, but I’m half Dutch and shouldn’t any meal (or in this case, arty blog post series) be ended with any food lovers dream: ….cheese?
My very last post in this current Rijksmuseum series is, Yes you guessed it, another favourite painting of mine, that has cheese s it’s main ingredient and subject title.

Since I know this painting from my Art History study days, it is not a new one to me, but it is the very first time I have seen it in the flesh, up close in all of it’s painted detail.

The Dutch Masters excelled with Still Life as  their subject matter, they painted with the insight you get when the items painted are things you have grown up with, and who knows, maybe cheese was one of the  everyday items around home that they practiced painting when they were young, raw artists, before finding their place and spreading their wings to wider fame? The cheese in the background was probably made with the same farmhouse process still used today, certainly it looks like any one of the aged cheeses available in my local cheese shop. The real genius of this painting is however, the painting as a “whole”, the background is no afterthought, in fact the attention paid to the damask tablecloth defies explanation when seen up close.

Painting white detail on an almost white tablecloth is hard enough, painting it as the cloth falls over the edge of the table or falls under the shadow of the place on which the grapes stand, blows my mind. Then there is the detail on the pale red section of the cloth, the pattern is fine, delicate and done with a hand so steady that three hundred years before the photography was invented, has almost become photographic. I’m not alone in these thoughts either, the information board reads:
Still Life with Cheese“, Oil on panel circa 1615 by Floris Claesz van Dijck (1575-1651)
Fruit, bread and cheese, grouped by type, are set on a table covered with costly damask tablecloths. The illusion of reality is astounding: the pewter plate extending over the edge of the table seems close enough to ouch. The Haarlem painter Floris van Dijck ranked among the pioneers of Dutch still-life painting.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum

July 2, 2014

Cheesy Taco Pockets: I Need A Lazy Recipe And This Fits The Bill…

Filed under: FOOD,PHOTOGRAPHY,Recipes — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Mama’s Kitchen (Hope) posted this recipe on what was the then “Recipezaar” (now Food.com) website.

I am currently going back though my recipe book and looking for ones that are easy to make, especially when we have a few people around.

Not being able to stand very long in the kitchen really produces problems when I want to make something for visitors,  so sorting out recipes like this one where parts (like the meat filling) can be made in advance and where the oven does most of the work last minute.

I tend to use whatever Dutch cheese we have to hand, I triple the coriander (cilantro), I’m too lazy to de-seed tomatoes and I tend to throw in some additional piri piri if I  serve people who like their food with a kick.

Dutch pastry comes in frozen packages of ten little squares so I just folded each square in half diagonally and they were a perfect size.  My original review read:

These were deceptive, at first I thought they were rather a dry-ish meat mixture enclosed in pastry and *then* the little kick of the cilantro/coriander and chili powder wound this up a notch with a slap in the taste buds that was quite refreshing. They certainly make nice appetisers or pot luck dish (all pre assembled and with an oven available to cook them in), or cocktail party where you’d like guests to be eating more substantially than just cheese on sticks with their drinks. I could also see this as an entrée/ appetiser to a long sit down dinner with time and conversation in between courses.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, basically you throw in all the filling ingredients, add the cheese last and then fill the pastry squares. Easy!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ingredients
2 (17 1/3 ounce) packages puff pastry sheets, 2 sheets per package
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon water
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded or 1 1/2 cups monterey jack pepper cheese, shredded for a spicier result or 1 1/2 cups colby cheese, shredded, any similar cheese will work

Directions
Remove pastry from freezer and allow to thaw at room temperature for about 30- 40 minutes or until they are easy to handle.
Meanwhile, add the beef, onion and green pepper to a large skillet and cook until beef is browned and vegetables begin to soften. Stir occasionally to break meat up and prevent scorching.
Add garlic and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly.
Drain all the grease from the pan and return to the heat.
Add tomato, catsup, cilantro or parsley, cumin, chili powder, oregano and cinnamon. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. You want a pretty dry mixture so your filling stays put in the pastry.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Work with one pastry sheet at a time, keeping the others covered so they do not dry out.
On a lightly floured surface roll out a pastry sheet to a rectangle about 16 x 12 inches and then cut into 8 even pieces.
Put a heaping teaspoonful of meat mixture in the center of the pastry. (I always seem to over fill them no matter how carefully I measure so you may want to start with less than you think you should use and add a little more if needed. Voice of experience! ).
Mix the egg and water together and brush pastry edges with it.
Grab one corner of a pastry and fold over to form a triangle. Press edges with a fork to seal and brush the tops with more egg mixture.
Repeat until all ingredients are used.
Place the pastries on a sprayed or greased baking sheet. You could also use parchment paper or a silicone liner.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown.
To Freeze and Bake Later: Place pockets on parchment paper or wax paper and freeze until firm. They can then be transferred to a zip top bag and stored in the freezer. Remove desired amount from freezer when ready to use and bake as directed, increasing time to 17-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Great served with sour cream, catsup or your favorite dip.

http://www.food.com/recipe/cheesy-taco-pockets-211562

 

October 15, 2011

And the WINNER is…..

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A few days ago I  invited you to enter a very cheesy competition…  To win some cheese!

To my surprise,  I got  only two comments, and one of them was from Raymund in New Zealand who very sadly we both know I can’t send any cheese to (even if I took it myself on the plane it also wouldn’t get in).

So… Hedwig It’s your lucky day!  You are my winner!

I don’t know if Ed has the Beppino Occelli cheese in stock at the moment, but if he has, there is some with your name on it!

Do you like Blue cheeses?  Since you will already be familiar with Oud Dutch Kaas, I will send you some of the other speciality cheeses that you might not be familiar with. I’ll need your address please 🙂 … I’ll email you.

Congratulations!

Just a note… the cheeses in the photo here is just the remnants of what’s left over in our cheese drawer before grocery shopping day, it’s NOT the prize LOL.

Question for all of my readers though… don’t any of  you like  the possibility to win some of this  fabulous cheese?  200  people viewed the post but only two  made comments,  seriously: did I do something wrong???

Update:  Himself is back from the cheese shop, I put Beppino Occelli on a list but for the rest, just told him to be adventurous since you said you would probably like everything… and we’ve opted for cheeses that  it’s highly unlikely your local cheese shop would have, so hopefully you will have some big taste surprises in all of these.

I had literally 5 minutes to get these packed before he had to dash off to deliver some urgent work to a client,  get the kids to scouting, run errands for Oma, (it’s one of those Saturday’s…) so sorry Hedwig for the rushed packaging job…  The cheeses you will be getting soonest are called “Ulivo, Cruttin Occelli, Cabrales los Picos, Camembert Calvados and Galet du Mas” …the camera was sitting next to the bed so I grabbed a speedy photo for you… Enjoy!!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 10, 2011

Fabulous Wheels of Yellow Gold…and the Rest…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sigh, sometimes it’s hard to have such nice things on your doorstep… but someone’s gotta do it, right?

Here is the Kiwidutch guide to one of The Netherlands best Specialist Cheese Shops:

Ed Boele’s in the Fahrenheitstraat in The Hague.

This is my final post in this virtual tour… lets just take a quick look around the rest of the shop as it was before the big 2011 renovation.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven’t been mobile enough to see the new shop yet, so that just means that as soon as I am,  I will be forced to go there so that you may have an updated version of this treasure trove of cheese.

(A blogger’s work is tough some days, I might have to buy a serious quantity of cheese there to sustain me in this task).

Here is a last look around the rest of the shop before we leave… after all no cheeseboard would be complete without a few olives,  some other yummies from the deli section and a nice bottle of port (or other delectable) to wash it down with. Yes, Ed has those on hand too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 9, 2011

Cheese Journey’s though Our Back Yard that is Europe…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yes, yet another cheesy post, taken from my archive photos as I take you on a virtual tour of one of The Netherlands best Specialist Cheese Shops: Ed Boele’s in the Fahrenheitstraat in The Hague.

We’ve been looking at the Dutch cheeses on offer, and the Bleu’s from around Europe, but there are so many more to explore in the world of European Cheese. Of course, no shop could even start to hope to stock them all, there are literally tens of thousands of European cheeses, so Ed does the next best thing: he goes looking for the best of the best.

Ed Boele makes regular trips around Europe, sampling cheeses and bringing back some of the more exquisite examples to share with his customers.

Not for nothing does he have Best Foreign Cheese Selection Awards to his name. One of the best things about both him and his shop is that not only are the contents divine but that he and his staff take the time to know all there is to know about everything they sell.

The awards they have earned over the years are based not only on a visiting  senior industry specialist jury but also by multiple random visits by mystery shopper specialists so the staff  have a good incentive to keep their knowledge up to date.

There are the artisan “Producteurs de fromages de chèvre” from the around the area of the Pyrenées, some are mild goat cheeses, other have a real kick to them.

Made in the mountains of north east France,  Munster or Munster Géromé, are the two names for one cheese.  Monks here started making it  in the 17th Century as a way of preserving the milk and to help feed the local people.

Milk comes from cows that graze the Vosgesmountains and is made into cheese by local farmers but bought to the  natural cellars at Rochesson in the Upper Vosges to mature. In the cellars it is washed and rubbed for two to four weeks during which time the rind turns a soft orange colour and the cheese becomes soft and creamy.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The cheese is still made the same way today and the recipe has little changed over the centuries. Ed Boele’s stocks “Munster Ermitage” , an award winning cheese from a company that’s been going strong now for  some 70 years.

Trappe Échourgnac is a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese produced by nuns at the “Abbaye Notre-Dame de Bonne Espérance” (Abbey of Our Lady of Good Hope) in the Dordogne area of France.

The Abbey was formerly called “Abbaye d’Echourgnac” and was inhabited by monks who made cheese here, but in 1910 when war broke out the monks left the abbey. Cistercian nuns came to the Abbey, bought with them the new name and picked up the cheese-making production where the monks had left off.

The original cheese production started in 1868, when some monks from the Abbey of ‘Port du Salut en Mayenne’ came to Échourgnac and bought with them the recipe for Port Salut cheese.

Over time the recipe was amended for local taste and has always been popular but in 1999 the nuns decided that it would also be a good idea to combine two local specialities: their cheese and a local walnut liquor, and so they did, with very successful results.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The freshly made cheese is washed in the walnut liquor during it’s two month ripening time in the Abbey’s cellars, and this in turn produces a soft, smooth, creamy mellow cheese that has a wonderful walnut after-taste.

(I like this cheese a LOT).

From Cressier near Morat in the mountains of Switzerland comes Mont Vully cheese, it’s a “different” sort of cheese made in an area that’s the heart of Emmental style cheese country, so is not of the same style at all.

This semi-hard Mont Vully cheese quickly caught the attention of cheese connoisseurs when it won a gold medal at the Käsiade in Tirol in 1998.

Adding the Swiss Cheese Champion Award for the Mont Vully Bio at the Swiss Cheese Championships in 2006 means that Mont Vully is clearly going from strength to strength.

“Le Moulis Vache ” cheese comes from the  Department of Ariège  nestled next to Andorra in the Pyrenées and is pale, semi-soft mild-but-tasty tasting cheese with a flavour all it’s own.

It’s charactorised by it’s distinctive small holes (I always think it looks like bread!) and is matured from between 10 and 12 months, an excellent addition to any cheeseboard!

“Sbronzo Caciocavallo di Bufala”‘ is the strange looking cheese in the temperature controlled cabinet…  it’s a cheese from Eboli, Italy, that’s  made from unpasteurised water-buffalo milk  and then aged slowly at precise temperatures.

As is usual with hand made cheeses, the wheels are hand turned daily but this one differs from other cheeses because it’s  also “dressed” with aromatic herbs, olive oil or vinegar or in the case of this one, grapes.

Because the  10 month ripening process for this cheese needs to happen under exact temperatures,  it’s one of the few cheeses in the shop to require a temperature controlled environment but apparently  the end result will be a crusty looking, sweet aromatic  cheese and I have no doubt that if the rest of Ed’s stock is anything to go by, that it will taste rather good too.

Of course these are not the only non-Dutch cheeses in the shop, these are just a small sample of what’s on offer to show you the benefits of having a shop that’s dedicated solely to something as delectable as cheese and a staff who know their stuff. Like any society, The Netherlands has things that annoy you and things you adore. In the case of the traditional Dutch cheese shop, I  think it’s an idea par excellence…  after all there’s sure to be something in here to suit everyone’s taste, so what’s not to love?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 8, 2011

Cheese to Cure the Blues…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m taking you on a virtual tour of one of the Netherlands best Specialist Cheese Shops: Ed Boele’s in the Fahrenheitstraat in The Hague.

This post is about a type of cheese that people either love or loathe, the Blue cheeses. For me since I’m allergic to mould, it’s simple, these cheeses are full of the stuff and not for me, but Himself is a lover of the  Bleu’s and indulges whenever he gets the chance.

Like many food variants around the world,  the first blue cheeses are said to have been derived from a serendipitous sequence of events, but the origonal  “where” it all took place remains ambiguous.

Caves have long been the natural cellars and ally of the cheese maker, temperatures remain more constant and the cool dark of the caves meant that cheeses could mature well.  Various fungi such as  Penicillium Glaucum or Penicillium Roqueforti are commonly found in caves that sport the right conditions and cheese makers found that cheeses stored in the caves to mature took on the spores of these fungi and slowly inherited the blue or green veined texture that is so prized by blue cheese lovers today.

Be they the famous (Italian) Gorgonzola,  (English) Stilton, (French) Roquefort , (Spanish) Cabrales , or (Danish) Danablu, these cheeses are soft and creamy with streaks of blue or green mould running though the cheese. These cheeses are  made from cows, goat, sheep milk or a combination of them all  and are generally strong,  both in smell and taste: often spicy, tangy with an edge that sets them apart from other cheeses.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hand made bleu’s (blue cheeses)  are still “needled”  which means they have the air injected into the cheeses by hand, the air feeds the mold that is naturally occurring in the cave and so the process begins, but factory made bleu’s  these days probably have the mold mixed directly in with the curds, to ensure an even distribution.

In most cases these famous cheeses are returned to the caves where the mold occuers to be matured and like all cheese, the longer the ageing process the better the texture and the more intense the flavour.

Today, most cheesemakers use commercially manufactured Penicillium Roqueforti cultures that are freeze-dried.

The best advice that Himself gives is that while most bleu cheese lovers instinctivly go for the “big names”  of Gorgonzola,  Stilton,  Roquefort , Cabrales , or Danablu, that if you ever have access to this kind of cheese shop that you should try a few of the  other lesser known names because there are some gems of blue cheeses to be had that are not on the ‘big name”  lists.

Since these speciality cheeses are not easily opened for tasting, asking for  a piece to try from each packet is usually not done, besides, the cheeses are soft, expensive and sold in small increments of 100 grams rather than by the kilo of their  Boerenkaas counterparts.

However, in a place like Ed Boele’s it’s usual for a few of the Bleu’s to have their own promotional tasting plate at any given time, so if you like your cheese Bleu, Himself recommends a taste test  each time you visit so that you might discover some of the ‘other’ magnificent  bleu’s on offer.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 6, 2011

Cheese can be Young, Middle Aged or Old? … Yes!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m still getting over my bronchitis,  so here are some posts I prepared earlier to keep you entertained whilst I take my coughing self back to bed.

Taken from my archive photos, here is a continuation of  a small tour through one of The Netherlands best Specialist Cheese Shops: Ed Boele’s in the Fahrenheitstraat in The Hague.

“Old” cheese is what I think is more often called “sharp’  cheese in North America. To be honest,  although people say it’s the same thing, we have tried ‘sharp’ cheese in the USA and it tasted nothing like any ‘old’ Dutch cheeses we have here.

Of course we only tried a few in the USA and Canada, so our taste test was far from in depth or comprehensive, but  now I’d like to give you the basic Kiwidutch guide to the differences between ‘young’  and ‘old’  cheeses here in the Netherlands.

First let’s talk about  ‘Graskaas‘ (literally means: grass cheese). This is the first cheese produced each spring after the cows have been  put back out to pasture for the first week of outdoor grass grazing after the long cold winter in the barns eating hay.

The change in diet affects the milk and produces the most creamy cheese of the year which is highly prized and best eaten  whilst it is fresh and young.  There’s even a Spring Cheese festival where the first wheels of  Graskaas are presented for sale, one month ripening time after making. It’s a traditional favourite but naturally due to the very nature of this cheese  it’s not around long and you have to be quick to find it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Jong” (young) cheese is usually 4 weeks old and  is a soft yellow cheese that is mild in flavour. It has a high moisture content and melts easily but gets tough and stringy if overheated. It’s the cheapest of the cheeses and is popular with children.

Jong belegen” (young mature) is cheese that has matured for eight weeks, it’s still a relatively soft yellow cheese but it’s firmer than the younger Jong and the flavour has intensified somewhat too. Still a cheap cheese since the moisture content is reasonably high.

Belegen” (mature) in the cheese world, these are the ‘middle aged” cheeses which fall into the slot between Jong and Oud  and have usually matured for 4 months. There will be starting to be some real depth in the flavour, the cheese is getting drier and less soft and the colour of the cheese is less yellow.

Extra belegen“, (extra ripe or extra mature ) These cheeses are usually around 7 months old and are the older of the middle aged cheeses. The texture is now noticeably different (drier) to the soft creamy yellows of the Jong and the flavours are stating to intensify.

Oud” (old) cheese in The Netherlands is required to be at least 10 months old and now  you will start seeing really marked differences in the appearances of the cheese. It cracks and chips into bits when sliced because there is now a lot less moisture and is now noticeably more salty. The flavours start gathering serious strength from now on, and the cheese has a definite bite.

Overjarig” (literally means “too old”) These cheeses are for the serious cheese lover, they are all over 1 year old and pack a taste punch, are saltier and are no wallflowers when it comes to  intensity of flavour. This isn’t a cheese for wimps, this flavour is knock-your-socks-off intense.  This is what I call a seriously sharp cheese.  It crumbles easily due to it’s low moisture content and an Overjarigcheese of 2-4 years can even have quite a grainy, crystalised texture. It’s the most expensive of all the cheese types because the moisture lost during the ripening process means that it’s the lightest of all the cheeses, and naturally you are paying for the extra flavour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Invariably you will also see numbers on Dutch cheeses, and not just the price numbers.

If you see “‘ 48 ” then it refers to the percentage of fat of the cheese when the cheese is made using full fat whole milk. Factory cheeses made with half fat milk are typically 30% fat and the really low fat milk will be labelled as  slank 20+ (trim) but personally, I think the latter has the taste  and texture equivalent of an elastic band.

In my humble opinion, if I’m trying to stay trim then it’s my view that even a tiny amount of a seriously good full fat cheese will satisfy my cheese cravings better than a far larger amount of  rubbery low fat substitute.

Also, one few small pointers if you are ever in a Dutch Cheese Shop… they have commercial grating machines, so if  you want a lot of really good grated cheese for cooking,  just taste and buy as usual and then ask them to grate it for you. they will cut the hard outside edge of the cheese off and it takes about a minute to grate it in their machine, an excellent  and easy time saver.

Any good Cheese shop will wrap or offer you cheese bags for your cheeses… these cheese bags look like plastic, they feel like plastic, but there is something different to them (I keep forgetting to ask what) and yes, your cheeses will stay at their best longer in a cheese bag.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ed Boele’s cheese shop also has a vacuum machine where cheeses can be vacuum packed in plastic. Stored this way they can be kept for up to six weeks without the need for refrigeration  and even posted.  (The vacuum process, per cheese is a little time consuming, so if this is an option available in your local cheese shop, going to have it done when the shop is less busy will be appreciated).

We have in the past made a very practical gift for our overseas guests who were passing by The Netherlands on their European tour, by getting a selection of small wedges of cheese vacuum packed  so that our friends can continue to enjoy them as they travel.

Our recipients have enjoyed their Dutch cheeses on trains and picnics around Europe, all they needed to do was to buy some local crusty bread and break open one of the wedges for a cheap, delicious and easy meal.

One important note though: Oud and  Overjarig  cheeses will both suffer quality loss  if vacuum packed for long… I still do it, but leave instructions that these need to be eaten first and taken out of the vacuum packing as soon as they can manage. We ask for extra cheese bags to be packed loose with these so that the cheeses can be packed into a cheese bag as soon as they come out of the vacuum plastic.

Happily  no-one has ever encountered any quality loss yet, because our cheese loving friends haven’t been at all shy to break these open first!

October 5, 2011

Let’s take a Spin and look at a Farmhouse Wheel…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Here are some more of my archive photos from one of the Netherlands best Specialist Cheese Shops: Ed Boele’s in the Fahrenheitstraat in The Hague.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there are about 600 dairy farms in The Netherlands where the milk is made into cheese on the farm itself.  This cheese is called “Boerenkaas‘ (farm cheese) and the place it is made is called ‘de kaasboerderij”  (a dairy,  but translates literally  as ‘cheese farm’)

I have inquired about the possibilitiy of being able to visit one of these farms so that I could document the process but it’s harder than it sounds due strict health and hygiene regulations that require that the general public be separated from the manufacturing process of food by glass or perspex screens and other regulations to protect the public from themselves or others around various heavy machinery.

I will endeavour to keep looking to see if it’s possible to find a Dutch dairy that will give me a tour and let me take photos, you never know I may hit the jackpot one day.

Surprisingly even though the Netherlands is not a large county and the farms are small, the cheeses made in the farmhouses vary considerably in taste. texture and quality.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Each farm has their own way of making the cheese, the recipes differ, the type of rennet used, the amount of salt, as do the methods of ageing,  the fat percentages in the milk,  the strength of the taste is often to the regional preference and even what the cows ate for breakfast yesterday makes a difference.

In general farmhouse cheeses are made with full whole fat, non-pasteurized milk  that in turn produces  a young,  a medium aged, old or very old cheese, and so if you only wanted to compare the most basic of the 200 farmhouse cheeses you would be looking at at least 5. 000 cheeses without even beginning to consider the goat milk, sheep milk and other varieties.

Ed told me that he visits  farmhouses all over the Netherlands and tastes the cheeses for himself.  Slowly over the years he has built up a selection of some 20-30 favourites, and there are usually at least 20 of these in the selection of  “farmhouse cheeses” in his shop at any one time.

We can attest we, like his other customers agree with his selection: there is always a queue for these cheeses and little plates with cut cubes for tasting are popular. Not that it would matter if there was no little plate… it’s standard practice in The Netherlands to ask to taste these cheeses before buying, they will expertly slice off a sliver of cheese with a cheese-knife and you may compare several before  making  choice.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A word of warning to the newbie cheese taster: It’s  entirely possible to taste so many fantastic cheeses that you end up exiting the shop with three or four of the  five cheeses you tasted instead of just the one you intended to buy.

More than once in the past after a cheese shop dalliance  have Himself and I ditched the evenings planned meat and salad menu and instead bought some crusty bread,  pâté, crackers, cherry tomatoes on the vine and settled down on the sofa that evening with our decadent cheeseboard dinner.

At the farmhouse the cheeses are put into  round wooden forms that are called  “wheels”  and are made into these flat rounds because this shape ensures that  the ageing process is nice and even throughout the cheese.  All hand made cheeses are turned regularly so that the moisture inside evaporates evenly as possible as the cheese matures.

The shop also sells a few of the 15 Dutch factory made cheeses,  which are generally made from pasteurized, skimmed milk  instead of the unpasteurized full milk of the  Boerenkaas  and often has a higher salt content.

Factory cheeses have the bonus of  being cheaper and melting at more consistent temperatures, useful in the food industry and in cooking.  There’s a factory cheese called  Cantenaaer that Himself and I think rivals the handmade cheeses for taste, so it’s not necessarily about first or second rate quality, they are just different and  there is plenty of room for both.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 4, 2011

The Dutch Kaaswinkel …Smile and Say “Cheese!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Himself and I have grand ideas and dreams of living back in New Zealand when we retire. We like the idea of a more relaxed lifestyle in a smaller city or town and a lot more space. Who knows what life will bring and if we will ever get there, but if we do, then there is is a list of typically Dutch things I will certainly painfully  miss.

Near the top of this list will be some of the fabulous speciality cheese shops.  You’ll find a kaaswinkel  (cheese shop) in most  neighbourhoods and they are well used because  Dutch families have grow up with ready access and a plentiful supply of cheese… … and not content with a large cheese section of the supermarkets, the Dutch therefore expect not just average cheeses, but brilliant cheeses.

Cheeses to choose from come from approximately 200 dairy farms in the Netherlands who keep cows and make their own farmhouse cheeses on site,  plus the added bonus of having  the  “back yard called Europe”  with each members countries amazing specialist cheeses too.

Even the boring common garden supermarket can give me a selection of  seven or eight feta cheeses, all Greek, all different, all good (and cheap!)

Not all Specialist cheese shops are created equal…  good ones there are aplenty, but great ones have customers who come from further afield just to stock up on wares that are not just good, but divine. This is why I’m taking you on a photo tour of  one of the Hague’s best Specialist cheese shops.

Located at Fahrenheitstraat 625,  owner Ed Boele has built up an amazing range of cheeses.  I talked to him and his staff last year and took photos in the shop… and if you think it looks fabulous in these photos I have to warn you that he had recently had the entire shop refitted and everyone who’s been says that it’s now even better.

Sadly my lack of mobility has prevented me from seeing the new shop yet for myself,  but I will get there eventually. In the meantime let’s take a look around at various parts of  the old version of Ed’s shop and smile as we say “cheese!””.

Fahrenheitstraat 625    /   2561 DC DEN HAAG   /   Tel.: 070 – 3631819     /    http://www.kaasspeciaalzaak.nl/

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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