Local Heart, Global Soul

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)

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