Local Heart, Global Soul

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!

April 6, 2011

Beer …Travels from The Netherlands to Paramaribo and Back!

Filed under: Beer,Reviews — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For today’s Beer tasting we have temporarily lost a few members of our usual  group and temporarily gained a new one.

As usual as the non-beer drinking member of the group I’m doing the write ups of the reviews and everyone is being very accommodating as meetings are being held at our place whilst I am less mobile.

“Trio Brouwerij”,  Extra Stout

33cl/330ml

Vol.Alc. 7.2%

Cat.S.

Imported by- Geïmporteered Door: Pacific Trading Co.Ltd. P.O.Box 1009 Paramaribo, Suriname. Phone+597-487777

Brewed and bottled in the E.U. Under licence of and distributed by: Gebrouwen en afgevuld in de E.U. onder licentie van en gedistribueerd door: Trio Brouwerij, Ceresstraat 1 – 4811CA – Breda, Holland.

Ingredients: water, barley malt, maize. hops. /Ingrediënten: water, gerstemout, maïs, hop.

There is a quirky history that goes with this beer. Now, you know I like Quirky.

The “Trio Brouwerij” used to be a very well known and established brewery in The Netherlands,  and it did so well that it eventually exported it’s beer to Suriname  (Dutch Colony in South America).

In Suriname it grew so popular that it ended up being made under license in Paramaribo.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Meanwhile  beer drinking fashion in the Netherlands changed, resulting in a change of fortunes for the parent Dutch company, which did not survive the dip and went bust.

Now the pendulum of time has swung back and things have come full circle as the Suriname brewery is currently exporting  this beer back into The Netherlands.

In the laid back Suriname style, the bottle is not the least bit fancy, in fact it’s so undistinguished that Himself mistook it for a cheap supermarket beer that would surely be of no decent quality at all,  so this purchase was a bit of a gamble. So, was he right?

Reviews:

Himself:  “I really like this beer, I was very surprised to find it and didn’t have high expectations when I chose it because bottle looks like cheap supermarket, but don’t judge a book or a beer by it’s cover!” ( he also notes) ” This beer is  only available at the ABC Brewery beer shop  in The Hague.(Rating=8.5)”

Andrew: It’s really tasty, has a lovely colour:  pitch black , I like different textures and beer is all the same texture so colour for me is important. Lot of burnt notes on the  smell but not in the taste , very full body. (Rating = 8)”

Friedel:I liked it, not as much as some of the other beers we have tasted because it’s not as full bodied, still liked it (Rating = 7)”

Evan: “ I would have more than one glass of this, it’s fantastic, good smell, really good after-taste so you don’t have to drink it very fast. (Rating = 9)”

Alicia: “Tasty,  it seems stronger than some of the other ones we have tried, but not overpowering,  I wouldn’t  want more than one glass (Rating = 8)”

Frank: ” Does this beer come from Belgium? this beer is getting better and better all the time. (Rating = 8)”

(Note: the  second photo shows the detail of the label better, but  the light wasn’t good, and it isn’t the actual colour of the real label. The following photo shows better how the label looks).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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