The elation that comes before a meal that you know will challenge and expand and stretch and regale your taste buds = exactly what I felt last friday afternoon. On a break from 3 weeks of work and in a mood to burn money on things that float my very own boat, I put together a cheese feast with some coworkers. We picked up 7 varieties, of which I will write about not Taleggio, Morbier, or Saint Nectaire. The biggest pity is that my iPhone with pictures of all these albuminous protein chunks from the Netherlands, France, Spain, and wisconsin was lost to the Salish Sea, so the only fruit for the brain buds will be concise descriptions of what I savoured.
First was the Pave de Jadis, an ash-covered chèvre from the Pays de la Loire. It was weeping moisture in the way only the heat of 5 PM in late july can coax out of a tranche of cheese. It had a slow to come on, rather fuzzy way of conveying citrus, mild dairy, and mellow grasses.
Second was the Garrotxa, a Catalonian aged goat’s cheese. Funky and bleu-chestnut rind colored with fishy tasties in my olfactory part influencing the chalky earth salt taste. A little mold funk made me think that this cheese is confused but in a “share my delirium” sort of engaging way.
Third was the Ballerina, by far the most expensive of our cheeses. It is an aged gouda that has a wonderful dark amber interior and translucent cheese crystals. I am not sure how long the affinage process lasted but I would venture somewhere in between 15-27 months (big range I know). It seemed like a wonderful vessel that someone poured delightful essence of garlic, molasses, salt, and roasted shrooms. The range and developing flavas was just so exciting and I highly recommend this cheese and other friends who like to talk about what they taste for a good time.
Last was Honeybee, another aged gouda. Somehow the sweetness and citrus of a teriyaki chicken skewer were the very first analogies I could find. This cheese finished with such a fun creamy nut sweetness that would have been both a muted dandelion yellow and earthy violet were they to be colors instead of (or in addition to) tastes.
These cheeses were fun to eat. We spent $70 on cheese (and sancerre) and I can’t think of a more amusing way I have spent my money in months.
Working as a counselor at a french camp in the middle of an ocean may seem like a milieu full of cheese tasting opportunities but I say FALSE and that such opportunities are few and far between. Consequently I have been occupado by entertaining and disciplining children for the last 5 weeks and naht making/writing about/eating cheese except for my glimmery glorious 36-hour vacations. A plus of working at a french summer camp is that half our staff comes from France aka people who will appreciate my efforts of throwing together a cheese pl8 from the slim pickings of the island grocery store. Last last weekend I had the fun pleasure of sneaking cheese back to the island in my backypack and laying out a cheese course for the staff.
First cheese to see the light of day was a variation of Port Townsend Creamery’s Seastack, the equally tangy and imo more curious Trufflestack.
Here we have it all nicely wrapped up, completely unodorous and giving no hints of the velvet storm ahead of us. Voilà deplasticked, all mottily white and bloomy rinded. Even sniffs here only have a mild ammonia and waxy mystery.
I cut into the ver pliable croûte and wedged a morceau of cleanly dry, ivory pâte into my bouche. The tangy and gauzy moist was cousined the entire time with a round, super sympa truffle dynamism. As someone who gets through college by adding white truffle oil to his easy mac on those desperate nights, this truffastack makes my go-to repertoire like so for sure. Bless the land for Port Townsend Creamery and their godsend of a dairy product.
The other cheese on the plate the night was a nice double cream gouda, something buttery and nutty sharp for the other chilluns in the house. By the time we ate it in the evening, it had been sitting out for a couple of hours and had started to sweat and the mellow flavors were out to party.
Watching ratatouille while writing this post = my brain wants to convey the joy of taste and thinks that pixar should open a restaurant. I also apologize for how big these pictures are… I’m not an html expert haha
This week has been travel vacation tyme with the first half in Brussels/Bruges and these last couple of days in Amsterdam. I/we were too busy with gaufres and frites to really pay attention to buying cheese EXCEPT the one day we had sharp white cheddar (which we should really be calling cheddar and what we call cheddar should be called orange cheddar but I digress) for apéro and lemme tell you what a taste of home that was! Sharp, crumbly, a little oily; I would say just about as good as cougar gold and maybe 1/5th the price because it doesn’t come from the wsu creamery.
So then we were in Amsterdam which = Holland = the Netherlands = dutch people live there = gouda is dutch = there is good cheese in the Netherlands. Curiously enough, In the supermarket (Alfred heijn) the cheese was rather uniform in that not the different textures/colors/smells/sizes of the cheese in france but lots of rounds and hard cheeses. Initial hypothesis is that the dutch prefer not terribly strong/smelly cheeses and I think tis correct. Most of the cheese was medium or medium-hard and had eyes the size of swiss at the largest. The first day we bought sliced geiten kaas belegen 50 aka 16 week ripened goat cheese (50% fat i think) and it was so choquant because here we had something that is usually from a vache but now in the netherlands comes in goat variety! It had that goaty dairy taste but also provolone (actually better) texture and a little cheddary bite. Really exciting stuff, I could nom HAM on this if we made a sandwich with multigrain bread and apricot preserves and BACON or prosciutto. Also the cheese was ghost white (and a little jaunatre on the edges) and that was striking visually and psychologically. Final love note is that this geitenkaas falls under the umbrella of gouda = like all the normal cheese here is gouda = i wish all the normal cheese in america was goudaaaaaaa
Then next cheese was kinda more of the same, this time not goat cheese but just regz gouda. Buttery, a liddle nutty but still tangy good, and suuuuuuch a smooooth tezzzzzture. We bought a presliced pack and it was gone in one night like dès que possible. It was gouda, I love gouda, happy to have introduced my life to gouda. Cheese doesn’t seem to be as much of a staple here as in France but I think there are several reasons for that. The first is that there are soooo many ethnic groups here in Amsterdam that the pure dutch influence is more dilute than in France, which has superstrate influence of french and substrate influence of french and then iddle biddle substrate influence of kebabs. In sum, the french abide by their cheese and bread and wine because thats what their ancestors have done forever and here in the Netherlands there are more options to sample ancestral choices. Well played Europe.
AND THEN pièce de resistance = KAAS SOUFFLÉWhat this is…. In the Netherlands (maybe just amsterdam? But I think this exists in Japan too) there are snack bars and then the uber snack bars where you put money in these quasi-vending machines and boom pops open a silver door and your chosen victual is there on a plate. This time we were at Febo which is one of the biggest snack bar competitors and I chose the kaas soufflé aka = as my friend put it, fried alfredo sauce. This could honestly be marketed as fried alfredo sauce. Which is alarming for my heart and developing tachycardia (lol joke) but sooo good for the soul. 2 pieces of pastry dough and inside a coupla slices of good old kaas all creamed and fried and hawt. 1.60 euros, not too bad for something that you write about later on your blog. Alors in conclusion, there is no dearth of cheese in the Netherlands as I had not actually feared before!