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2 Year Gouda

Amsterdam is a city where cheese is king and the kind of cheeses is Gouda. While I was out getting slightly lost in the city (all those canals!), my fellow fromage fanatique ran into the Kassland cheese shop, one of the better know in Amsterdam. It has a staggering 280 varieties of cheese.

Gouda is a cheese with many personalities. When young, it's slightly creamy, easy to slice, and somewhat sweet in taste. But as it ages it turns into something completely different.

At 2 ½ years old, Gouda becomes darker, harder, sweeter, and has an almost butterscotch flavor. The cheese is also spotted with little white crystals. These crunchy bits of cheese protein are pure sugary goodness. This is one of our favorites. We were also lucky to find a 6 year old Gouda, something I had not seen before. It's similar to the 2 ½ year old, but even more intense. A very hard cheese and chock full o' crystals, it looks somewhat like a very dark Parmesan Reggiano, and I suppose it could be used in the same way. We ate it plain. It was that good.

posted by KRASK  October 20, 2008 14:55  Monday Cheese  comments (0)

AUGUST, 2008

 Goat Cheese

Goat Cheese

Brussels has many outdoor markets. Most communes will have a farmers' market weekly and some even more frequently. Every day of the week you can find several open somewhere in the city. They sell everything you'd imagine would come from a farm such as fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat, seafood, cheese, bread, olives, flowers, etc. The larger markets also have a wide variety of clothing, plants, electronics and other goods, all at really good prices. And flea markets. There are no garage sales but lots of flea markets.

Back in May we ran across a small market at St. Lambert. There, a local goat farmer was selling milk and cheese. We bought a soft goat cheese with a bruschetta type coating. Wow, this was very fresh and tasty. They had about a dozen other cheeses like this, each with a different coating.

Much to my surprise they also had a blue goat cheese. This cheese was white in color and had so few blue spots that I almost missed it. The blue flavor was faint but still quite tasty. A cheese maker once told me that it was very difficult to make blue and non-blue cheese in the same facility, as they all tended to turn blue. This farmer didn't seem to have a problem though.

posted by KRASK  August 04, 2008 12:58  Monday Cheese  comments (1)

JULY, 2008

 Swedish Blues

Skärvången and Brostorp

Sweden has a lot of cheese. They, along with the other Scandinavian countries, account for half of all European cheese exported to the US. Much of this cheese is mild, which is ok for sandwiches, but otherwise not all that interesting.

In a market in Göteborg I was happy to find two blue cheeses made by artisan cheese makers. The first is Blå-Ädel, made by Skärvångens Bymejeri, a small diary farm and cheese maker run by all of 22 people. This cheese was creamy and very tasty. The rind was a bit spicy in a bad way, so we cut that off before eating the rest.

Skärvången also makes a cheese called Surströmmingsosten (soured herring cheese). Surströmming is herring that is fermented in barrels, then canned. As the tinned herring continues to ferment, the cans bulge. That's how you know it's ready. The herring has a very strong taste, an even stronger smell, and many people do not like it. The cheese itself contains just 14% surströmming so the taste should be much milder. I hope to try it the next time I visit.

Brostorps Ostar Blåmögel was slightly larger and a firmer cheese than the Blå-Ädel. It had a somewhat milder blue flavor, and was firm enough to slice easily. They also make a soft cheese called Vitmögelosten Josefine.

posted by KRASK  July 28, 2008 11:06  Monday Cheese  comments (3)


Camembert D'Isigny

Napoleon ate it every day. French troops received it as a daily ration during WWI.
It's been made since the late 18th century but may not survive in its original form.

Camembert, the cheese that unites France, has traditionally been made from raw, unpasteurized milk in Normandy. Many countries, like the US, have completely outlawed young, unpasteurized cheese so authentic Camembert cannot be found. Even in France, multi-national corporations make pasteurized Camembert claiming that traditional methods are too complicated and costly. Some producers micro-filter their milk before being made into cheese and even Isigny Saint-Mére has sought to change the rules as to what constitutes a real Camembert de Normandi.

There are only five producers of unpasteurized, unfiltered, Camembert left in France, and of those, only one is in the city of Camembert itself.

Is there really a difference in taste between raw and processed? Some claim you can tell what the cows have been feeding on in different times of the year by the taste of the cheese. Others find little difference. I sure don't know.

I've yet to find Camembert de Normandi, but I did get a micro-filtered Camembert from Isigny Saint-Mére, a cooperative that has been in business since the 1930's. Despite being filtered, it was quite good, with a somewhat nutty flavor and a tangy finish. I'd buy it again, but I'm still looking for the real thing.

posted by KRASK  July 10, 2008 16:07  Monday Cheese  comments (0)

JUNE, 2008

 Basiron Pesto 50+

Browsing through the neighborhood grocery store as I often do when in the need of food, I spotted a bright green cheese that looked like it had gone terribly wrong. Not wrong-right as in 4" mold hairs growing on it, but wrong-wrong as in toxic chemical reaction or an overdose of FD&C Green No. 3. Turns out it was pesto cheese. It's firm, easy to slice like cheddar, and really did taste like pesto. It would probably be great in a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato.

posted by KRASK  June 30, 2008 16:15  Monday Cheese  comments (2)

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