If you’re not a fan of cheese, then you simply don’t belong in Holland. The Dutch treat cheese making as a very honorable profession. Gouda, Edam, Old Amsterdam – perhaps you recognize some of these cheeses?
The city center hosts a handful of small cheese shops. They all entice tourists inside with bowls and bowls of free samples and an array of mustards and sauces to accompany them. Heaven. We spend a good chuck of time one evening cheese-store hopping, savoring, comparing, pretending to be interesting in purchasing, and then making our escape. As much as we’d love to buy them all, our super-super-budget airline luggage restrictions limited our purchasing capabilities.
Most notably, we went cheese tasting. Reypenaer is a Dutch company producing natural, artisan cheeses. They have a storefront in Amsterdam and in the basement there’s a tasting room, reserved for our lovely and eager bellys Saturday at noon. With 6 samples of cheeses (old goat, new goat, and four cows milk cheese in varying ages) our guide, the son of one of the company’s founders lead us through our tastings, pouring us good wines (and port) perfectly paired for the cheeses.
We sliced the cheese liberally and went through methodically describing the color, smell, taste, texture, and characteristics of each as we learned about the process of cheese-making and the chemical composition and processes that occur as cheeses age. We had to rate each one. Sunny clearly had the most refined palate, giving every cheese a 10 out of 10 except for one 11.
It was a fantastic experience and a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Amsterdam!
My favorite was the 1 year old (old) goat milk cheese. “Chèvre gris” – or “grey goat” – if you must know.