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The Dutch cheese platter for every meal

It is right beside the old Dutch chimney. A Dutch cheese platter that looks like a piece of art. Served on a firm wooden board is a good chunk of matured Dutch farmer’s cheese with amazingly beautiful holes and the thick marks of the grater. Fluffy coarse shreds of cheese spilled out of the shiny cheese grater next to the enlightened cheese. Is this Holland’s cheese  heaven?

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Cycling to a Gouda cheese farm on a Saturday

Start at the Gouda cheese market and go in any direction for about 25 km (15 miles). This is the region where the Gouda cheese is produced. Today we’re cycling to a Gouda cheese farm in the village of Bodegraven for a proper tour.  We begin at the cheese market of another Rhine village. Read more

Here They Take Dutch Cheese Tasting To Another Level

There are doors on each floor and in the gable roof there’s a little kink.  Architectural experts would call this a mansard roof. The house is similar to many other houses in Woerden and in the region. To be honest, if you wouldn’t know what is in there you wouldn’t even enter the street it is in. Fortunately I did know what the building was and still is used for, although I could not have imagined what I was about to see.

Reypenaer historical Dutch cheese warehouse Woerden, the Netherlands
Reypenaer historical Dutch cheese warehouse Woerden, the Netherlands

Golden Suns on Shelves

When you enter the building and the door is closed behind you, you’re surrounded by darkness and the only thing you see are hundreds of golden suns shining on shelves as far as the eye can see. It’s like you just walked into a bank’s huge safe where all the gold is kept. A spectacular sight and a tingling feeling. The kind of feeling you get when you experience something special. You realise you just found a place few people know about. A hidden treasure in Woerden.

Security bars in the cheese warehouse

In this cheese warehouse, where for over a century Reypenaer matures its cheeses there is a track on the ground floor in between the rows.In this magical place you can easily imagine carriages riding on this track to carry the cheeses to the ships or horse-drawn wagons. In the windows are security bars. Why? Would be happy to tell you in the City & Cheese Tour Woerden. The many doors and windows are used for ventilation, but there’s something else that is part of an ingenious system of climate control. Small hatches in the second floor help circulate the air. Moreover, they provide a fantastic glimpse to the other rows full of golden cheeses upstairs.

Hatches in the floor for ventilation cheese warehouse
Hatches in the floor for ventilation cheese warehouse

How much dutch cheese can you taste?

Before you go upstairs, better weigh yourself on the large weighing scale. On the second floor, hidden from view is a beautiful room where the not so small cheese tastings are done. Each piece of cheese is presented on a cutting board with a very special instrument amusingly called: guillotine. You slice off a piece of cheese, let it melt on your tongue and then sip a bit of the red or white wine or the port. Depending on which cheese you’re tasting of course.

After having tasted the different cheeses with the wine and port, you have to find your way back to the entrance of the Reypenaer cheese warehouse. Be aware of the hatches in the floor, if you fall through the hole and land on top of a cheese, this has severe consequences to the maturing process and taste of the Dutch golden treat.

The Guillotine at an old Dutch cheese tasting
The Guillotine at an old Dutch cheese tasting

There is much more to see, hear, feel, taste in the Reypenaer cheese warehouse and in Woerden. I would therefore like to invite you to join the City & Cheese Tour Woerden, a full all senses experience.

Daytrip Amsterdam Woerden

Woerden, known as the capital of the green heart, is in the midst of the Dutch countryside and is perfect for a daytrip from Amsterdam, the train from the capital takes about 30 min. The city is also easily reachable with train from Utrecht, Leiden and other cities in the Randstad such as The Hague and Rotterdam.

 

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Age does Matter: The 7 types of Cheese Gouda

Christian, a German friend of mine absolutely adores the Gouda Cheese. When I visit him in the morning, he offers me these little sandwiches with cheese. In the afternoon, there are cheese straws and mini kaassouflés with a glass of wine or beer. Dinners start and end with a big cheese platter with some mustard on the side and if he’s in a real good mood he’ll prepare a Gouda Cheese fondue.

Getting Used to 7 Age Types of Cheese Gouda

Cheese market Gouda-veritasvisit
Cheese farmers from the region come to the Cheese Capital to sell their different types of Cheese Gouda.

He told me he has not always been a fan of Gouda cheese or cheese in general. He came across this video on internet. It inspired him to visit Holland and find out more about cheese.  It was only after this trip to Gouda region that he started appreciating cheese.

In the Dutch supermarket, in the small cheese shops and on the open air market he saw all these varieties of cheese, but didn’t really understand the difference between them. On the Thursday cheese market in Gouda Cheese Capital  he approached a cheese seller. Christian asked him where all this cheese that he saw here was produced.  The seller smiled an enigmatic smile and handed him a note. On the note were a couple of addresses in the area of Gouda. Curious to find out where it would lead to, Christian rented a bike and made a round past a couple of cheese farms. In one he did a cheese tasting and here he learned a few things about the  7 age types of Gouda cheese that he was eager to share with me.

Young and light: Graskaas

Graskaas is one of the lightest and smoother Gouda cheeses. It is made of the first milk the cows give when they’re back grazing in the fields after a long winter. Shortly after the production the cheese can already be consumed. There are people who are quite fanatic about this type of cheese. In an article by the Dutch newspaper AD it is said that for some, graskaas is even a bit like the Hollandse Nieuwe, the Dutch new herring. They can’t wait to try the graskaas of the new season.

Young or Slightly matured Gouda

The young Cheese, jonge kaas, is a cheese that has ripened around 4 weeks. If you want to buy this cheese, look out for a red, yellow or orange wax rind. The young Gouda is a soft cheese with a mild, light nutty taste. Sometimes the cheese farmers mix spices in them. Cumin cheese is quite a popular cheese.

The Young matured, jong belegen,  has an age of 8 to 10 week, the matured, belegen, an age of 16 to 18 weeks.

All these younger cheeses can be nicely cut with a slicer.

Age in Cheese; It Does Matter

Just like wine, cheese gets a more powerful taste when it’s older. In other words, age does matter. The longer it has ripened, the more distinctive the taste becomes. The cheese itself becomes harder, saltier and more crumbly. It has a golden interior. Some say they taste fruity or remind them of caramel. Older cheeses  cut in cubes and presented on a platter together with a bit of mustard are lovely. Red wines and dark beers go great with older cheeses.

Old Gouda Cheese

Cheese making-veritasvisit
Small scale cheese making is demonstrated in the cheese market in Gouda. But, isn’t it more interesting to see the real thing on a cheese farm?

A cheese is called old after 6 months of ripening. There’s an  extra matured, extra belegen of 7 to 8 months, an aged cheese, oude kaas of 10-12 months and the very old cheese, overjarig, of 1 year and older. You can recognise an older cheese by its black wax coating.

Cheese Tasting & Cheese Farm Cycle Tour

After Christian’s explanation I’m eager to find out if I’m able to distinguish the all the 7 age types of cheese Gouda. And you?

In July and August  Verita’s Visit organises cycle tours in Gouda region. We visit different cheese farms in the countryside, do a cheese tasting and if you want, we can even make our on cheese. Check out the Gouda Cheese Farm Cycle Tour.