Producer: De Grote Voort
Where: Lunteren, the Netherlands
We spent last Christmas in the Netherlands and part of the Christmas Eve ohmygoodnessIatetoomuch dinner was a cheese plate. Christine’s only demand was that there would be a camembert au lait cru; otherwise, I though it a splendid idea to have only Dutch cheeses. I picked up an order from l’Amuse, a very well-established cheese monger in Amsterdam; highly recommended if you are ever in the city and you are tired of the Rijksmuseum, the van Gogh and the touristy cheese places in the canal belt. L’Amuse is a few tram stops away, and my trek out there was rewarded with a splendid suggestion from the gentleman I corresponded with: don’t take the hangkaas, take the Remeker instead. The prille Remeker became everyone’s favorite cheese (the blue goat cheese from Drenthe was somewhat of a bomb). So when I had the chance, I visited mother Ouendag, drove about 30 minutes through the drab countryside to visit the farm of Irene and Dirk-Jan van de Voort.
They keep a herd of Jersey cows, and go about making raw milk cheese with an incredible zeal. Irene wrote a book and in it you can read about a family hovering between passion and obsession about making the best dang cheese you can image. And, by golly, I do not believe Dutch cheese ever tasted so good. I got a piece of ‘pril’ – 3 months old; a piece of ‘ryp’ (8-9 months); and a piece of Olde Remeker, which has ripened 13 months. All three of them were absolutely worth the trip. They’re creamy, extremely flavorful, salty but not too salty, complex, and the taste stays with you for a while. When I took my leave from mom, I left some Remeker for her, brought some for Molly, who had to endure the craziness of the hunt for cheese #3, and a nice chunk of ryp for the family. ‘t was a sad day when that Remeker ran out, but I will be back there for more. The bread and the gooseberry-elderberry blossom jam I picked up there were also to die for.