The Lady was thrilled this week when three varieties of Beemster Cheese arrived at her Kiosk: the twenty-six month aged “XO”; the sublime “Vlaskass” and the delightful mustard-seeded “Mustard Seed”.
All three became the centerpiece of the Gouda section of her Kiosk.
(Note they are sitting next to The Lady’s most-favored cheese, Rembrandt, another cheese from Holland… I see a pattern beginning…)
The Beemster cheeseshave quite a history, as does the polder where the cows graze that produce the milk for this family of cheeses.
In the Nineth Century this area was covered in peat. Its inhabitants would dig the peat for fuel to warm their homes; and as is common with humankind…they were greedy; they dug too much peat, which caused the land to be flooded and returned to the sea…fast forward to the early 1600s.
Humankind, not to be outdone by nature (imagine that kind of attitude…), learned to build dykes and with the aid of windmills, reclaimed the land and ta da…the Beemster Polder was created. The land was returned to the humankind and the bovine of Northern Holland. The humankind began to make cheese from the milk from their beloved bovine friends. And a fine cheese it was.
Overtime, the farmers banned together and formed the Beemster co-op and began producing extraordinary cheeses from the milk that tasted of the blue sea clay where the grass grew that the cows ate. You might recall The Lady wrote about terroir and the Beemster Cheeses are the quintessential poster cheese of how terroir does make cheese better and different.
The Beemster co-op was pleasantly surprised to discover that traders in the early nineteenth century were willing to pay a premium for their milk and cheese. Eventually the Royal Court of The Netherlands asked the co-op to provide cheese to the Royal Family; indeed, an honor.
Today in addition to making wonderful cheese, the co-op is also the exclusive provider of milk for the Ben and Jerry Ice Cream European Division (and you all know how picky those two guys are…).
A bit of Beemster trivia: The grid pattern of the Beemster Polder was the pattern used to lay out the street pattern of Manhattan when the Dutch landed on the Island…who knew…
Now for the good stuff. The Lady brought home Petite Morsels of all three of the Beemster cheeses for The Man and her favorite Feline Foodie (that would be me) to try…it’s nice to live with The Lady…
(My thanks to the Beemster website(be sure you visit; it really is a treat) for providing much of the information about the cheeses and and the co-op. The thoughts regarding the cheeses themselves are my own…
Beemster Xo – Aged Twenty-Six Months
Matured for a minimum of 26 months
Flavors of Butterscotch, Whiskey and Pecan
Long lasting taste
Deep golden color
This cheese starts out smooth but the bite is amazing. All of a sudden, your mouth explodes as the taste of whiskey grabs your tastebuds and throws them against the roof of your mouth. It’s a taste you won’t soon forget…and you’ll find yourself sitting outside the fridge door praying The Lady (or The Man) will come along and take pity on you…and just so you know, it doesn’t help your case to be waiting with a recently deceased, but still warm Sciurus griseuslaying in front of your feet…try convincing The Lady that it’s a gift…sheesh…not buying it…but I digress…
Beemster Mustard Seed
Beemster with Mustard is a unique cheese with robust flavour. This cheese is sure to pleasantly surprise any audience. Beemster with Mustard Seed is a superb addition to hamburgers on the grill or any dish where the added texture of the mustard seeds can be appreciated. With some English Cheddars that include mustard seeds, the mustard taste overpowers the cheese. Not with Beemster; the balance is just about perfect. The cheese is sweet and creamy and the mustard seeds blend very well.
Beemster Vlaskaas is the newest addition to Beemster’s line of Premium Gourmet Dutch Cheeses; however, it is the oldest cheese recipe of the group. When translated Vlaskaas mean Flax cheese. Back in the day, this cheese was made during the harvest festival of the flax for the workers to eat on thick slices of bread while they worked and celebrated. Over time, the festival ceased to exist and with it this cheese was also lost.
In 2004 the harvest festival celebration was recreated as a community event. While digging through archives for information on the exact way to recreate the harvest festival the recipe for Vlaskaas was discovered. It was soon decided that after generations of rest it was time for Vlaskaas to live again!
Renowned for the best milk quality in The Netherlands, Beemster was asked to make the Vlaskaas recipe. The result was spectacular! Vlaskaas became the centrepiece of the entire harvest festival. With much encouragement Beemster decided to enter Vlaskaas in the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Competition, which is regarded as the most fierce cheese competition in the world. Vlaskaas took home a Gold Medal in its category and 3rd place in the overall competition!
Of the three, Vlaskaas is my favorite. It is sweet and creamy like the Mustard Seed, and you can taste the blue sea clay in this cheese as well – terroir strikes again…
I give the Family of Beemster Cheeses 4 out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got) and an enthusiastic tail wagging to make sure you understand how truly remarkable these cheeses are…
Serving Suggestions: These cheeses can all be used as table cheeses to be enjoyed on a thick slice of Artisan Bread or with grapes and pears. The XO can be grated and used as a substitue for Parmigiano-Reggiano on risotto and pastas.
Wine pairings: XO should be enjoyed with a Port or a robust red. Vlaskaas goes well with Beaujolais and Mustard Seed pairs with Pinot Grigio.
Beer Pairings: Belgium Beers.
Awards: Vlaskaas – Gold Medal 2006 – Wisconsin Cheese Competition.