As many of you may know, I spend quite a bit of time at Blue Haven Bee Company in nearby Canon. In addition to their tasty line of honey, they have a wine bar offering handcrafted mead, local and imported wines plus craft beers. Andrew, one of the owners, is a potter and his pottery is on display and available for sale; as is their line of soaps and lotions made with honey. Every time I visit, I bring cheese and Blue Haven provides the mead, wine and honey. Pop-up tasting and a Win-win…
On a recent visit, I brought along wedges from one of my favorite Dutch Cheesemakers Cooperative, Beemster. Back in the day, when I was the Cheesemonger at the Hawthorne Fred Meyer (which later became a Murray’s Cheese Shop), I had the honor of being the first Cheese Shop in the Kroger chain to procure whole wheels of Beemster for cutting and wrapping. I remember one of my rival mongers (who didn’t have Beemster) was apoplectic when she saw my display; jealousy will do that… nothing like Cheese Envy… woot, woot…
But I digress…
My dear friend Denise, from my Murray’s days, now works for Atalanta, the US Beemster distributor. She sent me a cheese care package which included the new Paradiso Reserve, a Beemster’s Gouda with added parm cultures to create as Sean Reilly would say, “a party in your mouth”. She also included wedges of Vlaskaas and Classic Beemster.
We began our tasting with Vlaskaas, which translated means “flax cheese”. Traditionally made only during flax harvest, this cheese’s recipe was lost over time and re-discovered in 2004. It is a nutty (think almond), creamy, mellow cheese with a sweet finish. We paired it with Southern Origin’s Wildflower Mead and the pairing worked well. The drier mead and the sweeter cheese complemented each other. We also had some Strawberry Preserves from Kelly’s Jelly and the strawberry brought another tasty layer of sweetness.
Next on the board was Beemster Classic which is aged longer and with age comes tyrosine crystals, the little flavor bombs scattered throughout the paste. In fancy talk they are proteins that have converted into amino acids during the aging process but “flavor bombs” works for me. The Classic is buttery with a robust nutty finish. Pairing it with a Malbec creates a satisfying pairing.
I saved the Paradiso Reserve for last. It is the latest cheese created by the Beemster Cooperative and is advertised as an “Italian-style” cheese. It is aged in Gouda moulds and to me it tastes like the love child from the marriage of a fine Gouda and a fine Parmesan. This cheese is firm, filled with tyrosine crystals, robust and nutty with a savory finish. While it makes an excellent snacking cheese, this is a cheese that I would use to create a new spin on Alfredo Sauce. Of the three, it was everyone’s’ favorite – although it was close.
We used 34 Degrees Sesame Crisps as the vessel of choice to get the cheese to our palates.
Mac n Cheese note: I used the three Goudas to create the cheese sauce for a recent mac n cheese dinner. To make the sauce even creamier, I folded in some Double Devon Cream… oh my…Topped with Parmigiano Reggiano, The Man pronounced it a success while he swooned.
Save the date: February 24th – One Day Beekeeping Short Course hosted by Lake Hartwell Beekeepers Association. Details here.
** FTC Disclaimer: While the products reviewed here were all sent to me as samples, no pro quid quo requested nor offered. You may visit my About Me page for details regarding my sample policy.