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The Dutch have been making cheese since 200 B.C, and there is historical evidence to prove it. The Roman emperor Julius Caesar already mentions them in his military diaries of the time. Dutch cheeses are known outside the country since the Middle Ages and today they are the most exported cheeses in the world. It is an industry that generates more than 8 billion dollars annually. Review our selections of Irish cheeses, Belgian cheeses, British cheeses, Italian cheeses, Spanish cheeses, and French cheeses.
Gouda and Edam are among the best known, but in Holland creative and dedicated farmers also produce other delicious and memorable cheeses. Let us introduce you to the Schapenkass Texel, the Wilde Weide, or Terschelling Schapenkass, surprising and delightful even for the most discerning palates.
This exceptional cheese made from sheep’s milk comes from the Wadden Islands of North Holland. A rustic and fragrant cheese, semi-hard and with a persistent flavor, it has a natural rind and dark yellow paste with some eyes. It is available in wheels that weigh between 8 and 10 lbs. With a vibrant flavor and spicy notes, Schapenkass Texel cheese is ideal for snacks and to highlight the best pasta dishes. It is also very enjoyable as dessert accompanied by apple or pear slices and nuts.
In a small island called Zwanburgerpolde in the south of Holland, Roos and Jan van Schie own a farm built in the 18th century, which after 125 years still belongs to the same family. They produce the exceptional Wilde Weide (wild prairie) cheese, made with the milk of the 50 Montbelliard cows that roam the property. Jan takes care of the animals while Roos makes the cheese—a slight production that yields a dozen cheeses a week. Wilde Weide is a full-bodied cheese, aged for over 15 months. Its flavor has hints of caramel, with notes of grass and saline touches due to the farm’s proximity to the sea. Served with toasted bread, or on a board next to other cheeses of the same quality, it becomes a unique gastronomic event.
On the tiny island of Terschelling, in northern Holland, Yolanda and Gerben Bakker own 120 sheep that produce intensely-flavored organic milk, which the couple uses to make— by hand— delicious cheeses, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy products. Their Terschelling Schapenkass cheese is made with sheep’s milk and vegetable rennet. The paste is semi-hard and has a natural crust. Aged for four months, it has a soft texture and flavor, nuances of caramel with notes of fenugreek seeds and subtle nuttiness. The aging period increases the flavor and aroma of this cheese, which is ideal to end a good meal accompanied by a glass of Riesling or a Vintage Porto. ■