Dec 22
Cheese – A Holiday Lifesaver
posted by: dawn in Product Reviews on 12 22nd, 2009 | |

Tis the most wonderful time of they year …. And also the time when foodies like us get invited to every single potluck party in town because they know they can count on us for something good.

After my rampant travels at Thanksgiving I have not been at 100% and simply can’t keep up with all the parties, all the shopping, all the fun things I want to do; and cook elaborate dishes for potluck dinners.  Luckyily the folks at Beemster Cheese saved the day for me by sending me some of their amazing cheese that I could use as a cheese plate.Cheese plates are elegant and much less time consuming than preparing an entire dish.  And when it comes to cocktail parties people are so used to the shrimp wheel from the deli, a selection of perfectly square mass produced “cheese food squares”, fruit and little smokies that your plate of interesting cheeses will stand out, making you look like a rock star without making you spend an entire afternoon in the kitchen.

I’ve mentioned my trip to Netherlands a few months ago, the quintessential images that pop into my head when thinking about Netherlands are windmills, bikes and HUGE wheels of cheese:

Cheese Delivery Bike in Amsterdam

Cheese Delivery Bike in Amsterdam

(This photo isn’t all that relevant; I’ve just been dying to use it and I’m pretty sure this is my best shot!  It’s a custom delivery bike placed in front of an incredible cheese shop)

Beemster is a supplier to the Royal Court of the Netherlands, one of the highest honors a company can earn in Holland.  Beemster produces several types of cheese including farmer style cheese, goat cheese, light cheese and their classic line. Their cheeses are made at Caring Dairy on a pasture reclaimed from the sea in 1612 and sits 20 feet below sea level.  The terroir of the dairy contributes to the unique and amazing flavors of their cheese.   Caring Dairy is dedicated to sustainable farming techniques and partners with other companies of the same mindset such as Ben and Jerry’s.

I was able to sample the Beemster Classic wihch is made from cow’s milk and salt and aged for a minimum of 18 months.  It’s 20% lower in salt than most other Dutch cheeses, but it doesn’t taste like it.  The cheese has a great nutty flavor to it.  It’s wonderful on a cracker I also used a bit in some soup, over pasta, and over vegetables.  The cheese enhanced the flavor of all of the dishes.  I really like it with a little honey for the sweet to contrast the salt.

I also was able to sample the Beemster X.O. which is also a cows milk cheese and lower in sodium than other Dutch cheeses.  The difference is that it’s aged for 26 months giving it a texture that I would compare to Parmesan.  I am one to eat hunks of Parmesan, but it’s a strong cheese and I think I’m not exactly normal in that respect.  For most people I would sugest using this cheese exactly as you would Parmesan — cook with it, grate it over food for flavor.  I had a big glass of Sly Dog Cabernet going on when I was tasting this and frankly I was in heaven.  I did not want to take the cheese plate to the party — but I did. (“What Baxter, you ate an entire wheel of cheese?  I’m not even mad, I’m impressed” — Ron Burgundy)

My cheese plate; it’s missing something crucial; a sweet element.  I *thought* I had some fig preserves at home and was going to put them on the plate with the cheese but when I started plating I discovered that I had fig paste that expired in August. Faced with presenting a complete cheese plate or poisoning my friends I chose to eliminate the sweet element (dried fruit would also be a nice touch) .  Even though my plate was incomplete it was also devoured before anything else.

I also took a page from my friend the Chickenless Chick.  She recently posted about drunken baked brie that she made for a Christmas party.    I had a wheel of brie hanging out and decided I had to try this.  I followed her method except I used Cognac instead of brandy.  This HUGE wheel of brie was also devoured.  I have to admit, while it was baking I was a little skeptical because the alcohol smelled very strong.  But, one bite into that melty yummy buttery creamy brie and I was transported to happy town.  The walnuts gave a nice crunch, the brown sugar on top caramelized almost like Creme Brulee and the tangy flavor of the brie balanced everything out.  Again, easy way to look like a rock star.  Check out the Chickenless Chic’s Blog if you get a chance.

Happy Holidays!  Remember it’s about enjoying the time with friends and family, not killing yourself with elaborate recipes.  I know we’ll all do so to some extent because we are crazy like that; but take a shortcut here and there so you have time to sip your wine laugh with friends and try to predict what wonderful things 2010 will bring us all!

Cheers!

The Whineaux

5 Responses to “Cheese – A Holiday Lifesaver”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Whineaux, Ron Merrill. Ron Merrill said: Cooking With The Whineaux» Blog Archive » Cheese – A Holiday Lifesaver http://bit.ly/7MFBgX [...]

  2. Great post! I totally agree that cheese is a lifesaver in this crazy vacation time! We had quite the cheese experience the other day here in Paris too…

  3. :) good one!! its always an easy one out!!
    Wishing u a very happy new year :)

  4. Dear Whineaux! OMG! Incredible presentation. Loved your site, very professional. Photos were crisp and clear. Recipes concise and easy to read. I love this post on cheese because you are right about the holidays being about friends and not complicated recipes. I shall be back for a bite of more.
    Thank you for sharing,
    Cheers, Gaby
    Visit me @ http://ptsaldari.posterous.com/

  5. Thanks so much — I just checked out your site, I really like it!

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