Being foodies, our family enjoys good cheeses, which is to put it mildly since we share Wallace’s (Wallace and Grommit) love of all things cheese. As it happened, we were directed to Woerden (pronounced Warden) by Donna Turner, who runs Turner Cars and Campers. The agricultural specialty of this region is dairy products and wouldn’t you know it…CHEESE!
In this bucolic village with roots back to the Romans, we found a cheese shop run by a lovely woman named Janine. As we admired her collection of fermented marvels, we struck up a conversation with her, asked her to guide us to the local specialities.
What ensued was a 20 minute cheese tasting that walked us through the cheese ripening process. The cheeses we tried came from the local farms, made with milk from the cows we saw in the area on our long walks through the countryside. We tried a young Gouda (5 weeks) that was very mild, but soft and creamy. Next up was one that had aged 5 months, which the proprietress deemed the star of her show. Firmer and stronger tasting, it had developed that characteristic Gouda taste that has hints of caramel in its buttery richness. Then she treated us to a cheese made from raw milk that is not normally aged for year, but it had been a particularly good batch and had held up well. It was very sharp, its taste having morphed into a tart crumbly solid that had a distinct bite to it. Wonderful!
Last up, she shared a story of how her father had a cheese warehouse, and she would come home after school and sample various cheeses and how she missed the interesting creations from the local region. Then, she pulled out an herbed cheese infused with chives, garlic and nettles, and said “I have not tasted cheese like this since my childhood.” A fantastic medley of tastes, blended nicely without being overpowering.
We had a lovely chat with Janine and a few locals that strolled in while we were there. Not only did we get an introduction to the local dairy industry but a cheese tasting as well. She helped us pick a couple of her favorites, some of which we vacuum packed at her recommendation to keep it fresh beyond a week. Hope it lasts that long…
-by Aaron, photos by Tammy