Amaz­ing Cheeses at the Reype­naer Cheese Tast­ing Class

The Reype­naer Cheese Tast­ing Class

Luxe Beat Magazine - - Contents - By Jan Ross

We stepped out of one of the ubiq­ui­tous Am­s­ter­dam canal boats onto the cob­ble­stone path which ran be­side one of the many scenic canals in the city, which is some­times re­ferred to as “the Venice of the North”. Canals run ev­ery­where through­out this beau­ti­ful Euro­pean city and are one of the main modes of trans­porta­tion, as well as the home of many charm­ing house­boats. There are sev­eral dif­fer­ent canal boat routes you can take, each of which goes to a dif­fer­ent part of the city and to dif­fer­ent tourist des­ti­na­tions within the city. You can eas­ily hop off at, say, Anne Frank’s home, and later hop back on to see another lo­ca­tion.

Many-lev­eled ware­houses with big win­dows which had been con­verted to homes and apart­ments over­looked the canal; hun­dreds of bikes – the trans­porta­tion of choice in Am­s­ter­dam – lined the streets. Ev­ery­one in Am­s­ter­dam seems to ride a bike and you even see very young chil­dren cy­cling around. Moth­ers place their ba­bies in es­pe­cially de­signed carts to pull be­hind their bikes and fit their gro­ceries into large bas­kets.

But we didn’t pay much at­ten­tion to these uniquely Am­s­ter­dam sights be­cause we were on a mis­sion. A cheese-tast­ing mis­sion. Dutch cheese can be found ev­ery­where in Am­s­ter­dam in many dif­fer­ent forms and you can pretty much have cheese for ev­ery meal of the day if you choose – and it will all be de­li­cious! Cheese is avail­able in all the restau­rants in many de­lec­ta­ble forms and you can pur­chase it in any of the large or small mar­kets or even at the open air mar­kets.

Brav­ing the icy Novem­ber rain and with writ­ten di­rec­tions that in­cluded con­fus­ing words like Dam/Raad­huis­straat, we headed to the Reype­naer Cheese Tast­ing Rooms. Reype­naer makes some of the most de­li­cious Dutch cheese. They have a 100-year-old ware­house on the Oude Rijn in Wo­er­den, where the cheese ma­tures nat­u­rally as it has done for three gen­er­a­tions of the fam­ily, re­sult­ing in a dis­tinc­tive and com­plex fla­vor and aroma. the his­toric ripen­ing process of the Reype­naer cheeses is unique in the Nether­lands and these ar­ti­san cheeses are also quite unique. Some of the older cheeses have a strong, salty fla­vor, while never cheeses are much milder.

But they also have a lovely lit­tle store, tucked away on a side street in the mid­dle of Am­s­ter­dam where they sell a va­ri­ety of cheeses. In a quiet lit­tle base­ment fur­nished with wooden ta­bles and chairs like a school­room, they have cheese tast­ings with the guid­ance of an ex­pert cheese taster. Each cheese tast­ing ses­sion lasts ap­prox­i­mately one hour and is de­signed for a max­i­mum of 20 peo­ple per tast­ing. Tast­ing work­shops take place ev­ery Wed­nes­day to Sun­day through­out the day and the ba­sic in­tro­duc­tory work­shop costs 7.50 euros per per­son. There is also an ad­vanced tast­ing with wine and a con­nois­seur tast­ing with wine and port. In ad­di­tion, they will cater to pri­vate groups and par­ties as well as cor­po­rate events.

We shook the rain out of our coats

and set­tled down at our lit­tle ta­ble for two with sev­eral oth­ers who had braved the rain, all for the love of cheese. We watched a video clip about cheese and then we be­gan the sam­pling. On our small wooden ta­ble we had a cut­ting board with sev­eral large chunks of cheese, all with dif­fer­ent col­ors and con­sis­ten­cies. As the cheese taster ex­plained about how the cheese was aged and what we should ex­pect to taste, we cut slices, sam­pled them and made notes to com­pare the dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences, so we could de­cide which cheeses we pre­ferred. The longer the cheeses had been aged, the more crys­tals formed, which is why the the older cheeses were more salty and strong-tast­ing. Some in the class much pre­ferred this stronger fla­vor but we liked the mild cheese best.

Small glasses of wine were avail­able for those who wanted to pair wine and cheese and a good time was had by the en­tire group as we de­voured all the diffrent types of cheese try­ing to de­cide which was our fa­vorite. The ex­pert cheese taster an­swered ques­tions about the dif­fer­ent cheeses and walked around, talk­ing to us about our choices. The in­ti­mate tast­ing ex­pe­ri­ence was a per­fect in­tro­duc­tion to Dutch cheeses.

Once we had sam­pled our fill, we all went up­stairs to the lit­tle shop and chose the cheeses we wanted to pur­chase and take home. If you are in Am­s­ter­dam and you like cheese (and who doesn’t, re­ally?) you should do this cheese tast­ing. It was fun and de­li­cious and we felt like ex­pert cheese gour­mands while we were par­tic­i­pat­ing. The shop is lo­cated a short walk from the Grand Dam, where there are lots of lit­tle shops and restau­rants where you can grab a bite – in case you didn’t have quite enough cheese!

Reype­naer has a wide va­ri­ety of cheese selec­tions

Cheese can be found ev­ery­where!

Bikes are lit­er­ally ev­ery­where in Am­s­ter­dam

Cut­ting some cheese sam­ples

LEFT Wine with your cheese?

RIGHT Which cheese to take

home?

BE­LOW Cheese tast­ing class­room

Charm­ing house­boats are scat­tered around the canals

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