|Dutch Cheeses at Tromp in Amsterdam. Photo: Henk van Kol
On a recent trip to the cheese shop Kaashuis Tromp, at Utrechtsestraat 90 in Amsterdam, we discovered an entire universe of cheeses classified as Klaver and flavored with various herbs and spices from around the world.
According to the owner of Tromp, Henk van Kol, new flavors have been making their way into Dutch cheeses for the past five years. Besides chile and wasabi, other non-traditional flavors include tomato and garlic. There's even a cheese called Napoli that has sundried tomatoes, garlic and black olives inside. We tried some and it's delicious plain, but it seems as though it would make the perfect pizza topping -- spices included.
Continue reading about Klaver cheeses after the jump.
The addition of these herbs increases the moisture in the cheeses, and, as a result, makes it more likely that "unfriendly" molds will develop. For this reason, many Klaver cheeses are pasteurized rather than produced with raw milk.
"Some cheeses with cumin seeds are not pasteurized, but they use fewer seeds, therefore reducing the chance of mold developing," Kol says. "Although most [herbs and spices] are imported, some cheesemakers use fresh herbs."
In both cases, the herbs and spices must be cooked first to prevent the development of mold in the cheese.
Rather than take the attention away from traditional Dutch farmhouse cheeses such as Goudas and Edams, Klaver cheeses simply add a new dimension to the Dutch cheese family. "They are not cheeses we eat every day," Kol says. "We eat natural fresh farmhouse cheeses on a daily basis."
Klaver cheeses perfectly blend the rich creamy taste of a young Gouda with piquant spice. This mix of creaminess and spicy "foreign" (non-Dutch) tang seems to create a cheese that is both Dutch and Italian, as if mixing a Gouda with a Mediterranean tomato sauce.
Or, in the case of the cheese with wasabi, it's both Dutch and Japanese; the spicy wasabi assumes a delicate supple texture thanks to the young Gouda-like cheese. In other words, the flavor combination defies national culinary boundaries.
While Leyden cheese, the Dutch cheese with cumin seeds, has been available for several years at specialty stores nationwide such as Whole Foods, these more recent additions with Japanese and Italian spices and herbs are hard to come by in the United States.
Nevertheless, Klaver cheeses can easily be ordered online from Kaashuis Tromp. And, obviously, when in Amsterdam, check out the selection of cheeses at the shop itself.