While the taste of cheese still lingers on my tongue and in my dreams, I have to share with you my first real "cheese tasting" experience at De Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Room in Amsterdam. It was much classier than I expected. 20 of us were paired up at tables in a cozy little room. At our tables were several blocks of different cheeses, wine glasses, and a "guillotine" for cutting the cheese ourselves. No pun intended!
The nice Dutch lady working there gave us the history of De Reypenaer cheese, explained the ripening process of their cheeses, and told us what to expect from our cheese tasting. She poured us a glass of white wine and we got straight to it. First up was a yummy goat cheese.
Everyone knows there is nothing better than tasting good food, and you just can't go wrong with cheese - especially "typical Dutch cheese". The lady even joked about throwing out anyone who rated their cheeses in the 2's and 3's. I would have too, after having tried all of their delicious cheeses. The cheeses were paired with a nice glass of red wine, white wine, or port to cleanse the palate between tastes.
Advice: Don't make the mistake of drinking your whole cup of wine before the tasting is over! I have probably never put more thought into what I was eating than during this cheese tasting. I felt a bit like the character from my favorite movie, Ratatouille, when he hones in on his senses...taste, touch, smell. While I could not pinpoint my senses as well, I was impressed by others in the room who could. They accurately described cheeses as "tasting like butter" or "smelling like wood." We were even given a sheet to write it all down so we could compare the cheeses we tried!
I went into the cheese tasting with my favorite cheese being old cheese and left with my favorite still being old cheese. You will always find a block of Old Amsterdam cheese in my fridge... They definitely saved the best for last. Their old cheese, "Reypenar XO" was by far my favorite. They warned us about how amazing it was beforehand. The lady described it as "strong enough to make us forget the first cheese.
This was one of my favorite CIEE activities, but perhaps I am biased because I love cheese. Anyways, however I started off as a cheese taster, I now have solid proof of my expertise. Jamie Lebowitz
Social Science student, Fall 2013, Amsterdam