Sunday, July 1, 2012

Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Rooms (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

One of the things I discovered about the Netherlands during my research of the country is that it is famous for its cheese, so I thought it might be fun to attend a cheese tasting class at the Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Rooms in Amsterdam, located on the Singel and just a few blocks from the Ann Frank House.

Reypanaer Cheese Tasting Room
Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Rooms

Reypenaer is the only cheesemaker in the Netherlands still aging cheese the traditional, natural way: by allowing cheese to ripen through natural environmental changes in it's century-old warehouse, as opposed to storing it in a constant temperature.   Reypenaer also has a second warehouse with its environmental conditions yoked to the original warehouse, so that its cheeses can be aged similarly.  Cheeses produced in the second warehouse carry the "Wyngaard" label, while the "Reypenaer" label is reserved for cheeses aged in the original warehouse.

The Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Room offers different variations of its cheese class; we opted for the Connaisseur class which included six cheeses, as well as white wine, red wine, and red port.  The reservation I tried to make using Reyenaer's online system didn't go through; luckily, a follow-up email was returned promptly confirming our spots.

We arrived a few minutes before the class began and scored a front row seat in the basement tasting room.  We started with a short video describing the cheesemaking process at Reypenaer, and when it came time for the tasting, we cut thin slices of each cheese (apparently that's the way to taste them) with a cheese guillotine and discussed the color, texture, taste, whether there were "crystals" (caused by mineral and protein crystallization), and how wine changes the taste of the cheese.  The six cheese were, in order:

  1. Wyngaard Chèvre Affiné (aged 16 weeks)
  2. Wyngaard Affineur (aged 20 weeks)
  3. Wyngaard Chèvre Gris (aged 10 months)
  4. Reypenaer (aged 1 year)
  5. Reypenaer V.S.O.P. (aged 2 years)
  6. Reypenaer XO Reserve (aged 2.5 years)
We are not normally big fans of goat cheese, but the chèvre cheeses we tried were subtle and very good.  Despite the long aging processes, the cheeses were all smooth and creamy.  R. decided that his favorite was the Reypenaer V.S.O.P.; mine was the Reypenaer XO Reserve.  I guess I like my cheese mature, as my evaluations of the cheeses correlated strongly with its age.  But to be honest, I thought they were all great.

Reypanaer Cheese Tasting Room
Cheese guillotine

Reypanaer Cheese Tasting Room
Cheeses for the tasting

Reypanaer Cheese Tasting Room
The tasting came complete with a cheese evaluation form and certificate

Reypanaer Cheese Tasting Room
Wines to go the cheese

Upstairs is a cheese shop, where we purchased some souvenirs and got ourselves a wedge of the Reypenaer V.S.O.P. to take back home with us.

Reypanaer Cheese Tasting Room
The cheese shop

We both had a fabulous time.  The cheese tasting class was a fun experience and was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.  I just hope it didn't turn me into a cheese snob! ;-)

Reypenaer Cheese Tasting Rooms
Singel 182, 1015 Binnenstad, The Netherlands
On the web:
+31 (20) 3206333

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Our honeymoon food adventures are archived here.