Serving suggestions

Torta Tarantina di Patate: a potato pizza with cheese

Storage at home: it's generally advisable to keep Dutch cheese in the refrigerator, however, if consumed quickly, a kitchen cupboard offers the most appropriate storage. If you keep cheese in the fridge, it should be removed about half an hour before serving.

Cheese which is too cold loses much of its aroma and flavour; just as with wine, cheese should be served at room temperature. To prevent cheese from becoming too dry it should be kept wrapped in aluminium foil or cling film. Don't keep for too long as it is better to shop regularly for cheese than to discover it has lost its flavour.

Cheese and wine
Dutch cheese and wine are perfect partners and just as in marriage, success depends upon the right combination. Although it's self-evident that your own taste determines the choice, the following guidelines might assist you.

Succesfull Partners: Port with mature or aged Edam, Gouda, or Frisian Clove cheeses

The most important rule is that cheese and wine are at their best when they complement each other. For a young mild or smooth cheese a ry, light wine is the best partner. A mature robust cheese demands a full-bodied red wine.

The sequence of serving cheese and wine is also an important point to remember. Usually white wine precedes red. With cheese start with young and progress to the aged, or from the mild to the piquant.

The cheeseboard
Small knife for spreading fresh soft cheese and a traditional cheese knife (right) for cutting and presenting cheese.

In many countries it's the usual custom to serve a cheeseboard at the end of a meal, but a selection of cheese can also be served in the evening with suitable wines. It's not a hard and fast rule that only soft French cheeses can be used, as Dutch cheeses complement wines extremely well. The choice is endless - from an elegant platter comprising Gouda, Maasdam and Kernhem cheese, to a slightly more piquant board consisting of mature Gouda, Kernhem and Leyden cheese. Another idea might be to compose your cheeseboard using the light and mild to the robust and piquant. A platter comprising of Edam, Maasdam and Subenhara (or herb Gouda), in addition to aged Gouda and Leyden.

Cheese as an ingredient
The `long' cheeseslicer for slicing mature and hard cheese and a shorter version (left) which is better for slicing young and softer cheeses.

Cheese is very versatile and has many culinary applications. Apart from your own preference, its melting qualities when exposed to heat, may also dictate your choice. Hard and semi-hard varieties melt more slowly than soft cheeses and tolerate higher temperatures. Therefore mature and aged Gouda, for example, are particularly suitable for making a dish `au gratin', which is a topping of grated cheese, grilled briefly. Grated aged Gouda or Edam make ideal toppings on macaroni or spaghetti.

The mini cheese grate ideal for grating small quantities of cheese.

Edam is ideal for those dishes where it is desirable for the cheese to keep its shape such as toasted sandwiches and deep-fried cheese. As cheese contains salt, this should be taken into consideration when used as an ingredient. Edam particularly is so versatile as it grates, slices and cubes easily and does not crumble like other popular hard cheeses, and thus is ideal for cooking, whether in a sauce, salad or as a snack. Vegetarians have long been aware that cheese is an excellent substitue for meat (Nutritional value).

The cheesecutter with hand grips, for cutting large pieces and preparing canapes.