Said to be one of the first cheeses ever made, Ossau-Iraty is a beloved gem with a rich history. Once upon a time, or so the story goes, the Greek God Apollo had a son named Aristee, a shepherd, who turned the milk from his herd of sheep into this delicious cheese. Although an actual Greek God may not have invented Ossau-Iraty, the wheels are made according to a tradition that dates back some 3,000 years. This means Ossau-Iraty predates the English alphabet.
While the Netherlands is renowned for its 17th century old master paintings, IJmuiden-born Betty Koster is famous these days for refining another local art form with 12th century antecedents. In the realm of Dutch masterpieces, cheeses from Koster’s Fromagerie L’Amuse — including her signature two-year warm-cellar-aged Gouda L’Amuse and Brabander, an uncommon goat Gouda — are celebrated as among the very finest cheeses in Holland and beyond. Only a few are imported into the U.S.
Doug Smith, co-owner and operations manager of Vancouver Island’s Natural Pastures Cheese Co., shares the perfect anecdote to illustrate the growth of Victoria, British Columbia’s cheese culture. “When we started at our local farmers market, we presented a Brie to people they had never really tried it before,” he says. “They would ask things like, ‘Can I eat the mold?’ Now 15 years later, I’ll ask little kids what they want to try, and they’ll say Brie because they love the taste. That’s a very short time period where people didn’t even know what this cheese was and now their children love Brie.”
The beauty of having a first-class cheese and wine store in Arlington, VA, is that it can serve customers from Washington D.C., Maryland and northern Virginia, as the Beltway passes right by and tens of thousands of people are driving in its direction each day.
For innovative holiday gifting with a cheesy twist, look no further. These selections are sure to surprise and delight the cheese lovers in your life.
Cheese is among the most beloved of foods. How could it be otherwise with thousands of varieties to choose from? And it is a food that can be eaten raw or cooked in so many ways, on sandwiches, with bread and crackers, or just plain. It goes with wine, or beer, or, well, some cheese or other really goes with almost everything.