A tradition for Maddie and I started one night when, fairly early in our friendship, I came over for dinner and she made this incredible cheese sauce. Now, we get together at her home a couple of times a month to cook dinner together, maybe share some wine, catch up, and play Mario Kart. It is always so therapeutic and the highlight of my week.
This week, we decided we were going to make our cheese sauce, so of course in preparation for this bimonthly ritual, I went to Market Hall for the cheese selection. I asked for a creamy aged Gouda, I almost mentioned something about notes of caramel, but decided that level of cheese pretentiousness does not need to be advertised. When I tasted the slice of Vladkaas I had been handed, I almost told the woman it wasn’t what I was looking for, but after I gave it a second, all of these different flavors started coming out. It started with more of a Swiss cheese taste for just a second and then rich, tart layers of flavors kept coming. It was really the most dramatic flavor growth I had ever experienced with a cheese. When Maddie and I tried it together, there were mutual sounds of delight and even a little dance on my part (which we don’t need to go into).
Vlaskaas comes from Beemster, “a farmers’ co-op in The Netherlands that has been making delicious cheeses for over a century.” Their methods and recipes have been handed down over generations, and have won awards all over the world (once you taste this cheese, you’ll see why).
Apart from being a welcome addition to any cheese sauce, Vlaskaas would be the ideal cheese to serve before a holiday meal. Its slightly nutty flavor and waves of creamy tartness would compliment most holiday spices, maybe with some apple or pear slices. Beemster recommends using it for fondue! It’s a fabulous idea, but if we ever did that at home, I would have a really hard time actually letting other people partake, and not finishing the whole thing myself.
Needless to say, with this delectable cheese, not to mention Cabot cheddar, Gruyere, and a little Parmesan, our cheese sauce was a smashing success. We had it over whole wheat rigatoni, with roasted cauliflower, AND the hands down best zucchini bread you’ve ever had. If you’re reading this and doubting me, make it yourself, but be sure to have some Vlaskaas gouda on hand as fuel for your baking spree. Tasty, tasty fuel.