Loneliness to Deliciousness: Wilde Weide Kaas
Tucked away in South Holland is a farm referred to as "The Loneliness." This farm is where the van Schie family has resided since 1849, and it sits on the Zwanburgerpolder where everything that needs to come or go from the island needs to be done by boat. It's a short, two-minute ride but even the cows have to make the journey when newly arriving at the farm. Close enough to civilization, but sufficiently sequestered to bring on the lonely vibes. There is only one main export from this tiny island, and that is Wilde Weide Kaas.
Wilde Weide is considered a Boerenkaas. That means it is a raw-milk, farmhouse/farmstead cheese where the cows live directly on the farm. It is also a pressed, washed curd cheese. Washing the curd lends the sweetness that Gouda-style cheeses are most known for. The lactose (milk sugar) is pulled out of the curd by scalding it with hot water, leaving nothing for the bacteria to eat, effectively stopping the production of lactic acid. Wilde Weide is very small-batch. Only 35 wheels a week are made, seven on each day that Jan makes it.
After being pressed for 24 hours in an old wooden press, the cheese takes a brine bath before being waxed and aged on wood planks. It lives this life at 55 degrees until it is deemed ready, usually around 15 months. Thankfully, the van Schie's don't have to worry much about the sale of their cheese because L'Amuse and Essex buy almost the entirety of what they produce. This fact is something that most producers could only dream of, and it speaks to the quality of their cheese.
Organic, farmstead, small-batch, these are the keywords that so many of us see as making "good" cheese. There are many kinds of cheese out there that tick all these boxes but don't deliver on flavor. There are two other producers of Wilde Weide besides the van Shie's, but they have varying levels of quality and flavor profile. The popularity of the van Shie's cheese is evident, and the other two companies are now starting to change their practices to more align.
Golden straw in color, flecked with crunchy tyrosine bits, and a perfect tinge of grassy sweetness make Wilde Weide a pleasure to eat. It's an ideal table cheese for a lunch setting but can stand up to its surroundings to compliment a cheese plate. Wilde Weide is not easily come by in the United States due to its limited make, but it is around. It usually carries a pretty hefty price tag, but when you know how much travel it takes to get off the island of Loneliness, the price tag is a bit more justified.
Have you enjoyed Wilde Weide? What are the keywords that make you instantly buy a cheese? Let me know!