Belgium has always been dear to my heart. I was fortunate enough to live in Brussels as a child and experience the wonderful culture, friendly loving people and fantastic food. Naturally, I return as often as I can and this past spring was one of those times. While traveling abroad, I was joined by friends Alicia and Ruel on an excursion to the beautiful, but often overlooked country of Belgium.
We spent one afternoon in Brussels walking around the Grand Place and taking in all of the sites. We indulged in Belgian specialties such as Belgian frites, delicious chocolate and smooth Belgian beer. It was just our luck that the Brussels Jazz Marathon was taking place that weekend in the Grand Place. We plopped ourselves down at a table with the locals to enjoy the soothing music, mouthwatering food and incredible atmosphere. It was a perfect 80 degree day without a cloud in the sky (believe me, for Belgium that is saying something). It was a day that will not soon be forgotten by any of us.
The following morning, we met with cheese producer Jan from Belgomilk. He brought us to the beautiful village of Brugge in the northern part of Belgium. We began our day with an exclusive tour of the Belgomilk cheese facility. Our host Jan gave us an informational presentation about his company and the new line of Belgian cheeses we had travelled to see.
We were able to taste many cheeses from their Brugge specialty line, and we are so excited to share three of our favorites with our customers.
Brugge Oud is the original cheese in this specialty line. It is a smooth and creamy gouda-style cheese aged approximately 10 –12 months with a low salt content but full flavor.
Brugge Rodenbach is a semi-soft cheese soaked in the local Belgian Rodenbach beer. It has a wonderful fruitiness and velvety paste. The shape of the cheese is rounded and grooved to resemble the wood structure of a beer vat.
Last, but not least, the Brugge Fleuron is a brie-style cheese shaped in the form of country bread.
The Brugge specialty line focuses on small batch cheese making. We learned all about the cheese making process, were able to take a tour of the cheese making facility, and walked through the endless aisles of aging cheese. It was so interesting to see all of the different techniques that are used to make these varieties of cheese.
After our delicious cheese tasting and tour of the facility, Jan took us to the Medieval World Heritage city of Bruges. We explored this enchanting city with its cobblestone streets, crooked buildings, and quaint specialty shops. Our most memorable meal was spent at a charming little restaurant in the middle of town next to the canal. The food was absolutely magnificent and the ambience was delightful. We dined on Belgian specialties such as White Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, Chicken Waterzooi, Flemish Beef Stew, and, of course, more Frites.
Our short, but sweet trip to Belgium ended as we boarded the train to Paris. We left Brussels with a greater appreciation of Belgian cheeses and a strong desire to share our new found gems with our Lunds and Byerly’s family! Come treat your taste buds to these wonderful Belgian delicacies at your favorite Lunds and Byerly’s specialty cheese counter today.
Have you already tried some of these cheeses? If so, which is your favorite?
Jenny Hodges, cheese specialist at Byerly’s St. Louis Park