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This is the first of a series of posts about Waikato cheeses.

One of the many great things about living in the Waikato is that we have excellent cheese here. I’m not talking about 1kg blocks of bland cheddar or colby. There are wonderful specialist cheese makers in the Waikato.

In particular, the local Dutch community are making their mark with cheeses.

Probably the best-known are the Hamilton-based Meyer family, who have earned a national reputation for their Dutch-style gouda cheeses. This year Geert Meyer was named New Zealand champion cheesemaker at the national cheese awards. I’m hoping to write more about the Meyers before long.

The Meyer Maasdam cheese, which also won an award this year, is a particular favourite in my household. I don’t have any Dutch ancestry that I know of, but I absolutely love Dutch cheese. It’s like taking a trip to Europe, without sitting in a plane for 30 hours.

In Hamilton we can buy Maasdam and scores of other cheeses at our local Gouda Cheese Shop, at Hillcrest or Rototuna. Meyer cheeses are also available in some supermarkets. But they’re much better value at specialist cheese shops, and the range is better.

Gouda cheese shop

The Meyer Maasdam cheese and other wonderful cheeses at my local Hillcrest Gouda Cheese Shop.

The Maasdam Emmentaler is a semi-hard cheese with large holes in it. It has a flavour that’s been described as “sweet” and “nutty”, but that really doesn’t do it justice. It is superb with Volare pain au levain sourdough bread, and perhaps a slice of persimmon or a tree-ripened Granny Smith apple.

If you like fondue this cheese would be perfect for that also – it melts beautifully.

Another award-winning local producer of Dutch-style cheese is Aroha Organic Goat Cheeses. Jeanne van Kuyk and her husband John Van Kuyk, who sadly passed away recently, have a certified organic dairy goat farm near Te Aroha. Jeanne makes cheese from the goat milk.

The van Kuyks were the first New Zealand cheese producers to be certified by the Ministry for Primary Industries to make cheese from raw milk. Here’s a link to an article I wrote about Jeanne and John van Kuyk and their goats. The organic goat cheese is in great demand. It’s only available by ordering online: www.organicgoatcheese.co.nz

The Gouda Cheese Shop also sells online: www.cheeseonline.co.nz

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