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what cheese to bring from holland?

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  • Mary Shaposhnik Jul 9, 2001 06:15 AM
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Am in Amsterdam, and want to know what cheese I should bring home. Any particular types/styles that are harder to find in the US and I should seek out here, e.g., really aged Edam, something else? I know the ideal thing would be to find a great cheese shop and try a million kinds, but that may not happen so I'd like some ideas of what to look for.

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  1. m
    Michael Lewis

    There is a really aged Gouda, and Gouda that is made from goat's milk, both of which are exquisite. They are from the same manufacturer and have the image of swallow on them, I don't remember the name.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Michael Lewis

      Yes, but is it OK to bring raw milk products back to the US? Personally, i'd do it anyway. Just be careful. And the aged gouda is excellent-- though i've scored some in the US.

      1. re: Cliff
        m
        Melanie Wong

        Yes, you can bring raw milk cheeses into the US as long as they have been aged at least 60 days.

    2. j
      Jason Perlow

      Dunno about cheese but the chocolate in Holland is excellent. Definitely get some.

      And while you are there, it also goes really well with weed you can legally purchase and smoke in a "coffee shop" when you get the munchies.

      1. Customs is pretty adamant about checking for these (meats, cheeses, produce) and will confiscate it. - I would advise against it. Also, the fact that you are indeed arriving from the land of legal weed might increase your chances of thorough questioning/possible search. And you know those beagles that sniff your belongings when you are waiting to pick up your luggage? They're quite sensitive to any fresh food product. If you do want to risk being held at customs, then dress nicely, as if you were traveling for business.
        A funny story: last spring, my sister and I were on the same plane back from Rome, and we both had these truffle pasta/paste/oil gift packets (in addition to all the grappa and wine I could carry), and we weren't even totally positive these were allowed. Since I was definitely carrying more than my allotted liquor, I checked "yes" on the food question, and decided to tell them, to not risk any search (what? a receipt for the Miu Miu shoes?). Anyway, my sister, who had met us in Rome from other travels, looked very student-ish, even though she works in the administrative offices of a hotel. Her customs agent gave her a hard time and long line of questioning about her truffle booty after he saw that she checked "student" under occupation (she is indeed a part-time student, and is accustomed to using this status to milk any travel opportunity), . I had another agent, had replied "internet web developer" as my occupation, and wore a conservative black dress. After I told him I had truffle pasta, he simply smiled and waved me through.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Minty

          Just to correct a bit of misinformation contained in the above post-

          Unlike fresh fruits & some meats, cheese is not prohibited from coming into the US, and Customs/USDA won't confiscate it (I guess there are exceptions, like the raw milk cheese noted elsewhere.)

          1. re: Helen

            http://www.aphis.usda.gov/travel/brin...

            Oops, my bad...

            The "Traveler's Tips" PDF (yes, PDFs are Satan's format, but that's all they offer) states that the cheese must be fully cured. Although the document doesn't mention it, I know the raw is definitely a no-no.

            However, I still would consider all factors, such as cranky customs officials, how tired you may be at the end of the flight, and how much other unclaimed booty you are transporting. If those cute beagles smelled your legit cheese, you could be subject to an open screening of all those neat boxes of Always black mini pads, or vintage Playgirls you found abroad. Not that I really care who sees them, but all I can think about at the end of a trip is trying to find a taxi driver from JFK who actually knows Brooklyn!

            Perhaps others who are successful could share their secrets to transporting cheese?

            Good luck!

            Link: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/travel/brin...

            1. re: Minty
              m
              Melanie Wong

              Wrong again! Fully cured raw milk cheeses may be brought into the US. This means that they are aged over 60 days. All genuine Parmigiano Reggiano is made from raw milk, over 60 days old and sold everywhere.

            2. re: Helen

              So, I think I am wrong agin on the raw, unless it is fully cured. I have read all kinds of contradicting info on this issue, and have emailed the APHIS folks on what exactly I can or cannot bring in. I tried a few phone numbers, but some were outdated, and others led me to a black hole.

              1. re: Helen

                I cant comment on the situation post this winter's various scares, but in January my family came back through with a bag of cut pieces of young cheese from Paris (basically the remnants of our kitchen supply there) and had no problems coming through customs. No effort to hide this - we declared it on the form and exhibited our rather sad looking plastic bag to the agent (he didnt look inside). We successfully brought back a bag of kitchen remnants last year (which included cheeses from Volpetti and a piece of guanciale)from Italy. The rule is no raw milk cheese aged less than 60 days and no pork products (I think there are now some narrow exceptions on the pork for some mortadellas and prosciuttos) are allowed in. However there is obviously some laxness where the products are obviously for household use.

                Hey, there are lots of strategies. But trying to conceal stuff is definitely a bad idea. I say enjoy the food abroad and dont waste too much emotional capital trying to bring prohibited stuff through customs. We were in Androuet the day before we left Paris and decided not to buy anything. It just would have meant too much angst en route. Enjoy your trip!

            3. m
              Melanie Wong

              Aged gouda, as Michael mentions. Unlike the mass produced ones sent to the US, there are farm-made products that you should seek out. The aged ones are crumbly in texture and exquisitely complex.

              1. A Dutch relative who knows quite a bit about food recently visited and brought us half a wheel of a very pungent cheese from Southeastern Holland, near the German border. He explained that the cheeses of much of Holland are quite bland, but this area, around the Dutch town of Limbourg, is the source of the famous stinky Limburger-style cheese of Germany. I found the cheese to be quite delectable, with a nutty, slightly caramelized sweetness and a firm, yet smooth and creamy texture. My husband couldn't get it past his nose. It smelled like ripe old unwashed gym shoes to him. And despite several layers of plastic wrap, aluminum foil and ziplock bags, he caught a whiff of it every time he opened the refrigerator. So, I ate a little, but ended up having to discard much of it. And I can't remember the name that was printed on the wax rind. That would really blow away the beagles, though. My puppy thought it smelled and tasted wawfully good.

                4 Replies
                1. re: zora

                  That was worth the purchase of a second, mini-refrigerator! Which would have given you an excuse to invest in more cheese in the future.

                  1. re: ironmom

                    In order to store the stinky cheese and buy more, first I'll need to add on to my house, to have enough room for a second refrigerator. Then I'll also have space for a treadmill and exercycle, which I'll need to burn off all the calories and cholesterol. When I factor in the cost of another bathroom, which I will require in order to accomodate my need to take more frequent showers, due to the increased exercise, I think I'd better stick to Edam and Gouda.

                    1. re: zora
                      p
                      Peter B. Wolf

                      Any time this happens again, mail it to me, I'll pay handling and postage, plus a reward.
                      Hello ,anyone who reads this, this goes for you also. Unload anything strange and edible and that is not wanted, send it in this direction. Just let me know what it is, I,ll pay postage!! Peter

                      1. re: zora

                        My mother used to make my father keep his Liederkranz in the milk box on the porch. This limited his consumption to the cooler months of the year.

                  2. m
                    Mary Shaposhnik

                    To finish off this thread--thanks to all for the helpful suggestions. Came home weighed down with aged farm made gouda and edam, an old and crumbly goat cheese, two fresh goat cheeses from Paris, can't remember what else. Nice cheese dealer in Amsterdam at De Kaaskamer, 7 Runstraat.

                    Here's the customs deal: was totally honest on the customs form (for the first time ever), checking "YES! got food." Declared "cheese" on back of form. Was thus subject to the following interrogation upon arrival at JFK (casting note: me, white US citizen, 30s, mainstream scruffy):

                    INS guy: "What food do you have?"
                    Me: "Cheese."
                    INS: "Anything good?"
                    Me: "I hope so."
                    INS: "Netherlands. They make good cheese there."
                    Me: "Yeah, they do"
                    INS: "Okay, good luck."

                    On to the ominous Red Line at Customs/Agriculture:

                    Customs guy: "What food do you have?"
                    Me: "Cheese."
                    Customs: "Okay. On through."