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Bleu de Wolvega: Is This Available in the D. C. Area?

Joe H Oct 6, 2009 10:03 AM

Last week i tasted the best bleu cheese I have ever had in my life in Amsterdam: Eko Bleu De Wolvega. I bought a half kilo of it in a "slowfood" cheese shop that was vacuum packed and survived both the trip home and customs. Because it is considered a "hard" cheese (as opposed to soft) I was told that it was permissable to bring it into the U. S. (We brought back four kilos of six different cheeses and had our baggage opened by customs at Dulles.) Several hours later, at home, we opened the package and the cheese inside the rind is extremely moist- more so than Gorgonzola dolce or even some Roquefort that I have had in France.

But the flavor! The flavor and the texture were incredible. Intense, extremely creamy and very pungent. My wife and I, after slicing/peeling off the rind ate all of it when we had only planned on a small taste.

There is very little on the internet other than it is 60% fat with no sources available. I've called Cheesetique and they are not familiar with it. They are trying to special order it but it might be several days before they're able to find out; also there may be a minimum order of four or five pounds depending on the size of the wheel I will have to buy-if they are even able to find it.

Is anyone familiar with this cheese? Any familiarity with a source in the D. C. area?

  1. g
    Gigi007 Oct 6, 2009 10:17 AM

    Joe, I know bleu de Wolvega, but have only seen it in the Netherlands. I'm not sure if Cheesetique will come through for you, but would strongly suggest that you contact Murray's Cheese Shop in NYC where I've had a fair amount of success in getting a hold of cheese I've discovered in Europe that I can't seem to find readily here in D.C:

    http://www.murrayscheese.com/index.asp

    1. m
      MrsWheatie Oct 6, 2009 10:56 AM

      Have you called Cowgirl Creamery? They have quite a nice selection of blues that we don't see all over the place.

      1. s
        sekelmaan Oct 6, 2009 12:37 PM

        Dean and Deluca may be worth a shot as well. Murray's doesn't have it on their website, but it is probably worth calling if DnD or Cowgirl doesn't have it. I am dying to try this blue now.

        11 Replies
        1. re: sekelmaan
          g
          Gigi007 Oct 6, 2009 12:43 PM

          Bleu de Wolvega is considered rare even in the Netherlands (at least that's what I recall being told when I was last there a few years ago.) I doubt that any of the three places mentioned actually have it. In fact, I 'd be very surprised if that's not the case. IMHO, it's more a matter of who is able to special order it and get it the fastest. For special orders, Murray's has worked for me, which is why I suggested it.

          P.S. Although I'm not a fan of blue cheese in general, I must say that the bleu de Wolvega was quite good, especially w/ fig bread.

          1. re: Gigi007
            Joe H Oct 6, 2009 09:03 PM

            Thank you Gigi007 and MrsWheatie and sekelmaan. Your comments are appreciated. Gigi007, I'll call Murray's tomorrow morning-I sincerely appreciate the suggestion and know their reputation in sourcing extremely difficult cheeses. I'm actually willing to buy 4 or 5 pounds of it (!). One of my purposes-perhaps incredibly enough-is to make risotto with it. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/288918 is a post of mine which will be self explanatory but I think this cheese would be incredible. I think it would be extremely interesting to serve it for a dinner party where you can taste the cheese and then taste it in a risotto.

            Gigi007, the store that I bought it from is a "slow food" fromagerie in the Jourdaan called De Kaaskamer Runstraat. Walking in the door I was bowled over by the fragrance-there is nowhere that I've been to in France that smelled any better! The Bleu de Wolvega (which I believe is a town in the Netherlands where it is made) was as pungent as any cheese I have ever smelled including, say, eppouises (sp?). The cheese itself also actually varied in its texture with the part the furthest from the rind literally extremely moist and almost crumbly. After we finished it and an hour or so past, I picked up the rind that I had cut off and much like eating bbq ribs munched on the rind itself-it was that good! Just an incredible flavor that as I type this I want more of!

            1. re: Joe H
              s
              sekelmaan Oct 7, 2009 05:17 AM

              Joe, have you heard of Rogue River Blue cheese? It is an excellent blue and a multi-winning prize winner of something or another. I have your recipe and I think RRB's texture and flavor would be amazing in it. It is form $35-$45/lb and is an artisan cheese, but one could cook with it (if they were trying to, say, make the best risotto on the planet). Obviously, I can't compare it to what you had, but I have been eating artisan cheese since I discovered Dean and Deluca in the early 90's and RRB is a very good blue.

              http://www.roguecreamery.com/

              1. re: Joe H
                g
                Gigi007 Oct 7, 2009 07:38 AM

                You're very welcome, Joe!

                I've been to De Kaaskamer Runstraat and also think it's a wonderful shop. In general, the smell of cheese shops in tne Netherlands and Belgium have greatly impressed me as well. I'm happy that you enjoy the bleu de Wolvega so much. As I said before, I'm not fond of blue cheese in general, but I did like the bleu de Wolvega, especially with some freshly made fig bread!

                Another cheese shop in the Jourdaan I like is Fa. H. Wegewijs at
                Rozengracht 32. Besides the excellent selection of housemade cheses, their baguette sandwiches (ham, proscuitto & cheese) are delicious! It's a popular place at lunchtime...

                Let us know how you make out with getting the bleu de Wolvega and also your risotto dish.

                P.S. If Murray's isn't able to get the bleu de Wolvega, another place I've heard about in NYC (but haven't used) that sources cheeses internationallly is Ideal Cheese (http://idealcheese.com/). Fingers crossed.

                1. re: Gigi007
                  Joe H Oct 7, 2009 08:01 AM

                  Gigi007 and sekelmaan, thank you again for your thoughts. Since my posts of yesterday I've now done quite a bit of research including calling De Kaaskamer Runstraat in Amsterdam and asking if they will ship this to me directly in the U. S.

                  First, this is a link which will tell you how the cheese is made. I've used google translation since it originally is in Dutch: http://translate.google.com/translate...

                  According to the Amsterdam cheese shop (which I've now learned is considered the best in Amsterdam with over 400 cheeses-there are also photos of it on the internet along with a beautiful cross section photo of bleu de wolvega which clearly shows the thick rind and the texture of the soft, moist cheese in the middle) this cheese is not sold in the United States. For that matter there are only a handful of places (thanks again, Gigi007-your credibility has skyrocketed with me!!!) in Holland that sell it. There is one producer of it and it is, in fact, considered by many to be among the best bleu cheeses in the world. The link above actually calls it the best. I've also found websites using google translation that have recipes which include it.

                  I will call the cheese shop back on Friday morning and talk to the owner (who was not in this morning) to see if they will ship directly to me in the U. S. I have a good friend who shares my obsessions and he will share the shipping cost with me which might be four times the E23.50 kg cost of the cheese. It now seems that this is the only way to get it here. If this fails there are concierge services that can do this but they are almost prohibitively expensive. My guess is that my friend and I will share about three or four kilos each to make this worthwhile. I will make the risotto and also perhaps several other dishes using the cheese.

                  sekelmann, I've had the Rogue River and I totally agree-it is excellent. If I had not tasted this I would believe that to be among the best bleu cheeses I've ever had. But the bleu de Wolvega is special and now with what I've learned about it I feel incredibly lucky to have accidentally tasted it. Now, I am obsessed.

                  Thanks again, everyone. Much appreciated.

                  1. re: Joe H
                    s
                    sekelmaan Oct 7, 2009 10:11 AM

                    Let me know if they let you order it. I would be interested in getting my hands on some as well.

                    1. re: sekelmaan
                      Joe H Oct 7, 2009 11:22 AM

                      Will do as soon as I can.

                    2. re: Joe H
                      g
                      Gigi007 Oct 7, 2009 12:27 PM

                      YW, Joe. I should credit my ex though since he's the cheese expert and happily took me to a lot of great shops in Belgium and the Netherlands. And I've always found visits to cheese shops over there to be educational and informative.

                      If the cheese shop in Amsterdam won't ship directly to you, what about Murray's? If they can deal w/ De Kaaskamer, the shipping costs would certainly be less expensive than a concierge service. Of course, the most economical way is what you did when you brought back the cheese in your luggage. If only a friend or work colleague were going to Amsterdam!

                      I used to travel pretty frequently between here and Belgium, and my suitcase was always filled with chocolate and some other products I managed to get addicted to in Belgium It certainly made for interesting conversation w/ customs and security people on both sides of the Atlantic!

                      Hope you can get a hold of the cheese soon!

                      1. re: Gigi007
                        Joe H Oct 9, 2009 06:51 AM

                        Well, there are complications. The cheese shop only accepts cash-no credit cards. Thus, I would first have to mail them/Fed Ex them the Euros which is not a problem but a hassle going to the bank first and then to the post office or courier. Fed Ex is very expensive for shipping from Europe to the U. S. (which would be necessary because of the possible spoilage from extended time in the mail; still not a problem since I have an account). Two kilos are approximately E 80 or US $125. The cheese is E 23.50 a kilo but only about 2/3 of this can be eaten because of the thick rinds. Therefore, the actual cost is E 23.50 X 2 X 1.52 (rate of exchange at B of AM) + $125 + cost of postage for letter sending them the money. The total is right around US $200 or about $67.00 a pound for the three edible pounds of cheese. This price also goes up as the amount of cheese goes up but the cost per pound remains about the same. For myself, now that it is five days since I had the cheese, I am debating whether ANY cheese is worth $200.00.

                        I am going to ask my wife for this as a Christmas present.

                        1. re: Joe H
                          g
                          Gigi007 Oct 9, 2009 07:53 AM

                          Hi Joe, I'm sorry, but I can't say that I'm surprised by the cheese shop's policy. Am not surprised by the shipping cost either. When I used to get cheese from Belgium, I didn't have to deal with that issue as I was going back and forth quite frequently and also had friends bring some back with them on occasion. We also had Murray's get a couple of cheeses for us as well. Although this is going back 3 or 4 years, we never paid anything close to $67/pound, and my Belgian ex, never paid even half of that given the usual price for high-quality cheese in Belgium. He often complained about how expensive even ordinary cheeses are here. Of course, it's to be expected that bleu de Wolvega is expensive given how rare it is.

                          I know it's a longshot, but why don't you try to go on another business trip or perhaps ask a business associate/friend over there if they can possibly help? Otherwise, it doesn't sound worth it, at least to me. I can think of a lot of better ways to spend $200, and I have no doubt that you can too! :)

                          1. re: Gigi007
                            Joe H Oct 9, 2009 08:24 AM

                            I'm actually still waiting to hear back from Murray's and Cheesetique although based on what I learned from the Amsterdam store they probably will not be able to get it. I actually travel within a hundred km or so of Holland on business each spring so I know that I will taste it again and will bring it back again. Also, how close to Schiopol (sp?) the closest cheese shop is that sells it. In the meantime I'll probably start "lurking" on the int'l board to see if anyone from D. C. is going to Amsterdam!

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