Tuesday, August 2, 2011

TMDTIATW: Dutch Nun Potato Cheese With Magic Oil

The most delicious thing I ate this week (TMDTIATW)may also be the most delicious thing I ate this year. It's from one of my favorite points of gastronomic light: a tiny shop in Tarrytown called Mint (18 Main St Tarrytown, NY; 914-703-6511). 

The place is stocked to the rafters with seemingly random packaged food products - Lebanese fig jams, Georgian pomegranate molasses, artisinal French apple compotes, and much more - including, if you're lucky, the crown jewel of Dutch stroopwafels, Gouda's Gilde brand (otherwise nearly unfindable in this hemisphere).

In spite of appearances, nothing here is random. Each item is expertly selected, and available in very limited quantity (one gets the feeling a bedraggled messenger brings back suitcases full of this and that). Nothing's bargain-priced, nor ought it be. Great hand-picked items, mostly quite obscure and available nowhere else; it's chowhound heaven!

Most customers come for the prepared food, made by a sometimes cranky but good-hearted Mexican woman, but I'm all about the cheese. The owner, an amiable Moroccan guy with encyclopedic knowledge of just about everything, carries cheeses no one else carries - cheeses no one else has even heard of! He cuts only directly from wheels, the only proper way (he's spoiled me; I will no longer buy pre-cut blocks). He overwhelms customers with samples. And I buy and buy until all my cash is all gone.

The latest revelation was a Dutch cheese, made by nuns, containing potatoes. I don't understand it, and can't even describe it. It's the most potatoey item imaginable, yet has full integrity as cheese. It's like one of those convex/concave optical illusions; one can perceive it as spuds or as cheese, but not as both simultaneously. It's simply the apotheosis of potatoes and of cheese. It is potato cheese, and there's nothing more to be said.

I spread it on well-toasted Trader Joe's whole wheat English muffins (surprisingly wonderful), with a light drizzle from a tiny expensive bottle of magical Moroccan oil I'd not previously heard of, which makes everything sumptuous. The Mint guy explained that only the aristocracy of southern Morocco ever had access to this stuff:

And life was good.

Note that all photos expand upon clicking, but this next photo absolutely must be viewed at full size:

The version in the photos was actually a subsequent effort, with cheese crumbled, not spread, on toasted sopes (from Tortilleria San Roman, 951 South 9th St, Philadelphia, PA; 267-507-9161), again drizzled with magic oil.

The cheese is called, phonetically, something like "De Lotia", but don't bother trying to Google it. 


Dave said...

A not particularly reliable source recommended these wafles, made in good old North America. Ever tried them?


Jim Leff said...

Nope, but I'll keep it on my list.

There are tons of domestic and imported stroopwafels available here. I've tried loads of them, but one taste of Gouda's Gilde and you'll see the diff. They're really lightyears ahead of anything else I've had.

Blog Archive