Located in the former site of a Franciscan convent in the Flanders region of northern Belgium, brothers Peter and Bert Boonen along with their wives Cane and Carine run the family farm, Catharinadal.
The brothers took the farm over from their father in 1990. At that time the milk from the family’s 60 cows was used to produce butter, but Peter and Bert expanded production to include a cheesemaking operation. Today, the herd has grown to 100 cows that graze on clover-rich fields on the family’s 50 acres. Bert and Carine care for the cows while Peter and Cane are responsible for the cheesemaking, including a number of historic regional cheeses that date back 500 years. All the cow’s milk used for production is raw and sourced from the family’s herd. The goat’s milk used in some of the cheeses comes from the farm De Stalse Schans, located in Koersel, Belgium.
A strikingly beautiful cheese, Grevenbroecker is made from raw cow’s milk. The process that creates the blue veining surrounding the large cream-colored curds starts with hand stacking the Penicillium Roqueforti inoculated curds in the molds. As air seeps through the cracks in the cheese, over a period of ten weeks, the blue mold is activated and spreads throughout; following the natural fissures between the curds.
As a result, Grevenbroecker is a cheese with a robust oblue flavor, but without being aggressive or overly assertive. Instead, it balances sweet grass and earthy flavors.
The texture is almost fudge-like, but when served at room temperature, it’s spreadable. The manual process used to make Grevenbroecker is so intense that the production is extremely limited, from 30 to 35 wheels per week. However, the cheese has been extremely well received both in Europe and in the USA, winning at the 2008 Caseus Awards in Lyon, France.
The classic pairing of Tawny Port with blue holds true with Grevenbroecker. As far as beer pairings, Trappist style ales are best, with Achel Trappist dark and Brooklyn Local 2 as particular favorites.