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It might be due to the constant of subliminal crisis-psycho-stress, it might be just coincidence, or simply a lack of proper Heinzelcheese planning: once again I entrust soft stuff to your big cheese-loving hearts and souls. And instead of one, there are three. Domäne Fredeburg’s Pirschbachbrie, Domänenländer and Domowoj are just so good, and cheeses of this kind and quality, in reliable quantity so rare in Germany. And no, as is often the case with my recommendations, you will not find them on the next supermarket’ shelves, sorry. The lucky ones amongst you live in eastern Schleswig-Holstein, where the large estate, whose origin in the present form goes back to 1991, is situated halfway between Mölln and Ratzeburg. Alternatively you might know somebody in that region who sends you some cheese… You’ll find a way – perhaps planning a cheese trip in that direction, at some point in the future when traveling will be back as an option.
Our three soft friends will be worth your efforts, promise. The reasons are obvious: 35 really happy black-and-white dairy cows, with horns, realtime bull encounters and close mother-and-calf relationships. Pastures during the summer, a cuddly stable in the winter. And immediately next door somebody like Lothar de Vries, who transforms their raw, unheated milk into cheese, using natural rennet. The semi-hard and hard cheeses are good too, but this triple star is on a different level.
Pirschbachbrie smells of fresh mushrooms with a hint of ammoniac, the paste is dense and soft but not runny, the creamy sweetness carried by the acidity, salt and above all the milk’s complex umami depth… Domänenländer sports a discreet washed rind, is therefore more intense in aroma (but the very opposite of a stinker), the acidity more vivid, making the paste feel “lighter”; a small masterpiece. Finally Domowoj, whose name refers to a Slav, benevolent puck, the paste even more intense in its radiant yellow due to a dash of carrot juice added to the milk, washed with white wine and generously coated with cracked black pepper – risky, and successful. The crispy crunch and spice are having real fun with the dense, creamy inside.
All this is no accident, and anything than a new discovery. I first went to see Lothar de Vries in 2008, during the research for my first cheese book. Since then Domäne Fredeburg has been growing, a new farmshop with a bistro were added, and besides cows, pigs, chickens, and geese there are quails. The three families who originally started this because they were convinced that a respectful approach towards nature was not only possible but a necessity, are now a team of fifty people. They say on their website: “Head or gut feeling, mankind or nature, organic or economic, individual or together, growth or pause, origin or future, life or joy, idealism or… – at Domäne Fredeburg we are working everyday to turn the “or” into an “and”, again and again.”
Keep safe and well, and please feel free to send comments – and hopefully see you soon. Cheerio and cheesio.
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