For the holidays I am going to listen to the driving beats of Black Betty and the soaring anthem of Fat Bottom Girl.
I invite you to join me on this journey of flavor. I am actually talking about cheese and not the surprisingly storied song “Black Betty,” which has been recorded more than 30 times from 1933-2013.
In the cheese world, Black Betty is a Dutch goat Gouda known as Brabander. These Goudas are selected and matured by Betty Koster, owner of l’Amuse cheese shop near Amsterdam.
While the Brabander Goudas are usually aged from six to nine months, Koster holds some about six months longer. These cheeses are covered in black wax and given the name Black Betty (bam-ba-lam) … I couldn’t resist.
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The extra time spent aging accentuates the already present flavors of caramel and butter. If you come into The Better Cheddar, ask for a taste of the younger Brabander and the older Black Betty and see the difference the extra six months makes on the cheese. They are both very good, but the Black Betty is starting to get a little crystalline in texture, adding another dimension to the cheese.
Only a few of these cheeses are exported. So you won’t find this cheese everywhere, making it great for your holiday get together.
Another cheese just in for the holidays is Fat Bottom Girl. Yes I am talking about cheese and not the (rather crass) Queen song from 1978 “Fat Bottom Girls.” Fat Bottom Girl is a seasonal raw sheep’s milk cheese from Bleating Heart Cheese in California.
They follow the natural milking season of sheep so the cheeses are only made from spring to fall. The cheeses we have in the shop are some of the last of the season, so you won’t see this lovely lady for a while.
The name refers to the shape of the cheese. The cheese is not flipped when very young to ensure that the bottom of the cheese bulges.
Bleating Heart describes the cheese as “lightly” washed. This gives the cheese a funky aroma, but this aroma is slight in the flavors of the cheese. You will find flavors of butter and nuts complemented by a little salt.
This cheese is one of the truly seasonal small-batch, artisanal cheeses made in the U.S. so it commands a pretty penny. But it’s worth it for your holiday celebration.
Check out this video about microbes featuring Bleating Heart’s cheese maker, Seana Doughty, and then come see me for a taste of the cheese.
Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society-certified cheese professional. He is the manager and buyer for The Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.