Publication NL 07/2020 | Available for Publication
On her small farm in the northern Frisian countryside of the Netherlands Doetie keeps goats. Her love for goats dates back to her childhood when she kept a few goats on her parents' farm. Later on in life, working as a medical analyst, she was still very much drawn to farm life, and eventually she exchanged her regular job for a life as a goat-keeper and artisan cheese maker, and returned with her family to the Frisian countryside, where she fulfilled her dream.
Doetie keeps about 80 Toggenburg goats. This breed of goat, originally from Switzerland, was brought to the Netherlands at the end of the 19th century to provide food for the poor population in Drenthe, a rural county in the north part of the Netherlands. Nowadays the Toggenburg goat is listed as a rare breed.
Doetie's herd of friendly brown goats roam the land around her farm, feasting on what they find in the herb-rich pasture. "You can really taste that in the cheese," says Doetie. Doetie milks the goats early in the morning in her self-built milking parlour, after which the fresh goat's milk goes straight to the cheese factory on her farm where Doetie turns the fresh milk into fantastic raw milk cheeses.
The different cheeses have local Frisian names such as Lytse Wite (Little White, a creamy raw milk white cheese), Grutte Gryze (Big Grey, a creamy white cheese with carbon on the outside which ensures a different ripening process), Swarte Toer (Black Tower) and last but not least Geiteleafde (Love of Goats, a heart-shaped raw milk goat's cheese). Doetie sells the cheeses herself at a number of farmers markets in the north of the Netherlands. "I love the contact with my customers, just to be able to tell that little bit extra about my goats and the cheese" Doetie explains. "Many of my customers are regular customers who come back time and time again". When asked what she likes more, keeping the goats or making cheese, she says "both, because they do belong together and that is exactly what is so important, just like small scale farming and producing together with the appreciation for high quality artisan products".
Cheese connoisseurs in the Netherlands have also discovered her delicious artisan goat’s cheeses, many of Doetie's cheeses now find their way to delis and (star) restaurants throughout the Netherlands.
When I ask her what her favourite goat’s cheese recipe is, she answers: "I prefer to eat them as they are, or on a cheeseboard after dinner, that is how restaurants usually serve them, but a nice salad with goat’s cheese is also delicious of course, use the Swarte Toer, a black carbon crusted soft cheese, because then you can show off that beautiful crust". "I will do! I reply, taking some goat meat along the way for a slow-cooked stew.