By Jim Boyce
There is no shortage of wine and cheese events in Beijing, but rare are those featuring Chinese wine and Chinese cheese that are both good.
Last night, Beijing Cheese Society gathered at New Veranda in Shunyi to taste Yellow Valley cheeses and Grace Vineyard wines from nearby Shanxi province.
I first tried Yellow Valley cheeses at a Palette Vino wine tasting last December and, like many other people, was surprised to learn they were domestically made. The cheese is tasty and fresh, and flavors include plain, herb, and garlic and onion.
Yellow Valley founder Marc de Ruiter started experimenting in 2004 – “I was making cheese five kilograms at a time,” he says – and set up the company in 2006. The company’s three goals: to make the best artisan Gouda in China, to help the local farmers, and to be “socially responsible.” de Ruiter deals directly with the farmers, thus enabling them to make more money, he says.
We tried the cheeses with Euro-bakery bread, Veranda appetizers (including delicious sausage rolls), and Chardonnay and Cabernet-Merlot from Grace Vineyard, which is only a 90-minute drive from Yellow Valley.
(Hmm, a winery and a cheese-making operation close together. Do I sniff a road trip?)
The event and the quiz were organized by Beijing Cheese Club co-founder Sharon Ruwart, who has been giving feedback to deRuiter on his cheeses for three years.
By the way, New Veranda (next to Western Academy Beijing) offers a large airy space, with rough plank floors, cranberry colored walls, and white thick-trimmed ceiling-to-floor windows. And has free wireless, a lengthy veranda out back and a 48-kuai breakfast that yours truly intends to soon check out. Yellow Valley cheeses are available at Euro-bakery, Palette Vino and South German Bakery, among other venues.