Featured Vendors: Dutch Apple Stroop & Eastern District Cheese
It was a great pleasure sampling stroop in Transmitter Park with Carina of Dutch Artisan, who will be sharing a table with Eastern District at our market on Saturday. Like a good Dutch woman she biked to Greenpoint from Park Slope and told me her story while feeding me delicious globs of Dutch Apple Stroop.
I know you are wondering WTF is stroop? Well, it’s not jelly and it’s not jam – it’s its own thing – it’s stroop. It is made of apples from very old trees in Holland, tall apple trees. The apples are boiled down into what resembles molasses and has a sweet and tart prune flavor, and it is perfect with cheese – plus there are lots of great recipes where it can be used as well. I also tried some sweeter stroop, made with beets and apples and now I am enjoying it every morning on my toast.
The story of Dutch Apple Stroop is great. Carina’s Grandmother is from the same region where this stroop is made and when all the local apple farmers nearby decided to cut down their “tall trunk” trees for shorter varieties that make picking easier and the apples sweeter, this particular farmer where Carina’s stroop is made decided to preserve his tall tree varieties and began making stroop with special apples that have names like Eysdener Klumpke, Keuleman, Sevenumse Striepke, Brederode and Rode Sterappel.
We chatted with Carina and Beth of Eastern Distric to learn more about stroop and its cheesy pairing.
GP: Why stroop?
Carina: While New York has some of the best food in the world, I always missed the delicious and wholesome Dutch treats that I grew up with – Organic Dutch Apple Stroop being one of my favorites. For years I would stuff jars of Apple Stroop in my suitcase to take back to NY from my annual trips to Holland. Eventually I started organizing breakfasts, lunches and dinners for my friends and had them taste the many different ways in which you can enjoy Organic Dutch Apple Stroop. Everyone loved it and kept begging me to get them more. The rest is history as they say…
GP: Are you stropping for a living?
Carina: Yes! It is a dream job for me because it combines many of my passions – my love for good food and my passion for making sure that what we eat comes from a good and sustainable source. And I even got to help design my own label. I love to paint and made the little Dutch lady on our label.
GP: What is so special about stroop?
Carina: Dutch Artisan’s Organic Dutch Apple Stroop has a deliciously rich sweet-n-tart flavor and soft spreadable texture that is unique and completely different from anything else. It tastes very different from apple butter or jam and it has no added sugar. It is wonderful spread on buttered toast, bread or pancakes, used as a sauce for meat or tempeh or paired with cheeses. Combine it with some soft creamy goat cheese or some old Gouda and you are likely going to want to finish the jar!
GP: Do the Dutch and Brooklyn get along?
The most inspiring thing about Brooklyn for me is the sense of community that I feel here. Having the Dutch Old Stone house just a block from my home always reminds me of the fact that the Dutch once lived here and founded New Amsterdam. I like the idea that by introducing Dutch Artisan’s Organic Dutch Apple Stroop to the US, that I am bringing a little bit of Old Holland back to New Amsterdam.
GP: Can you tell us more about the history of stroop?
Carina: Our Organic Dutch Apple Stroop comes from Crombach, a family-owned business founded in the Southern part of the Netherlands a half-century ago by Sjang Crombach who raised a beautiful orchard with tall trunk trees.
When tall trunk trees fell out of favor in the 1960s for shorter ones that were easier to manage and produced sweeter apples, Sjang stuck by his crop – and the earth. Rather than ravage the landscape to replace his fine old trees with the latest trend, Sjang found a new use for his slightly tarter apples: stroop. These tall trunk tree apples turned out to be perfect to create a deliciously rich sweet-n-tart tasting Dutch Apple Stroop. Soon neighboring farmers started selling their tall trunk tree apples to Sjang, thereby preserving the Netherlands’ original Southern landscape, as well as its biological and ecological system.
An important benefit: tall trunk trees are more disease-resistant than short trunk trees, which means no pesticides in our Organic Dutch Apple Stroop! Today, the company is run by Sjang’s nephew, Rene Franssen, who honors his uncle’s objectives and principles: offering farmers a fair price for their organic tall trunk tree apples, and making viable a responsible and organic way of growing these apples.
GP: How did you hook up with Eastern District?
I discovered Greenpoint when I learned about Eastern District, a wonderful specialty store in your neighborhood, who was excited to put our Organic Dutch Apple Stroop on their shelves. Together we came up with some delicious cheese and Dutch Apple Stroop pairings that we are excited to share with everyone at the Greenpointers Fall Market.
We also chatted with Beth from Eastern District.
GP: Why do you do what you do? With beer and cheese that is…
Beth: I really, really love good cheese. My husband Chris really, really loves good beer. For years, we daydreamed about having a store in Greenpoint where we could indulge in our favorite things. Finally we decided to open that store ourselves, so three years ago, Eastern District was born. We love trying different foods, learning about small breweries and cheesemakers, and sharing what we’ve learned with our friends and neighbors. My favorite thing to do is to give someone a taste of cheese, and see their eyes light up when they say, “That’s EXACTLY what I was looking for!” I also enjoy the fact that we’re helping to support small artisanal cheesemakers, brewers, and food producers.
GP: Let’s talk about Eastern District at the market in Saturday!
Beth: I’ve always wanted to participate in one of the Greenpointers Markets, but we’ve never had the staff or the time to make it happen. So I’m really excited that we’re partnering up with Carina to be there this fall. Everyone will get a little taste of what Eastern District is about, along with a little taste of some great fresh chevre and sharp cheddar, paired with Dutch Artisan Apple Stroop. I always love the taste of apples with cheese, and the apple stroop has such a delicious sweet and tangy favor, plus a yummy smooth texture – I think it’s going to be a hit!