What started with a couple of goats about twenty years ago, has become a professional business where goat cheese and tapas are made: De Molkerei of Els Hartog-Brugman.
For their horses they were looking for space and that is why Jaap and Els Hartog and their children moved away from Haarlem 21 years ago, and went to live on the Frisian countryside. In Oudebildtzijl to be precise. A stone’s throw from the Wadden Sea cost. They also took a couple of goats. They were milked and from the milk they made cheese, as a hobby. “In the long run we had too much cheese and then I started to call local shops. They wanted to have it”, says Els. In 2000 the soft goat cheese of De Molkerei was chosen Best goat dairy of The Netherlands. For the Hartog family reason to stop keeping goats and to focus completely on the production of cheese and the sale of it. Since then the milk is being bought at a local goat farm. Also they started the production of tapas, snacks originally from Spain. In all tapas of De Molkerei – fifteen different ones – the own goat cheese is being processed. Jaap Hartog came up with the first tapa: pointed pepper stuffed with goat cheese in sunflower oil. This tapa was named Sweet bite. Now there are also the Sweet date , Sweet apricot and Sweet pickle. Especially round Christmas time the tapas with salmon and goat cheese are in demand. New are the sweet-spicy peppers from South Africa, called peppadew, stuffed with goat cheese.
The preparation of tapas requires a lot of manual work. Therefor De Molkerei has a permanent staff of fourteen people and eleven part-timers. “But just before Christmas there are up to 35 people working”, says Els. Two and a half year ago in Sint Annaparochie a new building was put into service for the production of tapas. The production areas meet the BRC-food safety requirements. “Already at the first control we achieved the A-score”, says daughter Hedy Hartog who, like her brother David works in the company. This is the highest certification of BRC and this enables you to deliver to for instance Albert Heijn: who demands BRC-A of its suppliers, Hedy knows. The sale of the tapas is done by Enrico, wholesale in Mediterranean specialties in Amsterdam. This company also takes care of the promotion of the tapas and also a part of the product innovation.
Meanwhile De Molkerei achieves 75% of their sales volume from the tapas and 25% from the goat cheese. But this doesn’t mean that the cheese is been neglected. De demand of it increases and in Sint Annaparochie there is a lot ready on which in the near future a new cheese factory has to come. The goat cheese has a fresh-sour, neutral taste and fits in a lot of dishes. According to Els the special taste is caused by a herb which is added to the milk before preparation. “Only the family knows which herb this is….”
Author: Henk ten Have
Source: De Zelfkazer, het vakblad over boerderijzuivel