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Crèmerie de Linkebeek

Every morning at the Crèmerie de Linkebeek, they throw sawdust on the floor. It absorbs the moisture people track in from outdoors, and it simplifies the end-of-day cleaning while minimising detergent use. But even more important than that: it’s always been done.

Owners Jordan Greenwood and Laurence Duhot are concerned with maintaining tradition, which, when you own the oldest cheese shop in Brussels, means you have 108 years’ worth of history to handle.

The store has deep local roots. Occasional elderly clients come back and reminisce about having visited the store as a child with their grandparents. The current clientele are largely from the surrounding neighbourhood in the Flemish Triangle at the centre of Brussels.

The Crèmerie also gets occasional Flemish tourists, ever since a beloved series of commercials by Flanders' Agricultural Marketing Board (VLAM), “Belgische Kazen, Belgische Trots” (“Belgian Cheeses, Belgian Pride”), was filmed there several years ago.

I could go on, but let’s not forget the cheese! Greenwood and Duhot quite simply sell the best cheeses they can find. They work primarily with Belgian, French and Dutch producers, often from smaller, self-sustaining farms.

On the local level, their selection includes the soft Brugse Blomme and the sharp, hard Oud Brugge; Pas de Bleu, a blue cheese from Ghent’s Het Hinkelspel cheese makers; and Cabourg, an artisanal semi-soft cheese from Veurne, near the French border.

You’ll also find Grevenbroecker, the Achel blue cheese made by Catharinadal in Limburg, which took home the prestigious International Caseus Award in Lyon for Best Original Cheese in 2009.

As a specialty shop, their prices are naturally higher than what you’ll find in the major grocery stores, but the excellent selection and friendly service keep people coming back. At the Crèmerie, they are as happy with clients who buy two slices as two kilos.

Although a tiny space, the Crèmerie packs in more on top of its 120 to 180 cheeses (selection varies by the season). They offer a choice of cured meats, a few wines and even fewer beers, all selected by the same criteria as the cheese: products that the owners enjoy.

Only one bread is available: baguettes made according to a patented French recipe. You get milk from a farm in Lier in refillable glass bottles, as well as raw milk butter, eggs and a variety of biscuits and cookies.

You’ll even find New York cheesecake, made according to Greenwood’s New York-based grandmother’s recipe. Of course, I indulged. It is sinfully dense and creamy. I asked what it contains, but Greenwood warned that sharing this information would imperil both our lives at the hands of grandmother Shirley. That’s a sign of a good cheesecake.

4 Rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains, Brussels
Mon 9.00-15.00; Tues to Sat 9.00-18.00
With only the best cheese, cured meats and beer, not to metion the cheesecake, this is one-stop shopping for a perfect picnic

 

This review was originally published in Flanders Today