This Friday May 10th we receive our first order from a new Dutch-American supplier which will include six Goudas including: Mild, Cumin, Olive & Tomato, Walnut, Mustard Seed, Pepper, and Aged and that order, of course, prompts this post. Also in the order is a case of Stroop Wafels (syrup waffles), the second most popular item from the town of Gouda in Holland. Gouda, like the town of Stilton in England, actually has no known connection with the making of the cheese that bears its name. In this case the town was the trading center for cheese and got the cheese name because of the transactions there.
By some estimates Gouda cheese accounts for 50%+ of all cheese sales worldwide which would make it quite impossible for the Netherlands to produce. Actually the name Gouda was never legally limited and Gouda cheese is made everywhere. Instead the EU has protected Noord-Hollandse Gouda (how-da) and Boerenkaas (farmers cheese) which are produced by about 300 farmers in south Holland and these two cheeses are the actual historic unpasteurized artisan product made there for centuries.
Most all Gouda made worldwide is industrially produced. It is pasteurized cow's milk cheese made traditionally into six styles based on the amount of ageing. A mild Gouda may be aged just one month. The most aged Gouda may be aged thirty-six months. The younger cheese is semi-hard, suitable for sandwiches, and would best be accompanied by white wine or a lighter beer. The older is hard, served by itself, and would show well with red wine or a stronger darker beer or ale. The wax rind covering the cheese is traditionally color coded with red, orange, and yellow reflecting younger cheeses and black reserved for the aged version.
Gouda is made by heating cultured milk until the curds separate from the whey. Next the curd is "washed" by draining the whey and adding water to the curds. This removes some of the lactic acid and sweetens the cheese. The cheese is then pressed into molds, soaked in brine, and coated to prevent it from drying out during ageing.
What ageing accomplishes for the cheese is nothing short of dramatic. Aged Gouda is both sweet and salty with hints of caramel, butterscotch and toffee at the finish. The cheese is also crunchy due to the calcium lactate or tyrosine crystals which we blogged about on September 5th of last year when we dug into Ciao Angelo, "Italian-style Gouda".
Stop in this week and get a free wheel of Gouda here at the store. Am I kidding? Well, it's a gift basket Mini-Bonbel, an ounce at most and a far cry from real Dutch cheese. Stop in after Friday and taste all of the new Goudas in the store.
This Friday David Rimmer of Artisan Vines joins us for our weekly tasting with two reds from Spain, one each from Italy and Portugal, and whites from New York State and Italy. Please become a "follower" of this blog so I don't have to experience the humiliation of seeing all of the followers other blogsters have.