People bring back cheese for me from other countries in their suitcase.
This is awesome for two reasons. First, it means that they are thinking of me when doing fun, wonderful things, like eating cheese and traveling. While at UC Berkeley, one of the things I studied during my cultural anthropology tenure was changing funerary rites. Because of this I can tell you first hand that having people say they thought of you while traveling or enjoying cheese can be more enjoyable than hearing you came to mind when they said goodbye to their Aunt Tilly, or, when they read the latest article about caskets being sold at Costco. This is good for my ego.
Second, it is awesome because once the cheese is released from their suitcase, I get to eat it. Even cooler, most queso, fromage, kaas that is brought back for me tends to be from traveler’s cheesemaker friends or family. This means if they hadn’t brought it back, I might have never have had a chance to try it. Or write about it.
Such is the story with this Kaasboerderij Captein Creamery gouda, brought back for me by a lovely lady named Lidewey who visited her friend’s farm and creamery.
Made from the milk of cows on her friend’s farm in Zoeterwoude, Holland, this gouda is boerenkaas.
In order to be labeled boerenkaas, the cows that are producing the milk for the gouda have to be grazing on grass. Both because winters are so harsh in Holland so the animals are kept indoors, and because boerenkaas producers believe that cheese made with the milk of animals eating the greenest, tastiest grass is the best, boerenkaas is only made in spring summer – for quality’s sake.
This Kaasboerderij Captein gouda is also Boeren-Goudse Oplegkaas, meaning that it’s been aged from two to four years. That’s when the gouda crunch comes in. As a cheese ages, lactose turns to lactic acid, and amino acid protein starts to crystallize. The older it gets, the more crystallization can happen. The crystals aren’t sweet, but because the cheese itself gets more flavorful and often sweeter with age, the crystals give the perception of sweetness.
This particular aged gouda that Lideway brought back is made by the Kaasboerderij Captein Creamery in Zoeterwoude, Gouda, Holland. The family has been maintaining their area of grassland in Zoeterwoude, on the edge of an area known as the “Green Heart” of Holland, for many generations.
As is traditional with goudas of this style, the women in the family craft this cheese. If it’s a day when the animals are out grazing, one can also find the mother and daughter turning the milk from their ”Fries Roodbont vee” (Friesian red-and-white cows) into curds that will later be pressed into their Boeren-Goudse Oplegkaas. After the curds have been pressed into traditional wooden molds lined with linen, and the wheels have been aged for a couple years, a cheese is revealed that tastes like intense cultured butter made in summer, grass, a little meaty, and surprisingly even though very aged, still rich and not grainy or crumbly.
Though the family’s pride, and the favorite cheese of chefs in Holland is this style of wheel, they also make young cheeses too- six week-old little freshies that are consumed waaaay before they’d have a chance to land on U.S. shores.
And I have no idea where to tell you all to find this cheese in the U.S.. In Holland you can find it at Michelin-starred restaurants. Here, you can find it… in my fridge. At least this week. As of yet it’s not available for purchase. But maybe, just maybe, if we cross our fingers, someone will import it. Once that happens, you’ll have have to go buy some dark bread, smother it with sweet butter, and, as Lidewey tells me the Dutch do, so I should also be doing, have it for breakfast. Suitcase optional.