Gouda- The Shining Dutch Dairy Star
If this above photo of aged gouda looks familiar, it is probably because I've plastered it unabashedly all over my blog. The light was good that day, the gouda was feeling it, the marcona's were shiny, and quite simply, it is my proudest piece of cheese porn to date. I share it like a mother does a photo of her prodigy child playing their first Fisher Price violin.
And then I remember eating the cheese.
Aged, farmhouse gouda is one of the greatest go-to cheeses on the planet. Let me count the ways.
1. It is a showstopper. It is packed full of so many flavors that it requires a 10 minute window for the person consuming the cheese to sit down and consider its nuances. Aging, let's say at least a year to six years, draws the moisture out the cheese and packs the unami in.
2. Only people with cold, cold hearts can deny the deliciousness of an aged gouda. Put it in a plate and you're golden. Try spelling p-a-r-t-y h-e-r-o (I did, I got it on the first try).
3. It is dirt cheap for the quality of the product. Seriously. I'd happily pay $30 a pound for it, because its greatness deserves that much, but aged gouda normally clocks in around $16 a lb. Why? I have no idea. Do you?
4. It is a conversation starter. Many, accustomed only to the rubbery, bad Monterey Jack doppelgangers sold in supermarket chains, expect gouda to taste like, well... flavorless milk. Tasting aged farmhouse goudas will blow these people's minds. They'll need a cigarette break after letting a slice dissolve on their tongue.
Feel like trying one of the coolest ones available in the United States?
Pictured above, one of my favorite goudas is Roomano Pradera. Aged two-plus years, it's a cheese that looks and tastes good from every angle. Its flavors range from butterscotch, caramel, nuts, right down to the crispy, seared beef fat on the edge of a good steak. When you bite into it, expect to taste salty, crunchy sweet crystals in the cheese resulting from amino acid breakdown during the aging process. Ah, flavor layers.
Aged goudas like Roomano Pradera pair wonderfully with fresh, tart apple slices, dried fruits, and toasted or fried nuts (like marcona almonds). As for drinks, I favor goudas with dry or sweet sherries, or bourbon.
Do you have a favorite aged gouda?