I’m at the Sunday farmer’s market. Behind me, there are stalls of fresh bread and new-picked peaches, children running, folk music playing. Before me, is a spread of my best cheeses in blocks, wheels and wedges. Someone stops and spears up a cube with a toothpick, tasting the cheese thoughtfully.
“This Gouda is gooda,” he announces proudly. Then he looks at me and his face falls. “Oh. You’ve heard that joke before?”
“Often,” I admit, but try to reassure him. “There’s no such thing as too much Gouda love.” And he seems to brighten at this. So I don’t tell him that Gouda, which originated in a town in Holland of the same name, is technically pronounced Howda. Why break his heart?
Besides, the Dutch variety of Gouda is only the beginning. You will likely have seen American and Argentine, smoked and spicy, goat’s milk and cow’s milk, pasteurized and raw. Still, it is probably most recognized with the bright wax coating that often overlays its natural rind.
The characteristic step in Gouda-making is ‘delactosing’, or washing the curd with hot water while it’s in the vat, removing some of the lactic acid, and ultimately creating sweetness. The curd is then pressed into circular molds and these Gouda wheels are aged anywhere from 4 weeks to 18 months.
As it ages, the cheese develops a sweetness and slight crunchiness from salt-like calcium lactate crystals: a dichotomy of flavors that makes for a harmonious -if unexpected- balance. When young, it’s soft and creamy. When aged, it’s hard and flaky. Excellent Gouda should taste of salted caramel, whisky, butterscotch, or toasted nuts.
Our Cheese Guy brand is produced in the US Midwest on small artisan Amish farms, whose milk-cows have 24/7 access to pastures. We like to think our mellow variety measures up with best of the traditional Dutch-made kind. At 3-4 months aged, the Cheese Guy Gouda is mild, creamy, slightly nutty and best paired with Hoppy Pilsner beers such as Beck's® or Stella Artois®. Our limited edition of “cellar aged” gouda (only available at farmer’s markets) matures for 1-2 years and becomes grainy, with a hard and crunchy texture. This sharper taste pairs well with deeply flavored wine such as a rich Merlot or Shiraz. Young or aged, Gouda can also be eaten with fruits and nuts and on crackers, and it can either be melted or eaten by the chunk.
At the tail end of summer, when no one wants to be in a hot kitchen too long, we like to make a Gouda and Avocado Grilled Cheese with fragrant tomatoes from the garden. For kids, it’s the perfect meal en route from bike to sprinkler. For adults, a slather of grainy mustard, an icy pale beer, and that favorite lawn chair will make it complete. Happy August!
Gouda and Avocado Grilled Cheese
- 4 slices of whole grain bread
- 4 ounces of The Cheese Guy Gouda
- 1 large avocado, sliced
- 1 large tomato, sliced
Butter a skillet and put on medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Lay two slices of bread, butter side down, in the skillet and top with one layer of The Cheese Guy Gouda slices, then slices of avocado, and slices of tomato. Top with another layer of slices of The Cheese Guy Gouda, and the remaining slices of bread, buttered side up. Let them cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Then flip the sandwiches, and let the other side cook for about 3-5 minutes, when the cheese is starting to melt and the sandwich has browned. Remove from heat, cut into triangles, and enjoy.
Posted on 08/05/2015 at 09:06:00 AM