5-year aged Gouda
13 January 2018
I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I recently visited the fabulous cheese stall in Norwich market, and acquired some beautiful, luscious Vacherin Mont D’Or. What I neglected to mention was that I also spotted a cheese that I have been waiting over a decade to buy. I saw it. I bought it. No hesitation.
It was some beautiful 5-year aged Gouda.
I first discovered the joys of aged Gouda probably 20 years ago. Up until then, Gouda meant one thing - the rather unattractive rubbery cheese you could get from any supermarket, but really preferred not to. It’s the sort of thing you get little mini wax-covered balls of to drop into your kids’ lunch boxes.
Then somebody introduced me to an 18-month aged Gouda. It was completely different, and a revelation.
More dense, and massively more flavourful than its young counterpart, I was sold. It became something I would seek out. Then I discovered that, in addition to this new source of gold, there was 3-year aged Gouda. I tried it, and it blew my mind, or at least my taste buds.
Gouda that has been aged for that long is hard and brittle in texture. If you ask the assistant at a cheese shop to cut you a custom-sized piece, and all they have is a board with a cheese wire, prepare to watch them strain mightily to cut through the stuff. But the texture is one of the joys of eating it - it’s unlike any other cheese you’ll have with crunchy crystals that you initially think must be salt, but they’re actually a form of the main milk protein, casein.
But the real attraction is the intensity of the flavours. Loaded with toffee and butterscotch flavours, it is simply one of the best cheeses out there if you like your cheese robust.
When I was visiting Boston in the US many years ago - maybe fifteen years - I went to a huge Wholefoods store there and spotted something I hadn’t even known existed. A 5-year aged Gouda. I wanted it, but I was in America, at a conference, due to return home the very next day and you wouldn’t be allowed to take that stuff through customs. Regretfully, I moved on.
I never saw it again. I saw 3-year aged Gouda, and bought it when I wanted a real cheesy hit. And I wasn’t complaining.
But then there it was - on a cheese stall in Norwich. I nabbed it.
And I loved it. That said, and bearing in mind it’s actually been a couple of years since I had any at all, I think the difference between an 18 month Gouda and a 3-year one is greater than the gap between a 3-year Gouda and a 5-year one. The texture becomes a little harder. The flavour a little stronger. The crystals a little more crunchy.
It's fabulous, and I strongly recommend you try some. In a fast food world, it’s a testament to the extra levels that sometimes come with a bit of patience!