Andrea Nicole Photography & Web Design

Cheese of the Week: Beemster XO Gouda

I’ve featured a couple of goudas on the blog recently, but I chose to feature this one in such close proximity to the others, primarily because of my overwhelming excitement for a newly discovered pairing.

This week’s cheese is a proper Dutch gem and widely available stateside. Beemster Extra Aged (XO) gouda is, as the name implies, super aged, generally for no less than 26 months, resulting in a dense, dry, oily pate, speckled generously with amino acid crystals.

It takes on a deep, rich amber color, and crumbles readily when cut. The flavor itself begins as a lovely bright, tangy, sweetness, evolving into beautiful butterscotch and nuttiness, as the pate dissolves, releasing the aforementioned crystals for gritty intrigue.

A fine cheese in its own right.

But then I decided to slap a piece of membrillo on it.

Membrillo, also known as quince paste, is most classically paired with Manchego, to create what many consider to be essentially the national snack of Spain. The paste is sweet and markedly floral, which made me curious to see how it would team up with the Beemster.

The above flavor description still applies, but early in the experience, the sweetness of the membrillo really enhanced the sweet tang of the cheese, and as it evolved, the floral finish danced delightfully with the butterscotch and nuttiness in a way that elevated the combo vastly beyond the sum of its component parts. This is a remarkable, nay extraordinary, pairing and I really don’t say that often.

No Comments »

Cheese of the Week: Bleu du Queyras

For months, I have searched, longed, pined for a bleu worthy of my unfettered devotion and adulation. I had tried many, but none had succeeded. Until now. At long last, I found it, the bleu cheese which has stolen my heart.

Bleu du Queyras is dramatically different from my former (and no longer produced) favorite bleu, Persille du Cezalier, but stands apart in its own beautiful uniqueness.

I comes from the Haute-Alpes region and is made exclusively from the milk of Tarine and Abondance cows. The pate is a rich straw color with starkly contrasting blue veining and a sticky grayish-yellow rind.

The aroma is strong for a bleu – funky, pungent, fungal, cavey (Is that even a word? Well, it should be). The pate is soft, oily, creamy, but crumbles slightly under the knife, courtesy of the delicate pockets of mold.

It is dense, not unlike butter, due to the fact that it’s technically a double cream, with a minimum of 50% fat content, which in cheese math equals 100% delicious. It dissolves effortlessly across the tongue, giving way to firestorm of sensation, sending the fortunate recipient into a tailspin of emotion.

The flavor is divine: it starts out exquisitely mushroomy, a little funky and tangy, unfolding into a piquant, spicy finish that lingers long after the last creamy, savory morsel has left your mouth.

And so I happily announce I have finally found the bleu I’ve been searching for!

No Comments »