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.