Day 44-Old Amsterdam Gouda

At last, the tyranny of Brie is over! I’m going rogue with my cheese tasting, and feeling feisty.  Well, as feisty as one can feel at 4:22 in the morning.I realize that this is possibly the world’s first cheese and insomnia blog, all rolled into one.

Speaking of honour, my cheese today is just covered in medals and awards, including what appears to be a bronze medal in the “World Champion Cheese contest.”  Did you hear that, the WORLD champion.  Wow.  Old Amsterdam is a Gouda from Holland. t’s made from pasteurized cow milk, and is my first cheese to contain annatto, which needs a little explanation.

Annatto, sometimes called achiote, is a substance used to colour cheese.  It’s a derivative of the achiote tree found in South America, and it  produces a yellow to orange hue in food-you know, that “cheese colour.” Many cheeses are coloured, Goudas, Cheddars and others.  This has been occurring since at least 1860.  Presumably, cheese eaters felt that summer cheese was superior to winter cheese.  Summer cheese having a higher fat and carotene content from the grass often is naturally darker.  Hence annatto was used to dye foods as basically one of the earliest food additives  to give cheese that “summer cheese look,” kind of like spray on tanner for cheese. The problem with annatto is that lots of people are actually allergic to it.  However, since it’s a natural product, food containing annatto may be labeled as “all natural” when actually, they aren’t.  Now didn’t you always wondered why cheddar came in “white” or “orange?”  There’s your answer.  Of course, “marbled” takes on a whole new meaning.  It’s essentially annatto dyed cheese mixed with non-annatto dyed cheese.  Weird. Anyway, if you ever feel sick or wrong after eating an orange coloured cheese, try to find it in natural or white and see if there’s a difference, it might be the annatto that’s disagreeing with you.

Now, back to Gouda. This gouda cheese is made with a unique culture owned by the Westland family in Holland.  It’s an industrially produced cheese, but controlled by a family and made in small batches, so it’s got the best of both worlds.  This cheese is made using only week day milk, as apparently weekend milk is not as fresh as cheese production doesn’t happen over the weekend (makes you wonder what they do with all that weekend milk).  It s made from Frisian Holstein cows only.  OMG, this cheese is on facebook, check out  It’s the first of my 43 cheeses to have its own facebook page. Bravo, Old Amsterdam, you aren’t so “old” after all. This cheese has its own website too, and includes the amazing news that THIS CHEESE is going into space with NASA.  Dutch astronaut André Kuipers is taking Old Amsterdam on board a space mission in December 2011. Holy Hannah, I feel like I can’t read any more about this cheese. It’s a freaking rock star.

I’m going to talk about Gouda in general more in another post, as I realize I have started my Gouda journey with potentially the most written about and beloved-and well travelled-gouda of them all.  Suffice it to say that there are many types of gouda, and they are matured for differing lengths of time.  Old Amsterdam  has been matured for 18 months and comes coated in black wax. The paste is a deep yellow colour (annatto) and looks dry and crumbly, especially after all that sticky brie.  It’s a pressed cheese and has the odd tiny hole in it. My slice smells just fabulously cheeesey, like a cheddar, to my untrained brain.  It has that sharp, savoury smell, but no ammonia or rot at all, this cheese is months beyond that.  Ok, can’t wait.

Here goes…

Ohhhh, shudder….God, yes…..shudder.  Now, this is cheese!  This is the kind of cheese I have been looking for.  It’s so freaking piquant and outrageously flavourful, it’s sharp, yet sweet, salty, yet tangy.  It tastes like discovery, and joy and life.  I love this cheese.  Mmmm.  Wait, is that tyrosine?  Yes, it is! There are little crunchy protein crunchies in this cheese, which makes sense, it being aged for 18 months.  I have only tasted one other cheese with this texture, and that is cave aged Gruyère  only other cheese in the running with this one in terms of flavour.  The texture is fantastic, it’s like a good cheddar, firm, yet crumbly, and melts nicely in your mouth.  I really love this cheese.  Have I been clear about that?  I would also take this cheese-and cave aged Gruyère, on a space ship with me.  Good call, Dutch astronaut dude.

Old Amsterdam, you get a 5 out of 5.  That’s just for taste, and doesn’t even count the bonus marks for your new media presence.