Cheese 144 A real “Dutch Treat” Opulent Oplegkaas-Boeren Goudse

One of the biggest issues for me in becoming educated about cheese, is that my family is getting educated about cheese too. In the past, I could simple buy a big block of cheap orange crap and throw it in their general direction-and they were happy. But oh, how things have changed. Last week, my teenager begged me for some gouda. Some very pricey gouda. A rare, raw milk, gouda. “Oh mommy, it looks so yummy, oh please!” She said.  And I relented, even though I wasn’t in the mood for expensive, raw milk gouda. Teenagers can be so demanding!

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Thus, today I bring you-literally out of the mouths of babes (because that’s where it’s going once I complete this post) a fabulous looking (and pricey) gouda: Oplegkaas, from Holland. Boeren Goudse Oplegkaas is a traditionally made gouda. It is typically aged 3-4 years before sale (opleg means ‘aged’ in Dutch.) Alas, I don’t know how old my sample is, but let’s assume three years minimum. It is  made from raw milk, and only from milk sourced during the summer season, when cows are grazed in the pastures of the peat meadows of the “Green Hart” region of Holland-between the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

Gouda has a kind of great origin story. The actual town of Gouda became a central cheese market in the seventeenth century. The first “weighing rights” were granted in 1668 in the town of Gouda. Farmers and traders were obliged to weigh their cheeses here and taxes were imposed. It was a cheese based economy of sorts. Over the next 200 years or so dairy cooperatives took over most cheese production in Holland from individual farmers. Fortunately, the Gouda cheese makers resisted, and traditional farmstead cheesemaking has persisted in this region. Approximately 250 farmers in the Gouda region, still produce raw milk farmstead cheese (called boerenkaas). Their numbers are shrinking, so go out and get some, if you have a hankering for the real thing.

Like all Gouda, Boeren Goudse Oplegkaas is a washed-curd cheese. Washing the curd helps to removes part of the lactose, which reduces the acidity and bitterness in the aged cheese leaving it sweet and caramel-like in affinage.This Oplegkaas-Boeren Goudse is a true raw milk product. This means the milk and curd are not heated above 40 degrees celcius during the production, resulting in this cheese being labelled with the EU label for guaranteed Traditional Speciality (GTS). And for the record, gentle readers, that means I am back on raw milk cheese-who could stay away?

Only a handful of cheese makers still produce Gouda in this  traditional way, making the cheese in wooden molds lined with natural linen. The rind of the cheese forms naturally with a minimal use of plastic. No, this is not that red plastic covered crap you see in every market claiming to be “Gouda.” This, my friends, is the real thing.

My tiny sample of This Oplegkaas-Boeren Goudse-wrestled away from a teenager, is a handsome, tall chunk of cheese. I couldn’t get a shot of the larger round-sadly, but it’s clear that this came from a large cheese. It’s very firm and aged, and was challenging to cut-hence the crumble in the second shot. It smells just divine when I remove the wrapper. It’s been waiting for me, for years!  It’s a creamy yellow cheese, darker near the wax rind, there are some large eyes and it’s crusted with tyrosine crystals (mmm).

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Here goes…

Dry. Sweet. Crunchy. Caramel. Salivary glands working over time. Intense! Aged. Complex.Melting butterscotch. Hint of mould Crazy! WOW! OPLEGKAAS BOEREN GOUDSE!!!!!!

Go out there and support a Dutch tradition, with this ” Dutch Treat.” I’m keeping the rest of this one for myself.

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Cheese 138 Gouda Van Giet-Goat’s Pride

Last weekend I did something REALLY exciting: I went to visit a goat’s farm and fromagerie. I recognize that this may not be a top 5 on everyone’s bucket list, but that’s just sad-it really ought to be. Goat farms are fabulous, go and find one and visit it now, I command thee!

I’ve been kind of obsessing over Goat’s Pride “Blue Capri” cheese now for over a year, you can read my review of it here. But that review doesn’t really do it justice, and it certainly doesn’t explain the hankering I have for that cheese, like all the time. All I really want to do all day long, is eat Goat’s Pride Blue Capri. Alas, it’s darn hard to find, so I decided to go to the source- a small goat farm out in the City of Abbotsford, in the Lower Mainland of BC.

As we drove up the meandering driveway, I saw goat’s cavorting. Seriously! And these are tiny, wee goats, not the large goats I was expecting. They were knee high at best, and literally cavorting amongst fields of clover. It was ridiculously perfect. My heart filled with goat-loving joy, one could almost say, pride…Goat’s Pride.
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Goat’s Pride is a family run business. The son is the cheese maker, and mom seems to run the store. She graciously showed us around the farm stand and explained the lay of the land. Basically, organic goat’s milk is almost impossible to source. All of their goat’s milk comes from their own small herd of (ridiculously cute) goats, but that’s not cutting it. They may have to look at alternative sources and alternative cheeses as they expand their line of products.

For the time being, Goat’s Pride continues to make a limited run of cheese including today’s Gouda Van Giet, and yes, I did also buy three blocks of the Blue Capri for my own private joy.

According to their wrapper, Van Giet means “from the goat” in Dutch. As Gouda- and the Goat’s Pride family- are all Dutch, it seems only fitting. This cheese truly is “from the Dutch.”

Gouda Van Giet is a certified organic cheese, and the milk and cheese are processed directly on the farm. This Gouda is aged about a year-if memory serves me correctly. Unfortunately, their website is currently down, so I can’t double check, but let’s go with that. I’m assuming they pasteurize their milk, as it doesn’t say “raw” anywhere, but it’s made on the farm from happy goats, so for me, that’s about as good as it gets.

Gouda Van Giet is white-very white-goat’s milk is whiter than cow’s because it lacks beta carotene. That’s that carrot colour that makes cow’s cheese kind of yellow. For some mysterious reason, goats convert beta carotene into Vitamin A, colourless. See, goats are magic!

I digress, my vitamin A rich Gouda is a stark white, it’s firm without discernible texture in the smooth paste. It has no rind. The smell is faint and slightly goaty. It beckons me. Yes, it’s not Blue Capri, but a very close cousin, “try me,” it says.

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Here goes…

So complex! It’s like one of those gobstoppers that changes flavour as you go down a level. Initially, salty and goaty, but then, a caramel undertone emerges. It’s rich and salty. It’s also salty, did I mention that? The texture is not as smooth as I expected, the paste holds up to chewing, keeping its integrity. It’s pretty mellow for a goat’s cheese, nothing scary here. It’s chilled out and toothsome.

OK, I like this cheese, but I’m not completely obessed with it, as I am with their Blue Capri. But that’s ok, not everyone appreciates mouldy goat’s cheese, I get that. This is a beautiful, organic, family and farmstead made goat’s Gouda. Try it, it just might be your slice of cheese.