Every now and then, we get involved in a heated cheese battle. Last week, the Beemster XO Gouda really brought the power.
The Beemster XO Gouda is one of our most popular cheeses, and requires a new wheel to be opened almost every week. You may recognize it from its bright orange interior, crunchy texture and sweet, toffee-like flavor. Weighing in at 20-25 lbs, its not the heaviest beast on the counter, but definitely the toughest to cut into with our wire contraptions.
Hailing from the quiet, canal-lined pastures of North Holland (in Middenbeemster), this cheese is crafted using the original techniques from the founders of the Beemster Polder Cheese Co-op since 1901. Its rich, caramelized, nutty flavor comes from the 2-year aging period that the cheese undergoes.
That 2-year aging is also responsible for the ever-popular crunchy bits in this cheese. Those crunchy bits are simply protein (in cheese, the protein is called casein), which crystallizes when cheese is aged for a long time. You’ll find the same pockets of crunch in Parm and Gruyère! However, it’s also that loooong 2-year aging that makes the cheese so firm, and so difficult to break into.
As it’s one of our customers’ favoritest cheeses, we’re often asked what we recommend pairing with Beemster. Aged Gouda is a cheese with a big flavor profile, and needs a wine big enough to match. We like a cabernet or Bordeaux blend, zinfandel, or even a rich, nutty tawny port. Throw in some crunchy, salty marcona almonds and you’ve got quite the snack!