Monday, August 1, 2011

Cheese: Beemster Classic Aged Gouda

I have previously posted on Gouda cheese, which I love, in particular some aged Gouda under the brand name of Old Amsterdam, which is wonderful. Judy has now gotten into the act and is buying the cheese instead of me. She also has grown very fond of Gouda. She came home with some Beemster Classic, aged 18 months, which she purchased at Costco. 
I found that Beemster cheeses are made by the Cono Kaasmakers, a sustainable dairy coop, in Beemster Polder, North Holland. A polder is a tract of low-lying land protected by dykes, often used for dairy farming because it is too wet for crop farming. The Beemster Polder was reclaimed from the sea in 1612 and is 20 feet below sea level. In my posts on Gouda I keep seeing references to the Netherlands and to Holland and I have been wondering what the difference is. The Netherlands consists of 12 provinces, including North Holland (which includes Amsterdam),  South Holland (which includes the Hague, Leiden and Rotterdam), Zeeland, North Brabant, Limburg, Gelderland, Utrecht (including the city of Utrecht), Overussel, Flevoland, Drenthe, Friesland and Groningen. However, the entire Netherlands is also referred to as Holland. The Beemster website claims that Classic is regarded in the Netherlands as the "signature Dutch cheese." It is naturally aged in cheese warehouses for at least 18 months. Old Amsterdam is the other very good aged Gouda I've tried. In fact, it is one of the best cheeses I've tried. It is a little hard to compare cheeses when months have intervened between eating them. Beemster Classic has the aging crystals which give it character and taste. It is very complex and powerful. 
I think I liked Old Amsterdam better, although it would take a side by side tasting to confirm it (which would be a wonderful thing). I would have no hesitation, and in fact would look forward to buying and eating it again.