Gouda is one of those cheeses that can be frightfully dull or wickedly good. I never buy a wedge without road-testing the wheel at the cheese counter. When it’s young, Gouda is mellow and buttery. Aged, it turns nutty and sweet. Cave-age it, and you’ve got musty madness. Too often though, it’s a khaki-pants cheese. Meh. Goes with everything, but doesn’t really jazz ya.
Here in Pennsylvania, Lori Sollenberger makes wonderful Gouda from the raw milk of her Jersey cows. Her herd is small -- only eight head. And Lori only makes Gouda during the summer months, when her girls are grazing on pasture. The Beta-carotene in the grasses imbues her cheese with a golden glow – check out that amazing color (no photoshop tricks, I swear). Her aged variety, which Lori nurses for a year, is called Old Gold. It’s sharp and bright with a twitch of caramel sweetness. Oh honey, no khaki Gouda here.
If you want to try some of Lori’s cheese and you live in Philly, put on your hot pants and trot down to Di Bruno Bros. Lori just sent the store a shipment. She also sent me a sample in the mail a couple weeks back, and I have been gnawing on this bright goodness for ohhh the last five nights. When I come home, I crave its sharpness -- it’s like caffeine.
To read more about Lori Sollenberger’s cheeses, check out my column in the October issue of Grid Magazine (p. 24). Her feta is another star.
Lori's cheese is available under the Hidden Hills Dairy label. Her dairy is licensed for raw milk, and she makes half a dozen cheeses, including Ivory Lace (a Havarti-style cheese) and Allegheny (made from wintertime whole milk). For anyone interested in seasonal cheeses, Hidden Hills is a great example of a small dairy that adapts its cheese recipes to the seasonal variations of its milk.