If you’re looking for a new cheese to try and love Gouda, I highly recommend giving Beemster XO a shot. Beemster, an artisan cheese crafted solely in the Beemster Polder (a low tract of land enclosed by embankments, with no links to outside water sources), is located 20 feet below sea level in Northern Holland. This Dutch Polder was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. The cows graze on pesticide-free pastures containing rare blue sea clay. This clay contains minerals that contribute to a sweeter and softer milk fat, providing Beemster with that smoother, creamier consistency which is missing in some other Dutch cheeses.
As cheese ages the flavors become more complex; moisture evaporates leaving a cheese crumbly and granular–similar to an aged Parmigiano. Beemster’s unique milk source allows for the XO (Extra Old) to achieve that extensive flavor, yet still preserve a smooth and creamy mouth feel.
Aged for 26 months, I love the rich butterscotch flavor of this Gouda that coats my palate, followed by finishing waves of whiskey and nut with bits of crystallization crunching about my mouth–mouth-watering! Instead of the usual grated Parmigiano Reggiano on your pasta, try shaving some XO over a nice bowl of pasta with fresh basil and tomato sauce. Of course, we can’t forget that glass of Santa Martina Toscana Rosso 2010 which compliments it beautifully–divine! Beemster XO is Vineyard Market’s July and August Cheese of the Month. You know what that means–great cheese at a great value!