Wilde Weide Gouda from Essex St. Cheese Co.

Made from
unpasteurized cows’ milk, Wilde Weide (VIL-duh VY-duh) Gouda is classified as a
Dutch Boerenkaas, or farmstead cheese, which makes up only a small percentage
of all Gouda produced in the Netherlands. Moreover, a smaller fraction of
Boerenkaas ever makes it overseas.

Wilde Weide
is produced on a small lake island called Zwanburgerpolder by Jan and Roos van
Schie, along with a herd of Montbeliarde and red Friesian cows. This “wild meadow”
cheese is made using organic milk, and the providing cows are able to graze on
the island pastures year-round.

As is typical
with Gouda-style cheeses, the curds are washed, resulting in a cheese
displaying a distinct sweetness. After the curds are molded and formed, they
are pressed for 24 hours. The farm, originally built in the late 1700’s, houses
a manual hand-cranked press. From there, the wheels are soaked in saltwater
brine and dried. Roos van Schie, a trained operatic singer, serenades the
wheels with song before placing them on wooden shelves to age. We are pretty
sure this step is the secret to why Wilde Weide is so fantastic. Essex St.
Cheese Co. selects Wilde Weide wheels aged at 15 months for importation to the
United States.

The finished
cheese has a moderate amount of tyrosine crystallization and a firm texture. There
is still a lovely creaminess that prevails despite its age. You will notice a
hazelnut butter aroma before it even hits your tongue. When it does, Wilde
Weide is exceptionally flavorful and savory. While it does have a
characteristic caramel sweetness, it isn’t the focus. Bourbon whiskey notes
prevail along with grass, herbs, and flowers. Tannic grapefruit rind and a
slight pineapple tang have been known to show up on the finish. As is the case
with other farmstead cheeses, Wilde Weide’s flavors vary seasonally. What is
consistent is the amount of joy it brings upon tasting.