It may come as no surprise that the Dutch make the best gouda (as in "how-da") in the world.
But the best Dutch Gouda isn't necessarily made in the Netherlands.
Marieke Gouda, produced in Wisconsin by a Dutch-born couple crafting raw-milk farmstead cheeses at Holland's Family Cheese, recently swept the top four places in the aged gouda category at the World Championship Cheese Contest.
The younger Marieke flavored goudas have been regular award winners, too, and few are as intriguing as as the relatively fresh, four-month-old wheel studded with aromatic foenegreek seeds (fenugreek spelled the Dutch way,) which lend an exotic, sweet anise glow to the densely creamy cheese.
At Talula's Daily and Table, one of the few local spots to find Marieke, Aimee Olexy says that the cheese has the bright "flavor pops" she covets for spring eating, and that the pungent seeds resonate with an extra maple sweetness when they meld with dairy. So she pairs it with garnishes that evoke an Indian mood - curried pine nuts or golden raisin compote, and a DreamWeaver hefeweizen from Troegs that picks up on the spicy notes.
A little local honey will also complement the gouda's intense savory finish.
- Craig LaBan