Last year I spent four months managing a Brooklyn cheese shop. I ate my way through the cheese canon – sheep, cow, goat and buffalo. Employees could buy goods there at cost, so I never shopped anywhere else. I brought home day-old bread, some cheese and meat, and ate open-faced sandwiches almost every day.
A lot of people don’t like goat cheese. My mother doesn’t. So the first time I recall tasting it was at the now defunct Gibson’s, for years the main – if not the only – fine dining establishment in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They served crackers with a log of fresh goat cheese rolled in cracked black pepper, resting in a pool of reduced red wine and studded with grape halves. I still think this is one of the best ways to eat fresh goat cheese.
Much later, sometime circa 2005, I traveled to the Netherlands from my home in Sweden to visit a friend. We paid a visit to a cheese shop in Amsterdam where gouda was the only cheese they sold. They had new gouda, less new gouda, and goudas aged for various lengths of time. One, old and crackly like parmesan, fell apart in my hand. Another, the one I bought a large chunk of, was a milky white goat gouda.
I took it home to Sweden where I used it to made a sandwich with bacon and raspberry jam.
While working at the cheese shop, I learned that I could buy goat gouda domestically in the form of Midnight Moon, which is produced in the Netherlands and sold under the Cypress Grove label. At Whole Foods the other day, a small block set me back $6.
Lest you think it’s not worth it, let me tell you that sandwich is still the most sophisticated sandwich I have ever made. The bacon picks up the salt in the dry, slightly tart cheese and the jam brings out the cheese’s sweetness. It’s the kind of sandwich you should pair with a dry white wine. It should not be wasted on the young.