Quite mellow, lightly sweet, nutty, sheepy and a bit briny reflecting perhaps the sea that surrounds the farm on this tiny West Frisian island, this is Terschelling Gouda from the Netherlands:
Jolanda and Gerben Bakker and their 200 Friesan sheep of De Zeekraal farm make their home on this tiny island in far northern Netherlands. They make cheese, sell locally grown farm goods and run an educational encounter center. Their cheese is a relatively new import to the US, here for a few years.
And that it is named “gouda” at all is a testament to what might happen when a cheese name/type isn’t protected. In short, what might happen is anything at all. Gouda isn’t name-protected in Europe. “Standards” for gouda call for cow’s milk at about 48 percent fat. Dutch law even specifies pasteurized cow’s milk. But many ignore that. Obviously the Bakker’s do since this is a sheep milk cheese.
You’ll not confuse this young, sheepy cheese, aged about 6 months, with a typical Dutch gouda with its caramel notes and chewy texture. Terschelling is barely firm, it’s creamy and very mellow. Only a little sweet, the flavor diminishes quickly. To me it’s more reminiscent of a young Alpine cheese. Interesting enough but not a favorite for the price.
Perhaps more interesting is the island itself: low, sandy and windswept. Established in the 9th century and now mostly dependent on tourism, the inhabitants of Terschelling have, for centuries depended on what washed up on shore to build their homes and churches. There is a history of making use of the wide variety of flotsam from ship’s masts to old shoes.
Cheese: Terchelling Sheep Gouda
WHO: De Zeekraal
Where: Terchelling, West Frisian Islands, The Netherlands
Milk Type: sheep (pasteurized)
Shape: 9-11lb, 3″x10″ wheel
Tasting notes: mellow, lightly sweet, nutty, sheepy