Archives for posts with tag: food critic

For this review I return to an old friend, though for my international readers this cheese may not be quite so familiar. I introduce you now to the cheddar that isn’t cheddar, colby cheese.

Colby was invented in Colby, Wisconsin in 1874 by Joseph F. Steinwand. It is very similar to cheddar but does not undergo the “cheddaring” process and is not aged. Since colby is a distinctly American product I don’t know how much of it is sold internationally, so perhaps not everyone reading this has already tasted it.

I purchased a longhorn cut of Boar’s Head brand colby cheese to taste for this article. When I first taste a cheese, I always like to taste it in isolation, with no other flavors, so I started by slicing off a piece and savoring it. I was struck by the flavor similarity to cheddar, although colby is not as dry and tough as some ancient cheddars I’ve tasted. Before you send me hate mail, I’m not bad-mouthing cheddar, it’s one of my favorite cheeses. I have had some cheddar, though, that is so strong and so thick (like peanut butter) that I only need a slice or two to feel sated; that and it gums up my mouth and requires a lot of fluids to consume. Not so with colby: colby is a young cheese, moist and soft.

I was less impressed once I tried the colby with crackers, however. The cheese is quite mild and its flavor is easy to overpower. I’ve found that with age (old man here at 30), my tastes have “matured” which is another way of saying my taste buds are getting dull or dying off. I enjoy eating colby straight off the block, but the flavor is a bit too mild to pair with anything strong. If you’re looking for a finger-food cheese then colby is a delicious choice that won’t clog your mouth too quickly, and I bet it would make a mean grilled cheese sandwich. However, if you’re looking for something strong to pair with steak I’d look elsewhere.

Ultimately, colby is much like the nation of America itself: young and tasty. It won’t impress your hipster friends, it doesn’t go over well at high-class parties, and it loses some of its flavor when held up against other things, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. Carve a hunk right off the block and savor the idea that a cheese can be a perfect snack unto itself.

(image courtesy of wikimedia commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colby_Cheese.jpg)

A cheese market in the city of Gouda, Netherlands.

Cheese market in Gouda, Netherlands.

An amateur cheese lover takes a while to age properly in American suburbia. You’ll be exposed to American/processed cheeses soon enough, along with cheddar, monterey jack, colby, swiss, provolone, and perhaps some garnish amounts of parmesan and others. These will all be of varying degrees of quality: you are at the mercy of a megacorporation’s stocking procedures and generally have only a few brands and varieties to choose from. Some stores are better than others (I give Kroger’s the nod over Wal-Mart when it comes to cheese) but none of them specialize in dairy products in the haute couture sense.

Nonetheless, I always knew I loved cheese. It has been a gradual process, and I am leagues away from being a connoisseur, but like any passion you have in life eventually experience adds to your pursuit. Since I enjoy trying new things I’m glad I’m still at the threshold of a world of fine cheeses because I get a lifetime to explore new tastes and textures. To that end, I’m writing this review for some smoked goat gouda I bought from Jungle Jim’s in Ohio. If you also love cheese, then perhaps my words will have some meaning for you.

I haven’t eaten as much gouda as you might expect. Despite my love of cheese, it just isn’t part of the normal lineup at most delis and sub shops in my area, and growing up my parents rarely ever went for offbeat cheeses on grocery store runs (yes, gouda is offbeat in my region). So when I bought smoked goat gouda, I was trying something new for the sake of the experience. Goat cheese is also something I have very little experience with. In fact, I would say the average American might feel that goat cheese sounds rather “gimmicky” because we are so entirely accustomed to the idea of cheese being a product of cow milk. Goat cheese… that’s some sort of hoity-toity novelty item, right? Well, I intended to find out.

Upon arriving back in Kentucky, the first cheese I opened was the aforementioned smoked goat gouda (the wedge’s package said Chevralait, which I assumed was the place of origin). Upon testing it both alone and with various crackers, my friends and I realized we had stumbled upon one of the most appetizing cheeses ever packaged. Imagine for a moment the flavor of bacon: smoky, rich, fatty, delicious. Add to this the softness of a young butter cheese, the inimitable distinct flavor that is cheese, and the faintest aftertaste of some distant pungent flavor (like a bleu cheese) and you have smoked goat gouda. The aftertaste is faint and does not diminish the cheese in any way to my tastes.

I cannot stress enough how intoxicatingly tasty I found smoked goat gouda to be. While “bacon-flavored” isn’t exactly accurate (some bacon has a very sharp or salty tang to it and the cheese is more mild), it comes close. I hope my blog informs your decision about whether to try this magnificent example of cheese on some exploratory shopping trip, and that you had fun reading it.

(image courtesy of wikimedia commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kaasmarkt2_close.jpg)