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)