I need to preface this post by saying that cheese is something of a religion in my family. My paternal grandfather was a dairy farmer. My father is a professor of food science specializing in dairy and in cheese making. I was weaned on yoghurt and buttermilk and cheese, most of it made by students, much of it made with questionable quality, some of it made to be intentionally odd, either coloured green or pink or flavoured with strange spices. When I was young, we made our own yoghurt. We hung around the university labs, stealing cheese curds and watching milk be pasteurized. We wandered through the rooms where the cheese was aged, all filled with the singular smell of mould and ripening cheese. Even today, we treat cheese like some people treat wine or scotch. Cheese is a passion.
So, this past weekend, when my family attended my step-brother’s wedding in Toronto, it should come as no surprise that we gathered early and long around the cheese platters, tasting what there was to taste. Most of it was good, if unspectacular, but there was one cheese that was in my opinion both good and spectacular. It was a gouda, but unlike most of the Dutch goudas I have eaten, which are firm with a nutty kind of taste, this gouda was textured much more like a crumbly old chedder, and its nuttiness had the intensity of an old chedder’s flavour as well. When I saw it on the plate, I assumed it was a gouda. After I had eaten it, I actually had to ask my father to confirm what it was, so different was it in both texture and flavour from what I was expecting.
Later, I located the label from one of the trays. It was indeed a gouda, and the only gouda that is made in Ontario, at Thunder Oak Cheese Farm near Thunder Bay. Apparently it is possible to go there, have a coffee, and watch them make the cheese on certain days of the week. I will certainly do so if I am ever that far North, but for the time being, I will have to content myself by ordering their gouda from afar.