Brabander Goat Gouda from the Netherlands

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

The most popular goat cheese at the party

This is one of the most delicious aged goat cheeses I’ve gotten the chance to eat in ages! Creamy and smooth with a goat flavor that’s amazingly accessible and appealing to pretty much every palate. As someone who’s been eating artisan cheese all over the world for over 40 years, I find it fabulous. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy it though; newcomers to aged goat cheese are certain to like this sweet, almost caramelly, Brabander just as much as I do!

The Brabander cheese comes from the Brabant region in the southern part of the Netherlands along the border with Belgium. The region has historically had a strong Roman Catholic presence, and there’s a long history of persecution of the Catholic population by the Protestant majority. While cow’s milk cheeses have long been the best-known Dutch exports, there’s also a lasting tradition of goat farming in the area. Brabander is made for, and then aged by, Betty and Martin Koster, who own and run the Netherlands’ best artisan cheese shop—if you’re going to Amsterdam, please stop by L’Amuse and say we sent you! Brabander starts with the milk of the old breed of Saanen goats from a co-op in the region. The young cheeses are then carefully aged by the Kosters to develop their delightful flavor. The maturing is done mostly at ambient temperature (they use the coolers only a few days each year when it gets particularly hot out) so that natural air is moving around the wheels as they age.

Brabander is a bit like the most popular person at a party—whoever or whatever you pair it with, you can be pretty sure it’s going to get along well. It’d make a marvelous grilled cheese on the Country Miche or Roadhouse bread from the Bakehouse. It’s great in the Dutch style for breakfast—serve slices of it along with good bread, butter, some hot tea, or with the super smooth Kenya Kiawamururu Coffee! Betty recommends it with oolong tea, and I’ll bet that same subtle smokiness would mean it’s well-suited to a bit of good Scotch after the main meal as well. Be excellent on a salad for supper. Or for a snack with some good butter and a slice of the Bakehouse’s Vollkornbrot. It’d go well paired with a good Weisse bier, or really any good fruity ale. Brabander pairs perfectly with honey, or if you’re having it for breakfast, with jam, too.

This really is a delightful, happy cheese! Light, creamy, compelling. Caramelly in a way that would work really well with walnuts or hazelnuts. Throw a few cubes of Brabander on a salad with some of those same nuts and slices of fresh apple. I haven’t done it yet but I’ll bet it would make a marvelous mac and cheese. Very good on a ham sandwich! Or on a BLT! I’ll bet your kids will like it, too!