Dutch Gouda from De Graafstroom Dairy

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Artisan aged cheese from a 115-year-old farmers cooperative

If that First International Anarchist World Congress that I wrote about last week had reconvened again a year or two later, the organizers could have considered adding on an optional field trip out to the then-newly established De Graafstroom Dairy. It would have been a two- or three-hour trip on the train (figuring the somewhat slower 1910 speeds) to traverse the 50 miles or so south of the city, but the visit could have been well worth it. Those who opted to attend would have seen an example of exactly the kind of locally focused, progressive-in-its-practices, people-centric organization that they were presenting about in that first, 1907 Congress.

De Graafstroom Dairy was founded in the Zuid-Holland village of Bleskensgraaf in 1908, about 55 miles due south of Amsterdam in what’s known as the “Green Heart of the Netherlands.” The dairy was initially established with the express intention of being run “by farmers for farmers.” One hundred and sixteen years later those same intentions still guide the group. The resilience and determination of the farmers is a good example of synergy—together they have accomplished, by working cooperatively, far more than any would have been able to do on their own. The quality of the work and of the cheese the dairy produces reflects those values beautifully. The cheese tastes terrific! And, in much the same way that many of the chocolate makers we buy from have improved the lives of the growers they work with by paying markedly more than “market” prices, the same idea has been applied here—as they say, “where milk was processed by fair means to produce an honest end product: cheese from the heart.”

The De Graafstroom Gouda is an excellent example of what is possible when quality and collaboration come together with great care for the land, the animals, and the cheese. The skill of the dairy’s farmer-owners and its cheesemakers is evident in the wonderful, complex, flavors of the finished cheese. The extra-aged wheels we have on hand right now evidence everything I like about a good Gouda, with just a little bit of something synergistically extra that makes it all the more magical. Be sure to serve it at room temperature so its complex, caramelly flavor can really come out. Nutty, buttery, terrific, the De Graafstroom Gouda has a great long finish, a gentle touch of bitterness, a balanced bit of sweetness, and a whole bunch of compelling character.

Given De Graafstroom Extra Aged Gouda’s firm texture, it will hold up better in the heat, so it’s great for picnics. Wonderful with beer or wine. Superfine with the fresh fruit that’s starting to show up at the farmers markets. It’s delicious in the typical Dutch way of eating breakfast—slices of dark bread (Vollkornbrot or Dinkelbrot), cultured butter, De Graafstroom Gouda and a good cup of coffee, like the Grand Reserve Costa Rica. As they say in the Netherlands, “Bon Appetit!”