Aged Gouda

The French are rightfully proud of their cheese, but one they can’t take credit for is Gouda Étuvé – which is very popular in France nonetheless. And I don’t blame them for going gaga over this Gouda. At my fromagerie, they keep the giant half-wheel right on the counter, in front of them, because perhaps fifty-percent of the customers order a wedge of it. Or in my case, 100%.

Foreign cheeses in France are either fully embraced, or ignored. Le cheddar is just now gaining some recognition and Stilton is pretty widely praised. Gouda is a non-offending cheese, and is one of the more popular imports in France. Like Emmenthal, it’s a cheese for those who want something milder. Or wilder, as is in the case of the Gouda with stinging nettles at Pascal Beillevaire.

The name étuvé means “cooked”, usually in a covered casserole or similar vessel. Since the milk for nearly every kind of cheese is cooked, I’m not sure why it’s designated as “étuvé,” because whenever I ask, the cheese-sellers are so busy slicing cheese for the long line of customers, they just say it’s cooked à la vapeur, or with steam. And I keep my mouth shut, so as not to distract them from their very important duties.

gouda cheese

Aged Gouda has a richly developed milky-caramel taste, almost smoky, but not quite. The sharp flavors don’t detract from the creaminess of the cheese. And I’ve had a few so-so examples, and had some very great ones. According to his terrific book, The Cheese Primer, Steve Jenkins says to only buy aged Gouda that’s been aged at least two years. The trick is, like many things in France (and elsewhere) is to go to a knowledgeable fromager (cheese shop) and ask for their opinion. In France, they don’t usually give tastes, so shopping from someone you trust is imperative. Elsewhere, a little slice will let you know if the cheese is good or not.

The longer I live in France, the more I realize that the overloaded cheese board isn’t necessary; I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s better just to have one or two kick-butt cheeses that have been carefully selected for you, and not complicate things. Sometimes it’s better just to have a sticky, oozing wedge of Brie de Meaux, and other times, a runny, bulging little patty of Saint-Marcellin is just right. Sometimes guests appreciate you making the choice for them, so I’ve been trying to just serve one or two cheeses, rather than the overload I used to bring home when shopping. (In my defense, it’s hard to stop when there are so many great cheeses. Oh, the problems I have…)

But a while back I was at a fancy multi-starred restaurant and instead of the usual overloaded cheese cart being wheeled out, there was just one cheese: a 4-year old Comté from a noted affineur (cheese ripener) in Alsace. It was so good, it’s been a couple of years since I had it and I still remember precisely how it tasted. Like, right at this moment this morning, as I sit here at my kitchen counter at 9:16 am.

In addition to me not having to scramble to figure out what to do with leftover heels of cheese all the time anymore, the good news is that you don’t need to come to France and stand in line to get a taste of this one. True, if there is a good cheese shop where you live, let’s hope there is a line (which is a good sign), and you can pick up a wedge of this one yourself.

As for me, I’ve got two different specimens joining me here at home, after a weekend of dinners here with friends. One is still rather massive and imposing, and the other I’m doing a pretty good job of working down on. It’s a pretty formidable task, but perhaps the fairest tactic to take is to go Dutch, and split my allegiance between them.

Related Links

Gouda Flavor, Young & Aged (The Nibble)

How to Find Foods and Other Items Mentioned on This Site

Aged Gouda (Amazon)

Comté Cheese-Making

Comté Cheese-Ripening

Making Gouda Cheese (New England Cheesemaking)

Homemade Cottage Cheese

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  • Carol
    November 19, 2012 2:57pm

    I agree, I’ve had this cheese and love it. It does have a caramel-like quality. I also find cheese shops overwhelming!

  • November 19, 2012 3:03pm

    I recently discovered a smoked cheddar from Wisconsin that is to die for! Oddly enough, I purchased it at Sam’s, of all places.
    I wish I knew more about cheese,

    • November 19, 2012 3:30pm
      David Lebovitz

      Learning about cheese is pretty interesting. I find just tasting them, and then reading up a bit about them (the cheese book I recommended in the post is very good, as is the DK book French Cheeses) are good ways to learn a bit about what you’re eating. Of course, it’s fun to go to place where they make it as well to actually see the production and fortunately, there are some great cheese-making places around the world. So hopefully folks aren’t far from one! : )

  • November 19, 2012 3:18pm

    Living in the Netherlands for the past 5 years I have come to love their cheeses. Aged Gouda is amazing. I serve it with pear and white balsamic jam that I usually make this time of year.
    The French are good in recognizing a good cheese when they see it.

  • metin
    November 19, 2012 3:35pm

    Where is your fromagerie? I would like to buy a wedge of gouda for tonight.

    And I understand your feelings for an old comté. I love it!

    • November 19, 2012 3:46pm
      David Lebovitz

      The large chunk is from La Fromagerie de Paris (229 rue de Charenton) – however since today is Monday, they are likely closed, as most (or all) fromageries in Paris are. You might try a big store with a cheese counter, like Le Grand Épicerie of the Galleries Lafayette.

  • Kerry
    November 19, 2012 4:14pm

    Thanks for your thoughts on a cheese board — it’s always a little confusing to know what to put out for a party. I recently returned from Spain and want to have a tapas party so will probably serve manchego for lack of a better idea. I am hoping Central Market will give me some choices of what to use or will look up the book you suggested! I still remember your post about serving a soft cheese, a hard cheese like ages comte, and a blue cheese on a plate….it has helped me so many times.

  • November 19, 2012 4:44pm

    If there is anything that I love more than anything when it comes to food I’d have to say its cheese. Thank you for this post David I love the way you explain the flavor notes of aged gouda, absolutely spot on (of course). There is a grassfed cheese from kerrgold called blarney castle that is similar to an aged gouda. But nothing beats a fresh traditional aged Gouda. There is also really good dubliner that I found recently from grassfed cows and it is absolutely intoxicating. It has this sweetness and nuttiness that is incomparable to any cheese I have ever had. If I had to choose my favorite strong cheese I would have to go with a nicely aged dubliner or parmigiana reggiano and if I had I had to choose my favorite light cheese it would be a nice Swiss not too creamy not too sharp. What is your favorite strong and light cheese. And what is your favorite thing to do with it?

  • November 19, 2012 4:57pm

    I discovered this cheese while still living in Wisconsin and had to hide it because my teenage boys would eat the whole (very expensive) wedge in one sitting. It is heavenly and you described the flavor to a T. Now that I live in France I am, of course, OBLIGED to give other cheeses a chance. Tough job, as you said. But I still add aged Gouda to the mix whenever I can. Yes, it’s that good.

  • Stephen
    November 19, 2012 5:32pm

    It’s not cooked, it’s just aged for more than six months I think you will find. BTW, very few cheeses are made from cooked milk otherwise unpasteurized milk cheeses would barely exist.

    • November 19, 2012 5:43pm
      David Lebovitz

      Usually the milk is warmed to a point so that the caillage, or curdling take place, when the culture (usually rennet) “takes” and the whey separates out. I’m curious in the case of this cheese where the étuvé part comes in?

  • November 19, 2012 5:51pm

    Such a good cheese. I remember it from my time in Amsterdam in the 70’s. I’ve lived in France for the last 10 years and only just run into it again. I never realised it was so popular in France.

  • Sarahb1313
    November 19, 2012 6:05pm

    My favorite favorite cheese!!
    Amusingly I was gifted a big hunk… Prima Donna aged Gouda. No pun intended I am sure!

  • Anne
    November 19, 2012 6:08pm

    As I was born in Gouda actually, I’m entitled to a bit of pride, ain’t I? I do love Gouda old and “overjarig” (which means more than one year old), but I’ve never heard of cooked Gouda cheese. Last years there are more and more excellent Dutch cheeses coming to market, like blue goat’s cheese which can compete with roquefort in my opinion. But I guess only a few varieties of cheese are exported. David, might you ever want to check out Dutch cheese in it’s country of origin, I’ll be happy to see if I can free some time to be your guide.

  • Bonnie L
    November 19, 2012 6:14pm

    We recently got a Petit Basque from Whole Foods that we intended to have a slice of with a glass of wine before dinner. It was SO good we could not stop eating it! It became dinner! Wine, bread & cheese, sometimes that’s all you need.

    So many cheeses, so little time. Sigh… Would love to find that Gouda.

  • Shere
    November 19, 2012 6:21pm

    I used to live in Canada and was introduced to Gouda when a friend made a dish with green beans and gouda and have loved Gouda ever since. Daveed have you come up with your fave cookbooks for 2012 yet?

  • Catherine
    November 19, 2012 6:52pm

    I love cheese and enjoy choosing cheeses for dinner parties. Alas, I can only try a tiny nibble of many, as I am lactose intolerant, I have to be very careful about what cheeses I can safely eat. By chance, do you know if the Gouda Etuve is lactose free?

    I know that Finlandia cheeses are lactose free, as well as Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano. If you know of other cheeses that are naturally lactose free I would be grateful. :)

    • Sisi
      November 20, 2012 4:37pm

      I’m from Gouda and used to sell cheese, so I think I can answer this :)

      Young Gouda cheese has lactose in, but the older varieties (such as the one mentioned in this thread) are lactose free, because the lactose has broken down during the long aging process.

  • Phyllis
    November 19, 2012 6:58pm

    I love aged Gouda and, living in the NYC area, am lucky to have several places to get them along with other fabulous choices. And you are right — often when I serve one people ask if it has been smoked and are surprised when I tell them no.

    There is one thing in today’s blog, about only serving just one perfect cheese that I would like give a slightly different point of view on. I’ll have only one cheese when it is just for me and my husband — our favorite end to a meal: fruit and a piece of cheese. So I’ll buy a cheese that we can eat in the time it will still be at its best. However, when I am having a dinner party, I do like to offer a few — usually 3 choices. First of all, 3 is already a pre-selection so it isn’t too overwhelming. Second, not everyone likes the same kind of cheese. Some people who like cheese still don’t like the highly redolent ones I drool over (well not literally), so offering a choice is a way to make sure there is something for everyone. And third is that it gives a certain balance — they don’t all have to be — shouldn’t be — mild, or blue, or highly fragrant. All this being said, I agree that in restaurants cheese carts with a dozen cheeses is off-putting.

  • November 19, 2012 6:59pm

    When I lived in Mexico, I learned how to make stuffed baked aged Edam cheese (called “queso de bola relleno”), which is a traditional dish in the Yucatan. Venezuela also claims the dish as its own, so heaven knows where it comes from.

    Gouda was also available, but only for eating straight.

  • November 19, 2012 7:04pm

    Amazingly, Costco has an excellent cheese selection. Most of the cheeses come in enormous hunks (Manchego, Jarlsberg, Parmigiano Reggiano, Emmenthal). They also have Dubliner and “Coastal” (a crumbly-crunchy aged English cheddar), Comte and others in smaller (less than 2 lb.) sizes. There are also wheels and large slices of Brie and round boxes of doubtful Camembert, for those who like to “fait frimeur.” However, if I want more delicate cheeses that should be consumed soon after purchase, I can find them at local farmers’ markets (mmm, wonderful goat’s milk cheeses) or at Whole Foods.
    Don’t know if I should call myself a “gourmand” or a “cochon,” but I will be a cheese lover until my dying day. Time to keep an eye out for that aged Gouda!

  • Phyllis
    November 19, 2012 7:05pm

    By the way, the if the Prima Dona cheese that Sarahb1313 wrote about is the same one I get in the Italian neighborhood of The Bronx, I was told it is a Parmesan cheese (in other words made in the Parma area) made in a Gouda style. It is yummy indeed, and it does taste of both.

  • November 19, 2012 7:06pm

    David, if you like aged Gouda, please try to find some aged “goat Gouda”, as it seems to be called in English (here in Holland it is imply referred to as Geitenkaas). It is paler in color and utterly divine. Oude Geitenkaas is without doubt my desert island cheese.

    • Anne
      November 19, 2012 7:36pm

      Colin, how right you are!

  • November 19, 2012 7:44pm
    David Lebovitz

    Phyllis: If I have visitors from the states (or elsewhere) I’ll usually buy a few cheeses because they want to taste as many as possible – and I don’t blame them! : )

    Catherine: As Colin mentioned, try to find a goat Gouda, which is more digestible. Usually hard cheeses have much less lactose than soft, younger cheese, as it’s broken down.

    Shere: I’ve been working on it but there have been so many cookbooks and because of the construction I underwent, I didn’t have a kitchen for most of the year. So didn’t get a chance to cook from as many of them as I wanted. Am hoping to do a round-up if I can get my act together : )

    Anne: I went there once and was surprised to learn it’s pronounced “Howda” (sort of like that…) and I started saying it thay way outside of the Netherlands, and people gave me funny looks. So I stopped.

  • November 19, 2012 7:53pm

    I’ve noticed a lot of foreign cheeses here recently – one of my favorites is queso manchego from Spain, which is excellent with carne de membrillo. Gouda of course is delicious as well!

  • November 19, 2012 7:55pm

    This post has me nodding and my head’s spinning…
    I normally avoid Gouda but I had twice (in 5 yrs) a terrific aged Gouda and it sure made all the difference there is. I however never tasted a FOUR (really?) yr old Comté, the ‘highest aged’ or oldest I have frequently, is 24 months and it IS good!
    Now, I’m spitting when I hear about Emmental because Emmental (not ..thal) cheese is SWISS and what is sold mostly here in France is a sheer insult to our taste buds. Real Emmental has a slightly nutty taste and although it’s quite a mild cheese ‘we’ now have Emmental which has been aged in rock caves and boy it has a wonderful full and rather strong taste without loosing it’s nutty character. I never liked that cheese until I was about 30 and then I started to taste the differences between OKish and good quality cheese. Same with our GRUYERE; not to confuse with anything called Gruyère in France (or elsewhere).
    Having said all the above, I also freely admit that I’m a great fan of all cheese from the Savoie Alps. They really taste lovely, even though ‘they’ have stolen our names :)
    I am also glad to read that your cheese platter is quite ‘slim’ – I too tend still (sometimes) to go over board because there are just too many wonderful cheeses to be had but now I try to stop at three nicely presented specimen. I’m afraid that nearly always a slab of Comté is part of the trio and a St Marcelin, a goat cheese, or a (strong-ish) Meaux often find their way on my board. France has such a choice of goats cheeses, and I had to just try them until I found (quite a few) to give me that ‘moorish’ look in my eyes.
    I also love the real Parmigano but I buy it mostly in Switzerland when I visit. It’s less expensive and I find it easier to get great quality.
    And when in England, I know how to choose my many different Cheddars – the Brits have made tremendous efforts to get their products up to scratch and my favourite cheese monger in Devon had only local cheeses, which made a big hole in my wallet and made me weep with their choice.
    My Christmas cheese of choice will forever be a great, great Blue Stilton – but it’s only made in December so chances are slim….. when I think of that ‘delice’ I start dripping over my keyboard. Or stuffed mushrooms with Stilton ‘gratiné’ – ooooh.

    • November 20, 2012 10:02am
      David Lebovitz

      The Emmenthal is really different than the ‘real’ cheese, and it’s too bad they didn’t trademark the name, like Brie de Meaux and Comté, because the supermarket stuff is just a poor imitation of the real thing. I don’t know why it’s so popular in France, but I think it melts well and is inexpensive, which may explain some of it.

      English cheddars are amazing. A few fromageries in France are carrying them, although I usually buy them when I’m in England and bring them back with me.

  • Claudette Hepburn
    November 19, 2012 8:00pm

    Your article is, as usual, a delight to read and leaves me impatient to visit our cheese shop in Biarritz tomorrow and check they have THAT type of Gouda. (the shop has over 200 types of cheeses at any time). Thank you for keeping our taste buds on the alert….

    • November 27, 2012 12:31pm
      David Lebovitz

      Actually, I just bought some more today and looked at the receipt, and it said Gouda Étuvée – feminine. Which is where I got it from. I’ve been told it was a diminuation of Gouda à l’étuvée.

  • JennEm
    November 19, 2012 8:02pm

    Great photo. That gouda looks incredibly inviting – I can almost taste it. Have not heard the term Gouda “Etuve” before. A few years back I discovered Reypenaer, an artisanal Gouda. Until I tried the latter, Gouda never really stood out to me as anything special. Reypeneur is wonderfully granular like aged Manchego, one of my favourite non-French cheeses. I wonder whether etuve refers to some special process? The cheese looks similar to the colour of the Reypenaer XO which is aged 3 yrs. Wonder how etuve translates into Dutch?

  • soozzie
    November 19, 2012 8:05pm

    For aged goat gouda, get thee to…wait for it…Costco!

  • November 19, 2012 8:14pm

    étuver : Cuire doucement à couvert, avec très peu de matière grasse ou de liquide. : slowly cook , covering with very few liquid.

    An “étuve” was a room where you would steam linens to remove durt and germs.

    “Il fait chaud comme dans une étuve” : the room is boiling hot. Steam, sterilize, give or take a warm bath …

  • November 19, 2012 8:15pm

    Addendum: I’ve never heard étuvé for Gouda, and I can only imagine that it means sterilized but surely not cooked. I AM intrigued… wd really like to know where that term comes from
    And such wonderful comments, some made me smile, some laugh, some envious! You’ve such a ‘knowing’ clientèle!
    From time to time I go for a Bresse Bleu – oooh, the delight! Just accompanying a potato in its skin, a simple delight.

  • Cathy
    November 19, 2012 9:06pm


    Your taste in cheese sounds almost exactly like mine. I used to really like Bresse Bleu but haven’t seen it here in London for a while. A good Brie de Meaux is quite easy to find thankfully though. We are also lucky to have some good suppliers of Comte here at Borough Market but it is very expensive. I lived in Switzerland for a while and grew to love Emmental and Gruyere because of that. I have grated Comte over the top of pan fried Brussels Sprouts which adds an amazing taste – 101 Cookbooks has the recipe I use.

    Next time you come to London search out Stichelton blue cheese; it is the now unpastuerized version of Stilton.

    • November 19, 2012 9:26pm

      I adore Borough Market even if it tends to be expensive. May try little bits of delicious food or just have the look and the smell but I love the farmer market atmosphere, the quality, wide choice…
      You are not in Paris or France but you have a wonderful market.

    • November 20, 2012 9:58am
      David Lebovitz

      If you are in London, I highly recommend La Fromagerie (as well as Neal’s Yard.) I was at La Fromagerie last time I was there and was blown away by what an amazing shop it was, and their cheese selection was excellent. Next time I come to London, I’ll keep an eye out for that Stichelton – I love Stilton!

  • November 19, 2012 9:08pm

    Ooo, that picture makes me hungry. Thanks for article, I enjoyed reading it.

    I really adore aged gouda. They sell an excellent 3-year version here, but here being Vancouver, it costs a fortune, so I usually reserve it for a special treat. I don’t know much about typical cheese pairings, but I like to pair it with beer – the version of aged gouda that I buy has an almost malty flavour, which I think goes really nicely autumn and winter style ales. It’s a good cheese for this season.

    • November 19, 2012 9:23pm

      I like it with grapes and nuts and a nice red wine, Madiran style.
      Some white vintage can be nice as well.

  • Cyndy Witzke
    November 19, 2012 9:40pm

    A tiny, local cheese shop in Muskegon, MI, put me on to aged gouda. The proprietess pronounced it Gowda. This lady walks around her shop wearing a beret, and you don’t argue with her or she gets annoyed. Perhaps she is emulating a certain lady in a certain fromagerie in the 5th. Anyway, Gowda it is when shopping there.

    Along with some excellent French and Italian cheeses, her two aged goudas (“aged,” and “really aged”) are lovely. I particularly like the crunchy bits inside. Aged gouda has so much more character than fresh.

  • Gavrielle
    November 19, 2012 11:53pm

    We are lucky to have some fantastic Dutch cheesemakers here in New Zealand and Mahoe Farm’s Very Old Gouda (2-3 years old, caramelly, crunchy and sharp) is absolutely sensational. I totally agree with Steve Jenkins about holding out for the good stuff!

    Cyndy: gowda is actually a lot closer to the Dutch pronunciation of the word than goo-da. In Dutch it sounds like gowda, except that you replace the g with a noise that sounds like you’re gargling.

    • Cyndy Witzke
      November 20, 2012 1:34am

      Gavrielle… Ha, ha! That’s a funny description. I figured “gowda” would be closer to the Dutch than how Americans pronounce it. Now I will have to get my talking translator to pronounce that gargled “g.” Thanks for the tip.

  • November 20, 2012 12:38am

    Finding an aged Gouda is a find indeed. Absolutely like nothing you would expect from a Gouda. A small amount is worth the price just to taste a bit of heaven. Make sure you have a good wine also.

  • Froukje
    November 20, 2012 3:41am

    I am a Dutch citizen living in California. I used to ask my family and friends to bring aged Gouda with every visit. However, this cheese is now sold under the name “Old Amsterdam” at Trader Joe’s and Costco.

    • November 20, 2012 5:51am

      another good one is “vieille mimolette” : very orange, crumbly sometimes, a delicious nutty taste

  • Andre
    November 20, 2012 3:43am

    According to research I made on the web, a “Gouda étuvé” is a gouda that has been aged for more than six months in an “étuve”, a warm to hot room. The fact that the cheese is aged in such a room makes it age more rapidly. You also have the “Gouda demi-étuvé”, which is a Gouda that has been aged in such a room for a period of two to six months. A Gouda that has been aged for less than two months is a “Gouda tendre”

    • November 20, 2012 9:51am
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks, Andre. I was trying to find out more information as well about the cheese and there isn’t much out there. And as noted, when I asked at the fromagerie, she just told me that it was “cooked” and mentioned something about a cauldron – but they’re always so busy it’s hard to have an extended chat with them.

  • Amy B
    November 20, 2012 5:09am

    It’s the time of year when I start thinking about my new year’s resolution – what I feel is important to accomplish by the end of the year, of course. One year, I decided it was key to try different champagnes and choose my favorite. That remains undecided but I’m enjoying the search. This year? Cheese! Thank you for providing a starting point.

  • November 20, 2012 5:42am

    I agree David, I would rather have 1 or 2 dynamite cheeses rather than 8-10 average cheeses.

  • Sascha
    November 20, 2012 6:29am

    While the milk for all cheeses is warmed to 38C or so, I don’t know that that would warrant a cheese being called ‘cooked’. Typically calling a cheese ‘cooked’ (we call both Alpine style cheeses like Comte and Grana style cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano cooked-pressed cheeses) means that the curds have been heated– as could possibly be the case with this gouda. But– as someone who works in cheese but whose French is less than proficient– I would venture a guess that the étuvé here refers to washing the curd with hot water. Washing gouda curds gets rid of any excess whey, which contains lactose. That lactose is food for lactic acid bacteria, and any excess whey/lactose means those bacteria will produce more lactic acid. Thus washing the sugar away actually makes goudas sweeter, particularly as they age. Could étuvé refer to the steam coming off the water used to wash the curds?

  • Katie K
    November 20, 2012 6:58am

    I’m not sure how you use rinds, but I save them and add them to soup.

  • November 20, 2012 7:13am

    such a beautiful shot of the cheese. i went the longest time thinking i didn’t like gouda. but i had just not had GOOD gouda. well, now i know better.

  • Simian
    November 20, 2012 9:36am

    Until I had aged gouda I always thought gouda was a rather plastic and insipid tasting cheese, but not any more… My absolute favourite is aged (and organic) sheep’s gouda. It’s now my favourite cheese of all, and have been given the name ‘chocolate-cheese’ among my friends, because it mysteriously tastes something in between smooth chocolate and parmesan, but better!

  • November 20, 2012 11:56am

    Looking forward to trying this one out next visit
    I love hard cheese no matter what the expression says.

  • Stephanie
    November 20, 2012 12:20pm

    Oh paris breakfast, pelase tell us what is the expression about hard cheese?

  • November 20, 2012 1:32pm

    I absolutely love aged Gouda – difficult, if not impossible, to get here. I also love the Gouda with cumin seeds that you can get in any French supermarket’s cheese department but, again, unavailable here.

    And have you ever had fresh Saint-Marcellin? We buy it in the market in Villard-de-Lans when we are there, and it is seriously to die for! Leaves the usual stuff absolutely standing in its creamy butteriness.

  • Sherri
    November 20, 2012 5:12pm

    When I worked in a cheese shop I had a regular customer who only bought cheeses for his wife. When I finally enquired about finding something for him he shared that while his wife enjoyed her cheese in the evening, while he settled in with a rather smokey/peaty single malt Scotch. He couldn’t imagine a cheese that wouldnd’t detract from the Scotch, or vice versa. I sent him home with a wedge of 4 year aged Gouda that day…. and at least once a week thereafter.

    • November 20, 2012 5:55pm
      David Lebovitz

      That’s one of the good things about going to a cheese shop, rather than buying cheese in another kind of store; they really know the cheese and will recommend something to you based on your tastes, especially if they get to know you. Also a friend who imports French cheese to the US told me, when I asked him why the same cheese I got in France tasted different in the US, he said that there are various grades and qualities that importers/exporters can choose from.

      I’ve had a few different examples of this cheese and they’ve been quite different – like the two shown. I’m a bit jealous that you worked in a cheese shop, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. But people tell me it’s very hard work. So I guess I’ll just continue being a good customer!

      • Cyndy Witzke
        November 20, 2012 6:26pm

        Well, David, maybe that explains why I cannot get the good Saint Marcellin here in the US that I used to buy in Paris. I’m not a fan of overly pungent cheese and loved the mild, buttery fresh SM. Every time I sucomb to a round of it here, whether from Whole Foods or a specialty cheese shop, it is overly ripe for my taste.

        I always thought it maybe aged in the shipping process or something. And Saint Felicien–I can’t even find that anywhere, much less discover if it ships too ripe.

  • martha
    November 20, 2012 7:18pm

    Like with cheap miso for supermarkets they heat up the cheese to let it age (much) quicker. These are not the best cheeses.

  • November 20, 2012 8:18pm

    Years and years ago, there was an advertising at French TV, for Gouda. And the last sentence was “The Holland, the other cheese’s country”.
    I love gouda… And Saint Marcellin …. grrrroooaaar … Better never open your mouth again after that, but sooooo good ;)

  • Patricia Sheehan
    November 20, 2012 9:29pm

    I do not eat dairy and am visiting Paris for 10 days at Christmas. Will I have a problem?

    • November 21, 2012 11:41am
      David Lebovitz

      You should not encounter many problems, depending on where you go and what your diet specifies (if you are vegan, etc). There are always salads, roasted meats (such as steak frites), and other things on menus. Check out my post for Dining Gluten-Free in Paris for navigating restaurants and other places.

  • Wopkje
    November 20, 2012 9:47pm

    I think ‘étuvé’* might refer to the fact that the aged cheese has kind of ‘dried’, the demi-étuvé (aged for 8-12 months) has more moisture and is easier to cut than the étuvé (aged for 12-18 months). After the ageing process, 12 kgs of Gouda is reduced to 9 kgs through loss of moisture. That is, in traditional cheesemaking, where cheeses are stored at around 12 degrees C. Industrial cheeses are stored in airconditionned halls with temperature and humidity control. The taste develops, but the cheeses don’t get as dry and there is more weight to sell. It’s marketed as ‘easy to cut aged Gouda’, and that’s a selling point to the Dutch, who eat a lot of cheese on their daily lunch sandwiches.

    On the website of Wijngaard Cheesemakers (, there’s a nice video that shows the traditional cheesemaking process. For those who have cravings after all this cheesy talk, they even deliver worldwide!

    *The word étuve is also used for a drying oven for f.e. tobacco

  • Jessika
    November 21, 2012 3:29am

    I wanted to ask a question on a subject you’ve written about earlier; meringues with gruyere. In the absence of gruyere cream (I live in Sweden so there’s no gruyere cream to be found). Can something else serve as a somewhat good substitution like clotted cream? Since your last post about it I’ve been craving it to the point of the ridiculous!

  • ranchodeluxe
    November 21, 2012 4:59am

    Great post… you have got to love Gaga over Gouda!

  • November 21, 2012 10:08am

    When I prepared to visit the Netherlands for the first time about 15 years ago, I asked my elderly aunt if I could bring something back for her. She grew up near Amsterdam and came to the US after WWII. At first she said no, but then after thinking about it for a few minutes she wished she could have some “old cheese”.
    “Will they know what I’m asking for if I say ‘old cheese’?” I asked her.
    “Oh, yes” she said.
    I asked in a beautiful cheese market in Delft and, sure enough, the counter man knew. It was aged gouda and it was terrific. Aunt Ina was happy to have a taste of home.
    I’ve been eating aged gouda whenever I find since then.

  • Nico
    November 21, 2012 9:33pm

    I’d be interested in knowing how this Gouda compares to some of its siblings, like the Old Amsterdam, or even Belgian relatives Brugge Oud and Brugge Prestige (

  • November 22, 2012 12:38am

    This is my 3rd comment to this post, which probably shows how fascinated I am by this theme!
    Neal’s Yard; now you’re talking David – the name alone brings me out in a joyful sweat: I never went to Bath without visiting NY… and I’m not talking about New York here! :)
    Such a wealth of interesting, funny and great comments; I think we can all agree that old Gouda is aged in a warm chamber which makes perfect sense.It’s actually your photo on top that brings me back again and again – it’s like a great morsel on my tongue, mind and exciting my eyes too.

  • renée
    November 23, 2012 1:56pm

    your post reminded me of an interesting recipe i learned of on what to do with leftover heels of cheese…

    my relatives who live about 60 kilometres outside Lyon do the following, which is a specialty of their area, apparently:
    combine various leftover heels/nubbins in a casserole, add a few good glugs of white wine and moutarde de Dijon… they cook all that on the stove until the cheese is melted and everything incorporated… their might have also been some fine herbes tossed in as well… sounds a bit like fondue, but we are not done yet!

    they store the whole concoction, lightly covered so it can breathe in a dark corner on the counter (or maybe it was in the frigo… either way it’s an old recipe that predates refrigeration!) and let it age several days… when they like where it’s at they eat it spread on good crusty bread.. invariably the longer you let it age, the funkier it gets and the more my relatives rave about it…

    safe to say, i adore good cheese, even funkier French ones, but have yet had the courage to try this out…

    has anyone previously heard of or done this with leftover cheese heels?

    • November 24, 2012 9:27am
      David Lebovitz

      Sounds similar to some of those things like cervelle de canut or cancoillotte, that are made from leftover cheese matter. Your recipe sounds good – Nothing is wasted!

  • November 23, 2012 4:30pm

    Thanks David.

    I respect this cheese and the producers of it. But “homemade cottage cheese” that you presented detailed recipe of presentation has more special place in my kitchen.

    Best regards.

  • November 24, 2012 6:52pm

    Renée, I really like the idea of using odd bits and pieces of hardened cheese, to make something new. I always have a few of these “ends” hiding in the cheese drawer in my frigo. They don’t go to waste, because I usually put a chunk or two in winter soups, especially in onion soup. The next time the mood strikes me, I’m going to try melting several heels/ends of cheese, with some white wine and real moutarde de Dijon, and see what happens! [But I do anticipate using the “microplane” to reduce the chunks to a shredded mixture that will surely melt more quickly.] Thanks for the idea!
    David, from what information I can find, “cervelle de canut” is made from fresh, unripened cheeses and herbs. Here’s a rather amusing history: So, neither the recipe from Lyon nor the Gouda étuvé would be involved. Somewhat the same for “cancoillotte”(also a specialty of the Lyon area): , which seems to start with buttermilk or soured milk.
    I do think I’ve been missing one of the most interesting parts of your blog: reader comments!!!

    • November 24, 2012 7:23pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, I’m quite familiar with their fabrication – I mentioned those other things that are made from cheese cast-offs (like ricotta, which is made from the whey from the cheese-making process, then “re-cooked”) because renée’s recipe sounded delicious and reminded me of how inventive people are with various cheese products, and by-products.

  • November 25, 2012 7:36pm

    My daughter in law brought a big wedge of 2-yr. smoked gouda (among others) from her local fromager…to munch on over the Thanksgiving holiday. Among all the delicious smokey caramelized flavor and lovely texture, it seemed to have provolone undertones. It was my favorite. Totally delicious.

  • Toni
    November 28, 2012 6:53pm

    America is disappointing for cheese :( I can’t wait to go back to Europe just to eat..

    • Cathy
      November 28, 2012 8:08pm

      You are so right – I always go back on vacation with my suitcase filled with cheese, for gifts and for me!