Beer and cheese is a match made in culinary heaven, where the carbonation in beer cuts through the richness of cheese.
Gouda originated in the Netherlands, deriving its name from the Dutch city of Gouda, not because it was originally produced there but because this was the central location where Hollandic farmers traded their cheese.
These days, Gouda does not have naming restrictions that require its production in the Netherlands. Originally, smoked Gouda resulted from the base cheese being smoked in ancient brick ovens over flaming hickory chip embers. These days, the cheese is typically hung, then flavored with natural smoke.
Throughout the month of March, smoked Gouda is creatively brought together with beer at our local Great Harvest Bread store: namely in their Guinness and Gouda bread. This specialty bread also serves as the base for a Reuben-style sandwich, available at their lunch counter during the month.
As for why it has remained so popular, over the about 12 years the store has served this community, owner Dan Sweeney simply says, “It has that Irish feel!” Needless to add, those of us that have tasted it know that the bread is unique, versatile and quite good.
Need inspiration or don’t have time to cook, then head on over to the Thirsty Belgian, where you will find several menu items with Gouda. One of the sandwich specialties here — or “toasties,” as the Thirsty Belgian calls them — includes a Pear & Gouda variety. Pasta fans will want to try the Gouda macaroni and cheese.
Looking for something lighter? Then head over for an appetizer at the Redwood Room, where risotto fritters have proven a popular item for some eight-plus years. In this presentation, Arborio risotto is packed around a cube of smoked Gouda, which results in a gooey center once on the fritters are fried.
Gouda is also a key ingredient in the Redwood Room’s pesto chicken pizza, which consists of a hand-tossed basil and oregano crust with a classic pesto sauce, along with layers of tender chicken and shredded Gouda.
There is no doubt that cheese can transform a dish. For a heartier dish, try the Redwood Room’s stuffed manicotti. This creative dish is comprised of noodles stuffed with a creamy blend of veal, beef, Andouille sausage, and smoked Gouda. It is topped with a Burgundy marinara sauce.
300 First demonstrates this in its smoked Gouda chicken Alfredo. In this dish, smoked Gouda compliments nicely with the wild mushrooms and fresh herbs. It is accompanied with a Sriracha drizzle and topping of fried leeks, which adds an interesting texture component.
By the way, this brings things full circle to Guinness. As you wait for your entree to be presented, try 300 First’s hand-dipped Guinness onion rings, which are served with a Guinness sweet mustard sauce. Should you have leftover sauce, after consuming the rings, be sure to set it aside to sop it up with bread from the bread basket which will accompany your meal.
For vegetarians, head on over to the Grand Grill in the Kahler. The menu here includes a pasta & veggies dish in a homemade Gouda sauce. In this dish, the mild smokiness of the sauce compliments broccoli, carrots and mushrooms.
Seemingly there are endless was to enjoy your Gouda, whether stand-alone or as a component in a dish.
The record on Guinness
Guinness is an Irish dry stout whose origins go back 1759, when Arthur Guinness opened a brewery in Dublin.
Guinness is made from water, barley, roast malt extract, hops and brewer’s yeast. Roasting a portion of the barley is what gives Guinness its color and characteristic flavor.
Matt Verdick, beer buyer for Andy’s Liquor, notes that American craft brewers are now experimenting with using nitrogen as well as carbon dioxide in their production process, a method Guinness introduced.
He added, “Guinness is great paired with food, especially with hearty winter dishes.”