Dutch Treats: Goudse kass Komijn

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Travel blends the extraordinary with the simple, and on a recent trip to Amsterdam, that most mundane of meals, breakfast, became a moment of simple delight: strong coffee, fresh bread, and Dutch cheese. Gouda with cumin seeds, to be exact, a fancy meal served on napkins on a hotel room side table.

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The translation of the cheese name (“Goudse kass komijn”) suggests cumin, but I’m not convinced it wasn’t primarily caraway instead, the two sister seeds being occasionally interchangeable. This firm, mature cheese lacked the stronger bite I associate with cumin, but regardless, the effect of the seeds in the cheese created a texture and taste very similar to that other firm cumin/caraway cheese, the Norwegian nøkkelost, with the semi-soft seeds leaving keyholes behind when they fall out. These tiny spaces provide an interesting and satisfying texture.

The overall taste is nutty and not unlike rye bread, and the aroma of the spices overwhelms (positively) at first before the smoothness of the mature Gouda takes over. I wouldn’t recommend Goudse kass komijn along with any other food besides bread or crackers, as the taste is dominant. Alone or with a flight of other firm cheeses, though, Goudse kass komijn is a standout cheese.

Our sample was from Albert Heijn, a Dutch supermarket chain. If the chain cheese is that good, I can’t imagine what a cheesemonger’s version would have tasted like.

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