Eastside Road, October 12, 2015—WE FIRST MET IT in Apeldoorn, I'm pretty sure, at the dining table of our friends Hans and Anneke, with whom we frequently stay when in The Netherlands. (And with whom we have traveled quite a bit, on bicycle and auto trips, to Canada, the Southwest, up and down the West Coast, on back roads in California, in Spain, Italy, and of course The Netherlands, to Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Rome, Madrid… but that's of the subject.)
Nagelkaas is good Dutch farmhouse cheese, from cow's milk of course, treated and aged like any Gouda, but studded with cloves. Nagel : nail; kaas :cheese. It's interesting that the Dutch call cloves "nails" : our word for the spice comes from the French word clou , which also means "nail." And of course a clove — a single dried clove-blossom — does look a bit like a nail. (Clou derives from the Latin clavis , which has also given us, through Italian, then French, the word "key", among others.)
We do love Dutch cheese; we particularly love aged Goudas; we particularly particularly love nagelkaas. (I sometimes think I love netelkaas , which incorporates finely chopped nettle leaves instead of cloves, even more.) I'm not as fond of Goudas which incorporate various seeds, cumin or caraway for example. Cloves, I think, particularly well suit the intrinsic flavor of Gouda: grass, milk, caramelized milk, aged caramelized milk.
The other day as we were enjoying super-thin shavings of nagelkaas on wheat crackers Cook asked me if I thought the cheese would be good in grilled sandwiches. Why not, I thought to myself, Yes of course, I said enthusiastically. Tonight, while watching our Cubs win their second playoff game, we had them for dinner, with sliced tomatoes on the side.
Cook sandwiches the cheese between slices of bread, butters the outside surfaces of the bread, and grills the sandwiches in a hot black iron skillet, weighting them down with another, slightly smaller black iron skillet placed on top of the sandwiches.
I think tomatoes go particularly well with grilled cheese sandwiches and even like incorporating the sliced tomato with the cheese in the sandwich as it's being grilled, but I think this works better with cheddar type cheeses than with Gouda, which seems a nobler, more serious cheese, deserving of a certain respect.
Green salad afterward: arugula, dressed with oil and Champagne vinegar; and a nice melon for dessert.
Rosé, Guilhem, Moulin de Gaussac (pays d'Hérault), 2014☛Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants