The Pairing: 5-Year Aged Gouda + Apple Vanilla Bean Compote

The Cheese: 5-Year Aged Gouda (Cow, Holland)

I know, I know, when you hear “gouda”, you are thinking that slightly smoky cheese that is in the red waxy thing, right? Riiight….well, that’s not gouda. I mean, technically, here in the US, it is, but in the real cheese world, it isn’t. Gouda is a long-aged cheese that has butterscotch notes, and little crystalline crunchy bits that remind you of caramel. What are these bits? Crystallized pieces of protein. Amazing.

The Accompaniment: Apple Vanilla Bean Compote (adapted from Emmeril)

You will Need:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split in half
  • 1 tablespoon Calvados or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cubed

* This recipe makes more than is needed for the cheese plate. Feel free to half this, or use the compote to serve over pancakes, with pork, etc.


1. In a large saucepan, combine the water, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, Calvados, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt and bring to a boil.

  • A note about vanilla beans: You must slice the bean, and scrape what’s in the inside. Don’t throw it away!! (see below) These little seeds will flavor the mixture. Add it to the pot.

2. Boil gently until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the apples and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very tender and the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes

4. Remove from the heat and remove the vanilla bean pods.

5. Let cool to room temperature before serving. Mush with a fork to create a spreadable texture.

Why This Pairing Works: The notes in the gouda are butterscotch, butter, caramel and a bit of salt. So it’s a sweet cheese. And what to pair with a sweet cheese? Apples. Caramel and apples are a perfect combination, right? The vanilla in this accompaniment also brings a apple-pie/cobbler dimension to this pairing.

Wine Recos: Cabernet or Shiraz