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Cheese of the Month Club — December

By Andrew Jenkins in Food on Dec 1, 2006 6:20PM

2006_11_good1.gifDid we mention that we have a thing for cheese? Well we do, so we stopped by our favorite cheese shop, The Cheese Stands Alone, and asked the proprietor for another good recommendation. We played it pretty safe last time — owner Matt Parker suggested a cave-aged Gruyere for snacking. This time we were looking for something nice to offer up over the holidays, and Parker was happy to oblige. One of the shop’s recent arrivals, an aged sheep’s milk Gouda aptly titled Ewephoria, has been a hit with Parker’s regular customers, and after eating a quarter-pound of the stuff for dinner last night we understand why.

This Dutch cheese has a potent sweetness to it at first taste, finished off by a smooth mixture of salty and buttery tones. Most aged Goudas will acquire these caramel and butterscotch flavors over time, but added sweetness comes from the rich sheep’s milk used in Ewephoria. This is actually the first Gouda that Parker has ever seen that isn’t crafted from cow’s milk. Because it is aged (for about 2 years, Parker estimates) the cheese has a pretty firm texture and calcium deposits have formed thus creating small, salty pockets throughout. These sweet, candy-like flavors kind of break the mold of the more traditional European cheeses that we’ve come to love, but we’re not complaining.

Parker says this is a great cheese to have on the table for munching, although it served just fine as an entire meal for us, and during these cold winter months there’s nothing like hunkering down with some cheese and a few good libations. Parker recommends pairing a cheese like Ewephoria with a nice Belgian Dubbel and its rich malts and sugary finish. A St. Bernanrdus or Goose Island’s Pere Jacques (typically bottled in mid-January) would probably be a good place to start.

The Cheese Stands Alone sits at 4547 N. Western. Phone: 773-293-3870. Hours: Closed Monday; 10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.