It’s no secret that sweets make ideal accompaniments for many cheeses — chocolate, jams and honey are popular condiments on a cheese board for a reason. So why not take the next logical step and add Christmas cookies for the ultimate holiday cheese board?

I made lingonberry tart cookies, perfect for balancing the fruity yet tangy bite of the Rogue River blue. The sweet Prima Donna gouda tasted even sweeter after a nibble on a gingerbread cookie. Earthy yet mild Cabra de Cana (a Spanish version of Rebluchon) was a creamy palate refresher, and the board is rounded out with some dried fruit and chocolate salted caramels (Kingsbury Confections, a local treat).

Cana de Cabra (Spain), Rogue River Blue (Oregon), Prima Donna (Netherlands)

Jill makes white chocolate-coffee-cashew biscotti that is perfect with aged gouda or a decadent triple-cream. I’m still pondering what to match with my cranberry-pistachio biscotti, but I might go creamy there too. I plan to set these out on Christmas day to nibble on with coffee and perhaps a champagne cocktail in the afternoon.

We hope you have a cheesy holiday — and if you’d like to share your holiday cheese board, please send a picture to dccheeseATgmailDOTcom or Twitpic to our attention @100cheeses. We may post the best ones here. Merry Cheesemas!

I was poking around Surdyk’s last week, not because I really needed any more cheese in my cheese drawer, but because I was in the neighborhood. (But do I really need an excuse to stop by? No.) I asked the cheesemonger what was new, and he pointed me toward Goodhue Grass-Fed Gouda, a cheese from Minnesota’s PastureLand Cooperative. Always eager to support local producers, I bought a wedge and have been immensely pleased with it ever since.

Made from the organic milk of 100-percent grass-fed cows, Goodhue is aged in the Pasture Pride cellars in Cashton, Wis. (Isn’t it nice when two rival states get along?) The result is a sweet cheese that reflects many of Gouda’s signature characteristics – a nutty, even grassy flavor that is perfect for snacking. The Goodhue hasn’t been aged long enough to form the crystals often found in aged Goudas, but I don’t find the cheese to be lacking in flavor or texture. If you can find it at a local cheese shop, it’s a great cheese to try, especially if you’ll be serving it to guests who aren’t very adventurous with cheese or if you don’t know their cheese preferences.

I must be on a Dutch streak because my cheese this week is another aged Gouda hailing from the Netherlands, though it’s often confused for an Italian cheese similar to Parmigiano. Roomano, not Romano, offers a delightfully sweet, butterscotchy taste like L’Amuse, but unlike last week’s cheese, this one features crystals scattered throughout the paste. Personally, I’m a big fan of crystals because I love foods with texture, so I happily crunched my way through this cow’s-milk cheese. The Roomano you’ll find will vary by age, anywhere from two years up to six.

While all Goudas are suitable for snacking, I imagine Roomano would be an excellent cheese for grating and using in an autumn gratin, like with the squash pictured above. This recipe from calls for Gruyere and Cheddar, but I think the Roomano would make a fine substitute for one or both the cheeses. Pinch My Salt also has a recipe for a butternut squash and sweet potato gratin that sounds divine (and my 2-year-son might even eat it), and swapping out the Manchego for Roomano would be an interesting variation. If you get your hands on a piece of Roomano and use it in a recipe, share it with us!

You’ve got to be tickled by this cheese’s name – L’Amuse. It’s almost as if it were created just to tease and entice us. I’m not sure if this was the cheesemaker’s intention, but I’ll tell you one thing – only one taste would definitely be a tease.

A cow’s-milk Gouda, L’Amuse is aged for at least two years on a small family farm in Holland, which gives it a few crunchy crystals and its wonderfully caramel-like taste. It’s sweeter than your typical supermarket Gouda and while its texture can’t accurately be called buttery since the cheese is fairly firm, it has a richness that any cheese lover would appreciate. L’Amuse is a perfect cheese for your autumnal cheeseboard. It’s hearty enough to stand up to the stronger flavors of fall and would be delightful when paired with pumpkin treats, like my favorite pumpkin muffin recipe from Cooking Light.

A rich, fruity red would be a fine match for L’Amuse – Wine Spectator recommends a Zinfandel or Amarone. Janet Fletcher, who writes the fabulous Cheese Course column for, suggests a Dios Baco Oloroso.

Colleen’s recent jaunt to New England for the inaugural Vermont Cheesemakers Festival made me very jealous, of course, but as the stars would have it, I was about to embark on a cheesy road trip myself later that same week. Well, really I was going to Madison, Wis., for a friend’s wedding, but I managed to put cheese-shopping on the agenda, and my home state did not disappoint me. I was able to find some cheese that have eluded me here in Minnesota and find some fabulous new cheese shops in the process.

A cranky toddler made a stop in Osseo necessary, and my lovely husband managed to find a cheese shop right off the highway where we could disembark for a short break. (How lucky am I!) I was pleasantly surprised to find that Foster Cheese Haus wasn’t your typical Wisconsin side-of-the-road shop aimed at tourists (not that I don’t love those shops, too), but it had a wide selection of artisanal Wisconsin cheeses from well-known cheesemakers like Carr Valley, Crave Brothers and Roth Kase. I was thrilled to see a wheel of Bleu Mont Dairy Bandaged Cheddar, a cheese that had recently come to the Twin Cities but had sold out before I could get my hands on a piece. No fear – Dean at Foster Cheese Haus was happy to share samples and wrap up a wedge for me.

Located near Blue Mounds, Wis., Bleu Mont Dairy produces excellent cheeses from the organic milk of pasture-grazed cows. Cheesemaker Willi Lehner learned to make cheese from his father, who learned to craft cheese in Switzerland. Lehner’s dad certainly taught him well – the raw-milk bandaged cheddar (left) is a delight. Almost candy-like in sweetness, this cheese has a smooth texture (no crystals, like you’ll often find in aged cheeses) and a nuttiness that comes off very cleanly. Paired with a lager or off-dry riesling (as per Wine Spectator’s recommendation), the cheese makes a wonderful addition to a salad course or even dessert.

After tasting the cheddar, Dean also introduced me to a new addition to his cheese case – an aged gouda (right) also from Bleu Mont Dairy. Since I never refuse a sample, I eagerly snacked on this 10-month gouda and liked it so much I brought home a piece, too. Fans of Prima Donna Gouda will definitely enjoy this cheese, though the flavor isn’t exactly the same. The creamy paste is both sweet and nutty, and the flavor would hold up well in fondue.

Lehner regularly sells his cheeses at Madison’s Dane County Farmers’ Market, and you can also find them at cheese shops throughout Wisconsin, such as Foster Cheese Haus and Fromagination in Madison. If you don’t make it to Wisconsin, though, don’t fret. An e-mail to Lehner can go a long way to getting these delicious cheeses into your refrigerator.