Eat This Cheese

By Wini Moranville

My favorite cheeses in the world are the washed-rind cheeses from France and Italy, such as Burgundy’s Epoisses and Lombardy’s Taleggio. Not to be confused with bloomy-rind cheeses, such as brie and Camembert, washed-rind cheeses go one step further: As they ripen, their rinds get rubbed or washed with a solution (often of salt and water, though sometimes of a local product such as beer, wine or brandy). This step brings beefy, bold and smelly-in-a-good-way effects to the creamy cheeses.

Sadly, unlike a lot of European cheeses, most washed-rind cheeses don’t travel well. By the time they get to my table, they’ve gone from irresistibly beefy and bell-ringingly sharp to downright ammonia-y.

Fortunately, I’ve found a stellar domestic washed-rind cheese that I’d put up against its European counterparts: Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery in California. Better yet, I’ve found it in peak condition locally.

Unlike most European washed-rind cheeses, this one is a triple-cream cheese—so it combines that extra richness you get in, say, a St. André, with the amazingly bold, sharp and irresistible saltiness of a washed-rind cheese. Serve this magnificent cheese simply with crackers and nuts for an appetizer or with ripe fruit and bread for an amazing way to finish off dinner.

 

Find Red Hawk at The Cheese Shop of Des Moines, Gateway Market and Whole Foods Market—though if you have your heart set on this particular cheese, call first, as it rotates in and out of stock at some venues.

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