Cowgirl Creamery’s founders blend traits
As the founders of Cowgirl Creamery, Conley and Smith have turned a small dairy business - a passion project, initially - into a multifaceted enterprise. Two cheese making facilities, three retail cheese shops spanning both coasts and a distribution arm mark the company’s exponential growth since the women opened in 1997.
Cowgirl produces seven aged cheeses, two fresh cheeses and creme fraiche, which together account for about a third of their retail offerings. The remaining two-thirds is made up of cheeses from other small producers.
With cheese makers and dairy farmers continuing to draw on their expertise, Conley and Smith’s original mission - to preserve local food and help sustain family farms - is going strong.
I’ve mentioned before (here, here and here) my love of humble and oft overlooked Cottage Cheese; The Washington Post has a story on some of the high quality, small-batch cottage cheeses now available from cheese makers like Traders Point Creamery and Cowgirl Creamery:
Artisanal cottage cheese?
The phrase trips off the tongue much the way “organic corn dog” or “hand-crafted diet soda” might. Because while cottage cheese has been a supermarket staple at least since your grandmother served it with pineapple slices, it retains a ho-hum image as a bland diet food. In the hierarchy of culinary esteem, it’s not too far above Velveeta.
But a small number of curd-loving cheese crafters are challenging that blase image, creating cottage cheeses that are different from the stuff in tubs in the dairy aisle. An artisan, for example, might use milk from grass-fed cows, stir and cut the curds by hand and add cream for a lightly tart, full-bodied cheese.
Admittedly, it remains an ultra-niche product, nowhere near as common as artisanal hard cheeses. But the cottage industry shows the artisanal food movement’s wide reach, as well as the unheralded qualities of a humble cheese.
Read the full story here.
Cutting the Curd - Episode 105 - The Cheesemonger Invitational 2012
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(Photo ©2012 BonAppetit.com)
Q: Dear Foodist: What’s one food you’re embarrassed to like?
While I’m a booster for the cottaged cheeses (ok, I don’t think that’s actually a term, but it works), I was not aware that Northern Spy Food Co. had their own house cottage cheese, or that Cowgirl Creamery made it as well! I’ll have to try both soon:
A: I used to hide my love of cottage cheese, only eating it at home. What was I afraid of, that people would think I was on the pineapple-and- cottage-cheese diet? (Chefs must feel the same way, as you never see it on restaurant menus—though New York’s Northern Spy Food Co. now makes it in-house.) But I’ve recently come to join the ranks of the curd lovers, proud and strong. I’ll eat pretty much any brand, but the artisanal, organic offerings from Cowgirl Creamery and Traders Point Creamery are favorites. Another confession: My ideal way to eat it is with potato chips. Don’t believe it’s the next great food pairing? Click here for a horseradish-and-cottage-cheese dip and prepare to be convinced. —Andrew Knowlton
Red Hawk, from Cowgirl Creamery in California, is not for the funk phobic. This gooey, sticky washed-rind triple-creme cow’s milk cheese has the kind of aroma that can scare small children and make people edge away from you on public transportation. With a pinkish-golden rind that is moist and tacky to the touch, the aroma is the epitomy of “stinky cheese” stinky, similar to a ripe Epoisses, traditional Limburger or even a Corsican A Filetta, full of barnyard, dirty socks and wet grass.
Don’t let those off-putting descriptors scare you away though! The bark is far worse than the bite, and thanks to the triple-creme this is a rich, gooey, buttery cheese with all of the flavors associated with washed rinds; a mouth-filling experience, meaty, mushroomy, brothy, with a bit of sharpness and tang that lingers in the mouth long after the last bite.
This is also one of those cheese that can vary considerably depending on how far along it is. This piece was definitely at peak ripeness, at the edge of going over the hill, but I’ve had younger Red Hawks that were definitely milder in both aroma and flavor. I prefer the stinkier versions but if that’s not your thing look for a more juvenile wheel.
Red Hawk won Best-In-Show at the American Cheese Society’s Annual Conference in 2003 and a Gold Ribbon and 2nd Best-in-Show in 2009.
Purchased at Stinky Brooklyn.