Via murrayscheese, attention mail handlers, do not panic. The odor emanating from the box is expected:
Our mail is not like your mail. #Cheese #OdorNormal #SpecialDelivery
This sticky, stinky beauty is A Casinca, a Corsican washed-rind goat’s milk cheese made by the Pierucci family of cheesemakers of Sarl Fromagerie Pierrucci in Vescovato in the Casinca region of Corsica. Run by 4th-generation cheesemaker Michel Pierucci, the fromagerie collects the milk of as many as 80 farms in the region, transforming them into their line of cheeses, both traditional recipes and new interpretations of Corsican classics (I’m not sure if particular farms provide the milk for particular cheeses, or if it’s all pooled).
Goat’s milk is less frequently used in washed rinds, as the naturally goaty flavors tend to amplify and can overwhelm the cheese in less skilled hands. The A Casinca does not suffer from this, however. The yellow-orange rind, with white patches on the shoulders, is sticky, moist and a little gritty to the touch. The aroma is pungent, with wet hay, goat and barnyard dominating. The paste, creamy, velvety and oozing around an outer ring, is firmer and fudgier at the center. The texture of the riper paste reminded me of Willi Schmid’s Holzhige Geisse (also Holzhern Geisse, aka “Wooden Goat”), with a slightly marshmallow-y quality. The flavor is complex and multi-layered; what hits you on the first taste are the meaty, aggressive, animal flavors, but as your palette adjusts, new flavors come forward, sweet and milky, hazelnuts, fruity and herbaceous notes, even toffee and floral notes on the 3rd or 4th tasting. All in all a beautiful cheese and a great example from the Corsican cheese world.
Purchased at Formaggio Essex.
Note: French cheese blog Unfromage.com has a photo of an A Casinca much further along in aging. Corsican cheeses actually have a bit of a reputation in France for being particularly aromatic (and just imagine what it takes to get French cheese connoisseurs to consider your cheeses stinky). I had previously enjoyed a Corsican washed rind raw sheep’s milk cheese, wrapped in a fern leaf, called A Filetta, when I was in Switzerland, which reminded me of reading Asterix En Corse as a child — in which a running joke concerns the heroes and their dog being practically knocked out every time a Corsican cheese is unwrapped. The A Casinca comes nowhere near to the A Filetta, mind you, but it does hint at it, and a few more weeks of aging would probably put it over the top. You can see A Filetta, and an Asterix En Corse panel, here.
Spotted at the cheese counter of Artisanal Bistro: Cabricharme, a washed rind, raw goat’s milk cheese from La Fermiere de Méan in Maffe, in the Ardennes region of Belgium. Belgium has been woefully underrepresented in the American cheese case for a long time, but that’s changing now; in NYC, cheesemongers such as Artisanal and Bedford Cheese Shop in particular seem to be been making an effort to carry more cheeses from artisanal Belgian producers, judging from their cases. I even purchased a raw milk, Camembert-style, under-60-day Belgian cheese at one of the mongers in the city recently, although I’m not going to name where I found it (although it should be said that they were surprisingly cavalier in advertising the cheese’s black-market status).
One of the cheeses for which Belgium is best known is Chimay, a “Trappist” cow’s milk cheese washed in the Belgian beer of the same name. Cabricharme is essentially a Trappist washed rind cheese made with goat’s milk, and based on the same recipe used for Le Charmoix, another washed rind cheese developed by Fermiere de Méan.
The rind is rose-pink and sticky to the touch, with the gritty texture of a Trappist washed rind, a bit on the thicker side but not excessively so. Cabricharme has a wonderful pungency, yeasty from the beer washes, with beefy, mushroomy and musty qualities. The paste, bone white, is velvety, creamy and oozing, bulging and collapsing out of the rind as it warms. This cheese has a slightly unusual texture — that I’ve observed in other washed rind goat’s milk cheeses, particularly the Holzeme Geiss (Wooden Goat) from Willi Schmid — an almost marshmallow’y, borderline spongy texture that imparts a delightful, but unexpected, mouthfeel. In flavor the Cabricharme is buttery, with an unusual tangy quality, sweet, meaty, mushroomy and yeasty, with notes of hops and grass, but without any goaty bite.
If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of Belgian cheeses, the Cabricharme is an excellent place to start! (insert painful joke about it being “full of charm”)
Purchased at Artisanal.
Update: Courtesy of a NYC cheesemonger, a photo of the adorable label for the Cabricharme.
The Washed Rind Wheel from Twig Farm is a “sometimes” mixed-milk cheese, according to the cheesemakers Michael and Emily Lee. Michael earned his cheese stripes working at Formaggio Kitchen and apprenticing at Peaked Mountain Farm before he and his wife found land for their own farm. Twig Farm, based in Cornwall, VT, near Middlebury, has a small herd of 30 or so goats — mostly Alpine, with a few Nubians and Saanens thrown in for good measure — and the raw goat’s milk from their herd always goes into the Washed Wheel. Sometimes, though, raw cow’s milk from neighboring Joe Severy’s organic dairy goes into the vat as well, so depending on which version you get and what the mix is, it may fall somewhere different on the cow-goat spectrum. The cheese is then aged for 80+ days and washed with a whey brine.
The wheel has a reddish/orange, sticky rind, lightly speckled with gray-green spots. The paste is semi-soft and custardy, with a scattering of eyes, softening and drooping on the board as it warms. The aroma is earthy and a little bit barnyardy, with a full, meaty flavor, a little bit tangy and floral, tending towards the mild, sweet side, without the assertiveness or bite you’d expect from a full-goat washed rind, which leads me to assume this was a mixed-milk wheel (I forgot to ask the cheesemonger). This would be an excellent cheese to pair with beer.
Via WBEZ in Chicago, a story about a roadtrip to visit one of the few cheese plants in America making Limburger, a legendarily stinky cheese that has, unfairly, fallen out of favor in recent years. One of the best — and stinkiest — cheeses I had this year was the Bavarian Limburger, from the makers of Anton’s Liebe Rot, Kaserei Zurwies, found at Artisanal, which definitely lived up to the aromatic reputation while also being an absolutely delicious, complex cheese. While that remains my go-to Limburger, I’ll definitely have to seek out the Chalet Cheese Cooperative version:
Inspired by my recent roadtrip quest for new American cheese on the Wisconsin cheese trail, I dressed as a Limburger cheesemaker for Halloween this year, complete with a ripe 5-month aged Limburger. I carried the brick around in an airtight container, offering a slice to any brave soul. While I love the full flavor of this notoriously stinky cheese, even I have to admit that out of context, it can be scary stuff indeed. In fact, Mark Twain wrote about a maddening disembodied Limburger in his gothic short “The Invalid’s Story.”
At America’s only Limburger plant — Chalet Cheese in Monroe, Wis. — I ate it for breakfast, sliced on brown bread, with mustard and strawberry jam, while hearing some of its history from Myron Olson, one of only 52 Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers, and the only one certified in Limburger.
Since that morning, I learned it was a Chicagoan, James L. Kraft, who one might say nearly killed Limburger in this country, but on the Wisconsin trail I discovered a pairing that may revive this cheese, and it may even thrive again, thanks to our city’s old and new food culture.
Read the full story. Below is the Bavarian Limburger, courtesy of Artisanal.
La Sauvagine, from Quebecois cheesemaker Alexis de Portneuf, is named for the millions of geese, ducks and other wildfowl who fill the Quebec skies each fall; the name refers to any of the varieties of birds who are hunted in the autumn.
Alexis de Portneuf is one of the growing number of cheesemakers who are making Canada, and Quebec in particular, a region to keep your eyes on, producing unique, quality cheeses with a distinctly French inspiration. At the 2012 ACS Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Quebecois entrants at the Festival of Cheese were many, and noteworthy, and the Quebec Booth offered some lovely cheeses for tasting. La Sauvagine has won multiple awards, including a Gold Medal at the World Cheese Awards in 2010, and Alexis de Portneuf’s other cheese, Le Cendrillon, won World Champion Cheese in 2009 at the same awards.
La Sauvagine is a washed-rind, pasteurized cow’s milk cheese with a delicate rind, pale pink and orange speckled with a dusting of white, similar to a Port Salut. The cheese has barnyardy pungency with hints of wet hay, not as strong as some washed rinds. The ivory paste, smooth and buttery, is best when a little bit oozing and runny, with a creamy, silky texture. In flavor it is salty, mushroomy and earthy, mildly gamey and meaty and with a delicate finish.
This wheel was a gift from a friend visiting from Toronto. Thanks Tim!
Stanser Schaf Reblochon, from swiss cheese maker Josef Barmettler and affineur Rolf Beeler, is essentially a sheep’s milk version of another of Barmettler’s red-rinded wonders, the Stanser Rotelli (which I reviewed a couple weeks ago). But where the Rotelli has a assertive smell but a milder flavor, the Schaf Reblochon brings both bark and bite, albeit in the best possible way. That sheep’s milk cheeses are far less common in Switzerland adds to the uniqueness of this cheese.
the vivid red-orange B.Linens rind, sticky to the touch, exudes a pungent barnyard aroma, moldy and grassy. The paste is custardy and smooth, oozing out of the rind as it warms, collapsing onto the slate. The flavor is powerful and complex, lush and multilayered with a mellow start but building on the tongue; salty, meaty, mushroomy and grassy with a distinct lanolin, sheepy essence presiding.
This is definitely a cheese that will defeat the less adventurous, but is well worth the challenge.
Congrats to the big dog, WILL MILLENDER, on his 5th consecutive Stinkfest Cheese-eating Contest win and PERSONAL BEST today: ONE WHOLE POUND! 16 ounces. 454 grams. However you say it, that’s a whole lotta CHEESE! We salute you.
Via Stinky Brooklyn: The annual Stinkfest, with a Cheese-Eating competition! Despite my copious consumption of cheese I’ve never been one for the competitive eating, but if you think you’ve got what it takes to win the belt…
To register for the Cheese Eating Contest of 2012, please call today at 718-596-CURD (2873). Do you have what it takes to be the next Cheese Champion??
Sunday, June 24th 2012
CHEESE-EATING Contest at 2pm!!!
Live Music All Day
Sandwiches & Refreshments from Smith & Vine & Stinky Bklyn
KIDS HOURS 11am-1pm with KIDS BANDS! Audra anyone??? SHE RULES!
Dancing Permitted All Day
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.