Cheese Twins Blog
Seasonality is everything in today's farm to table world, and winter is the season of washed rind cheeses.
Washed rind cheeses are similar to bloomy rind cheeses such as brie or camembert, except that they are washed during the aging process, often with a salt brine or other solution such as beer, wine or spirits. As a result, the rind acquires a characteristic orangish-tawny color and funk flavors, which can range from savory and mild to, well, downright funky. Meunster and Tallegio are classic washed rind cheeses.
spotlight: Upland cheese co's rush Creek
One could argue that the King of mid-western American artisan washed rind cheeses is Uplands Cheese Company's Rush Creek, a pungent cow's milk cheese from Wisconsin that is modeled on the French Vacherin Mont d'Or.
Rush Creek is a seasonal cheese made exclusively from autumn milk, when the cows are switching from a diet of fresh sumer grasses to hay. This change in diet increases the fat content of the milk, imparting in the final cheese a decadent, unmatched richness. Repeated washing of the rind enhances the woody flavors from the spruce bark and gives the rind a distinctive meatyness.
How to eat it
Not everybody can handle the funk of a washed rind cheese, but have no fear, you can still enjoy them! Melting washed rind cheeses and incorporating them into food filters out the funk, transmitting only the prized flavors.
This Christmas, my wife caramelized onions (a perfect pairing with the woody, roasted meaty flavors of a washed rind cheese) and blended them with Rush Creek and roast potatoes. My mother, who can't stand stinky cheeses and refused to even approach the cheese on its own, loved the dish and I was forced to cede to her some of my own share.
Michael & Charlie Kalish are international cheese experts and winners of Season 7 of Food Network's Great Food Truck Race.