Now that I'm done wrestling with my computer and camera we return to our regularly scheduled cheese-out.
The July shipment from Cowgirl Creamery was the "Red, White and Blue" collection.
The blue was Smokey Blue from Rogue Creamery. Cold-smoked over hazelnut shells, this blue cheese had the distinct taste of bacon. And that is just fantastic.
The white was Carmody from Bellwether Farms. This is a butter bonanza.
And for red? Why, Cowgirl Creamery's own RED HAWK. A washed rind soft ripened cheese that can stink with the power of a thousand suns.
To illustrate, a digression on how the cheeses are packaged and shipped to me.
They are placed in a thick, styrofoam box (with an ice pack to maintain freshness), which is taped shut; sealed all the way around the seam, then a cross of tape for good measure. That box is then placed in yet another box (also sealed) and shipped to me.
And you could smell the Red Hawk 'goodness' from the outer-most box. That, my friends, is power.
The odor is an indicator of quality; this cheese is absolutely delicious. Hands down, no question. Creamy center, supple pate near the rind, and a pungent rind. The whole effect has a wonderful egg-like taste to it. But even wrapped in paper and double zip-locked it threatens to take over your fridge.
So the *plan* was to do a gratin; cook four slices of bacon crisp, cook onion in the bacon, slice some yukon gold potatoes, slice the Red Hawk cheese (slice when cold, then allow to come up in temp), make two layers of all of the above, add a bit of cream and bake.
However I never actually quite made it to the execution stage. Didn't have potatoes at first, then no cream, then no bacon. So what happened to the Red Hawk?
I ate it. As pictured up top it was paired with a homemade bun (with a nice onion taste) and beer. Now if you do a cursory web search you'll see that some recommend pairing Red Hawk with champagne. Sounds like a good idea, but I think it shows a roadblock in most people's thinking. Wine and Cheese, wine and cheese, wine and cheese. In Laura Werlins book every chapter has a "wine and cheese" pairing section. However for the stronger cheeses and the lighter cheeses, she basically says "These don't pair very well. Use caution." Well, how about a crisp pilsner?
In the case of the Red Hawk it's an almost perfect match. Perhaps in the same way that the effervescence of the champagne helps the clean the palate the carbonation of the beer does the same (Insert "champagne of beers" joke, I can't bring myself to do it!). There is no competition of flavors here and if anything a cleansing sip of the pilsner prepares your mouth for the full joy of the next piece of cheese.
So maybe this is kind of a cheese recipe; good bread, good cheese, good beer.
/Side note: Presidente is hands down my favorite pilsner/"Lawnmower"-style beer (better than Heineken, Red Stripe, Pilsner Urquelle, etc. etc. etc.)