Anyway, I was exploring the delightful Cheese Shop of Silverlake on Sunday, and found this little gem that I had previously seen on a list of washed rind cheese and had a little giggle. This is Hooligan, the prize winning washed rind from Cato Corner Farm in Connecticut. It's pretty wonderful, and if you can get past the initial rank, dirty barnyard smell (appetizing, I know), you are in for a real treat. Not only is it super stinky, but the rind is a cross between an old suede jacket and a moldy peach. But in spite of that, you can tell that this cheese was loved.
This raw cow's milk cheese is aged for 60 days, washed in a brine that includes buttermilk. And really, if you keep smelling it, it will stop smelling like a dung heap, and start smelling more like a grassy green, well worn pasture. I know that doesn't sound so great either, but you should try it. It's pretty incredible.
Anyway, this bad boy is really complicated. After the less than favorable first impression, the paste is incredibly creamy and smooth. Not surprisingly, my first taste was sans rind. It tasted almost tangy. Nothing like how it smelled. With the support of my always brave cheese taster husband, my next sample with with a little bit of rind. So much more depth! Tangy, rich, earthy...and when I squished it up against the roof of your mouth, I could taste some real herby-ness. Really delicious.
This Hooligan isn't for everyday. It isn't something that you will probably want to eat copious amounts of all at once. It isn't for gobbling. It is for savoring. Tasting all of the complex flavors, trying out on your palate, and probably amazing in grilled cheese with a bit of parsley and a rich beer.
Trust me - this is a dream cheese!