Thursday, December 31, 2009

ColoRouge from MouCo Cheese

Monastery style cheeses are among my favorites.  When I buy cheese for myself, I inevitably gravitate toward one of them. Even if I'm just snacking on something at work, there really isn't another type of cheese that I find more satisfying.  This family of cheese includes those that have been washed or smeared with brine, wine, beer, or spirits while they are maturing.  You might hear them referred to casually as the "stinky" cheeses although not all of them are stinky.  It's just that there are a few which can get pretty funky like Burgundy's Epoisses and new-comer, Grayson, from Meadow Creek made ironically by the Feete Family of Galax, Va.  If you like this style of funky, earthy cheese, you're bound to enjoy MouCo's ColoRouge for its subtlety in the grand scheme of Monastery cheeses, and even if you don't like stinky cheese, it offers enough delicious creaminess to please even the pickiest eater.

On July 10 of this coming year, MouCo will celebrate its ten year anniversary of their foray into the American artisanal cheese market.  We were introduced to it at work about a year ago, and ever since then, it has become a staff favorite. Brigit Halbreiter and Robert Poland, husband and wife, make this cheese and two others in Fort Collins, Colorado.  They use a combination of rich and creamy purchased Jersey and Holstein cow milk to create the soft-ripened wonder that is ColoRouge.  Everyday, the rinds are hand smeared to create the conditions under which b. linens grows and gives its special orange glow and funky flavors.  When aged properly, the result is a creamy, soft, oozing, spreadable, funky mess that is fantastic spread on bread and eaten at room temperature.

Brigit got her start in the cheese world in Germany born into a family of cheese-makers.  Her father, Franz, made cheese for 47 years and passed on the family tradition to her.  Franz now consults for MouCo when he visits Colorado from Bavaria and works with Robert to make the cheese in the European tradition.  The operation got its start as a hobby for the couple and it eventually grew into a business when they began producing delicious results.  Besides ColoRouge, they also make a Camembert style cheese and one they call simply, Blü which is soft-ripened and has a blue vein of mold running through the middle.  I have yet to try the other two cheeses, but I can only imagine how delicious they must be.

ColoRouge is a great introduction into the world of stinky cheese.  It's a lot milder than most, and has a delicious buttery quality from the rich Jersey cow milk that makes it irresistible.  You can order it from their website, or ask your local cheese shop to get it for you.  I recommend that you age it in the fridge until it is soft at room temperature.  You'll know you've got it right when you slice it open and it's almost liquid.  As an added bonus, the wheels are conveniently small enough so as not overwhelm you if you are not able to hold back from eating the entire thing in one sitting.  Bon appetit!

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