Cheese reminds me of people. In the California sunset hue of the Aged Mimolette I recognize my own father; the firm but delicate nature, the coarse exterior (but sweet to those who know it best), even in its scent. Served on a platter, the Mimolette resembles a slice of cantaloupe, so it seems as if it’s smiling. Triple crème Brie looks like the giant marshmallow from Ghostbusters, and the eight month Manchego looks like an old man in a certain light. Particularly the profile. The Pecorino Gran Cru has a striking resemblance to a Victoria’s Secret model; the body is outrageous and those salt crystals get me every time. Fresh chèvres are tender as newborn babies in mangers.
The Purple Haze, from Humboldt County in Northern California, is Jimi Hendrix resurrected in cheese form. It crumbles in your mouth like Castles Made of Sand and the boom of herbs beat into your palate like a Bold As Love guitar solo. This small, circular-shaped goat’s milk cheese is flavored with wild fennel pollen and lavender; so the same herb-driven audience drawn to Jimi’s music will find their fix here. Like Hendrix, this cheese has its tender moments, as well as its insanely heavy ones. The feminine and fragrant blossoms can lighten up a basic spinach salad, or, spread on a grilled vegetable sandwich, can make it quite romantic. Pair it with a Zinfandel and a concert at Woodstock.
The Red Hawk, from Point Reyes, California, resembles Teddy Roosevelt, the rugged individualist of presidents. Teddy mastered life in the saddle, driving cattle, hunting big game, and even captured an outlaw. Red Hawk is the western pioneer of today’s cheeses. Made by the Cowgirl Creamery, it leads American cheese lovers in the same youthful and progressive style as Roosevelt led our country. It is a triple cream, washed and bathed in a brine solution which promotes the growth of a bacterium that tints the rind red. Made with organic milk produced by the Straus family dairy on the pristine Tomalas Bay in California, this cheese was awarded Best-In-Show at the American Cheese Society’s Annual Conference in 2003. It follows Roosevelt’s famous cheese maxim, “ooze softly, and carry a big stink.”
Yancy’s Fancy Buffalo Wing Sauce Cheddar Cheese, from New York, would have to be the notorious Anna Nicole Smith. Infused with the hot sauce generally used for chicken wings, it gets its fair share of jokes as the “trailer trash cheese,” but I absolutely love it; the same way the media made fun of Anna Nicole but secretly loved her. The cheddar itself is unimpressive, but the flavor and silliness from the hot sauce makes everyone smile. It’s amazing on nachos or tacos, served with cold sour cream to cut the spiciness. New York magazine used a photo of Anna squatting in a short skirt and cowboy boots while eating chips for their story called “White Trash Nation.” She could have been eating this cheese instead. I don’t think Yancy’s has the same Marilyn Monroe aspirations that Anna did, but it is still a very fun and playful cheese.