Tag Archives: stinky cheese

Cheese of the Week: Anton’s Red Love and Franklin’s Washed-Rind Teleme

I’m on vacation, but I am going to write about two cheeses before I head off to the Russian River.* Both cheeses are pink and stinky and two of my new favorites.

Anton’s Red Love is a polarizing cheese. Not because of its luscious butterfat, notice-me stink, and balance of flavor. No, almost everyone I sampled it to loved the cheese. It’s polarizing because of its label. Don’t believe me, check it out:

This is right up in my top three disturbing cheese labels. Number one is still the child porn Taleggio but I think Red Love moves to number two, supplanting the emaciated sheep about to commit cannibalism on a Manchego. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love this label.** But about half the cheese workers at the store looked at me like I was crazy to use this label (which I laminated) as a display. That the cheese feeder is the cheesemakers daughter (supposedly) makes it even more awesome in my mind. Get your heads out of the gutter, people! It’s sweet. Just because Folsom St. is this weekend doesn’t mean the label promotes feeder-fetishes.

If you want an awesome stinky cheese, seek out Anton’s Red Love.

In other stinky news, Franklin Peluso sent us a square of the washed rind Teleme he’s been working on for awhile. I may have written this before, but the contrast between multi-generation cheesemakers Sid Cook (Carr Valley Cheese) and Franklin Peluso is amazing. In the time it took to write this entry, Sid Cook – who already makes about 150 cheeses*** — has probably already invented, tested and marketed two new cheeses. Franklin, however, made only his second kind of Teleme ever a few years ago…. He added pepper to it! This is his third cheese**** and it is long-anticipated by Bay Area cheese lovers.

Now, you and me, we can admit that a washed-rind Teleme is a Taleggio, right? Even if name-control-wise we can’t call it that. I mean geez, I’ve been selling Teleme as “Taleggio without the washed rind” for a decade and a half now….

This sample cheese was awesome. It was falling apart a little. But that was because the ooze factor was so high. Like Teleme, this is not a strong cheese, despite the stink, but a rich slightly pungent one that is super hard to stop eating.

I brought our remaining sample to the Bay Area Cheesemonger party last week where it was well-received for sure. (Thanks for the party Christine Bayuga!)
franklin's washed-rind Teleme

Can’t wait to get it on the shelf.

*We accidently booked a place on the Russian River for Folsom Street Fair weekend. Will it be deserted or packed with people fleeing the city?
**Not to be confused with I Love My Label
***Exaggeration for effect.
**** Well, he did make a short-lived cow/sheep version with Rinconada Dairy, but that was just the regular Teleme with mixed milk.
****Oh what the heck, here’s a close up!
******This entry written while listening to the amazing John Cooper Clarke

Smells like dead rat, tastes like heaven

The cheese department and the produce department get along well at our store. For the last 13 years we’ve shared a backstock cooler, route questions to each other, and have happily coexisted on the south side of the store. The only time this peace is ruptured is when we cut a particularly stinky piece of cheese.

I’m not talking an every day stinky cheese, or a small, washed rind cheese that goes from box to counter in five minutes. No, I’m talking about problems, projects, and Alpine cheeses with super sticky washed rinds.

I’m not going to mention the name of the cheese that caused the problems last Saturday. I don’t need to be corrected with any “I don’t think it smells that bad”s or, worse yet have the cheesemaker or importer give me a hard time. The fact is, once it’s cut down the rind to cheese ratio makes it much less intense so most customers would never notice the way it smells when it first comes out of the cooler and gets unwrapped.

On Saturday however, people noticed. It was one of those days that we were so swamped with customers that our production slowed to a standstill, letting the smell of this little “mini-Gruyere” really get out into the atmosphere. Shoppers were wrinkling their noses. Children were asking their parents, “What’s that smell?” The produce workers were complaining.

One by one they came over to our area and asked, “What is that?” I assured them that it was cheese and that it was ok, but they were cutting me with their eyes every time they passed. One finally said, “Are you almost done with that? I’m feeling my gorge rise!”
Even after it was wrapped and put on the shelf, its smell lingered. Even an hour later my favorite vegan co-worker walked by and she noticed. Head on a swivel, she looked around the store. Then she started moving boxes around and looking under produce displays. I went over to her to let her know everything was ok.

Before I could speak she whispered, “I smell a dead rat.”

“It’s just cheese,” I said.

“No, that’s dead rat. I know.”

I walked her over to the compost and pulled out the paper that had once held our smelly Alpine friend. I held it up to her face.

“UGH! Ack!” Then she looked at me with all her vegan wrath and said, “What is wrong with you people?”