Red Hawk: A Sensational Cheese
July 26, 2010
Red Hawk is a soft cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. This cheese is produced by Cowgirl Creamery of Marin County, California. We selected this cheese from several options we tasted during our cheese class at Cowgirl Creamery. Red Hawk has a washed rind and is aged with brevibacterium linens–an airborne bacteria that occurs naturally in the Pt. Reyes area.
Red Hawk is a small flat dome, a light apricot color. Its exterior surface shows signs of its production: creases from the cheese cloth and cheese form are etched into its rind. Inside, the cheese is milky white. To the touch, Red Hawk’s interior is squishy and sticky; its exterior surface is somewhat gummy and will leave orange residue on a finger.
Red Hawk has a pronounced aroma that fills the room. Red Hawk’s odor is not pleasant and frankly, it stinks. We compared it to several foul odors: a sweaty father post-bike ride; dog feces; and, our dog’s breath after she has snacked on another animal’s droppings. Red Hawk’s aroma clings to the fingers and will remain long after tasting.
Red Hawk has the flavor of sour milk, similar to Pont l’Eveque yet stronger. It is slightly tangy, but also has a light sweetness. Red Hawk is very creamy and smooth, similar to Fromage d’Affinois or a triple cream cheese. The cheese and its rind spreads easily with a butter knife. Unlike some soft triple creme cheeses, Red Hawk doesn’t loose shape out of refrigeration.
If one is put off by Red Hawk’s foul odor–which would be understandable–a truly excellent cheese will be missed–which would be unforgiveable. This cheese is sensational. Its aroma and flavor assaults the nose, mouth and tongue, and yet Red Hawk is an inviting and delicious cheese. This is the cheese we returned to repeatedly during our tasting. All of the tasters liked this cheese and we would definitely purchase this cheese again. When I put Jacob to bed, he said that he could still smell Red Hawk on his fingers and commented how much he liked this cheese.
We decided that this is a cheese we had to share with family–especially those on my side who become effusive over stinky cheeses (think Limburger, Munster)–and would suffer through a 6-hour drive with this cheese polluting the car just to share it with our loved ones. That’s how much we love this cheese.