I finally got the chance to taste Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk and it was well worth the wait. To be fair, I had been offered chances on numerous occasions but hesitated because the web was saturated with high praise and I figured one more review would be one too many. After tasting the washed-rind triple-cream round of goodness, its clear that no amount of praise is enough for this flavor-bomb of fromage.
First a bit of history. In 1997 Sue Conley and Peggy Smith bought an old barn in Point Reyes, California, built a small plant, teamed up with their neighbors, the Straus Family Dairy, and started creating their organic artisan cheeses. Fast forward five years and the cowgirls have amassed a multitude of awards including “Best in Show” from the American Cheese Society for their Red Hawk.
Don’t let the small size of this cheese fool you. Red Hawk is a powerful in both smell and taste. Like most washed-rind cheeses, its aroma is stronger than its bite. Not to say it isn’t intense, because it absolutely is. The difference is where most strong cheese has an intense nutty flavor, Red Hawk is light and tangy while still having the earthy, beefiness we funky cheese lovers enjoy. This is a perfect cheese for those who like Epoisses, Chua Flada, or Stinking Bishop but don’t want to break the bank. At $15.00 per 10 oz wheel, I consider it a bargain.
Storing Red Hawk is a bit of a trick as it is very pungent and, as is the case with most strong-smelling cheese, runs the risk of fumigating the entire fridge. I would recommend consuming within 24hrs of purchase. If this isn’t possible, place the wheel in a Ziploc container with a dry paper towel to absorb excess moisture and store in the cheese drawer. Best served at room temperature.
In the end, don’t follow my lead in putting off tasting this fantastic cheese. Head to your local Whole Foods or cheesemonger and grab a wheel for yourself. You can also order online at the Cowgirl Creamery website.