Freelance writer Brian E. Clark did a great job writing about the renaissance of stinky cheese in the United States. He was also kind enough to interview me for the story and asked me rank my top seven stinky cheeses currently being made in Wisconsin.
So get out a clothespin and try these one at a time. Ranked in order of “stinkiness”, with the most pungent listed as No. 1., here are my favorites:
7. Fleuri Noir, Fantôme Farm, Ridgeway, Wis.
This award-winning bloomy rind goat’s milk cheese is hand ladled into forms, dusted with ash and salt, and then allowed to age for several weeks. Cheesemaker Anne Topham sells this pyramid-shaped delicacy at the Dane County Farmer’s Market between April and November.
6. Petit Frere, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis.
Cheesemaker George Crave created this rich, rind-washed cheese to reflect his family’s Irish-French heritage. Made in small batches, ladled into draining molds, and then washed daily, the cheese carries an earthy, fruity flavor and velvety texture.
5. St. Pauline, Capri Cheesery, Blue River, Wis.
This mixed milk, washed rind cheese is crafted using both goat and cow milk and is aged four to eight months by cheesemaker Felix Thalhammer. A firm, raw milk cheese, it is an American Original best described as a cross between gouda and havarti. Cured on cedar boards for at least three months.
4. Brau Käse, Roth Käse USA, Monroe, Wis.
The aging cellar masters at Roth Käse USA gently coat this rind-washed Brau Käse cheese with brewer's yeast to impart an earthy flavor, creating a creamy interior perfectly balanced with a slightly assertive rind.
3. Aged Brick, Widmer’s Cheese Cellars, Theresa, Wis.
Master Cheesemaker Joe Widmer makes this surface-ripened stinking beauty by hand, filling each cheese mold with curd and weighting it down with the same bricks his grandfather used. After resting in a brine bath, the cheeses are aged on wooden shelves and hand-washed daily.
2. Earth Schmier, Bleu Mont Dairy, Blue Mounds, Wis.
This signature raw milk, washed-rind Havarti-based cheese was created by cheesemaker Willi Lehner. He injects the cheese with microbes harvested from his farm in southwestern Wisconsin, giving a whole new level to the meaning of “terroir”.
1. Country Castle Limburger, Chalet Cheese Cooperative, Monroe, Wis.
The last of all U.S. cheesemakers crafting the granddaddy of stinky cheeses is Myron Olson at Chalet. This pungent smelling, surface-ripened cheese is often compared to the odor of stinky feet, but once it reaches the palette, it pairs exceptionally well with hearty rye breads and a slice of onion.
Remember to buy these in small amounts if at all possible, and eat it all in one serving. Because I don't care how many layers of foil or plastic wrap you put around these cheeses, they are still going to "stink up" your fridge - in a good way of course. Happy eating stinky cheese!