Didn't I recently say I was looking for a cheese with some funk? Well, I found it. Hold onto your extra tall and slightly outlandish Godfather hats. This is Funkmeister, a cheese named for that stinky, pungent odor that comes from a good washed-rind cheese. It's exciting and cool and slightly out there and maybe just a little bit dirty, but man, like those bad boys that are oh so good, you will want to keep coming back to this one.
Haystack Mountain in Longmont, Colorado is known for its goat milk cheeses, but they carry an excellent selection of cow milk cheeses as well. The company has been creating award-winning products since 1989. Jackie Chang is the lead cheesemaker at Haystack Mountain. She grew up in Taiwan and Korea and moved to Boulder in the late 80s. Her cheeses are designed to be flavorful but not overpowering. Such is the case with Funkmeister.
Funkmeister is a double cream, washed-rind cheese, washed in a cultured brine. This process encourages bacteria to spread and grow on the surface of the rind, enhancing the aroma, flavor and aging of the cheese. The cow's milk and cream used are organic. A vegetable rennet is used in the cheese-making process, so vegetarians can dig in without worry.
Inside the ochre rind that's ever so slightly sandy is a rich ivory paste. To say it's creamy is an understatement. The inner texture is divine and practically melts on your tongue. The complex flavor is equally magnificent. It consists primarily of a cream taste with strong notes of raw hazelnuts and softer undertones of straw, mushrooms and earth with a gentle but noticeable tang that goes right to your nose, not unlike the little zing associated with yogurt. This cheese is spicy and sharp without being obnoxious. There's a good dose of salt that hits your palate after the initial flavor has subsided and a very, very slight bitterness at the finish that's not at all unpleasant. The flavors intensify as the cheese ages. Oddly, despite the very obvious pungent and spicy flavor, my overall impression is that this is a delicate, fruity cheese. Sure, it's showy and outrageous on the surface and maybe a little bit offensive to the nose, but there's a refinement about Funkmeister that puts it up close in ranking to cheeses such as Epoisse and Pont l'Eveque.
|Funkmeister has an interesting looking rind.|
|Saving room for some crusty bread on this plate.|
The best way to serve this cheese is at room temperature straight up on some crusty French bread. It's a great cheese to put on sandwiches, too. Serve it on a cheese board with sliced tart apples, grapes, celery sticks and dried meats. Try Funkmeister in baked dishes as well. Heat softens and tames the flavor while allowing it to retain its depth. Any harsher notes disappear when it's cooked in pasta, eggs, or even when it's simply melted on toast. You can also serve it as suggested on the Haystack Mountain website, with savory preserves.
Funkmeister pairs well with Pinot Gris, Condrieu, Riesling, Gamay, Malbec, Blanc de Noir, Chenin Blanc or Jurancon. Haystack Mountain also suggests serving it with a floral, piney IPA.
Oh yes, we want the funk.
|Try Funkmeister with a nice IPA.|