by Mark Bomalaski
This past week I took a beautiful hunk of red cat home to enjoy with my family and friends. I chose this particular cheese because I have wanted to gradually introduce my friends to washed-rinded cheeses. Red cat is perfect for those first few baby steps into the frontier of pungent cheeses. Its gritty, sawdust colored rind blends perfectly with its fudgy, creamy interior, making for a harmonious coupling of textures, aromas and tastes.
Red Cat is a wash-rinded raw cow milk cheese. This means that the wheel of cheese is bathed in a wash of salted water. This washing helps to break down the curds inside the cheese and the flavor introduced from the wash actually becomes a part of the cheese; it does not remain only in the rind. Most washed-rinded cheeses develop a gritty rind that ranges in color from light orange or red to tan or brown.
Aside from its exciting flavor and textures, I chose Red Cat because it is produced locally in relation to Philadelphia. Red Cat is produced by Birchrun Hills Farm, a family owned and operated dairy in Chester Springs, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and less than an hour’s drive from downtown Philadelphia.
Because many washed-rinded cheeses are very strong in taste and aroma, they pair very nicely with strong beers. Following in the tradition of Trappist monks, I enjoyed this cheese with a strong Belgian Ale to counteract the pungency of the Red Cat.