I’ve always been thankful I don’t suffer from lactose intolerance. A life without cheese would be intolerable. And a life without artisanal cheese would just be wrong.
My newest finds are the three soft-ripened cheeses from MouCo Cheese Co. (Yes, it pretty much sounds like Moo Cow when you say it) in Fort Collins, Colorado. The small company with 50 years of cheese-making experience limits its product line to three cow’s milk cheeses: Camembert, ColoRouge and Blu. Each is unlike any cheese of its kind I’ve tasted elsewhere.
The Blu is soft and rather mild. It’s not the pungent crumbling kind you toss in salads, but a melt-in-your-mouth ooze of flavorful cheese. It work terrifically melted over a beef or turkey sandwich, stuffed into sautéed mushroom caps or simply smeared across a cracker, slice of pear or wedge of apple.
The Camembert, a 2006 American Cheese Society award winner, softens as it ages, going from firm to smooth, earthy to buttery. It, too, is delicious with fruit and holds up to being baked in pastry. The company recommends pairing it with champagne, not something I generally think of with a cheese course, but trust the recommendation as it works quite well.
The third cheese, ColoRouge, is a unique orange-rind cheese that maintains its spiciness as it ages. It, too, is an American Cheese Society award winner. The Blu remains my favorite, served at room temperature, paired with thin, crisp slices of autumn fruits, some grapes, maybe a few pecans or crackers for crunch and a nice chilled white wine.
MouCo’s date code system allows you to decide exactly when to eat the cheese – still young and somewhat firm, later when it’s soft and more subtly flavored or when it’s really really runny. All of the cheeses are made with antibiotic-free pasteurized whole cow’s milk and all-natural rennet. The company web site includes tasting tips, wine or beer pairings and recipes (camembert and papaya quesadillas!).
MouCo’s cheeses have been served at restaurants around the country, including Aqua in San Francisco, Brasserie 8 ½ in New York and Tru in Chicago. They’re available in some supermarkets and specialty shops (listed on the web site), at Colorado farmer’s markets and through the web site’s secure ordering system.