Red hawk is a smelly, triple-cream cow's milk cheese made by Cowgirl Creamery in Marin County, California.
The small, 10 ounce rounds of cheese have a sticky, reddish-orange rind and a light, straw-colored interior. The cheese has a pungent aroma, and a full-flavored, rich, somewhat meaty taste, and a strong, creamy aftertaste. The cheese is semi-soft -- firm enough to hold its shape, but soft enough to cut very easily, and is somewhat spreadable.
Red Hawk is one of those cheeses you either love or hate. The strong aroma scares many people away from this cheese. Others will tell you its the best cheese they've ever tasted.
While almost every cheese expert will tell you that cheeses are supposed to be enjoyed at room temperature, if you are having a little trouble being adventurous, Red Hawk will be a little more mellow for you straight from the refrigerator.
Red Hawk is certified organic, made from pasteurized milk from the nearby Strauss Family Dairy. The cheeses are aged four weeks, then washed in a brine solution to promote bacterial growth.
The cheese was first created by accident. Cheesemakers at Cowgirl Creamery noticed that some of the rinds on a batch of their Mt. Tam cheese were not developing properly. They washed the cheese, hoping that would solve the problem, but instead promoted the growth of brevibacterium linens on the rind. They almost threw the cheese away, but decided to taste it first, and loved it. Soon they started making the cheese on purpose.
Brevibacterium linens (sometimes refered to as b-linen bacteria) is the same bacteria that makes your feet smell bad.
Many cheese makers who make pungent cheeses have to buy the bacteria, but Cowgirl Creamery uses bacteria that develop naturally on their cheese near the California coast.
Try Red Hawk on crusty bread, or with tart apples.
Where to buy
Red Hawk is a popular cheese among stinky cheese lovers, so you can find it in many high-end grocery stores and cheese shops.
You can also find it online at amazon.com.