2012 American Cheese Month 31 Cheeses in 31 Days: Day Seventeen: Rumiano Smoked Dry Jack
Cheese: Rumiano Smoked Dry Jack
Where: Crescent City, California
Milk Type: cow, pasteurized
Texture: very hard
Rind: natural, oil-rubbed and smoked
Shape: 8lb wheel
Flavor: Smoky Bacon and butter nose, taste of smoked, cured meats, buttered white bread
The Rumiano Brothers were known for their high quality products and for their development of Dry Jack cheese. Dry Jack was originally sold “fresh” to Italian businesses and distributors in the San Francisco region, where the cheese would be aged in the cool cellars below the merchant’s shops. The Rumiano Brothers changed this process by aging the cheese in their own hand-dug cellars. This allowed them to take the fully matured product to market. Demand and sales rapidly increased. Because they were the first to offer this aged Dry Jack, the Rumiano Brothers are considered the original developers of Dry Monterey Jack Cheese.
Dry Jack, whether Rumiano’s or Vella’s, reflects the history of attempting to make a cheese that would appeal to Italian immigrants in California who missed the Parmigiano Reggiano of their homeland but could not afford to import it half way around the globe. The end result is not a cheese that tastes like parm at all, but it does rival it for dry, hard chewiness. It readily flakes and breaks.
I’ve not found plain Dry Jack particularly interesting, especially in our modern age when true Italian hard cheese is readily accessible, but Rumiano’s smoked version brings qualities of bacon, cured meats, nuts and butter, albeit with subtlety, that might help it earn an occasional spot on your cheese board.