2012 American Cheese Month 31 Cheeses in 31 Days: Day Twenty-five: Red Rock
Cheese: Red Rock
Who: Chris Roelli, Roelli Cheese
Website: Roelli Cheese
Where: Shullsburg, Wisconsin
Milk Type: cow, pasteurized or raw depending on season
Texture: semi-firm, creamy
Shape: 5lb brick
Flavor: quite mild, cooked beef/steak, garlic
Roelli Cheese has its roots in Switzerland, making cheese as a family business for a century. With it getting harder and harder to profit as a commodity firm, it eventually stopped business. Thankfully, Chris Roelli convinced his father to rescale the operation to turn artisan. Chris now has the reins and makes a variety of handmade, traditional and experimental styles. It was my pleasure to meet Chris at the Fromagination event. We had a great chat about the return of cheese to its artisan roots, and the need for quality shops that understand these cheese and can tell their stories. Hear hear!
Best known for his Dunbarton Blue, a cheddar-blue I’ll review tomorrow, Chris has two other cheeses now celebrating their ~one-year birthdays: Kingsley, a cheddar (review coming up) and this cheddar-blue, Red Rock, named for the stone surrounding the cellars.
Red Rock’s flaming orange color is the result of using double the annatto, a natural coloring. Almost a nod back to the orange-dyed commodity days. However, the strong color is a misdirection, the flavor is quite mild… there is not the grassy tang of many farmhouse cheddars. Instead, Red Rock tastes a bit of medium-rare steak with a bit of baked garlic. It’s lightly savory, creamy, not too salty. My sample was not particularly blue- I’ve had bluer, craggier Red Rock where the minerality and tang of the mold punctuated the cheese very differently.
At its heart, Red Rock is more ploughman’s lunch than a fancy cheese board cheese; yet, the vibrant color and mild flavor will assure it disappears from a plate quickly.
Here’s Chris Roelli explaining the creation of Red Rock: