Hooligan, oh Hooligan, you make me feel born again. I love your rural notes -- exhaust of pick-up truck, eau de boarded-up barn. You have a boot-like rind that looks like salty leather, that smells like spruce bark. When I crack open a nutty brown ale with you on the porch, I am transported to a backwater bar with peanut shells on the floor, Johnny Cash on the jukebox, and plenty of dusty taxidermy. You are wild. You are utterly, utterly a dream cheese for the girl with ratted hair and Daisy Dukes.
Note: Some cheeses make you pen notes on napkins, others make you twitter your friends. Truly awesome cheeses make you write love poems. This cheese, by Connecticut's Cato Corner Farm... yeah, it made me want to go Byron on it. Maybe that's because farmstead cheesemaker Mark Gillman used to be a seventh-grade English teacher before he dropped his grade book and picked up a bucket of raw milk. I think I can still taste some Norton Anthology, and maybe some Leo Kottke.
If you are a friend to the stink-meisters, this award winner (Slow Food, Saveur) is worth begging your cheesemonger to order; it's also available online, if you want to contact the maker. I can't remember the last time I ate a cheese with so much personality. Maybe it's because Gillman rubs his cheeses with unusual ingredients -- buttermilk and salt, in this case. Gillman also makes Drunken Hooligan, which is washed with grape must, and Despearado, which is bathed in Pear William eau de vie and fermented pear mash.
Try Hooligan with a nutty ale, a Trappist charmer. Then put on your cut-offs and eat it in the wild. Don't be surprised if feral cats begin winding themselves around your legs.
Tenaya Darlington blogs at Madame Fromage.