Best Stinky Cheese in Washington, If Not the Entire United States

Western Washington doesn't lack for top-drawer cheesemakers, but for years I've been hunting for an American raw milk cheese whose funk could make my eyelashes curl. I almost fainted the first time I tasted Estrella Family Farms' richly aromatic Caldwell Crik Chevrette. Kelli Estrella, aided by her husband and six kids, makes three batches of the chevrette a week, washing each wheel with white wine as it ages (for 60 days). Ripe, the chevrette's pungency is legendary: First the barnyard-butter perfume of the cow's milk rolls across your tongue, then the musky tang brought on by the goat. When you cut into the cheese, the bone-colored insides ooze slowly from the orange rind like the thickest of custards. By the time I get one small, paper-wrapped wedge home from the market, my entire car reeks. Each time I open the door to my refrigerator, the cheese reminds me to take another taste. The chevrette just won a silver medal at the World Cheese Awards in London, but its maker swears she's going to keep selling it to the locals. Heavens be praised.—Jonathan Kauffman Available at the U District, Columbia City, Ballard, and Phinney Farmers Markets; www.estrellafamilycreamery.com.

 
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