When I see the name Rodolph Le Meunier on a new cheese, it’s my signal to seek no further. That’s the cheese I want. Le Meunier is a cheese whisperer, uncovering little-known gems in hidden corners of France and maturing young cheeses made by others. Some of the cheeses in his product line are exclusive to him, like this crusty wheel from the Pyrenees. To know it is to love it.
Adarré (ah-dah-ray) debuted at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco last year, and I wasn’t the only person who thought it was one of the best tastes at this enormous trade event. It’s a mixed-milk wheel—part goat, part sheep—in the same format as the classic Basque sheep cheese, Ossau-Iraty. Think of it as an Ossau-Iraty with some goat’s milk added and you’ll get the idea. It’s nutty, creamy, dense and intense, with a rustic, crusty rind that flakes off.
The Cheese Shop of Carmel is selling an average of 20 wheels a month of this cheese, an astonishing pace for a small store. What’s that about?
“I hate being asked what’s my favorite cheese, but this cheese has it all,” says shop owner Kent Torrey. “It has that sauvage, gamy intensity that says, ‘I’m a great cheese and you’re gonna love me.’ It’s got the acid of the goat’s milk, the saltiness of the sheep’s milk, just that perfect marriage of flavors.”
Sophie Doering, who operated Fromagerie Sophie in San Luis Obispo, Calif., until shuttering it recently, told a reporter she couldn’t recall how she fell in love with cheese but Adarré was “the cheese that made me fall in love all over again.”
Named after a nearby mountain, Adarré is matured for about seven months, enough time to develop a roasted-walnut and goat-caramel aroma and deeply savory, long-lasting flavor. It is creamier than Ossau-Iraty and sweeter. I would have guessed it was made with raw milk, and I would have been wrong.
Look for Adarré at these retailers. Serve it as the Basques serve Ossau-Iraty, with sour-cherry preserves. As for wine, I would suggest a rich white, a medium-intensity red or, my preference, a dry or barely-sweet oloroso sherry.