Naked Cow Dairy (bet I got your attention after just that first word, right?) is the only dairy on O‘ahu. They’re also the only folks in the state producing cow’s milk cheese and butter. A little about them in their own words:
Naked Cow Dairy is a women-owned, family run cow dairy on the island of O‘ahu whose mission is to keep the art of caring for dairy cows alive and well in Hawaii and to bring Island-made, signature, local, fresh-churned butter and artisan cheeses to the table. Hand-crafted dairy products ensure the health and happiness of the cows as well as the high quality of the product.
The sisters who own and operate the dairy realized that in order to build up the business and make it sustainable, they needed to offer more than just milk. In fact, they don’t offer milk yet because their operation still needs to grow; they started out with incredible butters, and are just now starting to sell cheeses.
I think these ladies are doing a very difficult and very awesome thing; so despite my complicated relationship with cheese, I contributed to their Indiegogo campaign to earn $15,000 to outfit their kitchen with cheese-making equipment. And as is part of the coolness of the Indiegogo scheme, I got a perk: a promise for a wheel of “Big Cream Little Rind” cheese, described as “the Frenchy one currently made in batches of eight a week.” It also comes in the most adorable packaging.
Since I like Brie cheese, I was pretty excited about this. So when I got my email saying, “your cheese is ripe and ready for pickup!” I instantly forwarded it to Shake. “Market is tonight. We’re going so I can get my cheese!” I’d heard that the Big Cream Little Rind was very tasty, and there was no way I was going to miss my chance to get my paws on my wheel.
Hard to believe I was almost as excited as Wallace and Gromit about cheese.
Unfortunately, pickup of the cheese coincided with the removal of our refrigerator.* The old fridge had to go, and the new one had to come in, and this involved removing all the contents and leaving anything we were trying to save in coolers in our hallway. Not the greatest way to store precious cheese.
Nonetheless, the cheese survived and was quite tasty. Sabrina, one of the Naked Cow sisters, had said at the market that the best way to enjoy the Big Cream Little Rind cheese was plain, on a crusty, multi-grain bread. So that’s what we did.
The cheese really lives up to its name. It’s extremely buttery and creamy, and it has virtually no rind to speak of! It’s so thin, that if you do remove it for some reason, it basically peels off like gooey paper. I darkened this photo a bit extra to try and increase the contrast between the rind and the cheese; it’s hard to see since the rind is so thin.
We ate about a quarter of the wheel before we had to go out to dinner. Another day passed and we weren’t able to have any cheese snacking time. And now our lovely new refrigerator was beginning to smell…well, cheesy. Uh oh.
Coincidentally, we happened to eat dinner that night at a restaurant that listed “Baked Macaroni & Cheese” on the menu. Hmmmm…I’d made this once before, and Shake loved it.
“I just thought of what to do with the rest of the Naked Cow cheese so it doesn’t go bad. Macaroni and cheese.”
So, off to Whole Foods to buy some additional ingredients (more snobby cheeses and pasta noodles). And for dinner the next night…voila!
The recipe I use is from the Bitchin’ Kitchen chick. I’m not really sure exactly how I feel about this show/woman. Sometimes I think she’s too much and it’s a total put-on act to the point of being annoying, and sometimes I think she’s hilarious and it’s completely awesome. (And no, I do not watch this show regularly. I happened to see it when we were at my mother-in-law’s house. She likes cooking shows even though she hardly ever cooks.) You can get the recipe here.
I substituted out a few things. I have no clue where on earth you can find duck sausage in Hawai‘i, so I use pancetta. And this time, I used a whiskey cheddar, Gruyere and the Big Cream Small Rind cheese. It’s a pretty forgiving recipe; use whatever you like. I made a half-recipe this time, having made the full size one last time and deeply regretted it. It’s just way too much carb, cheese and cream for two people to handle. Also, I happened to have some orphaned slices of bacon (the pack had too much bacon for a two-person breakfast, and not enough to split into two two-person breakfasts, argh!), so I fried that up and tossed it on top. ‘Cause why not?
I forgot to mention that the cheese came with the cutest little thank you note. It was handwritten and signed by “The Naked Cow Girls & Pickles.” Pickles would be the dairy’s mascot cow. Moo. Go buy some cheese (or butter) from the Naked Cow Girls (and Pickles) and help our local dairy thrive! Be the cheese you want to see in the world. Or something like that.
*The Refrigerator Saga. The Short Version. Our fridge mysteriously began to smell of chemicals. This had happened once before; we cleaned it and tossed in a box of baking soda, smell seemed to go away. But it was now back with a vengence and was beginning to permeate EVERYTHING. Over-easy eggs tasted like inhaling nail polish remover. It was even in the freezer. Yes, we cleaned. Yes, we threw away the strange green furry things. Yes, we Googled it. (Common problem, no definitive answer. Could be fluid leak. Could be bacteria.) Since the freezer seal was already leaky (had been for years), our very wonderful landlord said we could have a new one. He even let us pick it out. Not as exciting as you might think, as it’s a VERY small spot it fits into. Limits your choices. A lot. Which is not to say that we aren’t tremendously grateful and very much in love with our new fridgy. Return