It was big news nine years ago when the Swiss dairy cooperative, Emmi, purchased Monroe, Wisc.-based Roth Käse USA. The combined company became Emmi Roth, which makes its own Alpine cheeses in Wisconsin and imports cheese from Switzerland.
The company's Wisconsin-produced cheeses have earned world championships, and with them, fans around the globe. So, the company is hopeful its newest innovation will be no less successful.
The soft-ripened cheese, called Monroe, has a fan in cheese writer and Lake Effect contributor Jeanette Hurt. "What's really exciting about Monroe is it's the only cheese of its kind being made in Wisconsin," Hurt explains. "It's a creamy, washed-rind cheese — washed rinds are like taleggios, or the famous Limburger. It means they do have some smell to them, because they are washed with a bacterial solution as they age."
Fortunately for the faint at heart, Hurt says Monroe does not smell nearly as strong or unpleasant as Limburger, although the longer you store it, the more aromatic it becomes. The flavor, however, is extremely pleasant. "When you taste it," she says, "it tastes really creamy, luscious — it's almost like a double-cream brie."
Best of all, she notes, Monroe is a perfect addition to a comfort food many of us turn to in the cooler months. "This cheese," she says, "makes a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich."
If you try Monroe cheese: Hurt says the rind is edible, though some people choose not to eat it. "You can cut it off, [but] it tastes just fine, and it's quite lovely." It's available at Whole Foods stores in Wisconsin and at Fromagination in Madison.