Cheese Of The Week: Franklin's Teleme

Cheese of the Week is a weekly feature on The Daily Meal, drawing on the expertise of internationally renowned cheese expert and consultant Raymond Hook. What follows is based on an interview with Hook. 

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At first glance, the oozy, rectangular block of cheese called Teleme might look a lot like Taleggio, but don't get them confused: whereas Taleggio is dense, Teleme, which was one of, if not the, first cheeses to be produced in the San Francisco Bay Area, is almost supernaturally light and fudgy, with bright flavors of citrus and fresh milk when young, becoming more robust, earthy, and mushroomy as it ages. It's one of the best cheeses produced on American soil, and Franklin's Teleme is made by a third-generation cheesemaker whose family has been producing this same exact cheese for 98 years.

Based out of San Luis Obispo, Calif., Franklin Peluso's Mid-Coast Cheese Company was founded in 2005, but the cheese is still made in the old-fashioned way. "Franklin is a true gentleman," said Hook. "He's a super-humble food artisan who puts all his passion and energy into his cheese."

Franklin hand-crafts all the cheese himself, using milk from Holstein and Jersey cows, and each cheese gets a dusting of rice flour to keep the pH level of the rind low enough to prevent it from getting moldy. It's then aged for a minimum of 20 days, and is ready to ship when the rind is firm and the interior is soft and almost dough-like. The rind is edible when it's young, but as the cheese ages Hook recommends cutting it off.

Hook recommends pairing the cheese with a California red, in particular the Rhone-style 2011 California Crimson. It's big, fruity, mineral-rich, and slightly tannic, and pairs well with the Teleme's earthiness.