10/8/08

Do You Know Monterey Jack?

And now for a cheesy story…

In the late 1800s, a rather colorful Scottish immigrant by the name of David Jacks, owner of copious quantities of ranchland in the Monterey, California area, began shipping a cheese from his dairies. The cheese was labeled with both the location of its origin, Monterey, as well as his last name. Over time the “s” from his last name was dropped from the cheese, and it became known as “Monterey Jack”. In the mid 1950’s, the FDA made this name official.

Upon further investigation however, it turns out that David Jacks was not the creator or inventor of this style of cheese. He was merely a shrewd businessman using his resources – some 14 dairy ranches – to market this product. The actual origin of the cheese dates back to the 1700’s courtesy of the Franciscan Monks, and it was called Queso del Pais (country cheese).

The Monterey Jack we know today is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese made in America. It is generally aged for 1 month and has a pale yellow color and mild flavor. This cheese is considered highly versatile in cooking and also has several varieties available, including Pepper Jack and Garlic Jack. There is even an aged version which is somewhat firmer and a bit sharper in flavor.

As for wine pairings, we recommend hearty reds, such as a Zinfandel or Barbera.

Now I think it is safe to say that…you really know Jack..!

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