26
Sep
09

episode 5: Now THAT’s a blue cheese.

Ok so today (well actually it’s the same day as the last one was made – notice I didn’t change clothes) I snuck two friends out of a party to do cheesefreak.  We were just about to play celebrity/name dropper – the game where you can say anything but the person’s name.  I tried to find the Rachel Dratch skip on SNL where she went ballistic playing the game but no success….

So I went back again to Las Ventas.  This is the last time I’m going there for a while, mama needs some change…This was a good night of cheese all with cool stories.   My guests Jeff (he of the political t-shirt) and Matt (fundraiser) joined me for two very tasty moments and one ‘holy crap it’s searing my brain’ moment.

Here we go:

1. Torta Ser – This cheese if from the Extremadura part of Spain (has a Mediterranean climate).TrujilloIt’s a very creamy smooth cheese like a brie and is made from raw cows milk (remember raw = good).  But get this – they add macerated wild thistle flower to the cheese in the form of a vegetable rennet called ‘yerbacuajo’.  You can actually taste the thistle!  This cheese has a designation of origin…..

Ok let’s take a few moments to talk about what Designation of Origin means for a cheese.  It’s actually a European thing for all kinds of different foods including wines.  Here’s the copy and paste from Wikipedia:

Protected designation of origin (PDO)

The Protected designation of origin is the name of an area, a specific place or, in exceptional cases, the name of a country, used as a designation for an agricultural product or a foodstuff,

  • which comes from such an area, place or country,
  • whose quality or properties are significantly or exclusively determined by the geographical environment, including natural and human factors,
  • whose production, processing and preparation takes place within the determined geographical area.

In other words, to receive the PDO status, the entire product must be traditionally and ENTIRELY manufactured (prepared, processed AND produced) within the specific region and thus acquire unique properties.

In other words….they’re trying to protect brand names and traditions which is admirable.  Not that the Chinese could really copy and fake cheeses, but you never know.  I’m not sure if the states has anything like this….hands_off_my_cheese_button-p145591351548961091t5sj_400 2. Roncal – This is a sheep cheese that has a 3000 year old history – how’s that for market selection!  It has origins from the original Kingdom of Navarre which sits in the Pyrenees Mountains near the Basque region of Spain and on the border with France.  It’s one of those border regions that has a unique culture which draws from all sorts of cultures.   I simply must go – it’s so beautiful and this cheese is damn good.AQU90039

It is made in the Roncal Valley (of course) and is known as a snacking cheese – it’s very hard and has a nutty gamey and barny flavor, and according to Mr. Jenkins and Murray’s cheese shop – a fruity, olive, grassy aroma….why are you eating it right now?  This was the first Spanish cheese to win ‘destination of origin.’  I guess it only takes 3000 years!

3. Ok kids – here it is – the bluest blue cheese of all time….

Cabrales – 113_cabrales_1This is a hell of a blue cheese from the Asturias region of Spain (see previous post on Asturias).  The milk must come from a certain herd of cows herded in this small zone of Asturias.  It is raw milk and available only in summer.  Fun Fact: Once the cheese is made, they pierce it with a long needle to allow oxygen to seed the bacteria and  speed up the ‘blueing’ process. Then they store it in limestone caves for a couple of months.  Here’s words used to describe this cheese:

Blackberry, hay, leather, woodsmoke, walnut, BEEF,…

Strong…

Thoat Searing….

Mouth Numbing…

Oh just watch our faces 🙂squeemish

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