Another gift – and more cheese sleuthing (Week 47)

Cheese Enigma: we’ll call it Adobera for now!

The same friend who got me a piece of her family’s cheese from La Capilla de Guadalupe in Mexico gave me a riddle in the form of a cheese from Teocaltiche in the state of Jalisco – about an hour and a half to the northeast of La Capilla. It has a pale ivory color, a fine grainy texture – you can see it looks a bit like dough where I cut it – and a fresh, sour taste. It smells exactly like European yoghurt, and these were my clues. Her family is divided on the cheese, as much as they are united in the Queso Fresco from La Capilla. it grew on me after a few bites but it is probably better as an ingredient in a dish that requires queso than as a ‘stand-alone’. I did some web research and found the Cheese Underground description of a cheese called Adobera, so named because it comes in a shape that looks like an adobe brick. It fits what I am eating very neatly, so I think this is what we’re dealing with. It is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and another website lumps it in with the quesos frescos. The problem with that is that it doesn’t tell you a lot, because there is a wide variety of these and one queso fresco is not like another. so for the time being, I’ll settle on Adobera.

Awesome cheese paper: Cheesemongers of Sherman Oaks

I also visited the Cheesemongers of Sherman Oaks this week, and picked up 3 American cheeses. From the Indiana farm of Jacobs and Brichford Cheese I had a piece of Everton – think Gruyère, but sharper. Nice big mouthful but not for the fainthearted – it really packs a punch. I had the Adair from the same creamery a few weeks ago, so now I will want to try more of their cheeses – that one was also very good.

Sharp, Bold – Everton

The Everton is definitely my cheese of the week, although the other two, the Kinsman Ridge from the Landaff creamery – a bloomy rind cheese with big mushroomy and grassy flavors – and the Twig Farm – a stinker with a washed rind with a really interesting taste made from a combo of goat and cow milk – were also very, very good.

Kinsman Ridge, Vermont’s answer to Brie
Goat-Cow stinker from Twig Farm

One of the best things about shopping at the Cheesemongers is the love of cheese that permeates everything that they do. “What the heck does that mean?”, I hear you think. For starters, the cheese-monger-in-chief’s face lights up when she speaks about cheese. Then, they enjoy advising you and letting you taste and finally: look at how carefully and lovingly they wrap their cheeses in the best-designed cheese paper I have ever seen, and tagged with little tags so that I remember what I am eating as I am munching away, trying to figure out which of this week’s four new flavors will be cheese of the week – a labor of love itself.




Queso Fresco (Week 11)

The end result: delectable quesadillas

Cheese: Queso Fresco

Producer: Quesería Jiménez

Where: La Capilla de Guadalupe

This week I got a gift. A gift of cheese. A colleague who knew about my 52 Cheeses quest brought me something that came with a story. There are few things that connect people to their heritage the way food does, and all of us are familiar with the melancholy sighs bemoaning the absence of some real fill-in-the-blank. In the 1980, when I worked a lot with German tourists in the US, it never took more than about 8 or 9 days before my guests began to lament the quality of American bread, compared to what they like to call black bread. This was well before Whole Foods and in most of the country, burger buns, dinner and breakfast rolls and wonderbread were holding down the bread-fort.

My friend’s family members rejoice and think of a place far away in the old country every time they bite into the pleasant graininess of a soft white Mexican cheese they just call Queso Fresco. She brought me a piece, neatly packaged in a plastic bag to keep the whey from dripping all over my desk. The cheese, she announced, comes from Quesería Jiménez, an unassuming facility that could pass for any other industrial building safe for the cow picture on the door. I was unable to find anything but the streetview google image.

queseria Jimenez
Queseria Jimenez

The quesería is in La Capilla de Guadalupe, and apparently, this modest town is home to the best looking women of Mexico. I am not googling that because lord knows what will come up in such a search. Capilla’s cheese is certainly worth the trouble and the risk – I am pretty sure that bringing it in to U.S. is frowned upon by the FDA. It is creamy, fresh, and not too salty. It melts to create splendid quesadillas which, I am told, is really what this cheese is made for. I enjoyed it just by the slice also, and I realize that I now have the old Playboy excuse if I were to ever travel to Capilla to see if what they say about the women is true: “I am only here for the cheese”, I will be able to claim.

Queso Fresco
Queso Fresco: Cooking up a quesadilla