Another gift – and more cheese sleuthing (Week 47)

adobera
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.

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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.

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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.

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Kinsman Ridge, Vermont’s answer to Brie
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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.

 

 

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Landaff (Week 7)

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Beautiful labels in the cheesecounter

Cheese: Landaff

Producer: Landaff Creamery

Where: Landaff, New Hampshire

Being back in Southern California this week meant we would look for a Southland cheesemonger who would bring us something new and exciting. We found one surprisingly close to my place of work and after braving the congestion of the Los Angeles freeways for a bit we walked through the door of the Cheesemongers of Sherman Oaks and met Chaz, who cuts a dapper figure at the cheese and cured meats counter with a fabulous moustache and a crisp striped apron. The shop is airy, well-lit and clean-looking. The cheeses and the meats and the cutting boards made of olivewood or slate and the meticulously written signs in the cases make the place a delight to behold, and it does make you want to try if not buy, well, pretty much everything they have on offer. We settled for a piece of Bolivian chocolate that seemed a steal at something like $7, some incredibly flavorful cured meats and a piece of Landaff cheese.

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Chaz Christianson, the meat man

Landaff is a town of a little over 400 souls in New Hampshire and if you google it, you can see that the Landaff Creamery is the most important business in town. The New Hampshire cheesemakers, knowing that their town’s name comes from the eponymous town in Wales, found their inspiration across the Atlantic and used a recipe from there. Our cheese had a beautiful clean natural rind and a buttery yellow color with a little white mottle. The cheese itself reminded me vaguely of cheddar, but it was more flavorful and complex. Despite the fact that it is a raw milk cheese the flavor doesn’t linger much in your mouth – it is a clean dismount, if you will. Charlie went to school one day with a turkey & cheese sandwich with a lot of Landaff and he was a very happy camper. I ate most of it in thick slices as an evening snack. It is a cheese that plays well with others, and it can go with pretty much anything, although I would not combine it with heavy red wines. In fact, I will have a beer with my next chunk of Landaff.

Landaff
New Hampshire Gold: Landaff Cheese