Wednesday, 28 April 2010
ewe must try this: runny cheese fun with torta cañarejal
I've been eating 'funny' (as one of my grandmothers used to say) cheeses for very many years. My dad has always loved cheese and, way back when I was a wee thing, at the end of each week, instead of spending his wages at the pub, he used to seek out the best cheesemonger he could find. Armed with his parcels of cheesy goodness, he'd then stink out his fellow commuters on the train home. My, how they must have loved him, particularly in the dog days of summer. You have to bear in mind, too, that this was back in olden times when most folks were used to little more than plastic cheese, and Red Leicester represented the height of exotica. Looking back, I'm surprised MI5 weren't watching such a dangerous subversive.
Roll on a few decades and both his and my love of weird and wonderful cheeses happily endure. Lord knows how many I must have tried, eaten, and generally gorged on, but the figure must run into the many hundreds. I love them ALL. (Well, all except the fudgy Norwegian Gjetost, which - try as I might - I just can't get along with. It messes with my tastebuds and brain.)
But until a few days ago, there was one cheese that I'd not come across before. It was being pushed forward by my local deli, owned by two chaps who have a particular penchant for all things Spanish and Italian. And that's it, at the top of my post - torta cañarejal, a Spanish ewe's milk cheese.
So far, so cheesey. I asked about it. 'Slice the top off, dip things like crudites into it, and eat. You don't have to do anything to it - no baking, no nothing.'
Crikey. So that's one over on Vacherin, then, isn't it? No baking, even. Dippy cheese to go, no less. How very fab. Better give it a whirl, then.
And so we did.
Step 1. Slice the top off. This, I can do.
Step 2. Have crudités prepared for dunking. This I can do, too. We have carrots, roasted cauliflower (in rapeseed oil), and baby potatoes slathered in butter and wild garlic. Oh, and some leafy green stuff to cancel out the cholesterol, natch.
Step 3. Dunk. Easier said than done. This baby is VERY runny. In fact, a spoon is a good plan.
Step 4. Repeat.
Step 5. Repeat.
Step 6. Repeat until fade.
But the fun doesn't end there. Oh, no. Here's where there's another advantage over Vacherin - you can eat the outer, firmer layer and rind! That's if you have any room left. I didn't, but still went ahead anyway. Some things are just too good to pass up.
Torta cañarejal is not only good, it's a must if you're a cheese-lover. It's mellow but with a distinctive tang of sheep, slightly sweet (Ferran Adrià used to serve it with red fruits and honeyed meringues, apparently), and creamy. It has something of a Camembert about it, but is infinitely more interesting than that.
But, best of all, it's possibly the most edible fun you can have with a whole cheese. For 2 cheese lovers, it's the perfect tasty, simple, and sharing meal. Well, I say 'perfect'. Let's just say it's all fine and dandy until the level of the runny cheese starts getting low. At that point... well, it can become a bit of a no-holds-barred fight to the finish ;)
Do you love someone enough to give them the last scoop of runny cheese? Share one of these (or a Vacherin, if you must - though you'll find they've just gone out of season now) and you'll soon find out...