Gathering thoughts and writing about cheese- two things easily done over an espresso while watching mothers hold their child’s hand as they walk them to the neighborhood kindergarten. A ” mom and pops” style cafe set the stage and surprised me with a small treat behind the pastry counter. In the very corner was a small tray displaying 6 (no more than an ounce or two in size) rounds of palm-sized cheese. I had to get one and try it, otherwise I may have missed out on something great!
Local cafes and restaurants are MUCH easier on the wallet and offer some of the highest quality goods. For 1€ the cheese medallion was mine. It was a regional cured cheese produced from cow (vaca), goat (cabra), and sheep’s (ovelha) milk. The outer rind was firm/hard with a pale yellow hue. Cutting it in half revealed a soft and crumbly ivory-colored pate. It turned out to be a nice mild cheese. Slightly acidic with a hint of saltiness, but certainly not overpowering, the ‘tang’ was likely contributed to using thistle as a coagulant instead of rennet (characteristic of Portuguese cheeses). A creamy mouthfeel accompanied an almost unnoticed note of sweet cream. The texture and mouthfeel were both reminiscent of a soft goat’s cheese. The buttery cream flavor was contributed by the sheep and cow’s milk.
This is not a cheese to display on a chessboard, but would go great spread on a slice of whole-grain toast with honey or jam. Fresh fruit or a powdered croissant would also fit the bill nicely. The flavor of this cured cheese would not mask the taste of any pairings, only compliment them. A fine breakfast cheese at a very satisfying price. While not on my list of Portuguese cheeses to try, I am certainly glad that I did not pass up this opportunity. Cheers!