Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Day 616: SCS Version 9.0, Dispatch #1

Texas and Mexico - two countries separated by a border rife with drama and violence will be the focus of our ninth state SCS spotlight. With overlapping yet unique cheesemaking styles it will be an interesting look at two places that might not always receive excess amounts of attention for their cheeses.

For today's cheeses I decided to choose a cheese from each locale that is what my mind goes to when I think of either Texas or Mexican cheesemaking -- one is significantly more well known that the other but it surely is worth knowing both!

Hailing from the Mozzarella Company in Dallas is Hoja Santa crafted by the fabulously fantastic cheesemaker Paula Lambert. Each young goat's milk cheese is aged and wrapped in the local leaf, Hoja Santa (piper auritum) hence its name. What do we get from the leaf you might be wondering? Herbaceousness in one word. But if you want me to break it down that would be aromatic notes of anise, mint, and pepperiness. The creamy, citrusy, lactic, grassy interior paste is accentuated by these dramatically flavorful notes to awaken your senses. Great with a glass of dry white wine or a beer.

And from Mexico - you guessed it right, one of the oldest cheeses crafted in the region, Cotija. A firm raw cow's milk cheese produced nationwide. But the artisanal producers are those that craft the cheese with raw milk and not pasteurized milk. It is a crumbly, bright white cheese with a denseness to the paste. Salt is at the forefront here which is good for the Mexican summertime climate when salt is excessively important if you are sweating all day. Milky and lactic but round and fabulous -- think ricotta salata with an edge. A very versatile cheese excellent for everything from omelets to tacos to salads and much more; it is even great on its own.

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