Cheese of the month February 2014: Queijo de Ovelha Amanteigado Curado from Quinta da Serra da Gardunha/Portugal

This a monthly series which I have been publishing for years. You can subscribe here, to get the latest cheese delivered directly on to your screen. 

I know, I’m writing a lot about Portugal these days. But life rarely flows in a quiet stream, balanced, temperate and calm. Rather, it’s leaping and jumping ahead. And that means that at the moment the wild country on the Atlantic coast looms large in my world. After my beautiful excursion to the Alentejo in the fall (about which more here) I was slightly mad with myself for returning without one of the onctuous sheeps‘ milk cheeses from the center of Portugal.

GardunhaGrüneWocheYou can eat them using a spoon, like  a Vacherin, but theirs is such a delicate acidity that in spite of all richness they seem to dance over your palate. A lot of descriptions talk about a slightly bitter note in that context, but apparently my tastebuds are not very receptive for it. Queijo de Ovelha Amanteigado Curado these beauties are called. They are surrounded by a linen bandage as the rind isn’t strong enough to keep them in shape. This is due to the fact that the (untreated) sheeps‘ milk is traditionally coagulated using the filaments of a local variety of thistles, cynara cardunculos instead of rennet. Caciofiore di Columella is another cheese made using that method, in the Lazio region near Rome. Well, to be honest, back then I was loaden quite enough with goodies as it was… and of course there is the Grüne Woche, the annual agricultural fair. It can be tedious in many respects and make me really angry (as for instance when a French cheese stall offers bright green Pesto hard cheese) but each year there are a few treasures waiting to be discovered (more on that, from the far north, during the next days!).

emptyThis time I was more than happy to come accross my much missed Portuguese friends, from Quinta da Serra da Gardunha in Fundao. The next evening was a real feast: a few salad leaves to start with, good bread to spoon the golden cheese on and in about no time, only an empty shell was left on the plate. But in my cheese heart now lives the memory of that child of the Atlantic sun, to carry me through the coming month of February which experience tells me will be mostly on the grey and cold side. Obrigado!

This a monthly series which I have been publishing for years. You can subscribe here, to get the latest cheese delivered directly on to your screen. 

Alentejo Himmel

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