The cheese of the month for February 2020 is: no cheese, but sheep’s milk yogurt.

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Almost exactly a year ago the Heinzelcheesetalk community made it abundantly clear to me that as far as they were concerned, yogurt did not qualify as cheese: at the Heinzelcheesetalk no 59 devoted to that subject we were an exceptionally small group of four at the table – which did not diminish our fun in any way. So why this new attempt? Hope… and my own fascination with the stuff, and a major reminder a few weeks ago in Copenhagen, at Noma (sorry, I know this sounds preposterous, and presumptuous – but honest, would you decline such an invitation?!?). The desserts served there tend to be not very sweet at all and therefore wonderfully wholesome (even for a declared „I’d rather like some cheese, please“ person like me). Just like at Berlin’s (apologies again, more namedropping) Nobelhart & Schmutzig. That both places could do more for cheese as such is a different story – but enough digressions.

Ok then. On a dark evening earlier this month I was sitting in a very welcoming but somewhat remote corner of the city of Copenhagen. I had been given clams and mussels, seaweed and trout roe, shrimps and sea urchin, squid and turbot, ling liver, sea snails and king crab, loosing touch of the wooden floor, heading off to cloud nine (yes, the wines were appropriately beautiful and inspiring) – and then came yogurt. A small medallion the colour of pale ivory, framed with a red and green compote in a pool of shiny liquid. The fluffy substance seemed weightless, yet hugged my palate so passionately that its… well, caresses escorted me all the way home along the dark water and joined me in bed.

The next day I walked back and had the honour of pastry chef Stefano Ferrano explaining the source of my delight. Yogurt, made in house using cultures from a Georgian buffalo yogurt and milk from the sheep of a local farm. Mixed with an equal amount of cream and folded into French meringue (beaten egg white and sugar). Served with dried and/or fermented gooseberries, cherries, mirabelles, miniature kiwi and fir cones. With oils that had been aromatised with black currant leaves, verbena and barley. Oh my.

And that’s how the finished, untouched result looks when Noma’s amazing house photographer Ditte Isager has a go at it, instead of me fumbling with my smartphone:

So, for all those who are still reading (instead of clicking away, irritated by the elusiveness of it all) – here’s the good news: sheep’s milk yogurt is a gorgeous delight in its own right. Mineral depth, rich creaminess, a hugging softness, augmented by acidity… do search for the best possible quality though, and not necessarily the Greek style stuff for which the yogurt is drained and becomes too solid for my taste. And then let it caress you when the days are grey, dingy and cold. And who knows, perhaps, one day, you, we, will be sitting on that waterfront in Copenhagen and there might even be „real“ cheese. As I said, hope… Cheerio.

PS I’m never sure if I should call a blog. Now other people had a say, nominating my baby (although it’s much more your baby than mine, because what’s the point in writing without any eyes ands brains reading the stuff?!) for the Goldenen Blogger award. Wow – I’m speechless. And grateful.

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