Welcome back to the Monday Cheese series. Honestly, with my posting
history it should probably be called the Monthly Cheese series.
On a trip to Barcelona I visited La Seu Formatgeria,
a cheesemonger specializing in Spanish farmhouse cheese. I was hoping
to find Cabrales, a blue cheese famed for its spiciness. They didn't
have any, so I bought several other varieties instead.
The next day I ran across a small outdoor market where a farmer was
selling a goat cheese from Formatge del Montsec called Suau de Clua. He had
two types, a young and an aged. Having already bought a fair amount of
cheese and limited luggage space, I opted for for just one young
cheese. Usually I like to speak with the cheesemonger and learn a bit
about them and their cheese. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Spanish and
the Catala language is limited to just a few phrases, so the
conversation was rather short.
I brought the cheese back home where it sat in the fridge for
several days. I really didn't expect much. After all, I had purchased
several other cheeses at La Seu Formatgeria and I really wanted to try them first.
The cheese has a fascinating history. High in the hills of the La Serra del Montsecmountain
range lies the tiny village of Clua de MeiÓ. After being abandoned for
many years, it was re-inhabited by a small group of people in the
1970's. There they became self sufficient, living off the land and away
from the big cities. In America they would be called hippies. Over
time, buildings were renovated, a good water supply was installed, and electricity and telephone services were added.
After some trial and error with raising livestock, rabbits, chickens, and pigs, it was the
goat that could survive the rugged terrain of the mountains. With
the goat's milk they made cheese, and a delicious one at that. It's off
white, creamy, and fairly mild. If I had realized how delicious this
cheese was, I would have bought more of it as well as the aged version,
leaving the other cheeses in Barcelona. Yes, it's that good.
Precious little information is available on the the net, and none of it in English. I found this video (http://www.tv3.cat/videos/236508607) which has an interview with the very same person selling the cheese at the market. If anyone knows Catala, please contact me. I'd love to learn what he says!