Saturday, February 21, 2009

Argentinian and Italian cheese

Apologies for the gap in posts on the blog - I've just spent 10 days away in Argentina which I think it's fair to say is not one of the world's great cheese destinations. At least not so far but if the wine business carries on the way it's going an artisanal cheese industry can't be far behind. Surely not all the milk can go to make Dulce de Leche.

It's not that they don't eat cheese, it's just that it's not massively exciting. There's quite a lot of Cheddar-style hard cheese and pasteurized Camembert which tends to be served before meals along with ham and chorizo (see above) and some slightly rubbery Mozzarella though it did form the basis of one of the most appealing dishes I had while I was away: a mozzarella and fig salad with toasted almonds at 1884, the restaurant of the country's best known chef Francis Mallman.

I also had a very tasty cheese and onion empanada and some seriously good Brie at one of the posh dinners though I suspect that was imported from France. (The Park Hyatt at Buenos Aires has its own cheese room)

I was intending to post about Valentine's Day cheeses before I went away but somehow missed the boat but I did come up with the perfect cheese for a romantic dinner - a caprino tartufo from Piemonte in Italy (below).

It's a very delicate, creamy goats' milk cheese decorated with fine slivers of black truffles which lend their flavour to the whole cheese. Of course romance shouldn't begin and end on Valentine's Day so there's no reason why you shouldn't serve it whenever you want to give your Significant Other a special treat. It goes fabulously well with champagne or a sexy red burgundy.

* Just remembered another good cheesy thing in Argentina: grilled provolone. They take big slices and put it on the asado (barbecue) for the tiny minority who are not into steak.

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