Name: Torta de la Merendera
Producer: Various (La Mancha, Spain)
Milk: Raw Goat
Age: 90 days
I am going to sell you this cheese. Truthfully, every week I am selling you one cheese or another, but in this case, it's different. Torta de la Merendera is what I'd call an "underrated cheese". Since we got it into the store as part of a special promotion, it's been continually passed over. Instead, people gravitate to Manchego or other popular Spanish cheeses, despite my attempts to turn them on to Torta de la Merendera. So I turn to you, dear readers.
Imagine a cheese that is briny and sweet with the pleasant acidity of green tomatoes. Rich and creamy, its flavor lingers with you long after you've finished it. On the outside, an impossibly thin layer of natural rind, neither bitter nor chalky, invisible to the tongue. Its texture is moist and rich like that of French feta.
Now imagine that you're nibbling on it while basking in the sun on a beautiful day in a garden, writing a cheese article on your laptop. But maybe I'm personalizing this a bit too much.
For pairings, tradition dictates it to be served with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, which would no doubt be good. But for those looking for something a little more unconventional, a Belgian-style white ale such as the one made by Allagash would be amazing with it. Add to that a salad of sauteed dandelion greens or arugula and you'd have a perfect beginning-of-summer dish.
Torta de la Merendera is available for $22.99 at Murray's Cheese. Its a rare find in the States, and this is the only place I have found it available in the New York area or online.