Tonight, after a long absence, I returned to the Cheese School of San Francisco for a class about Portuguese Cheese and Wine. I enjoy subjects like these, focused and unfamiliar to me. I’ve tasted many different cheeses over the years, but I can’t say that any have been from Portugal.
Turns out the prototypical Portuguese cheese is creamy, gooey, and unctuous, which is incredible considering that the majority are made with goat milk (which generally results in a chalkier texture that gives way to a runniness). Apparently Serra da Estrela is the “queen” of Portuguese cheeses, and several we tried were trying to imitate it (Castelinhos and Zimbro). Two of the cheeses were from the Azores (Castelinhos and São Jorge), an island chain I’m only familiar with thanks to an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
- Serra da Estrela*
- São Jorge
Stephanie was unable to attend, so I brought home samples of my three favorites (marked with stars) for her to try. Raiano was her favorite, and I would tend to agree. It has the creaminess of a triple-crème brie, but it’s made with raw goat milk. Highly recommended if you ever happen upon it (or, frankly, any of the others). Lastly, I’ll admit that I’m guilty of eating cheese directly from the fridge—so as a reminder to myself as much as anyone else: these cheeses are best served at room temperature, so take them out of the fridge an hour or so before enjoying.