Monday, August 17, 2009

Caña de Cabra

Around the corner from my house in Philly, there’s a wonderful mother-daughter shop that sells Spanish cheeses. Nicole Marcote and her mother Joan Sauvion, of Quince, introduced me to Mahon with quince paste this summer, and today I stopped in for my second round of Caña de Cabra, a soft-ripened goat cheese that I have come to think of as the cheese-lover’s salted nut roll. The rind is firm and tangy, while the center is soft and slightly sweet, like the nougaty filling of my favorite truckstop candybar. Hey, in a pinch, you know.

Earlier this week, I took Nicole’s advice and baked this cheese in a crock, then sprinkled it with toasted pine nuts, drizzled it with honey, and served it alongside some toasted baguette rounds. It’s served this way at Bar Ferdinand, a local tapas bar, and – I squeak inside, as I write this – it was delicious, every sweet-salty lover’s dream. If you eat it with your eyes closed, it tastes like a salted nut roll à la Julia Child.

Caña de Cabra wasn’t listed in Steven Jenkins’ Cheese Primer (horrors!), but Cowgirl Creamery’s Library of Cheese gave me the DL (a thousand bows to those lasses). Caña de Cabra is made in Murcia, an orchard-laden, mountainous region of southeastern Spain. If you’ve ever eaten French Boucheron, you know this style of goat cheese. It looks like it fell off a lumber truck. There is something earthy and mushroomy about it, and it’s so adorable, you’ll want to make felted pillows resembling it.

Please do. And send me one. In return, I will send you a box of salted nut rolls and a beautiful log of Caña de Cabra.

If you live in Philadelphia, stop by Quince Fine Foods, 209 W. Girard Ave., for a cheese-tasting this Thursday, August 20, from 2-4 p.m.


  1. I just found your site this morning and it had me drooling and digging in the fridge for cheese! I don't get to try new cheeses often - tight grocery budget with 4 children to feed, plus a very small town with not a lot in the way of variety. I have been trying to introduce my children to a variety of different cheeses, though. So far, they like the mild ones, like Camembert and Brie and Havarti. I love, love, love blue cheese, but can't convince the kids yet!
    I also have Steven Jenkins "Cheese Primer" and I love it.

  2. That Cana de Cabra sounds heavenly! I'm a huge fan of earthy, rich soft-ripened cheeses. There was a lovely little cheese shop just a few blocks from me with all kinds of wonderful cheeses like this one. Sadly, it fell victim to the economy and closed last month. Now, I'm relegated to Whole Foods.

  3. This sounds wonderful. Do you have the baking instructions
    for doing this in the crock? This is a great blog!

  4. I did indeed just squeal! Tasty, tasty treat! Quince paste is also one of my fave things to have with cheese - it's one of those fruits here in Australia that most people have never heard of (unless your Grandparents had a tree in the backyard)!

  5. So, baking instructions: bake the goat cheese at 300 (I used the toaster oven) for about 8 minutes. The cheese should soften, but not turn liquid. While the cheese is baking, brown some pine nuts in a skillet. When the cheese is ready, drizzle with 2 Tablespoons honey (or more) and sprinkle with the nuts. Serve with baguette rounds and the jar of honey for those who like a bit more sweetness.

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  7. Thank you so much for that.
    I'm going to order a few wheels and feature this dish,
    per you directions, at my next wine/cheese night.
    My theme will be a Taste of Spain,
    so this fits perfectly.
    I've already stocked up on Quince paste
    to serve with my Zamorano.

  8. How do you eat the cana? do you remove the outer molding looking part or do you eat whole

  9. Oh, honey, I eat it. I absolutely do. It's not the least bit scary.

  10. I saw this cheese in SF yesterday and bought about a round about 'half a coke can' tall and cut a small slice--loved it! Gave it to my wife and after a moment--she spit it out! 'Blue cheese! Blech!'

    I double-checked online to see what was what, but no--no evidence of 'bluesiness' there, just the delightful tang it has.