Friday, March 5, 2010

Monte Cabra

My friend – I call him the Blue Cheese Brit – has a cheese boy.  This is his cheese boy, the affable “Rich,” well-known in cheese circles for his owly glasses and vaguely Capote-esque style. I think of Rich as the cheese oracle. Whenever I see him, he doesn’t ask me what I want, he tells me what I want – which always turns out to be true. He knows my palate better than I do.

On a recent cookie-eating junket, I ran across Rich unexpectedly at a new cheese counter – he’s the second of two Di Bruno Bros. cheesemongers who have been poached by Philadelphia’s new Garces Trading Co. Okay, well, maybe not poached, but I’m just sayin’. There’s gonna be a rumble.

“You want Monte Cabra,” Rich said to me, when I saw him, and he unwrapped a wheel of charcoal-black butter, a cheese that had my name all over it. I like ash, what can I say?

Monte Cabra is a Spanish goat cheese (from Catalonia), very mild with a pleasant, sweet, pasturey taste. Like its black shroud, its story remains something of a mystery: I couldn’t find squat, not on the Net, not even in my go-to cheez books. Everyone who has written about Monte Cabra compares it to feta, which doesn’t make any sense. It’s dryer, like Manchego, with a firm, not-quite-crumbly texture. I didn’t taste salt, which is what comes to mind with feta; I tasted hay, wood shavings, an ashy sweetness with a tart hook.

It tastes, and looks, great with blackberries.

Someday I’m going to do a cheesemonger-of-the-month profile, and Rich will hopefully be one of them. Once again, I’m pleasantly surprised to discover the cheese of my dreams. 


  1. I shall be returning to Di Bruno Bros the second of may. Hope to see you there soon!
    Richard-L Morillo

  2. Yes, so I hear. I'll look for your mug, bub.

  3. Hey, I was just at Garces Trading Co. last night and had some Monte Cabra. We liked it so much, we bought some to take home with us. I was told by the cheese counter person that it is Jose Garces' favorite.

    Well -- it is delicious for sure. I'll be buying more. Is it sold anywhere else in the Philadelphia area? By the way its quite pricey at about $23.00 a pound.

  4. Yeah, it's gorgeous stuff. $23/lb doesn't sound too crazy. Really fine cheese can go up to $40/lb. It's like wine -- you really do get what you pay for.

    You might also like Montenebro -- similar but with more bite.