Friday, March 19, 2010


I’m into surface mold. I can’t explain it; maybe it’s because I was one of those kids who didn’t mind the crust on her sandwich bread. Or on pizza. When I see people carve out the gooey middle on brie and leave the rind behind, I secretly scoff at them. Silly wabbit, I think to myself, the rind is the best part. It’s where the flavor is.

That’s why I got so excited by a goat cheese pictured in Wednesday’s New York Times, Le Cendrillon. It was coated in ash and had a surface that looked like a bubbly chalkboard – thick, black, stippled. I emailed a cheesemonger with stretchers in his ears, hoping he could fix me up – I figured, if he likes big jewelry, he probably likes bold rind. Was that wrong?

He didn’t have any Le Crendrillon, but he had something similar. When I paid him a visit, he held up a chalky log with thick surface mold the same color and texture as a pussy willow. Montenebro. I’d read about it – a Spanish goat cheese with one maker. I liked that. It’s not like a cheddar, say, where you have lots of makers and umpteen variations. When you order Montenebro, you get the one made by Rafael Baez and his daughter, Paloma, in Avila, Spain.

This is a young goat cheese, aged two months, and it has a magnificent texture -- an oozy rim and a dense center that spreads like frosting. What a treat, I love a multi-textured cheese. The flavor is bold, sweet, lemony with a faint bluesy tail from the Penicillium roqueforti (the same mold that’s used in making Roquefort) that’s rubbed onto its surface, along with the ash. So there is just a twinge of blue taste. Ahhh, amazing.

With a Pinot Noir or Vouvray, this tangy lover is going to make for a perfect picnic some chilly dusk. I can’t wait to serve it up to my rind-mindful friends.


  1. I was lucky enough to get some this weekend, and I have been devouring it ever since. Absolutely delicious. The delicacy of the creamy paste and then that kick from the rind... Yum!

  2. You win the Google sweepstakes for "Oh, my God, what is this delicious cheese I just bought on a whim?"

    I'm just now enjoying it with a glass of cheap Transylvanian cabernet, because hey, it's almost Halloween.

    Thanks for the info on Señor Diaz and his hija. That makes it even better. I'm going to have to remember this cheese for my next social event.

  3. Emabarrasingly, I had to look up "can you eat the rind on Montenebro" because it looks gnarly.......But now I'm lovin' it!