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.