Thursday, August 21, 2008

Alemtejo

Called in full Queijo de Alemtejo, cheese of Alemtejo, in the same way that so many French cheeses carry along the fromage title. Soft; sheep and sometimes goat or cow; in cylinders of three sizes, weighing respectively about two ounces, one pound, and four pounds. The smaller sizes are the ones most often made with mixed goat and sheep milk. The method of curdling without the usual animal rennet is interesting and unusual. The milk is warmed and curdled with vegetable rennet made from the flowers of a local thistle, or cardoon, which is used in two other Portuguese cheeses—Queijo da Cardiga and Queijo da Serra da Estrella—and probably in many others not known beyond their locale. In France la Caillebotte is distinguished for being clabbered with chardonnette, wild artichoke seed. In Portugal, where there isn't so much separating of the sheep from the goats, it takes several weeks for Alemtejos to ripen, depending on the lactic content and difference in sizes.

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