Cheese is one of those things discovered by chance that changed human life -or human diet at least.
10.000, 5.000 years ago, a man or a woman -probably one in each corner of the world- put some milk in a wineskin made from the stomach of an animal, the rennet did its work and voilá: the history of gastronomy changed forever. Stilton, Pecorino, Cabrales, Camembert, Gouda, Feta, Paneer, who could imagine food culture without cheese?
Even when supermarkets are full of substitutes and other heresies created by food industry in the name of progress and developement, good cheese is still produced in a very traditional way, attached to environmental conditions of its area of production. It is the case of La Serena Cheese and all flower cheese in Extremadura.
Flower cheese is made with sheep milk curled by milk thistle, and it is usually the result of a kind of ecosystem: La Serena is a district of Extremadura where there are more sheeps than people, with large open plain lands inhabited by merino sheep and plenty of thistles, where cheese has grown as a solid industry.
Nowadays, the cheese of La Serena has a protected denomination of origin, which proudly states that it is the only Spanish cheese exclusively made with raw milk from Merino sheeps and vegetal rennet. One kilo of cheese needs the milk of 15 sheeps and it is produced in an traditional way, fire-branded to guarantee its authenticity because it implies that the cheese has followed all the quality controls.
Here, in La Tertulia, we serve Tortas de La Serena (D.O), a kind of La Serena Cheese characterized by its creamy, semi-soft consistence, so it is eaten spread on toast bread or biscuits (we usually serve it with homemade tomato jam). Your first impresion could be a bit unpleasant (I’m not gonna lie, it really stinks) but wait to taste it: you won’t be able to forget “its brash, strong and memorable flavors“.
Yes, flavours, in plural, because it has the four of them: sour at first, then a bit salty, a bit bitter, and finally, with a sweet after-taste. A mix that claims for a good wine, maybe a Rioja, but I would choose a Ribera del Guadiana to have a whole symbiotic experience.
Now that you have said cheese, there is only a decision to be made: starter or dessert?