I am recently home from speaking on a culinary cruise along the Atlantic coast of Europe. Thomas P. Gohagan & Company put together the tour for alumni organizations and cultural institutions. Like all of Gohagan’s adventures, the voyage was intimate, with only 230 passengers on a small, luxurious ship. My job was to give lectures about food along our route and host meals at distinctive venues in the countries we visited- Portugal, Spain, and France.
My first presentation on the cruise was a tasting of Spanish olive oils, Jamons (Spain’s incomparable cured hams), and cheeses. To prepare, I sampled Spanish food products during the month before the trip.
I tasted some excellent Spanish cheeses, all purchased at Andrew’s Cheese Shop in Santa Monica. Andrew introduced me to Mont Enebro, a real discovery! It is oblong shaped, soft ripened goat’s milk cheese that is covered with a layer of what appears to be ash but is actually penicillium roquefort mold, the same that is used to make exquisite blue cheeses. However, Mont Enebro is not a blue cheese, but has a creamy white center with an earthy flavor punctuated by peppercorn-like spiciness. It is dense when young, but ripens to a plush creaminess. It is the creation of legendary cheese makers, who are part of an artisanal cheese movement in Spain. Its taste is so complex, I like it best on its own with crusty bread or atop a simple tossed salad. If you don’t live near Santa Monica, the cheese can be ordered from Murray’s Cheese.
Tasting plate photo from Thomas P. Gohagan & Co.