Monday, July 14, 2008
To honor the upcoming release of a new Wallace and Gromit movie, a matter of loaf and death and to help the hapless cheese connoisseur in La Paz, I've compiled a list of Mexican cheeses one will readily find at the grocery store.
For those who can not go without cheddar, bleu, parmesan or wenslydale, the major supermarkets plus tienda gourmet Sapore (on Abasolo between Encinas and Marquez de Leon) all carry a selection of imported cheeses.
In no particular order, Mexican Cheeses
Queso Blanco-creamy white cheese from cows milk with rennet. Softens when heated but does not melt. Best use: stuffing enchiladas
Queso fresco-spongy grainy white cheese, crumbles well. Usually a blend of cow and goat milk, it is similar to a mild feta. Best use: sprinkle over snacks like taquitos or enchiladas, cube and toss into a salad
Panela-also called queso de canasta because it is made in a plastic basket mould and whole cheeses still bear the imprint of the basket. Soft white cheese that absorbs other flavors easily. It also does not melt when heated and makes a wonderful base for a vegetarian sandwich with onion, avocado, tomato and peppers. You will often see a bit of whey in the package. This is normal. Try to buy panela as fresh as possible.
Requesón-A loose, ricotta like cheese that does well in making a cheese spread. Often seen mixed with green onions and herbs.
Queso añejo is an aged version of queso fresco. Becomes firm and salty as it ages. It is primarily used as a garnishment, crumbled or grated over a variety of dishes. Can also be found enchilado, or covered with chili powder
Oaxaca-also called quesillo is the Mexican string cheese. As a whole cheese, it looks like a ball of yarn and is often sold pre-pulled apart. It melts very well and is most popular for quesadillas.
Queso asadero is Oaxacan cheese made into a loaf form for slicing. This is the best cheese for melting and is the base for queso fundido.
Chihuahua or queso menonita is pale yellow instead of white and can vary in taste from mild to nearly cheddar-like sharp. It is especially good in making queso frito or fried cheese sticks. Tipo chester is menonite cheese that has been aged a minimum of 15 days(!)instead of the 7 days given chihuahua cheese.
Edam and Gouda cheeses- although certainly not considered Mexican cheeses, they have gained such popularity in Mexican regional dishes that they are worth mentioning and are widely available.
Manchego is a buttery pale yellow cheese wonderful for melting, for serving with fruit or with crackers. This is the go-to cheese for making cheeseburgers.
Queso Amarillo-processed American style cheese in slices, this cheese should be avoided if there are any other cheeses to be had. Best served between a couple of slices of bimbo bread.
Cotija-the parmesan cheese of mexico is a sharp crumbly goat cheese usually served over beans or salads.
Crema- similar to crème fraiche, only Lyncott brand in La Paz is pure 30% butterfat content cows milk cream that has been allowed to thicken. Other brands are 25% butterfat and have salt added, sometimes gums, thickeners and stabilizers. Read the labels carefully. Even if you don’t know a lot of Spanish, the fewer ingredients listed, the better.
Crema Agria- sour cream. Thicker than crema and with a tangy finish.
Doble crema- Mexican style cream cheese. The creaminess varies from cheesemaker to cheesemaker, so inspect the cheese carefully. Cream cheese usually has gums or thickeners added, so rejoice in finding doble crema and use it wherever you would normally use Philly. By the way, if you do want cream cheese and don’t see it, it is called filadelfia in Mexico.
Click on the word cheese in the title of this post for some fun with Wallace and Gromit
- The Bread Guy
- La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
- Before gaining control of my life, I created pastries for some cool places in California: San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Brix Restaurant in Napa and The Lodge in Sonoma. Now I am the chef/owner of Pan D' Les bakery in La Paz. My personal favorite is the Multigrano loaf, full of crunchy seeds and a nice chewy crust.