Recently I made a visit to my neighbourhood cheese store – Goat Inc. in Port Credit (Ontario). The store’s cheesemonger, Joe Ambrus, suggested I try some Zamorano. I thought that was a very sexy name for a cheese. It just rolls off the tongue and can be pronounced with bravado. It made me think of Zorro.
Zorro was a fictional character that defended the people of California during the Spanish colonial era against tyrannical officials and other villains. I imagine that his relatives, back in Spain, probably sent him Zamorano cheese as a reward for his heroism.
But I digress, enough about Zorro. Let’s explore this cheese.
Zamorano is a sheep’s milk cheese originating from the Province of Zamora in Spain. It is produced from the milk of Churra and Castellana sheep.
The Zamorano cheese is a hard cheese with a beautiful rind.
For 6 months, while it ages, the cheese is bathed in olive oil and turned. The repeated washing leaves the textured rind with a beautiful glossy finish. The rind is edible and it tastes as good as it looks.
What does Zamorano cheese taste like? It is nutty, salty, buttery, and sweet with a flavour that lingers on the tongue. It is a little bolder than Manchego (another popular Spanish cheese that I have had, but not yet reviewed). My wife said it reminded her a little of Piave. My son liked it at first. When I told him it was sheep’s milk he twisted his face as if he had just been tricked. After a minute, he thought it through and asked for another piece. He said sheep’s milk cheese was better tasting than he expected.
For me, Zamorano is tasty but not a stand alone cheese. I think this one needs complimented with a good wine, fruit or cured meat pairing. It would be good on a cheese plate simply because the rind is gorgeous, it is from Spain, it is made from sheep’s milk … alas, it is interesting. The flavour is centered enough that I expect most people would like this. It is a safe bet.
When I serve it I think I’ll carve a “Z” on top and tell everybody it was Zorro’s favourite cheese … why not?