The secrets of cheese. Visits to learn about the production processes and taste at source
Behind each cheese there is a pasture of a different green. Delicious cheeses for special days, the kind that are bought to mature, smell and eat as if it were a jewel, a little piece every day like Remy did, the mouse from Ratatouille. The perfume invades the whole house and nobody can resist.
The interest in knowing the history and the terroir where the food is produced grew hand in hand with the search for a healthier intake. Within this framework, a new and growing trend arose: that of visit the place where the delicacy is made that causes that unique and unrepeatable pleasure, to meet the people, the environment and the way they prepare it. And by the way, enjoy a new experience, which is added to other tourist programs linked to rurality, such as visits to wineries or oil mills. You learn -and experience- contact with animals, milking to extract milk, making each type of cheese, culminating with a tasting or lunch in indelible landscapes.
In a cave between the mountains of Junín de los Andes, a field near Buenos Aires, a hill in Tandil or Córdoba, or a field store on the road, everything tastes better, perfumed by jarilla, mint, oregano, or the wind. patagonic.
A while ago the Suipacha Cheese Route, Lincoln and Tandil, to name the best known, had begun to take hold. All that stopped with the pandemic. Without knowing anything yet about this uncertain future, little by little interest and the desire to travel again are awakened and the doors open again.
“I have been working for more than 8 years linked to my passion, which is cheese, and I saw how the consumption and production of pieces of fine sheep’s and goat’s milk grew. And that is my purpose: to introduce other flavors and textures that are good for those of us who like cheese”, he says. Laura Serafini, brand new owner of a delicate cheese factory in Núñez where you can buy or try a selected table of artisanal cheeses from all over the country at the bar on the street. She organizes outings to factories near Buenos Aires to spend a field day, learn and taste.
The producers review the denominations of some of their cheeses to create their own names linked to the recipes of their ancestors adapted to our land. Products that are not so easy to find in Buenos Aires. Such is the case of The slopes and its semi-hard cheese Veranada, from JUnion of the Andes, Neuquén, of raw milk with minimum parking of 2 months. In the same line are Fernando Calvo and Elise de Rincquesen on the Champs Elysees with their Goldney cheese; the Pehuajó blueship Familia Green; the pioneer in the field Maurice Couly from the Ventimiglia cheese factory, with its Patagonzola from Neuquén; Frenchman Julien Baudet with his Rosense, present at the Villa Las Rosas fair and The Red, exclusively goat with its brand new napkin cheese or its delicacies with herbs from Traslasierra, Córdoba; or the truffled cheese from 4 Esquinas or the delights of Zampa, from Tandil, among many others. And others equally delicate from different corners of the country such as Granja La Piedra, El Abascay, Albalana, Toro Azul, La Verbena, Santa Agueda, Santa Olalla or Cabrandie.
“It is a tendency to visit the production site, get to know the establishment, the animals, the grazing, the cheese production. At the Ventimiglia cheese factory we are working to be able to receive visitors in 2022 so that they can have the experience of learning about the entire process,” explains Mauricio Couly from his cheese warehouse at the La Toscana restaurant in the city of Neuquén.
“Put a face and body to the cheese”, says María Colombo of La Piedra farm in Chapadmalal station. She and her sister receive visits by reservation. It was conceived as an agro-educational and tourist farm, as a complement to the goat cheese factory started by Daniel Colombo and continued by his daughters. Today the restaurant is closed, but they serve in the warehouse. Wonders such as Camembert or Brie-type feathered cheeses, Sardo dos leches or smoked ricotta are part of the tastings that are made to order.
Returning to the province of Buenos Aires, Piedras Blancas Cabin in Suipacha, a pioneer in goat cheese, once again received contingents on weekends. Not so his colleague Daniel Rigabert de Fermier, although he does have the warehouse at the door of his establishment. And speaking of warehouses, many of them belong to cheese factories and some even have the adjoining factory and upon request they open it for those interested.
Such is the case of the cheese store in Campo 4 Esquinas, 28 km from Tandil at the access to Azucena, a family business – like almost all of the mentioned ones – of sheep’s milk cheeses that can be seen grazing while enjoying the snacks, among other delicacies.
They belong to the future Route of the cheeses of the Tandil Cluster. Its coordinator, Lucio Rancez, said that during 2022 “the circuit that will join the 4 Esquinas sheep farm, the Granja school, Nuevo Amanecer and the Don Ángel farm will be put into effect. And the idea is to continue incorporating factories”, he enthuses.
There are incredible cheeses from Lincoln like Cuartirolo de Juan Grande; the Cheddar or the Lincoln of La Suerte; or the Wapi burrata, dairies that are protagonists at Expoqueso along with their makers.
An artisanal cheese has something indecipherable and hidden. Learning about, tasting and buying cheese in its place of origin is a ceremony almost as intense as its enjoyment.
Serafini cheeses. Quesada 1893, Nunez. Sale of cheese and outings to cheese factories monthly, in addition. @lauserafini_ar, Tel.114089256.
Stone Farm. At Chapadmalal station. Warehouse and visits with prior reservation. @granjalapiedra, Tel.02235218656.
Granja Champs Elysees. In Goldney. Guided tours and tasting with prior reservation. @farm_champs_elysees
White Stones Cabin. In Suipacha. Guided tours and tastings on weekends with prior reservation. @cpiedrasblancas. Tel. 0232415459747 or 1149917961.
4 corners. in Tandil. Warehouse, restaurant and cheese factory. Guided tours with prior reservation. @tamboovino4corners. Tel. 02494379070.
Zampa cheeses. in Tandil. Guided tours with prior reservation; @quesos_zampa Tel. 1132554757
The slopes. In Junin de los Andes. They sell in the shop at the door of their gates every day, and they open them with prior reservation on Saturdays. @las.vertientes. Tel. 02972532262.
Ventimiglia cheese factory. in Neuquen. Cheese warehouse inside the La Toscana restaurant at JJ Lastra 176. @queseriaventimiglia, Tel. 02995573637.