As a continuation of the post I made at the Wood Street Blog about the wondorous cardoon, I'd like to tell you all how fabulous Cowgirl Creamery's Torta la Serena is. For those of you who don't feel like reading the original post, here's a quick overview.
Torta la Serena is a cheese made using cardoons (a wild relative of the artichoke) to coagulate the milk rather than rennet, which is an enzyme derived from the stomach of a mammal (often the same animal the cheese is made from) after it's been killed. For those of you who don't eat meat but partake of milk, you may not know that you're still technially participating in the slaughter of animals for the production of food. Those of you, like myself, who happily eat most things, will just find it interesting that thistle is used in the production of a delicious cheese.
Torta la Serena, based on this first and only tasting (read: gobbling) is a unique cheese. A side effect of it's method of production is that the cheese stays softer in the middle than at the outside. The inside has a texture more like goat cheese or a young fontina, and the outside stays harder and more evenly dense. The taste, however, is strong and earthy and a bit tart, perhaps due again to the use of thistles. CC's website describes it as 'vegetal'. All in all it's a bit like a more complex gorgonzola and I'm thoroughly enjoying it on my Acme herb loaf with some capers. (How is it possible that a bakery as famous as Acme has no website? Am I missing it?) On that note, look forward to a post sometime in the near future about my new favorite I-want-to-grow-it-so-bad food, the caper!