Mexican Cheeses
From top: Roth Käse GranQueso, Queso Blanco and Queso Quesadilla from El Viajero, Roth Käse Cotija and El Viajero Cotija. Photography by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.




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STEPHANIE ZONIS, Contributing Editor, focuses on good foods and the people who produce them.



March 2008

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cheese-Butter-Yogurt

Hispanic Cheese

Page 4: Cheese Of The Month: GranQueso From Roth Käse

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Roth Käse, of Monroe, Wisconsin, is one of America’s most honored artisan cheese producers. The company’s Private Reserve took third honors in the “Best Off Show” category at last summer’s American Cheese Society competition, and it is an annual winner in several of the 90+ categories* in the competition. In fact, the company has garnered more than 100 regional, national and international awards in the 140 years that it has been hand-crafting cheese.

*Best Of Show cheeses are chosen from the blue ribbon winners in 22 specific categories. More than 200 cheese companies from 30 U.S. states and Canada entered 1,208 cheeses and cultured dairy products in the 2007 competition. Read the details.

The company makes Buttermilk Blue, Fontina, Havarti, Gruyère and some proprietary recipes—the Gouda-like Vintage Van Gogh; Rofumo, a semisoft smoked cheese; and Fontiago, combining the sharpness of Asiago and the meltability of Fontina. There are Cheddars, German, Swiss and American cheeses.

Then, there’s the Sole! line of Hispanic cheeses, of which the signature cheese is GranQueso. How good is it? It was both the 2004 and 2005 first place winner at the American Cheese Society and gold medalist at the 2005 World Cheese Awards in London. Similar in style to Spanish Manchego, GranQueso, made of pasteurized cow’s milk (as are all the cheeses in this article), has a firm body and a rich, full flavor, and has Manchego’s  traditional “basket-weave” rind (pretty but inedible). GranQueso is a superb addition to any cheese board, and is perfect for grating on soups and salads.

GranQueso lives up to the English translation of its name, “great cheese.”  It undergoes six months of aging to reach maturity, at which time it will be firm in texture, with a cream-colored paste and a lovely, long, sweet finish. Because of its firm texture, this cheese is easy to shred, but it’s also easy to slice— it’s moist enough not to crumble when you slice it.

Serving GranQueso

I love the multitaskers of the cheese world, and GranQueso is one of them. It’s a brilliant table cheese and goes beautifully with fruit and alcohol. Roth Käse suggests pairing it with Albariño (an aromatic and acidic white wine from the Iberian peninsula, more familiar to some from the Portuguese term Alvarinho), dry sherry, Manzanilla, Rioja, or a wheat beer microbrew. Grate some onto a salad to perk up your greens, or top vegetables or a vegetable casserole (it goes well with potatoes, onions, mushrooms and broccoli, just to name a few).

GranQueso - Roth Kase
You can see the Manchego-style “basket weave”
rind on GranQueso, as well as a Manchego-
like paste.
  • Use GranQueso as part of a tapas plate with good membrillo (quince paste) and Marcona almonds, the classic Spanish cheese condiments. (See more cheese condiments.)
  • Since I’m a total sucker for almost anything wrapped in a carbohydrate, my favorite use for GranQueso is as a filling for a quesadilla. This cheese melts beautifully. A whole wheat tortilla, some of this cheese (shredded), a little jamón Serrano, and if you have any leftover cooked potatoes or roasted red peppers or sliced green olives, throw them in, as well. I fold the stuffed tortilla in half, then toast it thoroughly on my griddle; but of course it can also be baked. That’s what I’m talking about!

Where can you find GranQueso? It’s made in limited quantities but available at fine cheese stores and specialty retailers, including a good number of Whole Foods Markets.

  • You can order it directly from Roth Käse, but as of this writing, only in a wholesale box containing two full six-pound wheels.
  • Instead, visit Murray’s Cheese, which will sell you a half pound or more. Note, though, that you’ll have to spell it as Gran Queso, since Murray’s has listed it this way in its search engine.

It’s worth searching out GranQueso. Aged and sophisticated, it can hold its own on the world stage. It is a wonderful finale in your introduction to the world of Hispanic cheeses.


Continue to Page 5: Using Hispanic Cheeses

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