Cheese Hunter - Serra de Estrela

Somewhere I read that Serra de Estrela from Portugal is the best cheese in the world. Since taste is subjective, the best to one person ma be horrible to someone else, but I decided to seek it out when I was in Portugal last October. I found something close, but couldn’t find the real thing where we were travelling. When I returned to the US I searched for it. I will omit my travails, but last week I stopped into the Ideal Cheese Shop to get something else and asked if they happened to have any. They did have one round full “blob” of about 1 kilo. They no longer have that because it went from the shop to my refrigerator. BUT they promised to get more.

Is it the best in the world? Who knows. But it is outstanding and today I made grilled chicken patties with a slab on cheese on top for lunch and the guy who was visiting us thought it was great. Let’s say eppoise without the smelly socks and funky gym locker aroma, with the extra flavor you get from ewe’s milk instead of cow’s milk. If you are in NYC, get some and try it. The importer, who happens to be headquartered less than 10 miles from my house ( had refused to sell it to me because they only do wholesale, but if you have a good buddy who runs a restaurant, maybe you can order some through them

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It is a wonderful cheese, isn’t it! I wonder if the original Murray’s on Bleecker carries it? I love the oozing core surrounded by a shell of semi-soft, then harder cheese. Quite unique.

Is yours 100% sheep? I vaguely remember that some are mixed milk, with cow and goat in some.

I, too, first experience it over there, and I bought some in duty free in the Lisbon airport to bring home. Years later I was counting on scoring some when connecting through Lisbon back to NY, but none was to be found in the airport.

I bought it – or a related cheese from the mountains – at Zabar’s once circa 2008-10, but I’ve never seen it again there.

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That importer’s book is no joke; basically porn.

Some highlights - if I had more experience, I would write more:

Chaource is absolutely great with fizz, as they note
Ubriaco is a great hard cheese to go with light red wines (langhe nebbiolos, some pinots)
Casa Lusa Zimbro is a banger; goes well with most semi-sweet wines
Alta Langa Robiola Bosin is delicious; big nose, mellow mouth. (the jokes write themselves re WB)

I’ve alway wanted to try those castelmagnos hard and funky (ditto re jokes)
Cilentano ai Fichi seems like the perfect pairing for a tawny….

Thanks Jay, they have a nice website and selection, order is in. Also picked up some Abbaye de Tamie, Bethmale, and what they are calling Reblochon.

Real Serra is sheeps milk coagulated with a vegetable rennet (actually a local herb). It has it’s own DOC for the farm house versions. They start out firm and get softer as they age. They get that runny, gooey consistancy at about 60-90 days, then start going firm again. I’ve visited farm house places in the Dao and watched muscular old ladies massage the curd to get them the right consistency. Also, the local Serra shepard dog breed is gorgeous. Unfortunately the unpasturized versions are still too young to bring in. The Port producers serve their wines with Serra. Stilton is an abomination with Port if you ask me.

So it says. They do not have it at Murray’s in the Grand Central Market./

Great suggestion. I will try some with Port. I agree on Stilton, which I love, but IMNSHO, goes with no wine.

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This is not on Jay at all but these folks are definitely not set up for shipping. These arrived warm in a box of styrofoam peanuts and a couple of small cold packs, not a thermal box with the large cold packs like Flannery etc. And they do not respond to email. Bummer because I wanted to try this!