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La Tur: A Cheese, a Girl, and a Spoon

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* Kitchen Curd participants, see end of post*

Although numerous sophisticates allege that the firmer, aged cheeses are the most nuanced examples of fermented milk, I’ve always secretly preferred cheese that I can eat with my favorite baby spoon. One of the softies closest to my heart is La Tur.

In La Tur exists all the best characteristics of a soft goat, sheep, and cow’s milk cheese combined. Crafted with expert amounts of each animal’s milk, the flavors in La Tur miraculously highlight one another’s flavors without competing for attention. Grassy and lemony and tangy like a goat cheese, mildly nutty like a sheep’s cheese, and rich and buttery like a cow’s cheese, La Tur has more texture and flavor variations than Mariah Carey has pink stilettos.

About one-and-a-half inches tall and two inches across, La Tur has a rippled surface, reminiscent of a French natural-rind goat cheese crottin, that calms one’s heart like lapping ocean waves. Underneath this is a layer of pure cheese silk. When the cheese is young, the silky layer is thin, and the center is soft and slighty grainy like a chevre. Then, during the height of ripeness, the silk completely takes over the cheese’s interior so that the center becomes creamy, shiny, and soft, like the center of Old Chatham’s Nancy’s Camembert or Spanish Nevat. This is where the spoon comes in.

Produced in the Langhe region of Piedmont, Italy, La Tur is made by the Caseificio Dell’Alta Langa company, craftspeople of softer style Italian cheeses. The mixed-milk curds are ladled into molds, where they age for ten days before they makes their way home to our fridges. Where they then, of course, patiently await us. And wine.

Knowing La Tur is a fresh cheese from the Piedmont region of Italy helps with wine pairing. Try La Tur with a low-oak red wine like a Barbera, Dolcetto or Nebbiolo, from the same Piedmont region as the cheese. If you want to branch out, one could pair the cheese with a equally bright, low oak wine like a Cru Beaujolais (Gamay) or light Loire Valley Red (Cabernet Franc) from the Saumur Champigny or Bourgueil region. As for whites, try a punchy style, such as a  a Sauvignon Blanc, or an unoaked still or sparkling white from Italy.

Whatever you do, give the cheese a chance to shine. Let it come to room temperature, when it will charmingly stick to the cheese paper with which it’s packed.

And remember, La Tur is one of the classiest cheeses you can put on a baby spoon.

Cheese Category: natural/surface ripened

milk: cow, sheep, goat

* Kitchen Curders * Some friends and I tried making the mozz as directed in the Home Creamery book and had a problem towards the end, when the author said to heat the 8 cups of water to 108 degrees. I think she meant 180. Hello recipe testers? Anyhow, I would either suggest trying heating the milk to 180, using another recipe, or doing what we did after the mishap, which was instead of pouring the room temp 108 degree water over the curds, was to heat the curds in the microwave method following her recipe. Then, we'll discuss the outcomes and tribulations in the Kitchen Curd posts coming our way early July.