jueves, febrero 13, 2014

Cava de Marcelo

Touted as the only cheese vault latin america, La Cava de Marcelo is one of those new landmarks in the Ensenada municipality that you just have to visit. And with 4 generations of cheese making, they sure do know their stuff, and my, oh my! does the cheese ever taste great! 

It's about an hour and a half away from downtown Ensenada, towards the east, to be more precise and just past the town of Ojos Negros, if you've been to see the Baja1000/500 races, chances are, you've been around here at some point. A word to the wise though, there is a military checkpoint, so take care to not bring anything illegal and depending on the season, Ojos Negros is quite warm in the summer and cold (for our standards) in the winter.

This is what the way there might look like: (results may vary)

Of course, if, like those old California Cheese commercials you're in town just for ze cheese, really, your time may be well spent staying in town and getting the cheeses from Maria Luisa or some other market (no nation-wide brands carry it!!!). But, if you're into visiting cows like, we, of course, certainly are... you just have to make it out there! Ok, it's like most dairy farms, some calves of varying ages, the girls for milk, the boys... well, for slaughter.

A few milk-producing cows, some others that are on their resting periods out in the pasture.

And for 5 dollars you can get a tour of the premises that includes a glass of wine and a few tastings, when we went, we tried their ricotta, butter and 4 different aged cheeses; those last 4 are served inside the vault itself.

As you can see, their "machinery" is quite on the artisanal side.

The wine vault is humidity and temperature controlled by the ground around it, it's one floor down and they keep those glass doors closed and the light dimmed down low.

As far as photography goes, it poses a bit of a challenge, especially if you didn't bring your tripod! This is a ~25 second exposure for which I had to leave the camera on a table.

The smell in here is intoxicatingly wonderful!

Our cheese plate/flight, not pictured because of the "bad" lighting, consisted of a few nuts, half an apple, a bit of jam and 4 cheeses of varying ages: fresh, 3 month, 1 year and 2 years; needless to say, that 2 year old was punnnnngent! but very savory. It's not exactly a blue cheese, because I think it's not a penicillium fungus, but some other fungus that "invades" the cheeses, forcing the keepers of the vault to go in and turn theme every few months so the rind is even on all sides.

On our short trip we didn't get a chance to eat there, but the menu looked rather interesting with regional offerings that, as I understood it, were set up by one or two famous chefs.