Formaggio La Tur - A Trio of Milks
I love goat cheese but I also enjoy cow and sheep's milk cheese and now I can have them all in this meritage of cheese called La Tur. This Italian cheese from the Piedmont area was suggested to me by from my friend Jack who owns the cheese market at our local farmer's market.
Looking for something spreadable on a French baguette for breakfast but a little stinky, Jack offered up this buttery, bloomy rind little cupcake of a cheese and it was everything I was looking for. It has a creamy consistency with a little bit of tang. You must let this cheese warm up to room temperature before consuming or you will loose all the flavor.
Type: Equal parts cow, goat and sheep milk
Origin: Alta Langa, Piedmont, Italy
Process: Barely ripened (10 days to two weeks)
Texture: soft and runny near the rind, almost fluffy/mousse like towards the center
Shape: Short cylinder"”3"x1½"
Weight: 8 ounces
Color: pale cream to straw-colored
Rind: Thin and white, wrinkling as it ages. It can have a thin coat of white mold.
Flavor: well-rounded, mellow, grassy with a hint of mushroom
The Rest of the Story
One of the most important decisions the cheese makers made regarding La Tur was to pasteurize the milk at the lowest possible temperature allowed by Italian law. This means that the enzymes present in the milk are not all killed off during the pasteurization process, and it's the enzymes that contribute to the final flavor profile of the cheese. While many young, soft cheeses are very mild in flavor, La Tur tends to be pretty complex, definitely something cheese connoisseurs appreciate.
The three milks"”cow, goat and sheep"”are mixed in equal parts, and the resulting mixed curds are packed into small molds and then allowed to age for ten days. No one flavor profile dominates. You can taste the buttery richness from the cow milk, the tang of the goat milk and the mellow nuttiness of the sheep milk. The three milks complement each other nicely, and this is another reason that La Tur has a relatively complex flavor for a young, soft cheese.
Due to the light mold that grows on the rind of the cheese, it ripens from the outside in. In a cheese ten days old, the cheese is creamy inside the rind and fluffy towards the center. As the cheese ages, the outside layer becomes runnier and more pungent while the center becomes creamy. Eventually, the cheese is runny throughout. To experience the progression for yourself, buy three small, fresh wheels (they're cute"”they come in pleated doilies that look like cupcake papers). Enjoy one immediately. Save one for two or three weeks later, and then eat the last one a few weeks afterwards.
As with most cheese, La Tur is best served at cool room temperature to appreciate the flavor. You can certainly serve it with a nice un-oaked red from the Piedmont region of Italy, although the tang of the cheese is nicely set off by sweeter dessert wines as well. Simply spread the cheese on some crusty bread, or if you want to gild the lily, serve with some clover honey, roasted pears or quince jam.