Islandmomma

Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

Local Goats’ Cheese Doesn’t Come Any Fresher Than This!

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Some days here you set out with one thing in mind and it turns into something quite different, or it leads to another thing quite unexpectedly, so broad is the medley of lifestyles which rub along together in this small space in the Atlantic.

When Maria and I set out to take the photos of the floral crosses I wrote about the other day, I had suggested that we come back by an indirect route, because I wanted to take a look at Barranco Orchilla. I’d seen an amazing photo

of it on the internet recently, and I wanted to see how difficult or even possible it was for walking. To my shame I should explain it’s at the most 15 minutes drive from my home, I’ve driven over it countless times, but not fully absorbed before just how beautiful it is.

The picture I’d seen was an aerial photo of this bridge, which, I can promise you, looked even more stunning than it does in my photo. Right now, like all of the south of the island it’s much drier and browner than late spring would usually find it.  We’d gone to Granadilla de Abona early to catch the light (we hoped!) so it was only mid-morning when we set off back, after being side tracked for a while by a pretty cross in the hamlet of  Charco del Pino. It’s hard to take in the depth and drama of those craggy ravine walls as you drive over the bridge, so we pulled in at the first chance, which was just over the other side. We’d driven from right to left of this picture. As soon as we spotted a space by the roadside we stopped and yanked out the cameras. It turned out to be an unmade road, so we wandered down to get the best view.

What opened up before us, as we turned a corner, were the views above and below to one side and the other. Utterly spectacular cliffs, even in drought conditions, sporting tree and plant life on their sheer sides. Though we could see traffic crossing the bridge from time to time the silence which enveloped us was broken only by fragmented bird song, and a lazy peace hung in the air, like a lazy summer Sunday afternoon.

To our right the ravine widened and flattened out, as it meandered its way down to the ocean, and we could see agricultural buildings poised on the top of its sides as if ready to tumble down to its depths. Strolling back to the car, we noticed a wooden sign which read Queseria (a place which makes and sells cheese). This seemed way too good to miss, it was turning into one of those days I mentioned, you see. There had been the crosses and the ravine, some unexpected photo ops and clear, blue skies, this was clearly another path we were meant to follow.

Arriving, we realized that the buildings we’d seen, seemingly in imminent danger of tumbling down into the valley floor, had been this finca. Whenever I go to somewhere like this, I time travel straight back  to my granddad’s market garden sixty years ago and two thousand miles away. There is the same ramshackle disorder; the piling in the corner of old bits of wood or wire or pipe “just in case” they might be useful; the outside tap for water; the dusty dog, tied up but wagging its dusty tail in greeting. Here a couple of baby goats huddled in a corner too, they weren’t in my granddad’s place, nor was the chugging of a small tractor which entered the farmyard at the same time we did from the other direction. Granddad’s tools certainly weren’t mechanized.

We enquired about buying cheese, and the owner was summoned. He greeted us in that cautious but not unfriendly way that country people often do, perhaps surprised to see a couple of women turn up without warning, perhaps wary of strangers in general, and invited us to follow him as he went to see if any remained, explaining that because it was Saturday it was possible there was none, because their produce is taken to sell at the local farmers’ market in San Miguel de Abona, which happens over weekends. Happily for us he found a tray.

Realizing that we wanted to buy one, and weren’t simply being nosy, he willingly answered our questions about how the cheese was produced, having a nice old rant about the EU regulations, as cheesemakers Europe-wide like to do – and not without justification. He pulled back the cover on this vat to show me the morning’s milk which was sitting and waiting to curdle, and begin the process of becoming cheese.

Goats’ cheese is probably one of the very first dairy products ever made, long before man thought of utilizing cattle, and the Berber-descended Guanches, who first inhabited these islands are known to have kept them, so in Tenerife it has a long history.

Goats, of course, climb to ridiculous heights in search of a choice morsel, and will, famously, eat just about anything if left to it. They are survivors, and the perfect animal to farm in this rugged landscape, where, even in the lusher north, the gradients would be impossible for other animals to scale. There is hardly any pasture land on any of the islands. This flock was penned in, but roaming free, that’s the other nice thing about goat products, they’re not factory farmed.

Clutching our cheese we wound our way back up to the main road, and home, where we divided it in half. I had some for breakfast the next morning, drizzled with just a smidgen of honey, and I can only tell you that it was the freshest taste of just about anything I’ve ever had. At this stage I should admit that I’m not hugely fond of queso blanco, the freshest form of this cheese. I prefer it cured or semi-cured, with a stronger taste and firmer texture, and apparently on this farm they do smoke and cure cheeses too. That said, if it was always like this I would like it this way just as much!

Let’s just backtrack a minute from that Sunday morning breakfast, though, because there is just a wee cheesy tidbit more. This Saturday was the same Saturday as the Supermoon, and after chilling for the afternoon, Maria and Colleen and I spent the evening chasing the moon up and down the Médano coast, and eventually sank onto the terrace of a local bar in need of refreshment and a little sustenance. Maybe it was thinking about the morning’s wee adventure that made me order the goats’ cheese…….this time, grilled and served with a local mojo sauce, perfect way to end an unexpected and fascinating day!

I can’t, hand on heart, say it was a “typical” day, but it certainly wasn’t that unusual by standards here, so perhaps you can understand why, despite downsides (and there ARE downsides!) I just love living here.

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Author: IslandMomma

Loving island life and exploring the freedoms Third Age brings: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

18 thoughts on “Local Goats’ Cheese Doesn’t Come Any Fresher Than This!

  1. Loved reading about the goat cheese! It is so rarely today that we get to the source of our food. What an interesting experience you have shared.

  2. Hi, Nancy, my but that was quick. I barely had time to correct an error I spotted after I’d pressed “publish” and there was your comment!

    I had exactly the same though about getting to the source, especially when it’s something this fresh and NOT processed! A couple of years ago I learned about how honey was made, and that was equally as fascinating! It’s so easy to eat fresh here if you just make a little extra effort, but the easiest are those farmers’ markets, where this farmer sells his cheese.

  3. mmm, yummy yum yum. I just feel I want to tuck in right now! also I recall your piece about finding the place selling veg. do you still manage to go there? if so you are eating a very healthy diet!
    your description of White house brings back memories, as the barn was a wet day play area (until grandad would grumpily appear) but struggling to recall a dog, so is it just a dog at the cheese place or WAS there a dog in childhood? not like me to forget an animal.

    • There was a dog …….. don’t remember how old I was, but I called him Hunter, after the jets which they used to test nearby. I think they were called Hawker Hunters. He was grey and splotches of white, but I don’t remember what happened to him. He certainly didn’t live to a ripe old age…..but then they never told me when my dad killed my budgie by giving him a teaspoonful of brandy either!……not that he meant to kill him, he thought it would revive him!!

      Sadly, buying from the finca proved too much financially. There were the transport costs and then, of course, buying veg like that it doesn’t last as long, which meant two or even three trips in a week. I have an excellent farmers’ market nearby, though, so it’s still great stuff, just, perhaps, not as organic.

      • well, all I can say is sorry Hunter! you had been erased from my memory. sorry about the veg but at least farmers market can give you a fix of ‘the Good Life’. I am beginning to resemble ‘salad and jacket potato’ right now, as too hot for serious cooking! I can see how it must be for you, as you have mentioned before about the no bake/cook season etc.

  4. LOL! That’s right, another few weeks and I won’t be cooking until summer is over!

  5. I think I would enjoy your little island.

  6. Oh I’m sure you would, Jim! Although if you google almost anything concerned with Tenerife you have to wade through lots of tour operator stuff and misinformation from various sources trying to simply cash in on the sunshine, there is so much more here than that. I don’t know anyone who’s been working hard all year and simply wants to lie on a beach for a week, but the perception that the island encompasses nothing more than that irritates me no end – as you might imagine. There are two (or even more) distinct worlds here.

    • “There are two (or even more) distinct worlds here.”

      Half-a-dozen come to mind; a few just for starters: the surfy world (ours), the hikers, cyclists, golf set, the swallows, the city slicker world, the arty-farty scene etc … apart from the two you were contrasting: the “More Ketchup than Salsa” types vs the “Real Tenerife” types

      • It would be fun to make a list sometime, because even within your surfy world there are subdivisions, aren’t there. I suppose it’s true of anywhere, and I suppose many criss-cross of course, but surely there is an amazing collection of lifestyles in such a small area nowhere else in the world, do you think?

        I was thinking more “the new world and the old world” when I wrote that, although when I go to romerias and fiestas I am constantly surprised at the numbers of young people who support traditions. I always tend to think that they are “children of the soil” but I know plenty of them work in swish hotels, but revert to their roots when they go home to their villages, for instance. What did occur to me was that I know for a fact that their are hundreds of tourists who come & don’t have the foggiest that other worlds exist here, equally, I am sure that there must be elderly folk living in the villages who are equally unaware of what life is like in the resorts.

  7. “I can’t, hand on heart, say it was a “typical” day, but it certainly wasn’t that unusual by standards here, so perhaps you can understand why, despite downsides (and there ARE downsides!) I just love living here.”

    Absolutely … same here !

    I’m not a big fan of raw goat’s cheese (N likes it though), but that grilled tapas pic is making me feel hungry. Was it in the bar on the corner of Playa Chica (opposite the bus stop / fishing boats) ?

    • Yeah….I just came back from Cafe M, having lunch with a friend. How cool was it to be sitting there, watching the impossibly blue ocean, the sun sparkling on it, people doing all manner of things, and a two course lunch coming in at just under €10?!

      I admit I’ve been going through a very restless phase since I got back from England in April, but I think it’s out of my system for a while now.

      It was the second bar along (going from Plaza Roja) i.e. not the one where we had a beer once, but the one with an upstairs terrace, and which has €2.50 mojitos! If you guys are going to give it a try let me know!!!! The staff are a little on the sullen side, but the tapas are ok…and mojitos excellent!

  8. I certainly can see why you love living there. It’s always so cool to run a corner and get a surprise look at spectacular scenery. Thoroughly enjoyed your “cheesy tidbits”, too. The photo of the grilled cheese dish has my mouth watering.

    • oops — don’t “run” any corners, “turn” them. :)

    • The grilled cheese was kind of nice! Washed down with a mojito (which cost only a little over $3….not a price you’ll find in the big resorts!)

      The entire island being, basically, a mountain range you can imagine that the “turning” of corners :=) happens a lot. Even on roads you know well, there is an unexpectedly clear view of a neigboring island, or a new carpet of flowers that wasn’t there last week or something. True islands can become a bit claustrophobic at times, especially if you love to travel, but it seems relatively easy here to find something new to do or see.

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