Those of you who have gotten to know me through my classes or personal interactions at the store know that my early time at Caputo’s was not marked by my great love of cheese. The most unique cheese that I ever took home was manchego. Now don’t get me wrong, I still love manchego, but I was just a man in the spring of his youth who knew not what cheeses the world had to offer.
That was before I met my first true cheese love, Leonora. Oh goddess, oh muse.
Leonora is an alpine goat’s milk cheese from Leon, Spain, with a mild, natural rind. This is a cheese, that to quote one of Caputo’s finest employees, “Makes me hate other cheeses.” Yes, it’s that good.
In terms of production, a single herd of goats produce the milk for this delicate four-pound log of cheese. The rind is ashed and has naturally-occurring molds. The cheese is not meant to be aged for an extended period of time and should be enjoyed when the rich cream layer is just beginning to drift down from the rind into the flaky, flinty paste.
The texture alone makes this cheese a must, it could taste like cardboard and still be worth it. Leonora’s flavor is citrusy, grassy, and creamy and dissolves with leisurely pace if allowed to linger on the pallet.
Remember, though, this is not merely a cheese blog, this is a love story.
After about a year of deeply-felt, hot-burning, mutual love between myself and Leonora, the light loaves of joy seemed to be arriving in ill-health. They began to come in already too advanced to enjoy—beaten up and depressed, things were changing. We had no choice; Caputo’s had to stop carrying a cheese which arrived in too poor of shape to sell. That was more than five years ago. Leonora and I had to go our separate ways; we had to grow on our own. I did not see my love for five years.
In December, I was breaking down pallets when I saw a familiar box. I did not want my hopes to get the best of me, but as I saw the label on the side, I could not help but become ebullient. My darling Leonora had returned to me! I rushed the case upstairs, trying not to let my emotions get the better of me. It had been a long time, and I had been hurt before. We opened the box and tried it. My friends, Leonora is back—and better than ever.
Stop what you are doing, quit your job, cancel your vacation, get up from lunch and come to Caputo’s for some Leonora.
Trust me, with me around, it is not going to last in the cases for very long.
Leonora is featured in this month’s Cravings.