Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cinco Lanzas Cheese with Rosemary

Cinco Lanzas cheese is made by Garcia Baquero in the Castilian region of Spain. It is a coupage (blend or mixture) of sheep, goat and cow's milk which is aged for 16 months. It appears that it was only recently introduced to the United States in 2012.  I previously did a post on Iberico cheese produced by Garcia Baquero and noted that it was at least 50% cow's milk, 30% goat's milk and 10% sheep milk, with the remaining 10% fluctuating between the three kinds of milk. Now I am finding a reference to Iberico which says it is 40% sheep, 35% goat and 25% cow's milk, which actually makes more sense to me because the cheese taste stood out to me. The Cinco Lanzas recipe is secret, so no idea what the percentages of different milks might be. This version covered in rosemary was not intended for the U.S. market, but because of a shipping error, some made it to the U.S.. It was a hit, Garcia Baquero marketers slapped themselves, and now it is being marketed here. The cheese I purchased is being marketed under the Trader Joe's label and is one of their spotlight cheeses.  Cinco Lanzas means five spears and the "Grand Reserve" label on the cheese has an array of five spears partially covered by a laurel wreath with unknown flags on either side and wings with Olympic type rings on them. That label is attached to a ribbon with the colors of the Spanish flag. Whenever I think of Castile, I think of windmills and Don Quixote. Perhaps the spears are a nod to Don. 
I found the Cinco Lanzas texture sturdy, dry, porous, and a little crumbly, similar to other aged sheep cheeses. The taste is complex. Initially it has little taste and then various tastes come on slowly. I enjoyed putting it in my mouth and sucking on it. It gradually melted away. I really love aged sheep cheeses and I liked this, but it is not one of my favorites. 
I definitely taste the sheep, but it is perhaps the goat that gives it its different taste. Other reviewers talk of: (a) "hints of nuts, toasted cinnamon, tamarix (salt cedar) flowers, thyme, and rosemary. The rosemary notes are further accentuated by the rind, which has been covered in dried rosemary for the duration of the ripening period."; and "Aromas of roasted nuts, caramel sweetness, nuances of thyme and rosemary, and a surprise finish of toasted cinnamon" and "an explosion of flavors characteristic of very aged, cellar-ripened cheese." I'm not sure if those kinds of descriptions are more marketing hype, or whether there are people that can actually read all of that into a piece of cheese. For me, the rosemary on the outside did not really add much. I did not like pieces with the rosemary on it more or less. I would buy it again, but not with any preference over a number of other aged sheep cheese. 

2 comments:

  1. I thought the rosemary was a bit of a distraction. A little goes a long way. I loved the cheese, but there are several above it on my "Favorite Cheeses" list.

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  2. I did not like this cheese at first, but after warming it slightly I found it to be much better. This is probably true of a lot of the dry Spanish cheeses.

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