SERRA DA ESTRELA [MATURE]

PORTUGAL

UNPASTEURISED

VEGETABLE RENNET

An artisan-made mountain cheese coagulated with rennet extracted from the Cardoon plant (a wild thistle). This is not such a strange idea as the animals are grazing on pastures studded with wild herbs and flowers. The milk will separate into solid curds after about twenty minutes of exposure to the rennet, enough time for the plant to imbue its flavours – sharp, tangy, floral overtones give a delightful contrast to the smoothness of the curds. The rind is smooth and rubbed in oil before being wrapped in muslin to protect it from cracking, a practice we continue in our maturing rooms. Eaten in its younger stages with a spoon, after removing the upper rind, this mature version, though melting on the palate, can be sliced, and is markedly sharper and zestier.