Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Young Mahon

Good evening everyone!

Today I had the brilliant idea to grab a chunk of cheese from my fridge and bring it to work with me. I chose to bring the Young Mahon...

Cheese: Mahon
Producers: Various
Region: Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
Milk: Raw or pasteurized cows milk (the one pictured is pasteurized)
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The Balearic Islands, where Mahon is produced, are in a very remote location in the Mediterranean. The cheese is named after the main port of the islands. Because of the remote location, the food that is produced in this region and then exported must be somewhat shelf stable. You can find Mahon that is young or around 2 months (like the one pictured) or aged anywhere up to 10+ months. As the Mahon ages, the paste starts to dry out, become more crumbly while the flavors intensify.

The making of the Mahon is super fascinating to me... the cheesemakers take the curd and place it in a cloth and then tightly tie off the corners. This causes the edges of the wheel (it's more like a square) to round. The cheese is then brined and placed in aging rooms where they are regularly rubbed with a blend of olive oil, butter and paprika which gives the Mahon its distinct color.

I love using the Mahon to introduce people who are new to cheese to artisan cheese. It has a nice buttery flavor, but definitely has a little more spunk than say a Havarti or a Monterey Jack. There is a slight acidity that reminds me of citrus, a smooth buttery flavor with a touch of salt. I've heard it described as tangy or tart, but when I hear those words I think of sour candies that make you lips pucker... the Mahon is no where near that flavor. The Mahon goes amazingly well with fruit because it does tend to be a little saltier. Today I cut up an apple and my friend Francesca and I enjoyed a tasty little snack...

The paper plate just adds class... :)
For beverages, I would either pair a crisp cider or a slightly more robust red wine... my first thought would be a Syrah. 

This cheese is great for novices and turophiles alike! If you haven't tried this cheese, swing by any local Whole Foods Market and they should have this cheese on hand. You might even luck out and see that they carry the aged Mahon as well. If you're that lucky, ask to try a sample of both so you can see how different the flavors can be. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!