Yesterday was sadly my last shift at Gringa Dairy where I had been working since August last year. My journey there started by chance with me emailing Kristen, the owner, asking if I could visit the dairy, however this swiftly led on to me taking on shifts and eventually moving there full-time in November. I had a really fulfilling time there, and I would like to share a few photos of the cheeses and cheese processes with you to show you what they are about. Firstly, a brief background…
Gringa Dairy make Mexican Cheese. In Peckham. They are a relatively new Urban Dairy situated in a railway arch on the Old Kent Road, run by the powerhouse that is Kristen Schnepp and her fantastic second in command Jeremy Wood. They make three cheeses; Queso Oaxaca, Queso Chihuahua and Queso Fresco. They are not your typical cheeseboard cheeses, and I must stress, they are not trying to be, they are used almost exclusively in Mexican cuisine. This is unless you are like me and just eat Oaxaca whole as if it were an apple. A stringy apple. There are some interesting recipes on their website also: http://www.gringadairy.com/category/recipes/
Queso Chihuahua and Oaxaca are melting cheeses, with the Oaxaca also being delicious eaten unadulterated, and the Queso Fresco is a very fresh crumbly cheese. If you’ve eaten in a Mexican restaurant in London, the likelihood is that these cheeses are on that menu. You can also purchase them in retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Selfridges. If you haven’t tried them, what are you waiting for.
Queso Oaxaca is a cheese made very similarly to Mozzarella. The main difference being that once the curd slabs have been melted, they are stretched out by hand into long strands and after a period of rest, and salting, they are rolled into their distinctive ball shape.
Queso Fresco curds are taken from the vat and placed straight into cloths on the table where they are left for a period to remove excess whey. These slabs are then milled by hand, salted and molded immediately. The texture of the cheese is quite coarse which gives it that desirable crumble.
Queso Chihuahua curds are placed into cloths, similarly to the Queso Fresco, and left to drain excess whey. These blocks are milled, salted, and my favourite part: passed through a meat grinder which gives it its fine, even texture.
Now I’ve made myself suitably hungry, I’m going to go and make myself breakfast. Enjoy.