Nabacoa Cheese

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Queso Nabacoa

Although Cuba is not a country famous for its dairy production, small-scale local farmers have always transformed milk in to cheese for self-consumption. Nabacoa Cheese has been made for at least a century, but only in recent years has it found a place on the restaurant tables. This cheese is produced in one of the municipalities of the capital Havana, in the area of Guanabacoa, which in the native language means "land of hills and waters". This cheese is produced following a very simple and artisanal technique that starts with unpasteurized milk from a breed of goats called La Mancha. These goats, bred in the area near Guanabacoa, are fed on what the surrounding vegetation offers: grasses (including the Panicum maximum), herbs, fodder and even sugarcane. The raw milk, milked every two days, is placed inside a saucepan, after which one adds the rennet obtained from the stomach of small pigs or, more rarely, from lambs. When the curd forms, it is processed using instruments similar to ladles, made of Cuban wood and named after Yua Varia. After the pressing, carried out manually, the formed cheeses are then put in brine (sea water is used) for at least eight hours, after which they are placed on the shelves to season. The seasoning, which lasts just over a couple of months, takes place in fresh and ventilated rooms so as not to compromise the quality of the cheese. The product obtained is light-coloured or off-white and has a parallelepiped shape. The taste of this cheese is rather strong and usually is eaten fresh, by itself or as accompaniment to other dishes, fruit or marmalade. To date there are only a few producers of this cheese, who are trying to rebuild and strengthen their livelihood after the damage caused by the recent Hurricane Irma.

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La Habana

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Milk and milk products

Nominated by:Amado Kent Ruiz Gil