I first had this superb cheese, which hails from the Alta Langa Dairy in Italy’s Piedmont region, at Absinthe Brasserie in San Francisco. It was part of an after-dinner course of cheese, during which I thought, multiple times, Why would anyone ever have a dessert course consisting of anything other than cheese?
(For the record, the cheese course also consisted of a Monsenicio blue, also from Piedmont, which was drizzled with Il Caratello aged balsamic vinegar, and a Coupole goat cheese, from Websterville, Vermont, which was paired with cherry chutney. Yum!)
Even given those spectacular cheeses, the La Tur might have been the standout. This extremely creamy cheese is made from a combination of cow, goat and sheep milk. When store-bought, it comes in a disk shape in a pleasingly delicate paper wrapper. As the cheese warms to room temperature, it practically oozes from beneath its flavorful, bloomy rind, which itself adds an interesting juxtaposition of flavor and texture.
The flavors of this soft cheese come alive only after one takes in the buttery texture, and when they do, they yield a mushroomy and pleasantly cave-like taste that I can only describe as ancient. The taste is complicated, earthy, and redolent. The texture continues to add a sensuous and delightful element and, as is especially easy with such a creamy and interesting cheese, it is gone before you can say, “La Tur”, or “Do you think we can get some more?”
Because it spreads so well, La Tur is made to go with crackers or slices of baguette. Absinthe paired it with Medjool dates, as did I. My beloved Dalmatia Orange Fig Spread also worked (with a little going a long way, as the tastes toggled back and forth), as did a medium-bodied Syrah.
Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman