unusual cheeses of the world
  Who knows how many types of cheeses are made in the world? - nobody
A good thing because therein lies the excitement for cheese lovers.  Touring countries, known for their cheeses, will always deliver excellent cheeses, however, countries not known as cheesemaking countries, can also have some pleasant surprises for a turophile who is on the lookout for new cheeses.  One good example is the fact the current World Champion cheese hails from the Canary Islands, not exactly the place where one will look for cheese.  One should never forget that cheese was developed in the Middle East and traveled, through the ages, all over Europe and then further almost all across the world.



I recently had the good fortune to taste some unknown cheeses and found them to be of excellent quality simply because they have been made for centuries and their makers have perfected the texture and flavour thereof.
 
  sirene cheese
The Karakachan breed of sheep was once plentiful in Bulgaria but their numbers dwindled through the years and today there are only about 400 left in the Pirin Mountains in the south-western province of Bulgaria.  It was while searching for wild Karakachan sheepdogs in the Pirin Mountains in 1992 that a flock of Karakachan sheep was discovered – in the company of dogs.  The sheep are relative small animals at 57cm with long coarse wool that changes colour with age.  Typically, an ewe will give 50 – 60 liters of milk per season with a fat content of 7%. Evening and morning milks are
mixed and coagulated with kid rennet to make a soft cheese which is salted and stored in wooden barrels, ready to be eaten after five days.  The cheese, called Sirene, has a clean acidic / salty taste and is used in salads and in vegetable tarts to give flavour and body.  The clean milk acid taste is pleasant in the mouth and a perfect accompaniment for an apple and some flat bread.
  motal cheese
The mountains in the Gegharkunik and Kotayk provinces in the west of Armenia are home to many shepherds and their Armenian goats with long hair and arched horns.  The shepherds milk the goats once a day from spring to late autumn and immediately coagulate the warm milk with calf rennet.  The broken coagulum is placed in terracotta pots, which has been heated in an oven, smeared with sour cream, together with coarse salt, and left for forty days.  After this period the curd is broken by hand, flavoured with local tarragon, capsicum or garlic, placed back in pots and sealed with beeswax. Motal is a soft
white cheese and is ideal as a snack cheese with other snack foods such as salami, fresh celery, and rustic rye bread helped down with local red wine.  The cheese is sold directly to consumers and has become a favourite on the table at weddings.
  tchnerni vit
A truly unique blue cheese is made in and around the town of Tcherni Vit, after which it is named, in the Bulgarian province of Lovech by five cheese makers.  The milk from the Teteven sheep is used for this unique cheese, which is helped to perfection by the low-lying area with its heavy air and humidity.  The sheep is milked twice or three times a day depending on the season and cheese is made immediately after each milking.  After coagulation with kid rennet, the curds are cut and left to drain in a cloth lined wooden box with some weights in the form of stones. After four hours, the cheese is cut into large strips, placed
in a lime wood box, and salted at the same time.  The salted and boxed cheese are left in the mountains until the end of the grazing season in October and then brought down to the town of Tcherni Vit.  The blue mould does not start to grow until the boxes are opened in the town where the humid air allows the indigenous mould to grow on the outside of the cheese.  The mould only penetrates the cheeses if there are holes in the curd allowing it.  A truly remarkable blue cheese, which is unfortunately made in small quantities for the locals only.