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The man who reinvented himself and ended up reinventing cheese in Valladolid

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Assorted Cantagrullas Farm Cheese in Valladolid

Valladolid is land of good gastronomy, with blunt products that derive from the times when the fields were to cultivate them or cross them in transhumance. However, the nuances on the palate and the fans of flavors in the mouth also have their hollow, and it is in the form of cheese, as Rubén Valbuena knows and practices in the Cantagrullas Farm.

When Rubén talks about bacteria, everything is praise for the silent, tireless and necessary work of these microscopic organisms, and that Rubén is not a Biologist. Rubén has become in less than three years a reference in the select and minority sector of the Fresh cheese artisans made with raw milk, with the few products that leave the Cantagrullas Farm, in the province of Valladolid.

During the tasting offered to visitors, Rubén describes with a leisurely talk the different backgrounds - depending on their preparation - of the cheese we have on the table and the virtues that will be perceived when we eat it. To accompany it always use some local or limited product. When I visit there is no wine or bread, but a Dougalls craft beer developed by an English friend in Liérganes (Cantabria).

I will surprise you with an amylactic cheese, kneaded, with two weeks of maturation and acenized. You can see the contrast between that black bark that has then been colonized by different molds and yeasts, and an interior that in principle you will perceive cold but in contact with the tongue is creamy. It eats whole, also with crust“.

Tasting of Cantagrullas Farm Cheese in Valladolid

Molds and yeasts, so dear to blue cheese lovers, are key in the process. Here you do not work with laboratory ferments, the things of Nature are done with Products provided by Nature itself. Biodiversity also extends to the world of what we do not see with the naked eye but that plays a fundamental role in our diet.

Or it should, because as yogurt highlights, natural products are becoming less diverse and more standardized and controlled. Who has a certain age (I, without going any further), will remember a childhood in which one of the star appliances in a kitchen was the yogurt maker and we could make homemade yogurts based on industrial yogurts. But only once.

Of the hundreds of strains that were available, the yogurt bacteria (streptococci and lactobacilli) that reach cheesemakers today are a manipulated and altered minority ("prostituted" is the colorful term used by Ruben). If we try to add milk to our homemade yogurt, the result will be less and less firm, because the bacteria, which does develop, not programmed to play.

And, of course, it is understood that in the Cantagrullas Farm - where, including Rubén and his wife, only four people work from sales at the counter to attend the visits, plus two other people caring for and attending to the sheep - they defend natural bacteria at all costs, not domesticated ones in the laboratory. Without them it would not be possible to elaboration of artisan cheeses, some of them tailored to the wishes of renowned chefs, who are the star product of the cheese factory.

Sheep Milk Castellana, raw material of Farm Cantagrullas cheeses in Valladolid

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