Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cheese Gorging in Davao!

Just when you thought you've done everything there is to do in Davao, here comes another must-do for visitors and locals alike. Cheese-tasting! (Cheese-gorging is more like it, actually!) Who would have thought that the Philippines, land of the lactose- intolerant, would would have an artisan cheese-tasting attraction, and way down south in Davao even? But thanks to Olive Puentespina, who is married to the family that owns Malagos Farms and Puentespina Resort, top quality cow's- and goat's milk cheese is produced in Davao City, and it is possible to arrange for a tasting of an assortment of her cheeses. Malagos Farmhouse is how the company is called, but there's no need to go all the way to thei resort in Malagos because the cheese shop is right in the heart of Davao City (Bolcan St., Agdao, behind Assumption College of Davao). 

Cheese-tasting sessions may be arranged for P300/person for a minimum of 6 persons. Reservations have to be made at least a day before the event, and Olive prefers tastings in the afternoons as their mornings are busy with production. Guests are allowed to bring their own wine at no extra charge (she will even provide elegant wine glasses for everyone), or they may buy any of the wines that they keep in stock.

Olive shows off the cheeses beautifully, adorned with pesto, dried fruit, fresh organic arugula, honey, nuts, etc. Impressive cheese table indeed!

A typical tasting consists about 6 kinds of cheese. Olive likes to guide guests through the tasting, starting with her fresh, mild cheeses - cottage cheese usually flavored with pesto or tropical fruit jam, then on to kesong puti,  feta cheese, and on to more mature cheeses  like Chevre, up to the harder, fully aged varieties like Blue Peppato, Blue Goat, La Maria, Rustica and Blush.  

On the sideboard, there's a raclette pan if you want to melt your cheese a bit, and slices of french bread to catch the gooey cheese. Yum!

Here, our favorite La Maria (disc-shaped) is drizzled with honey and sprinkled with pistachios, while the more mature Rustica is served with grapes and more honey. Olive provides a basket of bread, but guests may also bring more bread or crackers of their choice, and even deli meats. We brought some smoked salmon and salsiccia to make it a party!

Each cheese has a distinct texture and flavor, and the nuts, grapes and greens serve as excellent palate-cleansers. Smooth, sharp, creamy, goaty, melty, etc., etc.....all excellent! One time I bought a small wheel of La Maria, kept it in the fridge and promptly forgot all about it. When I found it three months later, it was all ripe, and tasted like a very good Brie. 

After the sixth or seventh cheese, ask each other which one they liked best, and then toast the choices with a glug...

....which was exactly what we did. And a marvelous time was had by all. 
A toast to cheesemaker Olive (3rd from right)

(P.S.  If you aren't big cheese eaters, you even get to bring home the leftover cheeses!)

"Eat well. Travel often." - Unknown

To arrange for a cheese-tasting, call:
Ms. Olive Puentespina
Artisan Cheesemaker
Malagos Gardens
Bolcan St., Agdao, Davao City
+63 82 2264446
+63 917 700120email: sales@malagosfarmhouse.com

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