"Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it." ~Unknown

Sunday, January 6, 2013

An Elusive Cheese

     Friday, after my swim meet was finished and we had picked Mom up from work, the family went to Uno Mas, a new taqueria on NE Glisan.  Cyrus ordered one taco which he spoke glowingly of, and since my hunger had not yet been sated, I ordered one more taco, the one Cyrus recommended.
     The fried cheese taco was very good, but the moment I bit into the semi-soft, white cheese, I went back in time.  I had tasted that cheese before, in a small village in Costa Rica.  It was in a sort of breakfast quesadilla, which I suddenly remembered that I had loved.
     It was nearing closing time for the taqueria, and went to the counter to ask what kind of cheese they used.  Let's say that since the waiter wasn't there, I asked the chef what kind of cheese they used.  He didn't speak English, so I asked him in Spanish, "Qué tipo de queso use?"  His answer, was a kind of cheese I had never heard of before, asadero.
     Asadero is semi-soft, in between cheddar and brie.  It's also squeaky, and is, according to Wikipedia, similar to un-aged monterey jack.  I instantly knew what I wanted to make tonight.

     The breakfast quesadilla my host-mother made for me in Costa Rica was two thick, fresh, homemade tortillas, dipped in egg, like one was going to make french toast of them, and turned into a grilled cheese sandwich with what I now know to be asadero in the middle.  It was amazing, in the early tropical morning, and was accompanied by sides of sliced papaya and mango which I had picked from the trees just outside the front door the night before.

     So today, we went in search what turned out to be an elusive cheese.  We first checked a tienda on Powell, to no avail.  We drove a little ways down the road to Food 4 Less, figuring if an ethnic food item existed, we could find it there.  Much to our dismay, we discovered that Food 4 Less had closed, apparently for good.  Checking decreasingly likely stores, we made stops at Fred Meyer, and New Seasons, not surprisingly, neither store had what we were looking for.
     Returning home to cook, we were forced to settle for other kinds of cheese, a mix of queso oaxaca and monterey jack.  I mixed the masa harina according to the recipe on the back of the package, and set to pushing them into tortilla shape and cooking them.  Most of the tortillas Dad made more traditional quesadillas with, and I took a few to make Costa Rican style.  I beat an egg, and dipped the tortillas before throwing them in a pan.  I would have liked to put a slice of semi-soft asadero cheese in the quesadilla, but I had to settle for a mix of grated queso oaxaca and monterey jack.
     After several minutes, I flipped the quesadilla out of the pan and onto the plate.  The two Costa Rican quesadillas I ate were both nearly spot on.  The one thing I know it was missing was the right kind of cheese.  The tortillas, dipped in the egg, were just the way I had them in Costa Rica.
     Mom has said she will continue to search for the illusive asadero cheese.  If we find it, I know I'll try to create these again.  They were too good two and a half years ago to pass up finding now.

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