The Changing Face of Latin American Cheese

The cheesemakers, cheese shops, and distribution companies that are changing the face of Latin American cheeses.

When many think of cheese in Latin America, they limit their thoughts to fresh cheeses. Queso frescoes, found throughout the region and often used in sauces and soups, are ever present. However, aged and raw milk cheeses, some made with sheep or goat milk, are increasing in popularity. Some of these cheese makers are rescuing or attempting to preserve traditional methods, while others are applying European technique to their own landscape. Collectively, they are creating a new terroir of cheeses in the region. Here are a few of the cheese makers, cheese shops, and distribution companies that are changing the face of Latin American cheese:

Lactography: Mexico City, Mexico

Run by Georgina and Carlos Yescas, two of the biggest names in Mexican cheese, launched Lactography to help develop and promote artisan cheese makers around Mexico. The distribution company, selling to restaurants and cheeseshops, sources the finest raw milk and pasteurized cheeses from Mexican states of Guanajuato, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Michoacan, Morelos, Puebla, and Queretaro, among others. Many of the cheeses they work with have gone on to wine medals at the World Cheese Awards. lactography.com.

La Ratonera: Bogotá, Colombia

Using cow and goat’s milk produced in the Bogotá savanna outside of the city, La Ratonera is making 100 percent artisan cheeses at their production facility in Chía. Offerings include brie, Camembert, Dutch-style goat cheeses, Swiss, and gouda, as well as one-off cheeses they are experimenting with. Aside of their Chía location, they are also selling from stands in the Zona G, Usaquen, and Calle 85. laratonera.co.

La Vigna: Colonia del Valdense, Uruguay

Argentine Agustin Battellini, the son of Italian immigrants, and a former architect, moved to Colonia del Valdense, a town  across the Río de la Plata from Buenos Aires near Colonia del Sacramento, 15 years ago to make cheese. His 40-hectare farm, La Vigna, is now producing a range of certified organic cheeses, such as Pecorino, feta, ricotta, and Camembert. lavigna.com.uy.

Colectivo Fermento: Santiago, Chile

This collective of artisan cheese makers and micro-farmers in rural parts of Chile, from the north to the south, is one of the most exciting things to happen to Chilean cheese in years. At their cellar in the Casablanca Valley, where they hold workshops, they are aging Camembert, Valencay, Crottin, and Scamorza Affumicata, among others. colectivofermento.cl.

Tucumán Goat Cheese Collective: Tucumán, Argentina

This collective of ten female goat cheese producers in the northern Argentine province of Tucumán has helped revive a traditional method of cheese making by uniting together to promote it on the regional market. The goats are descendants of the breeds introduced by the Spanish conquistadors and graze only on wild plants, such as white carob and mistol, giving their cheese a unique flavor. More info. Header image courtesy of La Vigna in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.
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