Sometimes – inexcusably – big food news passes me right by. For example, it somehow came to pass that until a very recent excursion to the Cheese Boutique, Toronto’s premier cheese emporium, I had yet to sample Fuoco.
This soft, washed rind buffalo milk cheese from the Laurentians, in Quebec, which collected not one but two (Super Gold, and Best Canadian) major awards at the 2015 World Cheese Awards. No matter. I have been making up for lost time ever since. For it turns out Fuoco is a highly versatile source of cheese-based pleasure. It melts happily in a breakfast croissant. It is mild enough to enjoy as a mid-afternoon snack at the desk with a cracker, a fresh fig and a drizzle of chestnut flower or truffle honey. And it is a perfect fifth wheel on a cheese plate – bridging the gap between a mild chèvre and a pongier washed rind cousin like Époisses or brie.
A soft washed rind cheese like this cast from buffalo milk is a rarity. Cut it open and you will immediately clock its distinctive, chalky-white colour. One thing: Fuoco is shipped at an age of about 21 days. It needs more time to develop grassy, funky character. At the Cheese Boutique it benefits enormously from an extra two weeks. If your local cheesemonger does not age them like that, try it yourself: put the cheese, wrapper and all in a snug hermetic plastic container and put it in the vegetable drawer for two weeks.
And then…scoff it with abandon.