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Apr 5, 2008 04:07 PM

What the **** did I eat at Despana?

As I was doing my shopping today, I decided to stop my Despana. First time I've seen it really packed -- was it written up on a big publication recently? There were four cheese samples. Next to the cheese samples was this cheese-like white spread. I tried a bit. I was in horror as it was the most foul thing I've ever had -- kind of tasted like durian gone bad. Is it actually supposed to taste that way? Or did it get contaminated and go bad? I couldn't speak and it was rude to spit it out at the store. So I quickly rushed over to the "nutella" station and washed my mouth with the hazelnut spread.

I rarely find anything that I'm totally disgusted by. I don't like durian, but I can eat it if I absolutely had to. I can eat really strong cheeses as well. So I'm curious if anybody has tried that cheese spread. I'm thinking that it was rotten. But I could be wrong.

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  1. But durian is actually sweet when you bite into it. How does it tastes compared to stinky cheese? One of my favorites is stinky Tomme de l' Ariege. As for the crowds, its spring break season and alot of families are traveling now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DarthEater

      There was a slight sweetness and tasted like rotten onions. Funny -- everybody talks about how durian tastes like feet. I've never eaten feet before. I think durian tastes like sweet rotten onions with a custardy, cheesy texture with slightly bitter undertones. This foul cheese spread tasted like a mixture of durian and a really runny stinky cheese. Unfortunatley, I'm not very proficient in the name of my cheeses so I can't say if it resembles Tomme de l'ariege. If this cheese spread didn't go bad, I think that I've got to add this to my "hate" list which is really, really short.

    2. I'll bet that what you ate was Tupi- a soft fermented cheese that often has liquor in it. Was it in a clay bowl or pot, by any chance?

      8 Replies
      1. re: vvvindaloo

        Perhaps. It was in a plastic container, I believe. I was in such shock that I forgot to go back and check out what I ate.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          It does sound revolting. Now I'm curious to try it myself.. =x

          1. re: DarthEater

            Me too-nice and stinky-just how I like it!

          2. re: Miss Needle

            Was there another container of it next to the red spreads in the front shelves? I think I tried it, too, but I liked it.

            1. re: JungMann

              I think the container was just by the cheese section as I hit all the samples.

          3. re: vvvindaloo

            i just have to comment: that's an amazing diagnosis based on such little information!

            1. re: cimui

              well, i had a similar dislike for this cheese once, myself. she described it as a spread that reminded her of rotting fruit, and I already knew it would be from Spain so... I gave it a shot!

              1. re: vvvindaloo

                You're the House of Chowhounds. :)

                I sort of like durian, so I can't wait to try this cheese.

          4. I just phoned through the store (from Tulsa). The clerk asked me a lot of questions and then spent several minutes looking through the store. She is almost certain that what you tried was Tupi. It's a cow's milk cheese from Catalonia that has a strong flavor "Strong cheese that will put hair on your chest," one eGullet poster called it.

            Incidentally while looking up the phone number I discovered that they have a second branch with a small factory in Jackson Heights. They also accept orders over the Internet.


            12 Replies
            1. re: Brian S

              the jackson heights branch has been there for ages -- it was up and running when i moved there in '97 -- and it's a blast. the owner/manager is there holding court on saturday morning/afternoons, pouring wine and directing people to the copious buffet of samples. haven't gone to the manhattan spinoff since i live a few blocks from the JH one, but the folks in queens are super helpful and knowledgable about what they sell, and the eating is great in store!

              1. re: david sprague

                Does the Jackson Heights branch still charge Manhattan prices? I stopped in to purchase some sugar-free turron and was floored by the $15 price tag.

                1. re: JungMann

                  well, they charge "imported from spain" prices for the stuff that's imported from spain.the house made sausages aren't particularly pricey.....

              2. re: Brian S

                I was right! Tupi is actually one of the few cheeses I don't get excited about.

                1. re: Brian S

                  Thanks Brian for asking. I agree that it definitely put hair on my chest. I've found one cheese that I will refuse to eat.

                  Yeah, Despana has been there for quite some time. Used to go there before the one in Manhattan opened up. David, they're really nice and helpful in the Manhattan store as well. Atmosphere is a bit chicer (unless they did renovations at the Queens store), and there's a bar area in the back where you can sit down and eat some bites that they prepare like tortilla espanol.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    The Manhattan location also has a small menu of sandwiches -- all very tasty! They have churros on Sundays too, I think.

                    1. re: theannerska

                      Manhattan Despana is truly a gem. The sandwiches and churros are great. The jamon iberico is to die for.

                      1. re: guttergourmet

                        So jabuga is finally being imported, not just serrano? I'm not a fan of Manhattan store... why pay more than 10 bucks a pound for Manchego? I have the same problem with the faux tapas bars here. Can't imagine what they charge for their churros... nothing "upscale" about la comida tipica de Espana, nada.

                        1. re: Flaco

                          Yes - jabugo is being imported as well. They charge what the market can demand. It's also available at Dean & Deluca and a number of other Manhattan stores.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Don't you find it ironic that two blocks south some of best Asian food in the world is available at reasonable prices both in stores and restaurants? The market? Is that why I can buy a decent Rioja Crianza here for less than in Spain? Churros as a fetish object? Whats next?... pan con tomate?

                        2. re: theannerska

                          Is the churros on Sunday??? And I was thinking about getting some this saturday =(

                    2. Is that what the "off" flavor is on their otherwise wonderful sandwich, the Despana? Noticed it a couple of times now, and just can't order it ever again. Since it tasted that way both times, it did seem to be deliberate; I'll just have to choose something else.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bob192

                        The tupi is not an ingredient in the Despana bocadillo-it's a goat cheese.