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Mar 13, 2009 12:30 PM

Anyone else into Bom Petisco cheese?

It's a Portuguese cheese that's fairly readily available in supermarkets, at least here in the Boston area. I've attached a photo below.

The odd thing about it is, it shows up in the markets in varying degrees of firmness, from hard as a cheddar to almost spreadably soft - and that doesn't seem to be a question of age, I've frequently found batches running the full gamut of textures, all with the same sell-by date. Plus once you bring it home it's doesn't soften (or harden) further, regardless of how long you store it and whether or not you've cut into it.

The texture is key: the softer the cheese, the better the flavor. Hard ones are almost indistinguishable from domestic muenster; soft ones are lusciously rich.

Am I the only 'hound out there who's acquired a taste for it? Does anyone know anything about its background, or why it varies so much in texture?

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  1. I am pretty sure that "Bom Petisco" is the producer. There is a tuna packer in Portugal by the name of Bom Petisco. Petisco means tasty tidbit. Kind of like the Spanish word tapas or the Japanese word sushi. Having been the cheese buyer for a high end wine merchant, I never came across this particular cheese. I have seen cheeses come in fromthe Iberian peninsula in varying stages of age. For instance, the goat's milk cheese Patacabra, from Spain, would come in dense and creamy to harder and somewhat "shaveable".

    1. Is it round and about 1 kilo like a Serra, or La Serena? What does an entire one look like, perhaps l can identify without seeing.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        It is a one pound round cheese - click on the photo in the post above and it will enlarge to show you more detail.

        Bom Petisco is the brand, other than that it just says "semi-soft natural cheese" and "queijo natural genero Português." There is no rind, it's a creamy yellow homogeneous mass, somewhat similar in appearance to a ripened mozzarella, but with a more square-edged tuna-can-like shape as opposed to the rounded Edam-like shape..

        The variation in texture does not appear to relate to age, I'm thinking maybe it has something to do with the manufacturing process, like maybe the first ones out of each batch are softer and the later ones firmer, or something like that, because as I said, there can be great variance in texture in the same batch (at least the same sell-by-date batch), and I've been able to perceive no change over time when I keep one for a while.

        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          there's a picture attached and by the looks of the label it's seems like it is a generic semi soft cheese made from cow's milk, not really of an artisanal nature.

          1. re: Lenox637

            Correct, it is not artisanal - I've had incredible artisanal cheeses in Portugal, this is not that.

        2. From the label, it is made in USA.Thus possibly processed as well, do not know much about this type of cheese, sorry could not help more.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            You're right, I don't know how I never noticed that. I guess "genero Português" means "Portuguese style."

            While we're on the subject of Portugese cheese - when I was in Portugal my friends there treated me to a type of cheese that they translated simply as "artisanal mountain cheese." It was a similar shape to this one, but a bit smaller, with a hard, inedible outer rind and a meltingly soft interior. They would cut the top off like a tin can and then scoop out the inside and spread it on bread. It was seriously delicious, but I've never seen anything like it in the US. Are you familiar with this?

            1. re: BobB

              There are a number of Portugeuse cheeses that that you 'cut the top off and eat with a spoon'. Most are raw sheep, some are raw goat. They are clabbered with thistle not rennet and that thistle adds a little zing on the end that is worth seeking out. There are many just over the border in the Extremadura region of Spain that are very similar. Names are Serra, Serpa ( not as good as Serra) but not shabby, azeitao, gardunas, La Serena, and Torta Del Casar. Cheese on 62nd st sells over half the azeitao sold in the country, manager has it for her favorite cheese. Most are seasonal and no clue when season ends. When left NYC in Feb, all these were available. Make sure when you open whichever one you get, the consistency is very gooey, whether when you buy it, or age at home to get it ripe enough. If you have a choice of a bunch and a gooey Gardunas( raw goat ) is there, it is on my list of top 10 cheeses. These are all pricey products, but a little goes a long way. As you know not very strong, but extremely flavorful.

          2. Bob the same company also distributes a fresh cheese (only carried in Boston by DeMoula's), which is better than locally sold Brazilian fresh cheeses. They are both quite inexpensive. I don't know if they contract out the fabrication or if that company actually makes it, but I do believe its made in Rhode Island. I have never gotten it as hard as cheddar and its a pretty basic soft cheese with minimal aging (no rind) -- I am guessing its just made in large cylinders and sliced directly into rounds right at packaging time (its usually pretty wet). If you go to the South Coast, there are some other locally produced portuguese style cheeses (martin's cheese company in westport is one). I believe that Courthouse sells bom petisco too, so if you ask one of the two brothers they will tell you as much as they know about it.

            Formaggio carries Queijo de azeitao which might be similar to the cheese you are describing. There are a couple which could match your description. For other Portuguese cheeses in the area: Courthouse Seafood has a nice selection, but everything is refrigerated (they do have some soft cheeses, sometimes). New Deal rarely has it, but their Queijo de Sao Jorge is better. And Fernandes Fish Market usually has a few cheeses at serving temperature.

            Of the Brazilian cheeses available in markets, you might try a meia cura if you can find it (partially cured soft cheese which is aged in olive oil for about 6 months) or maybe queijo minas curado which is a stronger and slightly harder cheese. Also as its more readily available around Easter time, keep your eye out for basket cheeses from Supreme (RI) and Calabro (CT).

            1. Deluca and itaunas - great info from both of you, thanks!