marvelous manchego

On our recent trip to NH, hubby and I stopped at Fiddlehead Farms Marketplace in Dover, NH.  What a treat!  As I stepped into the market, I knew I would make many detours to revisit this spot.  I had come in search of some incredible olive tapenade (made by the Terra Cotta Pasta Company) and was surprised to find so much more.  My first stop was the cheese counter.  We had a four-hour drive ahead of us, so a baguette and some cheese sounded better than the golden arches for lunch.  I bought some soft cheese and dip for easy spreading in the car, but I also tasted (yes, you may taste any cheese before purchasing) the Spanish Manchego.  Incredible.  The cheese lady (is there a name for that?) recommended I buy a brick of quince paste to pair with the Manchego, and for 99¢ more, it hardly seemed a risk.  I wandered through the aisles and gawked at the fresh produce, gourmet oils and vinegars, organic and local frozen meats, an inviting deli and a bursting bakery.  If we only lived closer…

However, I was pleased with our purchase.  This, along with a glass of red wine, was our snack when we arrived home that night:

Manchego is a dry, firm sheep’s milk cheese.  It has a sharp initial taste with a nutty, earthy finish.  And the quince paste added a mellow sweetness that was perfect with the audacity of the cheese.  I loved them both.   If you can find a wheel of this cheese so the slice is fresh, it would make an easy, elegant and exceptionally delicious appetizer plate.

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