Anyone who tells you they’ve done/seen it all probably stopped learning about the world they live in years ago. There’s always something new to discover…something that may change long held perceptions and cause you to view your world in a different light.
All of which is just a long winded and roundabout way of admitting that, for the last four years, I’ve completely been wrong about Tenerife cheese, which I’ve always considered bland and tasteless.

In my defence I blame a restaurant in Los Gigantes for this. It was British owned, but was one of the few places that actually served any Spanish cuisine and they had tapas on the menu, so Andy and I sat at  table and asked if we could order some racions, prompting the waiter to announce, bizarrely:
“Ah, you’re the people who won the radio competition.”
This clearly confused the hell out of us.
“Errr, no…not that I’m aware of,” Andy replied.
 “It’s just that you’ve ordered tapas and we’ve been expecting a couple who won a tapas meal in a radio competition.”
Now he was confused.

We had to insist a couple of times that we definitely weren’t that couple before he believed us and took our order. Looking back, it seems quite dim. He was trying to give us a free meal and we talked him out of it.

What I found strange about the whole exchange was that the restaurant was pretty full. Surely it couldn’t have been that unusual for someone to order tapas. I mean to say, ordering Spanish food in a Spanish province…how radical is that? I looked around at what the other clientele were eating. Burgers and chips, toasties and chips with an extra serving of chips, baguettes with ham and cheese…hmmm.

The food was fine, but the only tapas dish I remember from that day was the local goat’s cheese. It was Mr Bland of 62 Bland Avenue, Blandsville. It was the Orlando Bloom of cheeses and since then I’ve avoided Tinerfeño cheeses like the proverbial plague. Even in my local supermarket when an assistant stuck a platter of cheese under my nose and asked me if I wanted to try some. I dismissed her with a snooty ‘I prefer to eat cheese with stronger flavours’.
It was insensitive and a mistake on so many levels. I’d rejected her and dissed her homeland’s cheeses. She was understandably miffed and has never forgotten it. Since then whilst other customers are offered free brandies, albóndigas, cakes, choccy donuts etc, I get diddly squat, but I know the shape of her back pretty well. All thanks to that place in Los Gigantes.

Arico cheese, the perfect accompaniment to Serrano hamRecently, I was carrying out research for a short article about Tenerife’s cheeses and figured if I was going to write about it, I’d better remind myself what it tasted like. I bought a wheel of smoked goat’s cheese from Arico and, expecting another trip into Blandtown, hoped that my poetic licence was up to date.

What a dolt. For four years I’ve been denying myself some of the best goat’s cheese that I’ve ever tasted. It was smooth and smoky with a flavour that was fresh, yet full of subtle flavours. Its aroma transported me to a small clearing in a tropical forest where there was a wood-smoke fire liberally sprinkled with herbs.
I’ve seen the wheel off in less than a week. I’ve put it in salads, drizzled honey over it, wrapped it in Serrano ham and simply just nibbled on it like a mouse who’s just discovered nirvana.  All accompanied with a sigh and a: “Wow; that is good…this is great cheese.”

It’s probably just as well that this revelation has eluded me for the last four years, my cholesterol levels would probably be through the roof by now (even if goat’s cheese has less cholesterol than cow’s). And I’ve learned a valuable lesson. One bad experience doesn’t make something fact.


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