Shortly after settling into my apartment in Manresa, Spain, one of my roommates and I set out to find our local vino y tapas bar. (This was during my internship at Ferran Adrià’s R+D Institute, Fundació Alícia.) A couple of blocks away, I quickly discovered how gluten-free friendly Spain is: Written on the drink board, alongside the local Catalan wines, was Estrella Damm para Celiacos — beer for celiacs. Beautiful. The Spaniards proved to be very accommodating for gluten-free needs.
From the tapas menu, I ordered the Queso de Cabra con Miel, the goat cheese with honey. What came out was a pan-fried goat cheese with the rind and honey drizzled on top. The sweetness of the honey balanced the sharpness of the cheese, and it was very flavorful and rich. No bread or crackers needed. This tapa became an instant favorite of mine. (This particular goat cheese resembled a smaller bucheron, which is easy to find at most American cheesemongers.)
Later that day I told one of my other roommates (Ferran Adrià’s favorite Alícia chef intern) about this simple and amazing tapa. Guille told me the secret to pan-frying the cheese to maintain the shape and integrity is to harden and chill the cut cheese in the freezer. Then fry in it minimal oil over a relatively high heat to sear a crust without it melting and oozing into a mess. Plate, drizzle a little bit of good quality honey, and eat immediately. Guille is a genius and a great cook.
Anyone can make this easy tapa, and there’s no need to be a trained chef. The only technique you need to know is having the cheese cut to an appropriate thickness, and then freezing until hard. (A non-stick fry pan helps, too.)
- Bucheron cheese, cut to ¼-½-inch thick
- Honey, good quality (great dish to splurge on truffle honey)
Wrap the sliced goat cheese in wax or parchment paper and allow to harden in freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Heat a non-stick fry/sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a little bit of oil of your choice to the pan. Remove cheese from freezer, unwrap, and place in fry pan. Sear for about 1-2 minutes, or until a golden-brown crust forms, then flip and repeat on the other side.
Remove from the heat and plate. Drizzle with honey and eat immediately. Buen apetito!