Because I live in NYC, when I travel, I tend to shy away from big cities and focus on countrysides and off-the-beaten-path destinations. I like to experience the physical beauty of a place while taking in the culture, and the rush of a city is the last thing I crave. But, literally, as soon as the plane landed in Rio de Janeiro, I felt an indescribable energy – a laid back beach culture combined with effortless sexiness and an urban edge. This is one big city I looove. Of course, cooking and food exploration was high on my list here, and I wanted to share with you one of the most delicious finds, a rich, creamy, spreadable cheese called Catupiry.
Catupiry is completely Brazilian, and the way it’s made is apparently a well-guarded secret of one family who created it in the state of Minas Gerais early in the 20th century. It’s a popular brand of requeijão cheese, a type of cream cheese that dates back to times of slavery in the country. The flavor is really mild, luscious, with a bit of tang, and I think it resembles a cross between mascarpone and fromager d’affinois. Because it’s local to Brazil, it is certainly not the easiest thing to find in the States. If you are in the NYC area, I know Rio Bonito in Queens carries it as does Seabra Supermarkets in Jersey.
Requeijão cheese is part of Brazilian food culture and is incorporated in family’s dishes on the day to day. It may be used in the country’s famous cheese bread, pão de queijo, as a breakfast spread, baked with shredded chicken in a pastry crust (that just made me hungry! might try that soon), simply enjoyed with guava paste (would be delicious in these guava cheese crepes), or, and this might be my favorite, as a pizza topping. I will certainly be making recipes with Catupiry soon and will make sure mascarpone works for them too for those who can’t find it!