Oriol de Montbrú Cheese | culture: the word on cheese
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Oriol de Montbrú

Formatges Montbrú
3 lbs
Oriol de Montbrú Cheese

“There was this guy selling buffalo cheese, and I was like, what? recalls importer Michele Buster of the first time she tried Suau de Búfala on a sunny morning at a little market in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. “It was so creamy, lactic, and fantastic. It stopped me in my tracks.”

That one taste launched the importer on a feverish search for the standout wheel—a journey that would lead her 370 miles away to a hillside farm near the Catalan village of Moià, to meet cheesemaker Oriol Antúnez.

Antúnez lives on his family farm in Catalonia, where his parents, Pere Antúnez and Inmaculada Llonch, began raising goats in the mid-1980s and experimenting with cheesemaking in their kitchen. Eventually the couple built a small production facility in their old stone home, in a cavernous room carved into a hillside that once housed the cistern. Six years ago, the family moved production to a much larger, modern facility on the outskirts of Moiàl—and Oriol began expanding the product line, driven by a desire to experiment with new styles.

Oriol began buying buffalo milk in 2010 from an Italian farmer Lluís Mont, who had settled in the grassy Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park nearby. He developed the recipe for an unpressed pasteurized-milk wheel in 2011, which sprouted a blue-gray rind similar to that of traditional Catalan garrotxa as it aged four to five months. Due to its smoothness, or suau in Catalan, he named it Suau de Bufala.

After Buster found Antúnez, she teamed up with the maker to adjust the recipe so that the cheese could withstand a transatlantic journey. Antúnez added an extra step to the recipe: Now he presses newly formed rounds to eliminate extra moisture, resulting in a drier, hardier cheese. He also increased wheel size from two to three pounds, which slows aging and preserves creaminess. Finally, sensing that “suau” isn’t the easiest word for Americans to pronounce, Buster renamed the cheese after its inventor.

Tasting Notes

Boasting a musty blue-gray rind surrounding a lovely cream line that encases a dense, bone-white paste, the wheel is absolutely striking. Initial aromas include unsalted butter, stone cellar, and pebbles pulled from a stream, while flavor builds slowly—lactic, yogurt-fresh, and slightly tangy, with hints of peas and edamame—then lingers.


Seek out fruity, piquant, and acidic accompaniments to balance Oriol de Montbrú’s milky voluptuousness: Spanish quince paste (membrillo), sweet-tart blood-orange preserves, and strawberry-balsamic compote all fit the bill. Off the cheese plate, “there are really cool things you can do with Oriol,” Buster says. “It’s wonderful shaved into a salad, or you can bread it and fry it—I’ve even seen chefs make ice cream with it.”