Normally an outing to our favourite cheese shop on Tenerife involves an hour’s drive, then a steep ascent of a remote valley on foot, stopping to be awed by the views of a place most tourists never venture near. Finally there’s a traipse through laurel forest, crossing ravines and passing a couple of goat farms, for a couple of hours before we emerge at the tiny hamlet of El Bailadero where our favourite cheese shop is located.
Yesterday Pamela, from Secret Tenerife, and husband Richard, were re-visiting Pamela’s old hunting ground. In order to pack in as much as possible, we drove the old road to Teno Alto for a change.
The road itself is in a poor state and narrow. This is a valley not too far from Masca, roads around here are not for those who like their roads to be two-juggernauts wide. But there’s enough space to squeeze past other cars… as long as they’re small and you breathe in.
Funnily enough, even though the road was a bit rough ‘n’ ready, an army of forestry workers were beavering away keeping the verges neat and tidy.
There aren’t many places where there’s room to stop and enjoy the views of the wonderful El Palmar Valley but there is one small lay-by right at the point where you leave the valley. Conveniently it just happens to be the spot with some of the best vistas.
The road doesn’t get any wider from this point but at least it’s on the level and there aren’t normally many cars… although you can run into (hopefully not literally) herds of goats.
El Bailadero is a tiny hamlet with only a few houses. But it does have a bar/restaurant, a bar that’s also a shop and a multi-tienda the size of a large cupboard. Non-locals that pass this way are usually hikers.
This is where we buy Teno cheese flavoured by the plants that cover these lush hills, especially wild fennel.
The drill is the same each time. We ask if we can try whatever cheese they have. The owner cuts off a few chunks from big wheels in the small fridge, we pop various ‘flavours’ in our mouths, there’s a lot of ‘mmms’ and then we buy a big block or two.
Last time it was a wow of a semi-curado and a spicy curado that made some Madras curries seem tame. This visit it was fresco, ahumado (smoked) and pimiento (paprika) covered semi-curado. The fresco was tasty for fresco, but the moment the ahumado kissed our tasebuds we knew it was the one for us… and then we tried the cheese coated with paprika. Cheese heaven. The flavours of the Teno cheeses are just so intense – they’re cheesy ecstasy.
Two blocks were promptly purchased for €12. You can buy cheese cheaper on Tenerife, but not necessarily of the same quality nor as unique.
Never likely to grace a supermarket shelf, Teno cheeses are just in another league; a true flavour of a very special part of Tenerife.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+