If you've been in a good cheese shop lately, or confronted the growing number of cheese selections at top American restaurants, you've undoubtedly encountered new Spanish choicesluscious, oozy Torta del Casar from Extremadura; creamy Monte Enebro from Ávila; sweet, mild Tetilla from Galicia. But are they really new, or just new to America?
One man who has the answer to this question is Enric Canut, an engaging and energetic Catalan who is a tireless ambassador of Spanish cheeses; it would not be an exaggeration to give Canut major credit for what seems like a cheese explosion. But Canut has not just introduced artisanal Spanish cheeses to Americanshe has pioneered them in Spain as well. "I'm 48 years old and for 28 years I work in cheese," he says proudly. During that time, a revolution has taken place in Spanish cheesemaking and Canut has been at its heart.
He recently told his story over a platter of (what else?) cheese, at Tutusaus, a splendid small artisanal cheese shop in Barcelona. "I was born in Barcelona," Canut said, "but my family came from the high Catalan Pyrenees and I always wanted to go back to the land and farm." With this in mind, he studied agricultural engineering in Barcelona and, to prepare his thesis, went to Holland to see how artisanal cheeses were produced. "I mucked stalls and I made cheese," he said cheerfully, "and it was more fun to make cheese than muck stalls."