Serra da Estrela Cheese and Quince Jam Rolls/Rolos de Queijo da Serra e Marmelada

As they say… if there was a restaurant in heaven this would be on the menu…

This absolutely exquisite combination of creamy and flavourful cheese with a delicate yet tangy quince jam is a real treat!

The cheese comes from the “Serra”, the highest mountain in Portugal and the home of the pastures that provide the conditions for this unique sheep’s milk cheese. Little known outside Portugal and with a history going back to the 12th century, good quality Serra da Estrela cheese is up there with the best artisan french cheeses. The cheese is produced during the cold months between November and March and produced with milk from the local “Bordaleiras Serra da Estrela” or “Churra Mondegueira” breeds. It can be eaten in a fresh buttery state (“amanteigado”) or cured into a hard flavourful cheese (“curado”). This unique produce from remote rural Portugal has been granted Protected Geographical Status by the European Union (which is ok as long as the key criteria is the quality of the cheese itself…). As is the cheese was not a good enough, the introduction of another unique local delicacy into this “roll” makes this worth dwelling on…

“Marmelada” (quince jam) is a common preserve across most of Portugal. By taking the rather bitter but flavourful “marmelo” (quince) through a jamming process and letting it set until it can be cut with a knife, we get a firm yet delicate fruity contribution to the table.

As this post comes short of providing an actual recipe, if you are lucky enough to come across both of these exquisite ingredients do follow these rules:

1. Open a soft (“amanteigado”) Serra da Estrela cheese with a circular incision on the top

2. Cut thin slices of quince jam (“marmelada”)

3. Pour a spoon of cheese onto the slice of jam

4. Roll, appreciate the beauty for a moment and try to resist the temptation…

5. Go back to step 2…

As for how you get the ingredients… Queijo da Serra is widely available in Portugal though quality can vary. The best cheese comes from relatively small “quintas”. The closer you get to the “serra” the more likely you are to get a good cheese… The Quinta da Lagoa and the Quinta de São Cosme are particularly nice but if you’re in the right place touch it for softness, and even better, try it! Marmelada is a way of preserving locally grown quince fruit which is now industrialised and widely commercialised. Quince is a tangy pear-like fruit which once stewed in sugar reveals its most rich and flavoursome qualitites. As I have been lucky enough to have eaten homemade “marmelada” all my life I cannot recommend a particular source but I’m certainly happy to receive suggestions…

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Pedro Rebelo

Pedro is a composer, sound artist and performer. In 2002, he was awarded a PhD by the University of Edinburgh where he conducted research in both music and architecture. Pedro has recently led participatory projects involving communities in Belfast, favelas in Maré, Rio de Janeiro, travelling communities in Portugal and a slum town in Mozambique. This work has resulted in sound art exhibitions at venues such as the Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast, Centro Cultural Português Maputo, Espaço Ecco in Brasilia and Parque Lage and Museu da Maré in Rio, Museu Nacional Grão Vasco and MAC Nitéroi. His music has been presented in venues such as the Melbourne Recital Hall, National Concert Hall Dublin, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Ars Electronica, Casa da Música, and in events such as Weimarer Frühjahrstage fur zeitgenössische Musik, Wien Modern Festival, Cynetart and Música Viva. His work as a pianist and improvisor has been released by Creative Source Recordings and he has collaborated with musicians such as Chris Brown, Mark Applebaum, Carlos Zingaro, Evan Parker and Pauline Oliveros as well as artists such as Suzanne Lacy. His writings reflect his approach to design and creative practice in a wider understanding of contemporary culture and emerging technologies. Pedro has been Visiting Professor at Stanford University (2007), senior visiting professor at UFRJ, Brazil (2014) and Collaborating Researcher at INEM-md Universidade Nova, Lisboa (2016). He has been Music Chair for international conferences such as ICMC 2008, SMC 2009, ISMIR 2012 and has been invited keynote speaker at ANPPOM 2017, ISEA 2017, CCMMR 2016 and EMS 2013. At Queen's University Belfast, he has held posts as Director of Education, Director of Research and Head of School. In 2012 he was appointed Professor of Sonic Arts at Queen's and awarded the Northern Bank's "Building Tomorrow's Belfast" prize. He has recently been awarded two major grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council including the interdisciplinary project “Sounding Conflict”, investigating relationships between sound, music and conflict situations. Ongoing research interests include immersive sound design and augmented listening experiences. Pedro has been appointed Director of the Sonic Arts Research Centre in 2021.

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