Say Cheese!

Pascual Cabaño is famous for his Rey Silo blanco and piquant rojo cheeses. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)
Pascual Cabaño is famous for his Rey Silo blanco and piquant rojo cheeses. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)
Posted June 19, 2012 at 12:01am

Today is the final day of the Summer Fancy Food Show, which means miles and miles of mouthwatering snacks are, at least for the next few hours, no further than a frilly-topped toothpick away.

Well-fed observers on Monday spotted California Democratic Reps. Lois Capps and Lynn Woolsey rubbing elbows with constituent cheese mongers at their state’s corner of the American Cheese Society section at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. And Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco (R-Texas) was seen strolling down the food-lined aisles.

We, however, were most intrigued by the meteoric rise of career-changer Pascual Cabaño.

The former journalist — he used to cover politics and food in Spain — traded dog-eared notebooks for cow’s milk cheeses three years ago and now stands on the cusp of producing a custom blue cheese for cheflebrity José Andrés.

“It will be called Astur Blue by José Andrés,” Cabaño, who hails from the same part of Spain as the globe-trotting restaurateur, told HOH of the organoleptic endeavor. Cabaño was planning to give Andrés a preview of the evolving blue, which will purportedly be finished with a 9-year-old hard cider enjoyed in their native Miedes, Monday night at a private party booked at the Penn Quarter Jaleo (480 Seventh St. NW) and hosted by a Spanish trade group.

Cabaño’s other cheeses, the extra creamy Rey Silo blanco and piquant rojo, were expected to be featured at the party. The red (creamy, robust) was to be paired with Jaleo’s signature pulpo a la gallega.

Fellow Spanish producer Juan Figueroa got a chance to show off his queso de torta (liquid, raw sheep’s milk cheese with pronounced vegetal notes) at the industry event — a feat nearly a year in the making. Figueroa said Andrés became enamored with his uniquely crafted cheese months ago and immediately declared that he wanted it on his menu. Staff obliged, placing it on the carte without first securing a reliable distributor or stocking a single wheel of the incredibly temperamental cheese.