Nicaraguans love their dairy products and although they have a different taste to what I'm accustomed to in Canada, I must admit I enjoy the local products also. We have found that the dairy products here have a distinct stronger flavour and sometimes have to become an acquired taste. The best advice is to enjoy them for their great taste and not try to compare to home.
Rob and I had the opportunity to visit one of the many small "cheese and milk" stores that are common here in Nicaragua. Fresh raw milk, yogurt and a host of varieties of cheese can be purchased here. La Gaviota in Sultiava is a family owned and operated store which produces amazing product all in a simple and time tested fashion.
We were greeted by owners Patricio and Norma early one morning just as they were getting going for the day. The 400 L of fresh raw milk that they receive daily had not yet arrived but the employees were already busy scrubbing down the equipment to get things ready. We were impressed by the cleanliness of the whole production area, the care the staff were taking in their jobs and for me, screens on all the windows to keep out any unwanted creatures!
La Gaviota supplies people not only with their milk for the day but also crema, yogurt and of course cheese. Another of their specialties is Cacao, a refreshing drink made with milk and the nut of the cacao bean. It has a very nutty flavour along with a hint of cinnamon. I have yet to find out if that is added or a natural flavour in the cacao nut.
At La Gaviota you can buy five different kinds of cheese:
1. queso asado - one of the most popular quite often served grilled, has a smooth flavour with a crumbly but firm texture
2. queso cuajada - quite often served as dessert with nuts and honey or with fruit for breakfast, smooth and creamy texture
3. quese quesillo - sold in balls of various shapes, stringy texture, mild taste, closest to mozzerella as it is the only cheese that melts
4. queso fresco - creamy, soft texture, mild, unaged
5. queso ahumada - firm texture with a strong smoked flavour
One extra product that they do sell here is Pinolillo, a sweet cornmeal and cacao-based traditional drink in Nicaragua. It is made of ground toasted corn and a small amount of cacao. You simply add sugar and water. Sorry I can't tell you what it tastes like as I didn't try it and my Spanish isn't good enough to totally understand what Patricio was saying as he described it. So I guess you will just have to come here to Leon and find out for yourself!!
La Gaviota is found 1 block west of the UNO station (or Texaco to the locals) and 1 block south.
FACEBOOK: LECHE Y QUESOS - LA GAVIOTA