Where Do I Find Oaxacan Cheese?
Jason T. asks: Where in New York City can I get authentic Oaxacan cheese? Looking for a queso fundido made with Oaxacan cheese. Thanks in advance.
dishtip.com Quesillo Oaxaca
Dear Jason: I concur in your appreciation for Oaxacan cheese. Even though we have few actual Oaxacans in town (and no actual Oaxacan restaurants, alas!), there are plenty of Pueblans, who use the cheese in many contexts, from the round sandwiches called cemitas to your passion, queso fundido (a/k/a Mexican fondue).
Made from full-fat cow's milk, Quesillo Oaxaca is one of the world's great melting cheeses. It originated in Oaxaca, but is popular all over Mexico. The cheese is similar to mozzarella, and is made by kneading the curds and then pulling them into long, supple ropes of white.
Really, any southern Mexican bodega sells it in lumps approximating half a kilo in weight, usually for somewhere around $7 or $8. Lower Manhattan is Mexican-bodega-challenged, but you can find it at Zaragoza Mexican Deli-Grocery (215 Avenue A, 212-780-9204). It's much easier to get in Brooklyn and Queens, providing you look in the right neighborhoods.
The bodegas under the M, J, and Z tracks along Broadway in Bushwick invariably have it, and so do those on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights. The substance is also easy to find along Fifth Avenue near the park called Sunset Park, and on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island near Coney Island Avenue.
One day driving back from Bay Ridge, I ran into a factory near that northern end of Fort Hamilton Parkway that makes the stuff fresh, certainly worth a special trip: Queseria Mexico (2905 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn, 718-854-4424).
Note that Oaxaca cheese is a close cousin of string cheese, which you can find at Murray's Cheese (254 Bleecker Street, 212-243-3289).
Thanks for your question, Jason T.!
Photo courtesy of Plaza Garibaldi/Philadelphia Queso fundido