6×6: Carlos Yescas

26th November 2015

Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Yousef Eldin

Cheese is integral to many familiar Mexican dishes, from enchiladas to tacos, but Mexican cheese itself is underappreciated. One person doing more than most to address this is Carlos Yescas, the co-founder (with his sister Georgina) of Mexico’s first artisan cheese distribution company Lactography. He started his career at Sheridan’s cheesemongers in Ireland; now, as well as championing Mexican cheese, he is a supreme judge at the World Cheese Awards and directs the Oldways Cheese Coalition, which supports the production and appreciation of artisan and traditional cheesemaking around the world.

Over the past six months, Carlos, who currently lives in Boston, has travelled to France, Italy and back to Mexico on cheese-related missions. For our ongoing 6×6 series, exploring what people are eating in different parts of the world, he picks out his six most memorable dishes from that time, not all of them involving dairy produce.


Camembert from La Ferme du Champ Secret

La Vache dans les Vignes, Paris, France


“Camembert is one of my all time favorites, but living in the Americas means that I don’t get to eat it a lot. This is because I much prefer the raw milk version. Because of regulations on this side of the Atlantic we only get a pasteurised version that is good, but never great. My favorite raw milk producer in France is La Ferme du Champ Secret. They only use milk of Normandies, the original breed of cows utilised to make Camembert. Francine and Patrick Mercier, the producers, are committed to preserving it this way, and also staying within the DOP designation, while making an organic product.”

La Vache dans les Vignes, 46 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris, France;+33 1 77 10 88 36, www.lavachedanslesvignes.fr


Homemade vinegar

Boston, USA


“I’ve been making my own vinegar since last year. I love the idea of making an ingredient at home from a fermenting process that looks so alien to me. I am still not great at pickling, but have The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz on my nightstand and every time I can, I read a new recipe. Cheesemaking is super close to other fermenting processes, so it is only natural that I find myself intrigued by making vinegar as well. My next project is to start making all the traditional pickles of Mexico, including the serranos and carrots that you get with tortas commonly known as encurtidos, the pickled red onions served alongside panuchos[footnote]A panucho is a Mexican food specialty from the Yucatán made with a refried tortilla that is stuffed with refried black beans and topped with chopped cabbage, pulled chicken or turkey, tomato, pickled red onion, avocado, and pickled jalapeno pepper. Source: Wikipedia [/footnote], and the sauerkraut that the Mennonite women make in northern Chihuahua.”


Tibetan momos (dumplings) and Thenthuk noodle soup

Cafe Tibet, Brooklyn, NY, USA


“I don’t know much about Tibetan food, and there are actually very few restaurants around. However, I have always really enjoyed this little hole in the wall in Brooklyn. Café Tibet has solid food that tastes very similar to Tibetan food I had in Chengdu a couple of years ago. I really like the Thenthuk soup with its fat and chunky noodles and tofu. They also have an amazing little dish of chickpeas in spicy sauce that makes me always think of Mexican snacks. The earthy flavor of the spices, plus the nuttiness of the chickpeas are a winning combination for me.”

Cafe Tibet, 1510 Cortelyou Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11226; +1-718-941-2725


The Alchemist’s Heady Topper double IPA

Duino Duende, Burlington, VT, USA


“This beer by The Alchemist is a unique double IPA from Vermont, with a very distinct citrus note. It is unpasteurised, which gave it a very yeasty flavor. I had this one during a trip to Shelburne Farms for the Vermont Cheese Festival, which happened to coincide with the Vermont Brewers Festival. I love craft beer and cider – in a past life I started a brewery with a friend in Mexico (we never produced anything, but had a lot of fun planning for it). I got this in downtown Burlington, which is a town on the rebound and has a very interesting food scene.”

Duino Duende, 10 N Winooski Ave, Burlington, VT 05401; +1 802-660-9346, www.duinoduende.com


Queso de Poro de Balancan

Boston, USA


“In August, I went down to Mexico to be a judge at the third Festival del Queso Artesanal in the southern state of Tabasco. The competition gave top honors to a producer that has only eight cows and makes a queso de hebra, known outside of Mexico as queso Oaxaca. The picture is of queso de Poro, which has a Marca Colectiva (a type of DOP granted to four cheeses in Mexico). This cheese is chalky and little flaky, milky and sharp. I brought this back to Boston for my husband, who decided to eat it with hot pepper jelly from Anarchy in a Jar.”



Ristorante dell’Agenzia di Pollenzo, Bra, Italy


“Growing up in Mexico in the 80s meant that the most sophisticated food around was French cuisine. The problem is that I have always been a picky eater and didn’t love a lot of the food that was served in restaurants. I remember constant battles with my dad over eating meat. He would always bribe me with dessert, but when profiteroles were on the menu I would endure main course to have the chance to eat this delicious dessert. Must confess that I haven’t had them in over 20 years.
This time round, the meal before dessert was wonderful at the Ristorante dell’Agenzia di Pollenzo near Bra in Italy. But the highlight of the night was the perfectly cool cream puffs topped with just-warm-enough chocolate sauce. Not only was it a delicious dessert, it was also a great memory. Me, my sister and mom were visiting Bra for the bi-annual cheese festival organized by Slow Food. We had amazing cheese from all over, saw friends, and enjoyed the late summer in Italy. This dessert will be in my memory for a long time.”

Ristorante dell’Agenzia di Pollenzo, Via Fossano, 21, 12042 Bra Pollenzo CN, Italy; +39 0172 458600, www.albergoagenzia.it


Lactography is at Queretaro 225, Col. Roma, Mexico, DF 06700;+52 (55) 5264 8270, www.lactography.com

You can follow Carlos on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Posted 26th November 2015

In 6x6


Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Yousef Eldin

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