I have a special place in my heart for la vaca que ríe.
¿La vaca que ríe?
Oh, that’s just español for The Laughing Cow.
I’m sure you’re not surprised that I have a sentimental attachment to a charmingly convivial cow—especially one responsible for creamy queso. Still, allow me to elaborate.
Once upon a time, when I lived in the magical land of España…
…when I wasn’t being force-fed chocolate cake…
(No, really. I was force-fed.)
…I had the luxury of living with a Spanish familia and becoming fully immersed in a true Mediterranean diet.
This meant incredible fresh fish, wine and olive oil in lieu of butter, regional cheese, gazpacho galore and just the most innovative real food I’ve ever eaten.
This also meant mucho meat.
Problemo para mi.
And there I was—thrown into a land where prosciutto is praised and chorizo is celebrated. However, I wasn’t about to prance into a welcoming Spanish family’s home and instruct them on how to feed me. I told my señora—my host-mom—that I preferred pollo and seafood, but that I’d happily eat my way around any other meats she threw into dishes.
Señora Cristina was overwhelmingly accommodating and never served jamon or chorizo as the center of our meals. But lunches—which were packed for escuela—were a bit more dicey on the meat front.
(Her housekeeper packed them and obviously wasn’t aware of my finicky relationship with meat. Her name was Lolita. She spoke in song. And told me tales of her teenage love stories. Clearly, I liked her anyway.)
Most often, I got prosciutto slabbed on a baguette—in which case, I just ate the baguette. On better days, I got a Spanish tortilla (essentially an egg, onion and potato pie) slabbed on a baguette—in which case, I just ate the tortilla.
And then there were the best days. I’d eagerly and inquisitively unwrap the mysterious foil to find a simple cheese sandwich. Elation—and, uh, consumption—would commence immediately.
Not only was I thrilled to be able to eat my lunch in its entirety—but I was in love with whatever ridiculously creamy, gourmet cheese Lolita spread between those two pieces of white bread.
I’m not above admitting that I loved life just a little bit more on cheese sandwich days. So much so that when my six months en España came to its end, I refused to part ways with my beloved gourmet queso español. I was determined to find an American version of the cheese that saved me from six months of lunchtime starvation.
And so, on my last day in Spain, I asked my señora to do her best to describe the type of cheese that Lolita put on my sandwiches—so that maybe, with some thorough investigation and scouring, I’d be able to find its American counterpart.
Señora Cristina se rió (which means laughed).
“Sarita, mi amor, es el queso con la vaca roja feliz. La vaca que ríe.”
“The happy red cow. The cow that laughs.”
Separation anxiety averted, my Spanish love affair continued to flourish back home.
With that novel of a
love profession preface, I’d like to introduce you to three NEW vacas that I’ve welcomed into mi vida.
No, mis foodies, your eyes are not deceiving you, and this is not an April Fools joke. (I’d never be so cruel.) Those are three nuevo Laughing Cow flavors.
The bad news? They won’t be released until June.
The good news? I got to try them yesterday, and I’m here to report all the dirty (and by dirty, I mean delicious) details. (Also, it’s officially April, which means June is only dos short months away!)
**Before I continue, I just want to ensure you that I’m receiving no form of compensation from Laughing Cow. If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with food. So when I gush about a product, it’s because delicious food excites me, and I find it difficult to express said excitement without exclamation points and enthusiastic adjectives. I’m sure you understand, seeing as I’m the chica who fell in love with a CHEESE in Spain…)**
Let’s get to the queso.
Yesterday I was the luckiest foodie in NYC and attended a VIP tasting event featuring the three new Laughing Cow Light flavors.
Say hola to my little friends…
1. Blue Cheese
Taste bud talk: I’m really not a blue cheese person, but this was incredible. It was sort of the perfect blend of blue cheese and original Laughing Cow flavors.
Cheesy concoction potential: I’m pretty sure this will replace feta in all of my ensaladas. I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect it’d be on a summery salad with walnuts and manzanas. Oooh, it’d also be amazing in a wrap with Morningstar Buffalo Chik’n, or really any protein topped with Frank’s. (Kailey—I am prophesying that this is going to be your numero uno and make its way onto all of your summer wraps.)
2. Queso Fresco & Chipotle
Taste bud talk: Definitely the most distinct of the three flavors. It tastes exactly like the queso fresco you find in Mexican dishes—with an unmistakable chipotle pepper kick.
Cheesy concoction potential: My mind immediately went to eggs. It’d be great in an omelet or quiche creation. I also bet that if you melted it and mixed it with habanero lime salsa, it’d make a pretty ridiculous dip.
3. Mozzarella, Sun-dried Tomato & Basil
Taste bud talk: Can it be June now, por favor? This flavor gets my number one billing—mostly because I think it’s the most versatile of the newbies. Slash because I’m obsessed with all things sun-dried tomato.
Cheesy concoction potential: I don’t even know where to begin without wetting myself. I really can’t wait to smear it on everything. Wraps, pita pizzas, my face… No, but seriously, I’ve already dreamed up several concoctions. The one I’m most excited to create is a hummus featuring this flavor, sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. I can taste its perfection already.
Honestly, all three flavors were amazing. And I was thinking of all of you the whole time I was there because I know how integral a role Laughing Cow plays in our foodie lives/creations—and I know you’re all going to fall in love. (Because I know I’m not the only foodie freak that feels affection for queso…)
As much as I enjoyed the wedges straight up—and I had several of each, for review purposes only —the hor d’ourves were incredible.
This one featured sun-dried tomato and kalamata—which is an automatic foodgasm in my book.
Ok, I’ll interrupt Laughing Cow gushing to address part dos of why I was the luckiest foodie in NYC ayer.
Also in attendance at the taste testing…
I like how I say “also in attendance” as if she and I were on the same level. I should clarify that while I was a guest at the event, she was the event.
If you don’t know Hungry Girl—whose real name is Lisa Lillien—she’s the voice behind a daily e-newsletter that dishes out news, tips and recipes focused on helping hungry chicas navigate the world of healthy eating. Oh, she’s also a New York Times best-selling cookbook author.
She was at the event debuting her newly-released cookbook Hungry Girl 1-2-3, which features her simplest, guilt-free recipes.
That’s her above, fervently proclaiming her adoration of Laughing Cow. While my sentiments for LC are strong, Lisa devoted an entire section of her book to la vaca que ríe. That’s amor.
In all seriousness, I was so excited to meet Hungry Girl because (1) I’ve always sort of felt like we were food soul mates and (2) she’s basically fulfilled my dream of creating a career that combines food, nutrition and writing.
Oh, and she’s adorably little. A.K.A. I didn’t look like a midget standing next to her. This always earns bonus point en mi libro .
It was such an amazing event—in part because we were on a rooftop and the NYC weather gods decided to play nice yesterday, in part because it was so much fun tasting the new flavors. Mostly, though, the event’s success rode on the people who were present. It was so extraordinary to just talk food with so many like-minded, passionate (read: food looooving) people.
Gracias for the swag bag, too .
I’ve already started making my way through Hungry Girl 1-2-3—and I can’t wait to try, uh, every recipe. Maybe I’ll cook my way through, blog about it and a major motion picture house will turn it into a movie. Oh, that’s been done before?
Tell me, amigas, which Laughing Cow flavor are you most excited about? Also, are there any brands to which you’re loyal because they hold sentimental value? Tell me I’m not the only one…