By John Brewer

Oscar Trejo remembers a taste from his hometown of Mexico City: soft, tangy cheese countered by the smokey sweetness of melted sugar and cream.

The cook-by-training brought the recipe to Liberty Bar when it opened in 1985, but didn't perfect the appetizer for another few years. Now as head chef, Trejo commands an eclectic menu - from simple grilled sausages to toasted cucumber sandwiches - anchored in part by a 14-year-old recipe for goat cheese with chile morita and piloncillo sauce, served with toasted bread.

The look: an enticing slab of blended goat and cream cheeses topped with an adobe-red sauce of piloncillo (an unrefined sugar sold in rock-hard cones) and chile morita (dry, smoked serrano peppers).

The cheese trick: On its own, goat cheese would make the whole affair too bitter for most tastes. Trejo combines one part cream cheese for every two parts goat cheese, mellowing the flavor and smoothing the consistency of the blend. He throws in a teaspoon of chile morita and garlic to finish it off.

On the sauce: Simply melting the sugar would create a carmelized mess better suited for a window pane than a plate. Instead, Trejo adds whipping cream to the saucepan to keep the piloncillo smooth, not sticky. The chile adds smoke to the sauce, which also helps to harness the tang of the goat cheese.

Spread on Liberty's toasted homemade bread, and everything comes together in a way that can quickly turn this appetizer into a small meal (just have somebody to share it with).

For more information, try the treat at Liberty Bar or check out cp1019094361.shtml for a "copy cat" recipe that is easy to make at home. The online directions call for twice as much cream cheese as goat cheese, but Trejo holds to the two parts goat and one part cream for the best taste. - John Brewer

Liberty Bar
Goat cheese with chile morita and piloncillo sauce, $6.75
328 E. Josephine St.

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