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June 4, 2014 Cristóbal RamírezLeave a comment
Cheese. The Greeks called it “a gift from the gods,” and two thousand years later, it is still widely adored. Cheese has everything: it never goes out of style, there are countless exquisite varieties, it keeps well, and its contribution to our health derives from its proteins, calcium and phosphorus. Fall being a perfect time of year to explore Spain‘s rich landscape of quesos, herewith a round-up of some of the best-known:
- Manchego. Practically a symbol of Spain, it’s made from sheep’s milk from the La Mancha region (hence the name). The taste is lightly spicy, sour and salty. It’s also very versatile, going equally well with red wine or as the finishing touch to a fine dish.
- Torta del Casar. Perfectly creamy, it has an intense aroma and a bitter taste low in acidity. It’s typical of Extremadura, where it is made with clotted raw sheep’s milk and thistle vegetable rennet. Careful: it’s addictive.
- Cabrales. Another star with countless fans, this is the crème de la crème of Spanish blue cheese. It’s made with cow, goat, and sheep’s milk, and aged in caves up in the Picos de Europa mountains, where the fungus ripens just perfectly. The result is an unmistakable soft and creamy cheese with a strong bouquet and flavour and a delightful spicy finish.
- Payoyo. True cheese addicts adore this whimsically named variety, making it one of the most sought-after, even though much of the population has yet to hear of its existence. It’s made from the milk of ‘payoyo’ sheep, native to the Sierra de Grazalema (Cadiz) and the Serranía de Ronda (Malaga) mountains. Intense flavour, fatty, with a spicy touch.
- Tetilla. Its unusual breast-like shape conceals a soft flavour and a tender texture. It’s made from cow’s milk and natural rennet.
- Mahón. Square-shaped, this raw, pressed cow’s-milk cheese offers several varieties, from soft to aged. Less compact than others, it’s known for its intense bouquet and salty, spicy finish.
- Idiazábal. Hailing from the Basque country, the best of these are the cheeses without any labels, made by shepherds from ‘latxa’ sheep’s milk. It’s fatty, lightly spicy and sour, and is also available in a smoked variety.
- Majorero. Three flavours in one: sour, sweet and salty, made from raw ‘majorera’ goat’s milk from the island of Fuerteventura. When you try try it, you’ll definitely notice the exquisite creamy milk fat on your palate.
Have we missed any of your own Spanish cheese favourites?
Image | Jlastras