Sheep, cows, and goats are grazing on myriad plateaus and valleys of mountainous Spain producing a broad variety of cheeses -- many of which may be a new experience for your palate. The goats bring us a bone-white cheese that is marinated in wine, or fashioned into soft goat cheese buttons with herbs.
From the sunny Balearic Island of Minorca comes Mahón, a wonderfully creamy combination of cream form three distinct strains of cows. The rounded orange-rinded cheese is reminiscent of Dutch Gouda or Edam. On the northwest coast, far from the Mediterranean island of Minorca, milk from the cows of Celtic Galicia are made into traditional smoked San Simón tetillas.
High in the glorious coastal mountains of Cantabria artisans make the complex artisanal Cabrales -- the king of blue cheeses. The flavorful blue mold in this cheese evolves naturally from the walls of the caves in which the cheeses are stored for curing -- unlike its cousins in Denmark and France where the mold is introduced artificially by injection. Cabrales is predominately made of cow's milk, although often blended with that of goat and sheep's milk according to a secret formula whose origin is lost in time. It is delightful accompanied by brandy or sherry, or crumbled on a crisp green salad. Of course it makes a remarkably bright "blue cheese" dressing.
Sheep's milk makes the dominant cheeses, due to centuries of vast herds of sheep covering much of Spain. The most familiar cheese is Manchego, produced in La Mancha, the central meseta of Spain -- the land of windmills and Don Quijote. It is due south of Toledo. Mild or tangy, semi-cured or pasteurized - we have just the Manchego you are searching for. You might also like to try a smoked shepherd's cheese from the Basque Country, or my personal favorite, a semi-hard cheese from the medieval town of Zamora. A word of caution - there are many cheeses in the marketplace called "manchego," just as there are many cheeses called "cheddar." Only the cheese bearing the "Denomination of Origin" sticker is the real thing - and there is a world of difference.
Buy Spanish cheese online - Europe
Buy Spanish cheese online - USA