The Fine Cheeses of Spain
"Spain has a wide range of cheeses, discover the best
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.
is a traditional semi-soft cheese, produced from cow's milk on Minorca, the
outermost of the three Balearic Islands. The city of Mahón is the major town on
this small agricultural island.
Traditionally, to produce Mahón cheese, the curd is placed in the center of a
cloth. The corners of the cloth are then knotted and twisted together, which
gives the cheese its typical "cushion" shape. It then matures in the cloth for
several days. The flavor is smooth, yet buttery sharp, slightly salty with a
marvelous creamy, nutty aroma.
Mahón cheese is young, when the texture is smooth and supple and the aroma
is sweet and fruity. This is a versatile cheese -- nice as a tapa with olives
and wine or beer. You can eat it the traditional way, sliced, then sprinkled
with olive oil, black pepper, and tarragon. It is also a great treat when it is
melted on toast. Keep your young Mahón in the vegetable compartment of the
refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap or waxed paper.
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.
region of Galicia is almost a country of its own -- green and lush with rugged
mountains and ocean water lapping into peaceful fjords. The people are Celts,
complete with bagpipes.
Their cheeses are as unique as they are. Before the days of refrigeration,
many fresh cheeses were lightly smoked over a hard wood fire to preserve them.
This is essentially how San Simón came to be -- a tetilla-type cow's milk
cheese, which has been left to briefly cure after being lightly smoked for two
weeks. Due to its shape, San Simón is sometimes called a Bufone or a dunce cap.
Use San Simón as you might an Edam or Gouda cheese -- either sliced cold as a
snack, or melted - as a complement to many dishes. Its firm chestnut-orange
exterior protects a soft, flavorful white center.
in the glorious coastal mountains of Cantabria artisan make the complex
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 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
Manchego you are searching for.
manchego is cut in wedges and served with olives and thin slices of Serrano ham
or membrillo quince preserve. It is a classic flavor of Spain. Their entire
production process is supervised by the Council of the Denomination of Origin of
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.
Sliced Jamon - Artisan Aged Manchego Combo
1/2 lb Jamón + 2 lb Cheese
Another incarnation of our classic tapa combo.
imported Jamón Serrano: cured mountain ham sliced paper thin by hand and
individually leaved for your easy use. The zip-lock envelope keeps it fresh for
more than one occasion.
As is often the case at all tapas bars, the slices of jamón are paired with
artisan sheep's milk cheese from La Mancha -- home of Don Quijote.
Our Villajos semi-cured Manchego is truly an artisan raw sheep's milk cheese.
Since 1996, three brothers have fashioned this unique Manchego. Despite its
short existence, Villajos "curado" earned First Prize in 2002 and one Accésit in
2003 at the Gran Selección de Castilla La Mancha contest. In fact, it won the
prize for the best Manchego in La Mancha. It has a full flavor with a touch of
sharpness. Slice and serve with olives and sliced Serrano ham for the authentic
flavor of Spain.
Spanish Cheese Sampler
We have for you a wonderful sampler of Spanish cheeses:
Sheep's Milk Cheese - This cheese is much like Manchego, smooth and full of
Cured Sheep's Milk Cheese - This sheep's milk cheese is aged for a
firm bite and sharp flavor.
Mahón - produced in Menorca. It is a traditional creamery cheese
produced from cow's milk. It is smooth, with a sweet and fruity aroma.
Cabra - a cured goats milk cheese, with a creamy rich flavor.
Tetilla - this soft cows milk cheese from Galicia is super creamy and
What a fine way to introduce yourself to traditional Spanish cheeses, and at
the same time have an instant tapa for unexpected guests.
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