Cheese & Butter Guide by Marky’s
The Spanish cheese tradition traces back to the times of Romans, who brought their cheese manufacturing technology to the Iberian Peninsula, when colonizing it in the 2nd century BC. Although it is likely, that the local people had known how to make cheese (or queso, as Spaniards call it) long before they came. Today, the world cheese production includes more than one hundred types of cheese from Spain, with over twenty of them controlled by DOP.
The large variety of Spanish cheeses can meet any taste demands. The Spanish queso is made from cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk, or from the mixture of two or all three of them. The characteristics and properties of the artisanal cheese originating from a certain area are defined by the features of its climate and terrain, as well as by the centuries-old farming and cheese making customs.
At Marky’s Gourmet Shop we offer a fine selection of the best Spanish queso cheese for you to experience the real spirit of great Spain!
Farmhouse semi-hard Idiazabal Cheese is produced in two varieties, plain and smoked, in the northern regions of Basque and Navarra. Made from sheep’s milk, the cheese is slightly dry in its texture, but has a pleasant tangy and oily aftertaste. Traditionally it was stored near fireplaces inside shepherds’ huts, absorbing dense sweet smoke. Idiazabal shines well with full-bodied reds or cider. It is a fine condiment when grated on salads or pastas, and can also be eaten alone or as a part of your light snack.
Mahon Cheese comes from the island of Menorca and is a widely known Spanish cow’s milk cheeses. A cousin of Italian Asiago Cheese, Mahon also changes its texture and flavor characteristics while ripening. Younger Mahon is originally rubbed with butter, olive oil or paprika. Its tanginess has more buttery and nutty tints. As the cheese matures, its taste gets sharper and more complex. The cheese grates and melts perfectly, and can be served separately with some fresh rosemary or tarragon and olive oil, accompanied by Cava or dry Madeira.
One of the most definitive Spanish cheeses is Manchego, mentioned to be the favorite of Don Quixote. Depending on its ripening period, this sheep milk cheese varies in its textures and smacks, though keeps its piquant sweetness at any age. The young semi-hard Manchego Cheese taste is rather fruity, while its hard sort gets some nutty and caramel notes. Paired with a glass of dry Sherry or Madeira it can be both a dainty appetizer when served with olives, and a gourmet dessert along with nuts and dried fruits. Manchego is also known as a fine kosher cheese of high quality and excellent flavor characteristics.
Hard and crumbly aged Zamorano Cheese is slightly similar to Manchego, but most cheese lovers will tell you it has richer creamier flavor and more characteristic and intense aroma. The pungently sharp cheese goes well as a part of a snack and pairs fabulously with White and Red wines.
Originating from the mountainous South-East, Rulo de Cabra adds to the world collection of soft cheeses. This Spanish goat cheese has a dense smooth texture and bloomy rind. Its flavor harmoniously combines mellow buttery tints with a citrus zest. The cheese successfully accompanies smoked salmon or marmalade, and lovely pairs with Pinot Gris wines.