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Spanish Cheese

Although only generally found in speciality shops in Britain, Spanish cheese is well worth seeking out. Ewes' milk cheeses are found all over the country, while cows' milk varieties are confined to the wetter north and goats to the mountain ranges. Here are a few you might find.

Idiazabal: A firm, waxy, lightly smoked cheese from the Basque country, with small sparse holes. It has a delicate herby flavour. Idiazabal is sometimes called Aralar, Urbia or Urbasa.

Mahón: a hard cows' milk cheese made in Menorca. It has a slightly-sharp lemony flavour and when mature crumbles in the style of Cheddar. The best aged versions are highly regarded.

Manchego: The most famous Spanish cheese, and made from pasteurized ewes' milk on the plains of La Mancha. Cheeses produced around Ciudad Real, have the best reputation.

The paste is firm, with a colour that varies from ivory to gold. It's sold in various stages of maturity - the youngest being 'fresco' (under 3 weeks old); 'curado' (up to thirteen weeks) follows; then 'viejo' (over 3 months); and 'enaceite' (in olive oil, and ripened for at least a year - this has a rough black rind.

To a more or less degree, all cheeses have a slightly salty flavour and a nutty aftertaste. Older cheeses can be grated in the style of Parmesan.

Manchenieto: An aged version of Manchego.

Murcia Al Vino: Made from goats' milk, this cheese is bathed in red wine twice during its manufacture. However, this mainly effects the colour of the rind, which is inedible. It has a mild flavour and dry finish.

Perilla - see Tetilla:

Tetilla: A pasteurized cows' milk cheese with a pleasant, slightly sourish, flavour - in the style of a rich French Port Salut It's rather unusually shaped like a tear drop. Tetilla is made in Pontevedra, La Coruna and Lugo, and sometimes called Perilla.

Valdeon: A blue cows' milk cheese. It's full-flavoured, a little salty and with hints of spice. It comes from the Leon region, north west of Madrid - specifically the Valdeon Valley.

Villalón: A fresh, white, ewes' milk cheese - with a slightly sour taste. It's also called'Pata de Mulo'.

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spanish cheeses
spanish cheeses