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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. See 'Spanish Cheese'
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