The culinary heaven of Spain never ceases to amaze! From complete dishes to wines, cold cuts and other local produce, Spain has it all and in great qualities! Not as hyped as its neighbouring France but equally distinctive and tasty, Spanish cheeses vary in preparation methods, ingredients and character. From the strong Cabrales blue cheese to the creamy and tasty Arzúa, there is certainly a cheese that will have you craving for more. If you are a fan of cheese or you just want to explore Spanish cuisine even further, here’s how to make use of your holidays in Spain by trying five of the best cheeses the country has to offer!
The most well-known and widely consumed Spanish cheese, Manchego is something that you most certainly have come across at one point or the other during your holidays in Spain. Produced in the plains of central Spain with Manchego sheep’s milk, this salty delight is the culmination of a minimum of 60 days of aging, which in the case of the spicy Manchego Curado might go up to 2 years! Definitely a delicacy to try by itself or any other food and drink, this famed cheese dates back to the bronze age which may also signify that the Spanish have got it right!
This rich, creamy cheese is arguably one of the best that Spain has to offer! Traditionally made with raw cow’s milk (or pasteurised in industrial production) from locally raised cattle, this wonderfully soft delight is cured for a minimum of 6 days. If you are lucky enough to have booked your holidays in Spain and more specifically around La Coruña, make sure you try it the traditional way sliced over a thick piece of village bread, brought to perfection with the addition of sweet and hearty membrillo (quince paste) on top.
One of Spanish chefs’ preferred varieties of cheese, the spicy and savoury Mahón is widely enjoyed throughout the Balearic Islands. Hailing from Menorca and prepared with raw cow’s milk, this versatile cheese comes in three consistencies dependent on the time allowed to cure. Tierno Mahón is soft and buttery due to the curing process taking 21 to 60 days, whereas the more popular Semi Curado is cured to perfection for the duration of 2 to 5 months. The strongest and most piquant type of Mahón, the Mahón Curado, owes its spiciness and strong taste to a curing process usually in excess of 8 months long. If you happen to be having your holidays in Majorca, make sure that you buy some extra and bring it back home for a flavour reminiscent of some of the best cheese that Spain has to offer.
The rainy northern region of Asturias is proud of its Cabrales cheese and rightly so! Comparable to the best blue cheeses around the world, this strong and crumbly cheese is made by a mixture of raw cow’s milk or more traditionally goat and sheep’s milk matured to perfection in the caves of Picos de Europa. The bluish-green mold is owed to the strong presence of penicillin in the maturing caves which helps in making this cheese a spicy strong phenomenon worthy of its title as the best cheese in Spain in 2013! Step outside your comfort zone and try it for one of the best culinary experiences that you can have during your next holidays in Spain.
Last on our list but definitely worthy of praise and mention, Queso Herreño owes its legacy to the farmers of the arid volcanic Canary Islands. First produced on the westernmost island of El Hierro to which it owes its name, the soft and squishy Herreño is made by combining goat’s milk with a dash of cow’s and sheep’s milk and then smoking it to perfection on fig tree and pear cactus wood. If you book your holidays in the Canaries make sure to try it in the traditional manner, grilled until it forms a crust containing its gooey centre and topped with locally produced palm honey!