International Cheese Day: Spain’s Finest
It’s that time of the year again – International Cheese Day.
International Cheese Day is an opportunity to enjoy delicious cheeses and learn about cheese production’s rich history, cultural significance, and craftsmanship.
It encourages cheese lovers to explore new flavours, support local producers, and appreciate the art of cheese-making in different regions worldwide.
As a Spanish translator and a big cheese (and food) lover, I’m excited to share some of Spain’s finest cheeses and their fascinating history.
My interest in food, product elaboration and the history of gastronomy took me to learn more about Gastronomy translation.
It is now one of my services – a fascinating field combining science and history.
So, let’s embark on a delicious journey through the world of Spanish queso!
Manchego: The Quintessential Spanish Cheese
When discussing Spanish cheese, we must start this International Cheese Day with the most famous of all: Manchego.
Originating from the La Mancha region, Manchego is made from the milk of Manchega sheep.
With a firm texture and a distinctive nutty flavour, it’s no wonder Manchego has gained international recognition.
Available in different curing versions, you can enjoy a mature Manchego cheese paired with Spanish olives or delight your taste buds with a low-cured cheese drizzled with honey.
Cabrales: A Bold and Flavorful Delight
If you’re a fan of strong, intense flavours, then Cabrales is the cheese for you.
This blue cheese hails from the Asturias region and is made from a blend of cow, sheep, and goat milk.
Aged in limestone caves for up to six months, Cabrales develops a powerful, spicy flavour that pairs beautifully with robust red wines or sweet quince paste.
You can also use Cabrales to make a delicious cheese sauce to spread over breaded beef fillets or to make croquettes.
Mahón: A Taste of the Balearic Islands on International Cheese Day
Mahón cheese, named after the capital city of Menorca, is a soft to hard cow’s milk cheese with a characteristic orange rind.
With a slightly salty and buttery taste, Mahón is perfect for grating over pasta or simply enjoyed with a slice of crusty bread.
Tetilla: A Playful Cheese from Galicia
Tetilla cheese, meaning “small breast” in Spanish, is a mild, creamy cheese from the Galicia region.
Its playful name comes from its unique shape, resembling a woman’s breast.
Made from cow’s milk, Tetilla has a smooth, buttery texture that melts in your mouth, making it perfect for melting over grilled vegetables or enjoying with a glass of crisp Albariño wine.
Idiazábal: A Smoky Delicacy from the Basque Country
Idiazábal is a firm, slightly smoky cheese from raw sheep’s milk in the Basque Country and Navarre regions.
Traditionally, this cheese is smoked over beechwood or hawthorn, giving it a unique flavour profile.
Try Idiazábal in a pintxo (small snack) with a glass of Txakoli wine for an authentic Basque experience.
Goat’s cheese from Málaga
Although Málaga is well known for its sardine espetos and pescaíto frito (fried fish), in the mountains of Antequera and the Montes de Málaga mountain chain you can enjoy their traditional goat’s cheese.
After all, the province of Málaga has Europe’s highest concentration of goats.
Available in different curing versions (fresh, semi-mature, mature), this cheese is made exclusively from Málaga goats, producing up to five litres of milk daily.
The most popular is fresh goat’s cheese, a creamy cheese deliciously drizzled with honey and paired with walnuts.
5 interesting cheese facts
- Cheese has been around for a long time: the origins of cheesemaking date back to about 8000 BC, when sheep were first domesticated. It has been continually refined and developed over thousands of years.
- There are over 2,000 varieties: with so many types, there’s a cheese for everyone’s taste. From the creamy Brie to the pungent Stilton, the world of cheese is as diverse as it is delicious.
- Cheese is made from different types of milk: it can be made from cows, goats, sheep, buffalo, and even camels. Each type of milk imparts its unique flavour and characteristics to the cheese.
- Spain has its own “Cheese Route” called “Ruta del Queso” in Castilla-La Mancha. This route takes you through picturesque landscapes, historical landmarks, and charming villages where you can sample some of the region’s finest cheeses.
- Cheese can improve with age: like fine wine, some cheeses improve in flavour and texture. The ageing process allows the cheese to develop a more complex flavour profile, transforming it into a delicacy.
Celebrate International Cheese Day with Spanish cheese
Let’s toast Spain’s rich and diverse cheese culture on this International Cheese Day.
Spanish cheeses, from the nutty Manchego to the bold Cabrales, have something to offer for every palate.
So, don’t hesitate to explore the world of Spanish queso – you might just discover a new favourite.