Where to buy what cheeses and what to drink with them
By Margaux Cintrano
Asking vaguely for cheese in Spain is the same as asking vaguely for a bottle of wine, a dead give away that you do not really know what you want.
However, do not despair. Cheeseaholic, me, is here to assist you. My comprehensive guide sorts out the Mahón from the Picón Blue, and additionally advises you where to purchase and taste them and, moreover, what to sip with what cheeses through the autumn and Christmas season.
The most common fresh varieties include Queso de Burgos from Burgos, Castilla León; Queso de Cabra Fresco from Majorero, Fuerteaventura, The Canary Islands; and Ibores from Extremadura.
These cheeses must be consumed immediately as their shelf life is short.
An oaky Chardonnay is the perfect pairing for fresh goat or sheep cheeses.
Chilled Sherry is also a marvel at cutting through the richness of fresh goat cheeses and a fruity chilled Navarran Rosé pairs marvelously with fresh cow or goat cheeses .
Asturian blue vein cheeses such as Peñamellera, Picón Blue, Cabrales, Italian aged Gorgonzola, and French Roquefort all have gritty rinds and are produced by adding a special mold to the raw milk providing the marbled appearance.
These cheeses are punctured by needle like instruments and when air enters inside the molds, they turn the mold blue and create the shattered blue vein appearance.
In the rurals these blue vein cheeses are wrapped in leaves and placed in limestone caves where they age for approximately 4 to 6 months and longer.
Liquid refreshment is extraordinarily individualistic here. However, I highly recommend an Asturian Cider with or without bubbles and Txacoli, a Basque Sparkling Wine or Prosecco or Cava.
Manchego sheep cheese is to Spain what Reggiano Parmesano is to Italy.
Raw, un-pasterized Manchega sheep´s milk is used to create Manchego Cheese ranging from tender and mild when young and / or semi cured with a slightly oily finish and a pungent aged Manchego which is stored for over a year.
Color ranges from a creamy banana yellow to a deep ochre tone. It possesses a black rind with a spruce Green undertone and is quite hard.
One shall find an oak aged Cuenca or Albacete red from the La Manchego and La Manchuela Appellations or an Aragonese Somantano Cabernet Sauvignon to be perfect partners for pungent and spicy cheeses and charcuterie.
SEMI SOFT & PRESSED
Mahón, a semi moist tender subtly sharp yet buttery tasting semi soft cheese, Giuzpuzcoa´s lightly spicy smoked sheep cheese Idiazabal and sheep cheese, Torta del Casar from Caceres, Extremadura are definitely an unforgettable triology. Others in this genre include:
Tetilla, a semi soft buttery cow variety from the coasts of Galicia and smoked conical Da Costa San Simone from Lugo, Galicia, Queso Zamorano and Queso de Cuenca are just a few other varieties to sample in this category.
Cow cheeses are quite versatile and pair extraordinarily with Albariño Whites, Godello Whites, Rueda Whites, Sherry Fino and Sparkling Whites. Sheep cheeses on the other hand coordinate with aged reds from any of Spain´s uncountable appellations.
WHERE TO BUY RETAIL
>PONCELET CHEESE BAR: Calle José Abascal 61 – Gregorio Marañon
>FERPAL: Calle Del Arenal 7 – Puerta de Sol
> MERCADO DE SAN MIGUEL, La Fromagerie, Kiosks 20 & 21 – off Plaza Mayor
> MALLORCA MARKET: Calle Génova 12 – Alonso Martinez
> EL CORTE INGLÉS INTERNATIONAL SUPER MARKET & DEPARTMENT STORE: Preciados – Callao
> CASA GONZALEZ: Calle de León 12 – Downtown
> LA QUESAERIA: Calle de Blasco de Garay 24 — Chamberi
1st: Featured image/Claudio Mollo
2nd:Cheese appetizer/Hotel Restaurant Via
3rd: Blue cheese/Luca Benigni
4th: Five cheeses/Philippe Germain
5th: Mercado San Miguel/Daniel Dionne via Flickr, CC BY-SA2.0, cropped
Born in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. Raised in Montreal, Canada. Relocated to Manhattan to attend New York University (1972 – 1978). There she lived with her Venetian paternal grandmother, a restaurateur and chef. This explains her profound adoration for fine epicurism.
Veteran Senior Correspondent & Publishing Journalist since 1978.
Editor for Conde Nast Publications, Manhattan, 1978-1992.
Gastronomic journalist project on the Aegean Islands in Greece.
Moved to her beloved Italy (1995 – 1998). Never returned to Manhattan to live.
Current: Writes for GUIDEPOST since 1999. Focus: Michelin and topnotch Food & Dessert Designers, Where to Dine in Madrid, her globe trotting adventures.