No, Spain is not the host country of Cheese this year but, after the country’s success at the 2015 event, this year Spanish sheep’s milk cheese producers will be out in full force among the Market’s stalls, so much so that we recommend that you to start your visit to Cheese with the products of this country.
Finding them is easy: after leaving the train station, if you came by train, you’ll find them to the right of Piazza Roma. In this article, we want to give you some more ideas so you can get to know this new area of the Cheese Market.
From Barcelona there is Ardai – “Cheeses without Borders” –, one of the region’s most renowned cheese distributors with a catalog of over 200 cheeses, including both Spanish cheeses and cheeses from other countries, and other products carefully selected by Amagoia Anda and Enric Canut, two highly experienced cheese veterans.
Among their offerings, one highlight is the Tortita de oveja Pico Melero, a raw milk pecorino with vegetable rennet that is aged for a month and a half, or Mahón Menorca PDO, produced by Meloussa, a new and interesting cooperative of cheese-makers that collectively ripens cheeses on the island of Menorca.
Among the cow’s milk cheeses, there are the products of Tros de Sort, a young producers’ project in the Catalan High Pyrenees whose Tou dels Til·lers is the first raw cow’s milk cheese to have obtained health registration in Spain. Listing all the products that will be in Bra would be too difficult, but we should also mention Curado de Cabra de Montefrío, produced at an altitude of 1000 meters in the Andalusian mountains north of Granada.
Headed up by Rita and German, brothers who are carrying on the family tradition, Cortes de Muar is a company from Silleda in Galicia. They make cheese from the milk of pasture-fed cows according to family recipes. Not without some surprises, though. Rita and German constantly experiment with new techniques and new ripening processes, which have led them to come up with products such as Marigold or Marianne, two “new” products strongly inspired by the past.
Cabezuela also comes from the Madrid region, from a place in the middle of nowhere, not far from San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Of the cheeses that will be at Cheese, we should mention Cervezuela, which is aged in artisan beer and has an intense flavor reminiscent of fruit and bitter hops, or Mr Roy, an English-inspired cheddar made from goat’s milk and aged for 6/8 months. If you prefer something very fresh instead, we’d recommend Feta-lo peta.
Manchego BIO is a company that has been dedicated to organic farming for over half a century and specializes in rearing native La Manca sheep at the Finca Fuentillezjos. Although the sheep produce very small quantities of milk, they are perfectly suited to this land and perfectly lend themselves to organic cheese production for a natural product that the company has had the courage to highlight and promote ahead of other products.
In the south-east of the country, in Fuente Álamo, La Queseria produces cheeses from the milk of Murcia-Granada goats and Manchega sheep. In addition to the milk they produce themselves, the owners also use milk from selected family-run farms in the area to give a fresh impetus to local farming. This is a project that involves 360-degree sustainability.
La Queseria La Antigua de Fuentesaúco, on the other hand, specializes in making pecorino. One such cheese is Vellón de Fuentesaúco, which is made with raw milk from Churra and Castellana sheep, native breeds from the province of Zamora, and soaked in olive oil during aging. If you try it, expect floral (honey, rose, violet, etc.) and fruity aromas (hazelnut, walnut, chestnut, orange, etc.). Other curiosities to be sampled include pecorino aged with Tempranillo grape skins or pecorino aged in rosemary…
And then there is Quesos Cerrón with 30 years of history behind it, which was started when Juani and Juan Jose founded their company with the aim of safeguarding the local cheese-making tradition handed down through families according to principles of quality and authenticity. And this tradition is set to continue, as the couple’s three sons work in the family business, bringing their fresh and original approach.
From Finca Pascualete, which has won numerous prestigious awards, there is a soft pecorino made with thistle rennet. It has an intense, rounded and sharp flavor but with no hint of bitterness.
Rey Silo takes us to Asturia, where the grassy pasture dotted with wild flowers is turned into rich and creamy milk, which the cheese-makers use to make their raw cow’s milk cheese, which ripens in the cellars of Pravia, along the banks of the River Nalón. Rey Silo has a conical shape and weighs between 240 and 280 grams. It develops a natural crust with a texture that varies depending on how long the cheese is aged for.
Also among the various exhibitors is Remedios Carrasco, a Slow Food member and coordinator of QueRed, the Spanish artisan cheese-makers network, who works in Spain in accordance with the demands of a wider European network of small-scale producers, the FACE Network, which is committed to obtaining improvements in the law to lift the legal barriers imposed on artisan dairy products. In recent years, the FACE Network has developed a guide on good hygiene practices for artisan production of cheese and dairy products in general. Not long ago, we interviewed them and asked them to talk about the current situation of raw milk cheeses in Spain. You can find the complete interview here. Remedios’s stand will feature three QueRed cheese-makers: Mare Nostrum, from Andalusia, Campo-Capela from Galicia, and Moncedillo from Castile and León.
From Catalonia, Reixagó will delight you with the cheese that bears its name, a hard, long-aged cheese with an almost fruity flavor at the center and tangy near the crust,. For them, cheese has been a kind of light on the road to Damascus. In fact, until a few years ago, the company did not specialize in dairy production, a decision which came to give them a better income and more job satisfaction. The proof can be tasted in all Reixagó’s cheeses.
What more can we say? Try starting your visit to Cheese in Spain and, if you realize that you can no longer do without the country’s dairy delights, you can stay longer and visit Poncelet on Affineur Avenue. And don’t forget the event on Saturday, September 16 at 1.30 p.m. in the Biodiversity House. Come to Spain’s Heroes and meet the many producers you’ll find among the market stalls.
Cheese is an event organized by Slow Food and the City of Bra. To discover what we do, visit slowfood.com.