Spain Dining Guide: “Say Cheese…”

Spain may not be as famous in the cheese department as its neighboring country France, but it has a great variety of high-quality cheese. Due to the contrast in climate, geography, and culture, each region of Spain produces different types of cheese with its own unique characteristics. Let’s take a look at some of the most traditional cheese in Spain.

Mild-Flavored Cheeses

This type of cheese, with a light or mild flavor, is fresh and soft, made from cow’s milk that has not been altered or fermented and has not been cured or aged. Some of the best soft and creamy cheeses are produced in the region of Galicia, on the northwest coast of Spain. The Tetilla variety is a cone-shaped cheese that resembles a breast, hence its name is Spanish. It has a minimum maturation period of 7 days, although the usual period is between 10 and 30 days. It has a mild, slightly salty taste, a little acidic due to the characteristics of the milk used in its manufacture and its texture is creamy and smooth.

The city of Burgos, located in the region of Castilla y León, Spain, is home to one of the most recognized mild-flavor cheeses in the country. Burgos cheese is made with sheep’s milk, although nowadays it is harder to find so companies have opted for the use of cow’s milk or a mixture of both. In other to be considered authentic it must contain at least 5-10% sheep’s milk. Burgos cheese is soft and white, it has no rind and it tastes slightly buttery with certain salty touches.

Medium-Flavored Cheeses

This type of cheese is usually semi-cured and has been aged for two or three months. One of the best medium-flavored cheeses comes from Menorca, the second largest Balearic Island in Spain. Mahón cheese is made from raw cow’s milk and the curd is shaped into a square using a special cotton cloth. It is salty, spicy and has a nutty and fruity flavor and has been cured for 2 to 5 months.

Produced in the Extramadura region of Spain, Ibores cheese is made from the milk of native goats that are largely allowed to roam freely. The cheese is cured for a minimum of 3 months and the rinds are rubbed either with olive oil or sweet paprika, or a combination of the two. Although slightly salty, this cheese has a balanced flavor with notes of mushrooms and earth and a slight taste of sour cream.

Strong-Flavored Cheeses

Cabrales is one of the most famous types of strong-flavored cheese. Originally from Asturias in northern Spain, it is a blue cheese made with unpasteurized cow milk. The traditional version is blended with sheep and goat milk as well, which gives it added flavor. One peculiarity of this cheese is that it is cured in caves in the mountains of Picos de Europa, where chilly and humid conditions facilitate the growth of bluish-green penicillium mould. Curiously, € 10.250 were paid for a Cabrales cheese in 2019, which holds the record for the most expensive cheese in the world.

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