Whether it's made with cow, sheep or goats' milk, or is fresh, matured or creamy, there are many types of Spanish cheese to please even the finest of taste buds. Spanish cheese-making traditions go back thousands of years, meaning that trying some of the best cheese in Spain, known in Spain as "queso", is also a chance to learn about the rich history on offer in the country. It's time to start this tasty tour where we will discover the best cheese in Spain that you can't miss.
Cabrales: Picos de Europa
Cabrales is a Spanish blue cheese which has a rather strong flavour. A pungent cheese like cabrales is loved and hated in equal parts, and is known for being one of the most fragrant in the blue cheese family. This cheese has had PDO status (Protected designation of origin) since 1981 and its production is centred in the Spanish region of Asturias in the Picos de Europa in Northern Spain.
The origin of cabrales is related to the long seasons that the shepherds spent in the high mountain pastures with their cattle, from when the snow let the grass be seen to feed the cattle until it was covered again. In these circumstances, cheese was the solution for the use of milk over long periods of time.
Torta del Casar: Extremadura
This cheese is from Spain's Extremadura region and is a pretty unique Spanish cheese. Torta del Casar grabs the attention of those who try it for the first time, as the rind has a unique consistency which leads to a very creamy cheese.
Torta del Casar is produced in the southern area of Cáceres from sheep's milk and, due to its creamy texture, is ideal for spreading on anything you wish. Therefore, apart from choosing a good piece of Torta del Casar, it is advisable to try it with some fresh bread. This cheese is traditionally eaten by slicing off the top and scooping out the inside, and our advice is to choose fresh crusty bread and also accompany it with sweet wine or a good port.
Idiazabal: the Basque Country and Navarre
Idiazabal cheese is a typical cheese from Navarre and the Basque Country and is one of the best cheeses in Northern Spain. It is produced only from milk from 2 types of sheep, Latxa and Carranzana, and it has been given European Gastronomic Heritage status.
Its flavour is strong and intense, with a slightly spicy aftertaste. Pieces can weigh up to 3kg and you can also purchase smoked variety that usually provides a unique woody flavour from the wood with which it is smoked. Experts say that the best thing to do is to accompany this Spanish cheese with a good wine from La Rioja.
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Palmero cheese: La Palma
What decades ago was a simple food for fishermen on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands is today a local delicacy: Queso Palmero or the cheese of La Palma.
Palmero cheese is still produced by hand and has had Denomination of Origin protection for 15 years and is made exclusively from goat's milk from the island. This cheese is also made in a unique way, as it is smoked by burning Canary Island pine, almond shells and dried cactus, giving the cheese a very particular and special flavour which you'll want to try for yourself.
This cheese comes in several varieties to suit all tastes, from fresh, which is very thin, to matured, which is generally a little thicker.
Maó cheese: Menorca
This cheese is one of the star products in the Balearic Island of Menorca and is one of the best Spanish cheeses. Such is the tradition and history of Mahón or Maó cheese on the island of Menorca that it is said to date back to the year 3000 BC.
Named after the town and natural port of Maó (known as Mahón in Spanish), this cheese is made from cow's milk. The matured variety of this cheese stands out for its long lasting flavour and its marked wood-like taste and you'll certainly want to try this cheese from one of the most respected dairy plants in Europe.