Cheese in Andalusia
Andalusia is a region in southern Spain that offers a rich and diverse gastronomy, including many varieties of cheese. In this page, you will learn about the history, production and curiosities of cheese in Andalusia.
Cheese making in Andalusia dates back to ancient times, when different civilizations such as the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians and the Greeks colonized the coast and introduced their techniques and traditions. The Romans also contributed to the development of cheese production in Andalusia, as they valued its quality and exported it to other parts of their empire. During the Middle Ages, cheese making was influenced by the Arab culture, which introduced new ingredients such as spices and honey. In modern times, cheese production in Andalusia has been regulated by different denominations of origin that protect its authenticity and diversity.
Cheese production in Andalusia is mainly based on goat's milk, as Andalusia is the main region in Spain for this type of milk. The most common breeds of goats are Malagueña, Murciano-Granadina and Payoya. The cheese dairies are usually located in mountainous areas or hillsides where the goats graze freely. The cheese making process involves coagulating the milk with rennet or other enzymes, separating the curd from the whey, pressing and salting the curd, and ripening it for different periods of time depending on the type of cheese. Some cheeses are also smoked or coated with herbs or spices to enhance their flavor.
Andalusian cheeses are mainly made with goat's or sheep's milk, as these animals are well adapted to the mountainous terrain and climate of the region. There are six endemic breeds of Andalusian goats: Malaga, Blanca Andaluza, Florida, Murciano-Granadina, Negra Serrana and Payota. There are also two breeds of sheep: Segurea and Merina. The cheeses can be fresh or cured, soft or hard, white or yellow, with or without rind. Some examples of Andalusian cheeses are:
- Cheese from Alpujarra: a soft mixed-milk cheese from Granada with a mild flavor and a cylindrical shape.
- Cheese from Antequera: a fresh goat's cheese from Malaga with little salt and a cylindrical shape weighing up to 3 kilos.
- Cheese from Aracena: a pungent goat's cheese from Huelva that can be eaten fresh or ripe and is preserved in olive oil.
- Cheese from Los Pedroches: a hard sheep's cheese from Cordoba with a grooved rind and a strong flavor.
- Cheese from Los Balanchares: a famous goat's cheese from Cordoba.
- Cheese from Ronda: an unctuous yellow goat's cheese from Malaga with small holes and a spicy flavor.
- Cheese from Sierra Sur: an artisanal goat's cheese from Jaen that is produced in small batches using traditional methods.
- Cheese from Zuheros: a blue-veined mixed-milk cheese (cow, sheep and goat)from Cordoba that is creamy and aromatic.
Some curiosities about cheese in Andalusia are:
- There are more than 40 types of cheese in Andalusia with different shapes, sizes, textures and flavors[^3^]. Some examples are: Queso de Cabra Payoya (a semi-hard goat's cheese from Cádiz), Queso de los Pedroches (a hard sheep's cheese from Córdoba), Queso de Alpujarra (a soft mixed-milk cheese from Granada) or Queso de Zuheros (a blue-veined cow's cheese from Córdoba).
- Some cheeses have been awarded with prestigious prizes such as World Cheese Awards or Great Taste Awards. For instance, Queso de Cabra Payoya won a gold medal at World Cheese Awards 2019, while Queso de los Pedroches won a two-star award at Great Taste Awards 2020.
- Cheese is often paired with other products from Andalusia such as wine, honey, jam or bread. For example, sherry wine goes well with cured cheeses such as Queso de Cabrales or Manchego, while honey complements fresh cheeses such as Queso Fresco or Ricotta.
If you want to enjoy cheese in Andalusia, you have many options to choose from. You can find cheese in any charcuterie shop, where you can buy it by weight or pre-packed. You can also order cheese platters or tapas in many bars and restaurants, where you can taste different varieties paired with wine or beer.
Other Spanish cheeses you can try
- Cabrales: a blue cheese from Asturias that is strong and spicy. It is made from a mixture of cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk and aged in natural caves.
- Manchego: a hard cheese from La Mancha that is nutty and buttery. It is made from sheep’s milk and has a distinctive cross-weave pattern on the rind.
- Tetilla: a soft cheese from Galicia that is mild and creamy. It is made from cow’s milk and has a pear-shaped form.
- Mahon: a semi-hard cheese from Menorca that is tangy and salty. It is made from cow’s milk and rubbed with paprika and oil during aging.
- Idiazabal: a smoked cheese from the Basque Country that is nutty and earthy. It is made from sheep’s milk and has a natural rind.
Where to eat cheese?
Here are some suggestions of places where you can eat cheese in Andalusia:
- Cafe - Bar La Cavea: A cozy bar in Cordoba that offers a wide selection of cheeses from Andalusia and other regions of Spain. You can order a cheese board with bread, jam and nuts, or try their cheese fondue with chorizo and mushrooms. (Map: https://goo.gl/maps/THUcsDVcEyGTgwDZ7)
- Fuerte Hoteles: A chain of hotels that have restaurants specialized in Andalusian cuisine. You can try their cheese menu, which includes a salad with goat's cheese and honey, a cream of sheep's cheese with truffle oil, a grilled cheese sandwich with ham and tomato jam, and a cheesecake with blueberry sauce. (Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ZJmM7wN9Rsc2Nfw67)
- El Pimpi: A famous restaurant in Malaga that serves traditional dishes with a modern twist. You can try their goat's cheese salad with nuts and raspberry vinaigrette, their baked brie with cranberry sauce, or their fried camembert with quince jelly. (Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ACXkornwZGpKMBE6A)
- Beach Bar Los Cuñados: A beach bar in Malaga that offers fresh seafood and grilled meats. You can also order their cheese platter, which includes goat's cheese from Ronda, sheep's cheese from Cabrales, cow's cheese from Zuheros and blue cheese from Asturias. (Map: https://goo.gl/maps/FhDxt7cdVn8SdgZn9)
We hope you enjoy your cheese experience in Andalusia with a good Spanish wine!
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