Fifty Best Cheese
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Cheese has been enjoyed for hundreds of years, but only recently has there been a resurgence, enhanced by new artisanal cheese producers from all over the world.


Here are the fifty best cheese classics and newcomers, listed alphabetically from 9 different countries.

 

  Country: Spain  

Roncal
Navarre, Spain
Spanish DO status, EU PDO

3 millennia of unbroken tradition can't be wrong. In the olden times, 13 villages in the Roncal valley of Navarre got together and decided THEY made the cheese around these parts, and no one else. 3000 years later, neither this fact nor the recipe has changed much. It's a good thing. The cheese is the peak of sheep's milk. It smells like hot buttered popcorn, and tastes perfectly full and meaty with a lightly nutty character. The flavor lingers and builds in the mouth long after the cheese is gone. This is Manchego's older, badass brother, and a testament to the adage: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Roncal

 

  Country: Spain  

Mahon
Minorca, Spain
Spanish DO; EU PDO

Mahon is one of the most under-sung cheeses in the world. The simple cow's milk cheese may not be much to rave about during the first few months of its life, but after a year spent in the caves of the island's ripener/gatherers, the cheese blossoms into a full, fruity, sharp marvel.

Mahon

 

  Country: Spain  
Leonora

Leonora
La Mancha, Spain

Central Spanish goat cheese has become a force to be reckoned with in recent years. The rough and sparse landscape is an ideal environment for the creation of creamy goat cheeses with an exceedingly tart note. Leonora is the newcomer to the family, but is rapidly eclipsing the others in terms of consistency. The flavor is always bright, clean, and the texture a perfect balance of whipped and crumbly.

 

  Country: Spain  

Cabrales
Asturias, Spain
Spanish DO, EU PDO

This blue will hold your tongue down and make it say uncle. Cabrales is the classic Spanish blue, and the prince of the Austurian cheeses, which include a cabal of wicked little blues. The best versions are made with a blend of goat, cow, and sheep's milk, and are so extensively blued, that they seem to be more mold than cheese. This is almost always the final cheese in a given tasting order. Each bite is an aromatic blast of salt and pepper.

Cabrales

 

  Country: Spain  

Montcabrer
Catalonia, Spain
Made by Can Pujol

Usually, goat's milk makes relatively tart cheese. Montcabrer eschews traditional flavor and starts to taste almost like a sturdier cow's milk cheese. The cheese still has a lactic bite, but is also rather sumptuous and unctuous. Of course the goat's milk still adds its own unmistakable touch. This is definitely a cheese for goat lovers looking for new flavors.

Montcabrer

 

  Country: Spain  

La Serena
Extramadura, Spain
Spanish DO, EU PDO

The unctuous sheep cheeses made in the rough wilds of the Spanish/Portuguese border have a peculiar quality. The addition of Cardoon thistle, the only naturally occurring vegetable rennet, creates a sensationally strong flavor, and super runny texture. The cheese has a strong acrid smell, and a slightly vinegary taste. This one often has a citric bitterness, like lime rinds.

La Serena Cheese

 

  Country: Spain  

Ibores
Extramadura, Spain

The rustic perfection of this Spanish classic is unrivaled among its fellow goat tommes. The flavors of Spain's rough and wild west are all here in a flinty, slightly goaty cheese. The flavor is round and olivey, and goes with a wide variety of wines, charcuterie, and other cheese accompaniments.

Ibores

 

  Country: Spain  

Nevat de Oveja
Catalonia, Spain
Made by Can Pujol

Nevat is usually a goat's milk cheese. The goat's milk version is certainly pleasant enough, but the recipe is designed to highlight the power of sheep's milk. The flavor is mellow and unassuming, but if you let a piece of the chalky middle or creamy edge linger on your tongue, the taste will stay and caress your mouth for an eternity.

Nevat de Oveja

 



 
Fifty Best > Food > Cheese
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