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Peter B Wolf

Cheeses of Spain & Portugal

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A short visit to my Brother-in-Law outside Madrid got me to a fine Cheese Store in Madrid. They not only advise (Spanish only) but let you taste as much as you want and can handle. I purchased five different cheeses: Garrotxa, Idiazabel, Manchego, Zamorano (Toro) and another, forgot name. Each piece weighed appr. 1.5 kilo, with an average price of 15.00 Euro per kilo. After wrapping in the appropriate 'Cheese Paper', they vacuum sealed each piece in a very heavy duty plastic for travel and preservation. No charge!. I had all these cheeses plus some canned Ventresca Tuna and my favorit "elxillo" Anchovies in a suitcase with clothes. I declared on my customs form all to what they were, and did not have to open any suitcase at Logan/Boston.

The place in Madrid is: Jamoneria - Carniceria - Quesos "Bruselas", Avenida de Bruselas 49, Tel: 913-567-498,

Something else, here is a good web site for Spanish Cheeses:

http://www.cheesefromspain.com/CFS/Guide/C...hestabInd_I.htm


Peter

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You were very fortunate. I was behind a woman in the customs line returning from Spain and they actually confiscated canned asparagus from her luggage. My sister had to forfeit canned pate that she purchased in France on her trip.

I confess, I did not claim the jamon and sausages or the olives I returned with from Spain. Too risky.

Enjoy your Manchego - it's divine.


"Never eat more than you can lift" -- Miss Piggy

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You were very fortunate.  I was behind a woman in the customs line returning from Spain and they actually confiscated canned asparagus from her luggage.  My sister had to forfeit canned pate that she purchased in France on her trip. 

I confess, I did not claim the jamon and sausages or the olives I returned with from Spain.  Too risky.

Enjoy your Manchego - it's divine.

Could you please state which customs (i.e. what country). There are a few countries in the World you know!

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I declared my stuff on the back of the white form as: Cheese, hard, aged over 60 days, vacuum packed, for personal consumption, (and weight plus cost / with receipt of purchase)

I was not lucky!!, It is the law. Cheeses, even raw milk ones, are allowed, as long they are aged over 60 days, vacuum packed and declared.

Don't know if the Airline used is of importance, mine was Air France, and my departure point was Paris !!??

There are no meat products of any kind allowed, canned, raw, cooked or otherwise (Pate, Ham, Sausages).

I would have protested the taken canned Asparagus. I would have insisted on a receipt with items taken as listed, plus agents Name Printed and signature!, badge number, date, time, Airline and flight # . ......and then filed a complaint with customs, cc to BBB and Attorney General.


Peter

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Could you please state which customs (i.e. what country). There are a few countries in the World you know!

So sorry, I assumed since the originator of this topic is from Maine, we were discussing US Customs.


"Never eat more than you can lift" -- Miss Piggy

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It's good to remember that new users don't always have as much familarity with the membership in general as those of us who have been around a while.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I posted on this subject in the Regional Foods forum, admittedly slightly off-topic, so am acting on FG's hint. I would be most interested in vserna's feedback on my questions here. Please note that I am not posting about the relative merit of Spanish cheeses vs. French cheeses or any other such nonsense. However, for those who would assert that Spanish cheeses are all rather similar, I would venture to say that requeson, torta del casar, manchego, montenebro, cabrales - just to mention the first 5 that enter my head - couldn't be more varied in style.

Here is the original post:

QUOTE (vserna @ Feb 16 2003, 09:47 PM)

Here are the 81 most common cheeses in Spain. According to what I've read, they're mostly manchego in disguise. Amazing how they can disguise them - small, big, cow, ewe, goat, hard, soft, cured... Yet, as you've heard here, they're all manchego.

81 Spanish cheeses, actually all of them tasting like manchego.

Vanessa:

Now this is getting interesting. Before you posted this, I just got off the shelf Simone Ortega's 'Tabla de Quesos Espanoles'. A book I think you have some knowledge of, judging by the list of contributors :wink: . This was published exactly 20 years ago. In the introduction the author states that there are 115 named varieties of Spanish cheeses, plus a number of unnamed varieties, adding up to an estimated total of 150, not counting Spanish-produced imitations of foreign cheeses.

The web-site you have linked to gives 81 varieties, but perhaps does not include the more unusual?

When I go to the web-site of UK's best importer of Spanish foods, Brindisa, I note that the majority of the 11 cheeses they list are not included in Simone Ortega's book. I haven't compared them to the 81 varieties listing.

So, my questions are: has the variety of cheeses in Spain increased or decreased over the last 20 years? Is it that some have acquired names or new names, while others have fallen by the wayside? In the UK the case is that we now have innumerable cheeses which did not exist 20 years ago - a true renaissance of cheese. Has overall quality of cheese in Spain improved?

v

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Please note that I am not posting about the relative merit of Spanish cheeses vs. French cheeses or any other such nonsense.

Well put Vanessa. :wink:

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Currently, if I had to make a list of my ten favorite cheeses in the world, there's little question but that I'd put the following Spanish cheeses on it:

Afuega'l Pitu

Cabrales

Torta del Casar

Obviously, there is variation from specimen to specimen. But a good example of any of the above is guaranteed to be a world-beater.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have been wanting to try Torta del Casar.  You eat with spoon, correct?

Yes, definitely. I had one brought me as a present from Spain some time ago. When ripe the inside goes completely liquid so the sides of the cheese come wrapped in cloth to keep the whole thing together. Very good although a bit too much for me. Best for a large household - I think it is a traditional Xmas thing. There are several similar Spanish cheeses with slightly different names. Very similar also to Portuguese Queijo de Serra (cue Chloe..)

v

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One of my current favorites is Majorero, a hard goats' milk cheese from Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands (does that count as Spanish?) In the past few months I've also purchased Garrotxa, Manchego, and Mahon. I liked the Mahon, *loved* the others. They're all in the regular rotation now. Instead of membrillo, I serve guava paste (Goya) alongside.


Edited by Blondie (log)

Sometimes When You Are Right, You Can Still Be Wrong. ~De La Vega

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Ossau-Irraraty is excellent. For our New Year's appetizer cheese plate, we had that for sheep, Humboldt Fog for goat, and Mimmollette for cow.


beachfan

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Ossau-Irraraty? Is that from the French side of the Pyrenees or the Spanish side? For your appetizer cheese plate? Just when I thought Americans were becoming civilized and having cheese before dessert as the French do. :biggrin:


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I think it's Ossau-Iraty and I know it's French.

Vanessa: Afuega'l Pitu in Spanish means something like, "This bad-ass cheese is going to burn your gullet when you eat it." Actually I've read that it means "fire in your gut" -- for real. It's a raw cow's milk cheese I can't remember from which region (Hell?) and it's just about the most hardcore cheese you're going to find on the open market. It's the kind of cheese where they guy at the cheese shop says, "You sure you can handle this cheese, man?" The cheese would be pretty extreme on its own, but it also has red pepper added to the cheese, and more rubbed into the orange-ish rind for good measure. But the interesting thing is that fire is not the predominant component. If you get a good piece it will actually have a nutty flavor that's even stronger than the pepper flavor. I don't think in a million years I'd guess it was a cow's milk cheese.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Fat boy, sorry i don't speak english well, but i'll tell something about afuega'l pitu cheese.

Afuega'l Pitu is from Asturias region, in the north of Spain, a very rainy mountain region where cows can eat a lot of different grass and cheeses take notes of flowers, dry fruits, etc. The cheese you taste is just one of the two varieties of Afuega'l Pitu you can choose; the other one is similar shape, but troncoconic, not like a bag, it's white not red and it has no pepper or hot at all and the lactic taste from lactic and a little enzimatic coagulation provides the cheese a little acid arome.

In the other side, Ossau-Iraty is certainly a french cheese, but very similar to the other side of the Pyrenees (the spanish one) cheeses. Specially 'Roncal' cheese, made of sheep milk is highly recommended. Roncal cheese has a shape similar to Manchego but it is made with milk of two sheep races of that region: lacha y rassa, very different of 'manchega' sheep race. It has a maturation of 9 months or more.

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Madrileno - thank you for an informative post and welcome. Hope to hear more from you. Also a new topic from you on the subject of Madrid tapas would be really appreciated :wink:

v

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Fat boy, sorry i don't speak english well, but i'll tell something about afuega'l pitu cheese.

Your English is better than that of most of my friends here in New York City! Stick around and keep educating us. Welcome.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm bringing this post up again in the hope of some input from vserna, which was the reason I started it in the first place. A return visit from Madrileno would be much appreciated as well.

Further to the points I raised previously, I have noticed that my Spanish friends rave about British cheeses but don't seem so enthusiastic about their own native cheeses. Is this simply the case of the grass being greener over the channel, or a general lack of appreciation in Spain of their own cheeses. Or, perhaps, as mentioned by someone here on e-gullet, a lack of a really appropriate 'forum' within the context of the Spanish way of eating, for the proper appreciation of cheese. To put it in a simpler way: at what meal, at what stage in the meal, and in what form do the Spanish generally eat cheese. Or is it a snack thing?

v

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I think it's Ossau-Iraty and I know it's French.

Hmmm, maybe that's why it's so good.


beachfan

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Cheese is normally eaten in Spain as a starter or appetizer. It will normally be a plate of the same kind of cheese. A lot of bars and restaurants serve cheese boards with maybe 4 or 5 types of cheese. Small circular goat´s cheeses are heated in the oven with a little olive oil and herbs such as oregano sprinkled on them. This cheese is then eaten spread on bread or small pieces of toast. Small cheeses or slices are also sold in jars in olive oil. Fresh cheese is used in a lot of salads and is served as a dessert with quince jelly

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