A varied and rich natural environment plus centuries-old traditions of handicraft are the secret to the abundance of cheeses in Spain. Very often, cheeses are made by small companies of enthusiasts who boldly supplement the foundations of the craft with innovative solutions. In this issue, we will meet with representatives of the industry that is Spain's pride. Local cheese making is one of the largest in Europe; the country produces up to half a million tons of cheese annually. Our journey includes three stops: a farm in Castile-La Mancha, a cheese dairy in Galicia and a unique production in Madrid.
Castile La Mancha, region of the famous Spanish hero-romance: Don Quixote. The visiting card of local farmers is manchego cheese, nicknamed royal.
Manchego is a semi-hard cheese made from the milk of sheep of the same breed. Spain is today the second largest producer of sheep cheese in the EU.
We drive to the manchego farm in Ciudad Real, which has won several prestigious awards. It turns out that the rich taste of the “king of cheeses” is directly related to the peculiarity of the local pastures. Dario Llado, director of the cheese workshop, says: “It all starts here in the meadow. This is a very, very important part of the process. Sheep graze every day, their milk takes on a special aroma of the herbs growing here. Milking is done twice a day: morning and afternoon. We process milk for manchego right away, first cool it to 4 degrees, then heat it up to 32 degrees, we get yogurt. ”
Then it is separated, the squeezed mass is manually poured into compression molds. Cheese makers monitor the quality of each piece of cheese, special techniques and technologies allow you to check how the cheese ripens,
New Old Business We are heading towards Galicia, a region where cheese is truly sacred. The maritime region in northwest Spain is famous for dairy products: Galicia provides about a third of all cow's milk produced in Spain. A new generation of entrepreneurs is using delicious milk to make traditional cheeses. This will diversify the region's small business.
Xesus Mazaira, manager of Airas, explains: “We are trying to revitalize the region. Our land, terroir is the basis of everything. Take the local meadows, our fertile climate in the heart of Galicia, the Ribeira Sacra vineyards. We want to transfer to the cheeses all the energy of this zone.”
Cheese Passion We are in Madrid to visit a shop that stocks only Spanish cheeses. Host, Jose Luis Martin, master cheese maker and sommelier. He believes that a real cheese revolution is taking place in the country today.
“Spain is not one of those countries that are famous for cheeses, especially at the international level,” says Martin. “Everyone knows our manchego, but we have 28 patented unique names and about 200 varieties of cheese! Over the past ten years, new producers have appeared in the country. : masters from other industries and professions, people in love with cheese. The same trend is observed in winemaking. It is these farmers who create new products, introduce innovations. Today you can find soft goat and sheep cheese, it was unthinkable before! ”
The journalists are lucky: the sommelier makes a harmonious cheese plate for them. And he reminds: “We in Spain say:” Grapes with cheese are sweet as a kiss. ”
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