A Beginner’s Guide to Cabrales Cheese: How to Enjoy this Spanish Delicacy

A Beginner’s Guide to Cabrales Cheese: How to Enjoy this Spanish Delicacy

Are you a cheese lover looking to expand your palate? Look no further than Cabrales cheese, a traditional Spanish delicacy with a rich history and bold flavors. In this beginner’s guide, we will explore the origins of Cabrales cheese, its unique characteristics, and the best ways to savor this delicious cheese. Whether you’re a seasoned cheese connoisseur or a novice looking to try something new, Cabrales cheese is sure to impress your taste buds.

History and Origin of Cabrales Cheese

Cabrales cheese has a long and storied history that dates back centuries in the mountainous region of Asturias, Spain. Legend has it that the cheese was first created by shepherds who needed a way to preserve their milk during long journeys in the mountains. The cool, damp caves of the region provided the perfect environment for aging the cheese, leading to the unique blue mold that gives Cabrales its distinctive flavor.

Traditional production methods

The production of Cabrales cheese is a labor-intensive process that has remained largely unchanged for generations. The cheese is made from a blend of cow’s, sheep’s, and goat’s milk, which is curdled using natural rennet and then aged in caves for a minimum of two months. During this time, the cheese is regularly turned and brushed with a mixture of water and salt to encourage the growth of the blue mold that gives Cabrales its characteristic flavor.

Protected designation of origin

Cabrales cheese has been granted protected designation of origin (PDO) status, which means that only cheese made in the specific region of Asturias using traditional methods can be labeled as Cabrales. This designation ensures that the quality and authenticity of the cheese are maintained and helps to support the local economy and traditional way of life.

Varieties of Cabrales cheese

While traditional Cabrales cheese is made using a blend of cow’s, sheep’s, and goat’s milk, there are some variations on the classic recipe. Some producers use only cow’s milk or sheep’s milk to create a milder flavor, while others may add additional ingredients such as peppers or herbs for a unique twist. Regardless of the variation, all Cabrales cheese is known for its creamy texture, sharp flavor, and distinctive blue mold.

Characteristics and Flavor Profile

Texture and appearance

Cabrales cheese is a semi-hard cheese that is typically made from a blend of cow’s, sheep’s, and goat’s milk. It has a crumbly texture with blue veins running throughout, giving it a distinctive appearance. The cheese is aged in natural caves in the Picos de Europa mountains, which contributes to its unique texture and appearance.

Taste and aroma

Cabrales cheese has a bold and tangy flavor with a hint of spiciness. The blue veins in the cheese add a sharpness that is balanced by the creamy texture. The cheese has a strong aroma that is earthy and slightly pungent, making it a truly unforgettable sensory experience.

Pairing options

Cabrales cheese pairs well with a variety of accompaniments that help to enhance its flavors. Some popular pairing options include crusty bread, dried fruits, nuts, and honey. The cheese also pairs well with Spanish wines such as Rioja or sherry, as well as cider or port. For a more adventurous pairing, try Cabrales cheese with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or a spread of fig jam. The possibilities are endless when it comes to enjoying this Spanish delicacy.

How to Store and Serve Cabrales Cheese

Proper storage techniques

To ensure the best flavor and texture of Cabrales cheese, it is important to store it properly. Cabrales cheese should be kept in the refrigerator, ideally in the vegetable drawer or a cheese drawer if available. It is best to store Cabrales cheese in its original packaging or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out. Make sure to keep it away from strong-smelling foods as Cabrales cheese can easily absorb odors.

Recommended serving suggestions

Cabrales cheese is a versatile cheese that can be enjoyed in various ways. One popular way to serve Cabrales cheese is on a cheese platter with crackers, fresh fruits such as grapes or figs, and nuts. It can also be crumbled on top of salads or melted into dishes like pasta or risotto for a rich and creamy flavor. Cabrales cheese pairs well with Spanish wines such as Rioja or Sherry, as well as with cider or beer.

Tips for enhancing the flavor

To enhance the flavor of Cabrales cheese, consider serving it at room temperature to allow the flavors to fully develop. Before serving, let the cheese sit out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. To further enhance the flavor, drizzle the cheese with honey or a balsamic glaze, or serve it with a side of quince paste or a fruit compote. Experiment with different flavor combinations to find your favorite way to enjoy Cabrales cheese.

In conclusion, Cabrales cheese is a unique and flavorful Spanish delicacy that has been enjoyed for centuries. Whether you’re a cheese connoisseur or a beginner looking to expand your palate, Cabrales cheese is sure to impress with its bold flavors and rich history. By following the tips in this beginner’s guide, you can now confidently enjoy this delicious cheese in various ways, from pairing it with wine to incorporating it into your favorite dishes. So next time you’re looking for a taste of Spain, be sure to reach for a piece of Cabrales cheese and savor the authentic flavors of this special treat.