Spain might not be as famous for its cheeses like its northern neighbor France - mostly due to a lack of marketing - which is a pity because the Iberians make remarkably delicious examples of this dairy product. Spanish traditions of cheese production date back thousands of years. There are over 150 types of Spanish cheeses, here are the top 5 among them:
1. Arzúa-Ulloa - this pale yellow cheese hails from northwestern Spain - the region of Galicia. The rainy area is famous for its cattle, which are raised for 2 things - beef and cheese. Arzúa-Ulloa is soft and creamy. It's made from raw or pasteurized cow's milk which needs to mature at least 6 days. It possesses a supreme taste and is used to make many kinds of desserts.
2. Cabrales - this type of blue cheese has a specific sharp, yet superb, taste. It's produced in Asturias, in the region of the Bay of Biscay. Traditionally, Cabrales is made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk. After it curdles, it's left to age 4 months in the cool caves of the mountains of Picos de Europa. The cheese is rich in penicillin and since 2013 has carried the title of Spain's best cheese.
3. Manchego curado - this cheese is made in central Spain, the region of La Mancha. It is said that the production technique has remained the same since the Bronze Age. To make it, they use the milk of a sheep breed found only in that region - the Manchega sheep. After the milk curdles, it's left to sit in salted water for about 1 year. The cheese crystallizes, giving it its unique taste.
4. Mahón - the white cheese is made on the island of Minorca. It takes a minimum of 4 months to make it. The source of milk is cows. After it curdles, it's shaped into a square using a special cotton fabric. It's left to dry in a dry, ventilated area. Salty Mediterranean winds infuse the cheese with a very mild aroma and taste, reminding of the sea.
5. Herreño - many experts are unanimous that this smoked cheese is the best in the world. It's produced on the Canary Islands, primarily from goat's milk with a 15% mixture of cow's. Once shaped into a cheese wheel it's smoked with the glowing embers of figs and the stems of the prickly pear cactus. It has a soft taste. It's most delicious when sprinkled with palm honey.