Cheese From Spain

Category: CFS

Tetilla

Tetilla – The word “tetilla” (meaning “small breast”) clearly defines the traditional shape of this cheese, that is, a flattened pear-shaped cone with a small nipple on the top.

This is the most characteristic cheese from Galicia, easily recognized by its shape and smooth, fine, yellow straw-colored rind.

The soft paste, thick and smooth with few air pockets, is very creamy on the palate. The flavor is clean and smooth. This cheese can be eaten at any time during the day. It is also suitable for cooking, especially as stuffing and in recipes calling for coating as it melts easily with heat.

It is the most popular traditional cheese in Galicia, although it is also known and appreciated in the rest of Spain.

Galicia’s rural landscape is dotted with small villages and farms scattered across the province. The undulating topography and template, humid maritime climate has converted northwestern Spain (Finis Terrae) into a perennial and continuous meadow.

A predominantly farming culture, Galicia is the Spanish autonomous region with the highest production of cow’s milk. In each corner of the region, one can find cheese-makers producing Galician Tetilla cheese.

Labeled “Denominación de Origen Protegida” (D.O.P.)

Origin:

Today Tetilla is produced in all Galicia.
Originally it was produced, by artisanal methods, in the following southern towns of the province of La Coruña and northern towns of the province of Pontevedra: Curtis, Sobrado dos Monxes, Arzúa y Melide.

Characteristics:

The production process is similar to the Arzua or the Ulloa Cheeses. However, the shape is similar to the San Simon Cheese, due to the use of the molds, (” cuncas “) originally wooden, with a cone or semi-sphere shape.

raditionally, the milk used in the production of the cheese had to be from the rubia gallega cow breed. This breed produces a small amount of milk, but of superior quality.

Today, the traditional artisan production in small farms coexists with the industrial production. This factory production is possible thanks to the enthusiastic participation of young generations and the use of simple industrial techniques combined with the traditional methods. Industrially produced cheese is made with pasteurized milk. These cheeses have a texture closer to that of pressed paste.
Improved production methods have resulted in the avaliability of the Tetilla cheeses not only in the traditional local markets but in the international markets as well.

Production process:

Tetilla cheese is also called Queso de Perilla, Queso de Teta, Queso de Teta de Vaca, o Queso Gallego de Teta, all referring to its characteristic shape.

It is an aged cheese, from soft to semi-cured, made with cows´milk. It is made by mixed coagulation, although mostly enzimatic. The paste is compact but soft, and uncooked.

The milk used must be whole, unpasteurized or pasteurized, and usually is the combination of milks obtained in two consecutive milkings. The mixed coagulation is achieved by adding curdle (presoiro) at a temperature of 28 to 32 ºC (82 to 89ºF), resulting in a soft compact curdle after 1 to 2 hours.

This curdle must be softly cut into medium size lumps. The resulting lumpy paste is then compacted by hand, or smoothly pressed. The artisanal salting process is done on the milk or the curdle. Industrially produced cheeses are salted externally, by rubbing with dry salt or by immersing the cheeses in highly salted water.

The cheeses are then left to air in a fresh and slightly humid room for at least one week. Alternatively the cheeses may be scalded in hot salted water to obtain a closed, clean, waxy rind. The cheese inside is closed, compact, of a ivory-white or pale-yellow color. The cut is smooth, creamy, even spreadable. The taste is buttery, but not salty, and melts easily in the mouth.

The Tetilla cheeses have a cone shape, reminiscent of a half pear, or half a sphere topped by a little nipple. The size goes from small to medium, with weights ranging from 1 1/2 to 3 lb. (.75 to 1.5 Kg.)

Uses:

Tetilla cheese is a favorite among childen, they love it with crackers, fruit or with quince paste.

It melts beautifully for sandwiches or sauces. Try it tucked inside a baked potato or a frankfurter.

It’s perfect to spread over plain bread ond over raisin-nut bread.

The creamy, soft and mild-flavored taste of the cheese combines perfectly with the slight sweetness of the Pale Cream. The wine subtly recovers the delicate flavor of the Tetilla.

Recipe:

Eggplants with Tetilla Cheese

Serves 4

4 eggplants of similar size
250 gr (1/2 lb.) Tetilla cheese
8 Tbsp olive oil
1 kg (2 lb.) tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1 large onion
1 small green pepper
50 gr (1 ounce) Ibérico cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Tarragon
Pinch of Sugar

Finely chop half the onion and sauté in half the oil. Wash the tomatoes, chop and fry on top of the onion until any water has evaporated (about 20 minutes). Sieve and season with salt, pepper and finely chopped tarragon (adding a pinch of sugar, if necessary, to counter the acidity of the tomatoes).

Wash the eggplants and cut into two, lengthwise. Blanch in salted boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain face down on kitchen paper. Remove the pulp with a teaspoon, setting aside the empty shells. In the rest of the oil, fry the finely chopped garlic clove and remaining onion together with the washed and chopped pepper. Add the eggplant pulp, diced Tetilla cheese and two tablespoon of the tomato sauce.

Season with salt, pepper and chopped tarragon. Fill the eggplant shells, sprinkle with grated cheese and brown in the oven. Serve hot with tomato sauce sprinkled with cheese and chopped tarragon.

Recommended Wine:

Young red Cencibel, D.O. La Mancha.

Cow Milk Cheeses

 

  • The north of Spain is a vast extension of mountain land, of over 100Km (621 Miles), from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, spreading out to a total area of 125,000 km2 or (48,000 square miles). The western half is dominated by the Cantabric Mountains, from Galicia to the Basque Country, and the eastern half by the Pyrenees, in Navarra, Aragon and Catalonia, creating the natural border with France.

  • The climate is Atlantic and continental with alpine conditions at the highest points, abundant rainfall and cool to extreme temperatures. This part of country is green all year round, its rich pastures provides a source of food for the herds of cows and flocks of sheep kept here.

  • These geographical and climatic conditions describe this environment as a “highland” or “pastoral culture”. Spain as a whole produces a hundred or more different cheeses; more than half come from the northwest of Spain.

  • Galicia

    • This gentle mountain landscape and tranquil valleys produce 4 types of cow’s milk cheese. Central Galicia is known for its Tetilla Gallega, (named for its flattened breast- like shape), and for Ulloa and Arzúa. Both are soft, short matured cheeses, smooth and soft inside and ranging from elastic to sticky in texture. They are light in flavor and very slightly salted. Their reputation has spread and they are now in demand all over Spain. They owe all this to the sweetish dense, fatty milk yielded by the native breed of dairy cow named the “Rubia Gallega” ( Galician Blonde)

    • The western foothills of the Cordillera Cantábrica, produce two other cows’ milk cheeses, San Simón, made around Villalba and Cebreiro, made near the high mountain passes of Piedrafita and Becerréa, both in the province of Lugo. San Simón is a soft to semi-hard cheese with an intense flavor. It is recognizable by its cannon ball shaped topped with a nipple, by its gently birch-wood smoked brownish exterior, waxy rind and unmistakable smell. 

    • Cebreiro is an unusual rural farmhouse cheese, in very small quantities. Shaped like a chef’s hat, it is drier in texture, compact and granular though it can sometimes be spreadable. 

  • Asturias. Time -honored cheeses.

    • Beyond the northern slopes of the Cantábrica range, lies the Principality of Asturias. It is regarded as an enduring bastion of basic values & traditions of Spain. The inaccessibility of this mountainous territory, wedged as it is between the ocean and the high mountains which separate it from the central meseta, has kept it unspoiled and with its traditions intact. This is also why it is Spain’s richest cheese producing area today.

    • An area of 10,000 km2 or (3,861 square miles) boasts almost 30 varieties of cheeses. They include pressed, semi-cooked and medium to long matured ones such as Taramundi; fresh, lactic, buttery cheeses such as Porrúa and Vidiago; soft , washed-rind ones such as Peñamellera; several blue cheeses such as La Peral, Gamonedo and the well known Cabrales.

    • There are two very ancient cheeses in the region. One is Afuega’l pitu, a fresh soft cheese made by lactic coagulation and molded or pressed by hand. The other is the Casin , a farm house cheese made in the Campo de Caso area with a very fatty dense milk. It is pressed several times with a special roller, ending up as a fine-grained sandy textured cheese, piquant in flavor and cylindrical in shape.

  • Picos de Europa: A natural national park of cheeses.

    • On the eastern edge of Asturias, straddling the provinces of Cantabria and Leon, the Cantábrica range develops into the huge limestone mass known as Picos de Europa. Over 100 Km or (62 miles), the channel of the River Cares traverses them. The Picos de Europa are the foothills to the highest pastureland, for over twenty varieties of cheeses.
      Beginning with the most important blues: Cabrales made of raw milk of a blend of cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milks.

    • Picón, a close relative of Cabrales is made in the Cantabrian villages of Bejes and Tresviso. Gamonedo, another farm house cheese is of a big format (each weighs over 8 lbs), gently smoked for a month and then matured in natural caves, until interior mold develops. The last one of this group is Picón de Valdeón, made in the Posada de Valdeón area, on the southern slopes of the Picos. 

    • The cheeses are soft inside, some spreadably and others crumbly, and when cut reveal little galleries and caverns inhabited by the greenish-blue mold which gives them their characteristic strong big complex flavor. 

    • In the Liébana area we find the Quesucos, in fresh form from Pido and smoked from Aliva.(two villages at the source of the River Deva). The fresh Pido cheese is soft and spreadable, much like a petit-suisse.

    • The smoked Aliva made originally from goat’s milk, is now made with predominantly cows’ milk. It’s soft though dense, close textured cheese with an acidic, buttery flavor and a delicate aftertaste left by juniper smoke. Quesucos are made in Liébana and throughout Cantabria, part of Asturias and in Las Encartaciones (Basque Country). They are simple little soft cheeses with an honest flavor of cow’s or blended milks produced by fresh pasture grazing.

  • Soft creamy Cheeses

    • Cantabria produces another cow’s milk cheese named Queso de nata (cream cheese), it is smooth and soft, melts on the palate and tastes strongly of fermented cream.

    • There is also a unique cheese known as Garmillas, formerly called unpressed Pasiego. It used to be made in the Pas valley in the central eastern area of Santander, made only for the local market, its delicacy and short keeping capacity have caused it now to wane in popularity almost to the point of extinction. Nevertheless, anyone who can get to the area should be sure to try this flat, irregularly shaped disc, with its fine rind patterned with the imprint of the “cerbellanes” or twigs.

    • The flavor is sweetish and complex, light but intense, and aromatic.
      The cheeses produced in the Basque Country and Navarre are predominantly matured sheep’s milk cheeses, sometimes smoked. Even though in the areas around centers of population, one can still get fresh cows’ milk cheeses, gelatinous in appearance, vividly white and smooth and buttery in the mouth.

  • The Pyrenees: changing times.

    • Throughout the central and eastern Pyrenees, both cows and sheep are kept as livestock. One century ago, sheep were the majority. While cows were more multi-purpose beasts, kept for meat, milk and work. Eating habits of the area changed as urban growth increased the demand for dairy products. Nowadays, the area is a source of a huge variety of cow’s milk cheeses, from fresh to cured catering broadly for palate and price. Among them, cheeses from Benasque, the Valle de Aran, l’Alt Urgell- Cerdanya and Llivia and Selva. There are also new variants like Mató and Recuit (traditionally catalan cheeses) made mainly with cow’s milk. 

  • Island Cheeses

    • Off the Mediterranean coast of mainland Spain lie the Balearic Islands. Menorca, the northernmost and easternmost island of the whole archipelago, is the home of another favorite cheese : the Mahón. Menorca’s climatic conditions transform this tiny island, into a huge verdant meadow of pasture and potential fodder. Dairy farming is one of the main occupations of the island. 

    • Mahón cheese is made all over the island. Its characteristic shape- a sort of rounded parallel-piped- derives from the knotted cotton cloth (fogasser) in which curds are molded and pressed. It is eaten both fresh and aged with the rind either left natural or oiled with paprika.

    • The island of Mallorca produces its own cheese, similar to Mahón, known as Malorquín, which was originally a pure Sheeps’ milk cheese, also molded in a fogasser. 

  • Queso de Guía: the exception to the rule

    • Another singular cheese, comes from Guía in the northeast of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands). The whole archipelago is a big cheese producer and consumer of goat’s milk. In the case of the Guía, they use cow’s milk mixed with sheep’s milk. Guía cheese is popular among the islanders for its fresh buttery flavor and acidic buttery aroma. 

 

 

L’ALT URGELL

The cheese form l’Alt Urgell y la Cerdanya (also known as Urgelia) is a soft cheese cured for a short time, that is produced in the mountainous townships of the northwest Catalonia, from pasteurized cow’s milk.

GEOGRAPHIC AREA:

The production area is integrated by the townships of L’Arl Urgell and Cerdanya, in the provinces of Lleid and Girona, in the Catalonian Pyrenees.

CHARACTERISTICS:

The cheese is produces from whole pasteurized milk of frisona race cows. They have a cylinder shape, with a diameter of 195 to 200 mm. (7.5 to 8 inches) and a weight of around 2,5 kg (~5£). The rind is natural, slightly humid, of a brownish color. The meat has a creamy or ivory color, with lots of small, irregular holes though the whole cheese. Has a soft creamy texture, soft and deep aroma, smooth, nice and characteristic flavor.

FABRICATION PROCESS:

After the homogeneization and pasteurization, the milk must be curdled at a temperature of 30ºC to 33ºC during about 30 minutes. Then the paste is cut and the serum drained. The resulting paste or dough is then pressed and shaped.

Next, it is submerged in brine (salt water) to acquire the light salty taste, at a controlled temperature of 10 to 15ºC, this followed but final drainage and airing.

Finally the cheese must be ripened or cured, in caves, at temperatures of 11 to 14ºC and a relative humidity of 90 to 96%, with a minimum curing time of 45 días. It is during the first days of this phase that some specific aromatic fermentation is added to the rind.
USES

Is a cheese with a soft buttery taste, although intense and persistent. Very aromatic, cut in slices or cubes is the perfect mate for light dishes, from greens and salads to meats or withe fish.

We recommend eating Urgell with withe wines, dry or fruity, or with Cava brut.