Cheesemonger News: New Spanish Goats and Ewe Cheeses April 12, 2019 16:45

As one of Scotland's most prominent cheesemongers, we take our job very seriously indeed!  As well as offering some of the world's favourite all time cheeses, we also like to look out for the more unusual flavours, and modern-day award-winners. 

We do this in one of two ways: when it comes to UK based producers, we tend to find that most artisan makers approach us - our reputation speaks volumes and our wide network makes things very easy!

Further afield, we rely on a trusted group of long-time contacts to help us source, and buy, the best new cheeses from Spain, France and Italy. 

One such source is the wonderful Rupert Linton of Brindisa.  This month he called in with some fantastic Spanish goat and ewe cheeses, and so impressed were we that we've taken them all! Have a read here to find out more about these delicious new varieties, which we're certain will be at the top of your favourites list before long!

Moluengo Cheese: Goat's Cheese

Matured for only 20 days, Moluengo has a silky texture, with a fairly compact centre. Each cheese log is rolled in vegetable ash, which helps to naturally dry the paste. Soft notes with certain level of back end acidity, make it very aromatic and pleasant.

The dairy is called La Rueda, and has only been in production since 2014. It's named after a traditional water wheel in the Cabriel River and specialises in lactic goat’s milk cheeses - a totally new concept for this region of Spain. La Rueda is a small family-run dairy where all of the cheese-making is done by hand. 

The Moluengo cheese - named after a nearby canyon in the Nature Reserve of Hoces del Cabriel - is an ash coated, geotrichum rind log, similar to a St. Maure, and made with raw milk from their own herd of Murciano-Granadina goats. It’s matured for 20 days in the dairy, so by the time it reaches us here at Provender Brown it should be just over 30 days old.  

Quesos Payoyo: Goat's Cheese

Matured for about 2 months, this wonderful goats cheese has a moist semi-hard texture; the aroma is curdy and fresh, the flavour is yoghurty and gently goaty, with floral and herbaceous notes. 

An exceptional goat’s cheese from the rich pastures of the Sierra de Grazalema National Park, north east of Cádiz. Humid Atlantic winds are cooled by snow capped mountains to give Spain’s highest annual rainfall, which feeds the lush mountain meadows, and in turn the Payoyo goats. 

Quesos Payoyo cheese has two namesakes: it is named after the dairy in which it is made, and also the Payoyo goat, a rare breed which traditionally pastured in the Sierra de Grazalema.  

Located in Villaluenga del Rosario, a beautiful white-washed village in Andalucia, Quesos Payoyo is a cooperative founded by 14 farmers in 1997 and is dedicated to traditional cheesemaking. They hand fill the cheese moulds, using the natural microbiological flora of the mountains to develop on the rinds of the cheeses. The cheese is pasteurised and doesn't leave the dairy until a minimum of 35 days have passed. The cheese is then ripened for at least a month in the Brindisa cheese rooms in Balham, before being sent out to customers across Europe - including here at Provender Brown. 

One of the reasons this cheese tastes so good is the environment in which the goats are reared. The animals pasture in the national park of Sierra de Grazalema at altitudes of up to 900m. Although this cheese is made in Andalucia, the mountain range is one of Spain's wettest areas, catching the rain off the Atlantic weather systems where they first come to land.  (We know all too well how that feels!).

In winter, temperatures are cold enough for snow, whilst in the summer it can get into the 40s. This means that there is a good amount of variation in the pasture: green and lush at this time of year and dry and twiggy towards the end of the summer.  This is reflected in the cheese, in gradual changes in flavour throughout the year.

Interestingly, this cheese is made with goat kid rennet.  Part of the philosophy of artisan cheesemakers is that the rennet used be sourced from the same species as the milk.  This can be more difficult than it seems as most rennet manufacturers are based in northern Europe where cows are much more common.

La Retorta, and Pastura with Truffles: Ewe's Cheese

Finca Pascualete is a grand country house and estate near Trujillo in Extremadura. The herds of sheep raised on the estate are mostly merinos, but have been interbred over the generations with churra and other local breeds. Animal welfare is a priority at Finca Pascualete, with the ewes having access to the large estates for pasturing.

Provender Brown stocks two of their cheeses - La Retorta and the Pastura with Truffles. 

La Retorta

Winner of Best Spanish Cheese at the World Cheese Awards 2017. There is a tradition in South West Spain, and over the border in Portugal, of making ewes' milk cheeses called “torta” using thistle rennet, resulting in full flavoured cheeses with a soft, sometimes liquid interior.

The retorta is exactly that - a “torta” style cheese made with thistle rennet. Originally tortas were considered to be cheeses that had gone wrong and were given to the shepherds for free. It wasn’t until a wandering Spanish gastronome in the 1980s discovered these cheeses that they became incredibly popular in Spain.

The problem at that point was that no-one knew how to make them on purpose! There were many theories, some of them involving the phases of the moon and astrology.  Eventually, the realisation came that by and large, the tortas occurred naturally during the months of February and March.

The key, it transpires, is the weather! Extremadura is a damp, gloomy place at that time of year and traditional cheesemakers had trouble heating the vats of milk to the right temperature. This, along with the high levels of humidity, combined to create the conditions necessary for a torta.

We now know that the perfect torta requires thistle rennet, high humidity and low vat temperatures. This will make the curd structure break down over time to create the amazing silky textures this wonderful cheese has become famed for. The rind of the retorta from Finca Pascualete is also lightly washed, giving it incredibly assertive aromas of yeast and mustard.

Pastura with Truffles

This small cheese has a soft and dense texture with crushed Italian black truffles. It combines the delicate and fresh aromas of a young ewes’ milk cheese with luxurious, earthy truffle notes. Elegant, deliciously balanced between sweet, creamy and mushroomy flavours.

This is a stunning, pasteurised sheep’s milk cheese from Finca Pascualete using Italian truffles. Our friends at Brindisa have never found another cheese like it on sale in Britain. It is a young sheep’s milk cheese with a penicillium candidum rind. The sweetness of the sheep’s milk balances nicely with the truffles so that the overall flavour isn’t too overpowering.

It's really interesting (at least to us!) to compare the Pastura and the Retorta because both cheeses are made with exactly the same milk. The retorta though, is raw and made with thistle rennet whilst the Pastura is pasteurised and made with animal rennet.  They illustrate really clearly the differences between raw and pasteurised, animal and thistle rennet. Texture, flavour and aroma are all incredibly different, even when you take into account the added truffle flavours.

Good Friday, 19th April - 11am - 3pm.
Gayle from Brindisa will be on hand to offer up tasters of all of these cheeses, along with a stunning selection of charcuterie and fine Spanish olives and other treats. Make sure to drop by.