Cheese from Andalucia
Andalucia has some excellent cheeses, often eaten as a tapas accompanied by a glass fino or manzanilla sherry. The cheeses are mostly made from goat's milk, from herds which live in the mountainous areas of the region. A whole round of cured cheese with textured rind weighs between one and four kg and costs about 12-18 € per kg. Most cheese is available as queso fresco (fresh), semi-curado (cured for around 4-8 weeks), or curado (cured for around 8-12 weeks).
Goat’s cheese is popular in Spain, although it is sometimes made with a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk due to its strong taste.
Andalucian goat’s cheese producers which are particularly recommended are:
In the Sierra de Cadiz, La Cabra Verde - the German owner makes goat’s cheese and yoghurt (see list of stockists); and Payoyo, also in the Cadiz hills, which is both an award-winning brand of cheese, and the name of the goat breed which produces it. Payoyo cheese comes in goat, sheep, or a mixture of the two, and they also produce goat’s yoghurt.
In the Sierra de Aracena of Huelva, Doña Manuela and Monte Robledo are both small family producers (run by siblings) who make excellent organic goat's cheeses, rolled in herbs or spices.
Andalucian goat’s cheese has a trademark, Queso de Cabra de Andalucia, both pasteurised and unpasteurised.
Many of these farms can be visited, and at some you can even milk the goats and make cheese yourself – a great day out for families, as children can see around the farm, meet the animals, and get hands-on and see where their food comes from. Other activities include tastings of both cheese and wine, as well as lunch.
Places in Andalucia famous for their cheeses
In Lacalahorra near Guadix - a strong cured sheep's cheese, compact in texture, its rind marked by the carved wood used to press it.
Antequera - goat's cheese weighing up to 3 kilos with a fresh, slightly salted taste.
Ronda - goat's cheese - yellow paste, with small holes and preserved in olive oil.
In the Valle de Los Pedroches, the Castillian-Manchego area of Cordoba - sheep's cheese with a grooved rind.
At Doña Mencia near Baena in Cordoba - Los Balancheres farm produces goat's cheese which is cured in ashes
In the Andelovo hills of Huelva - this sheep's cheese can be recognised by its hard rind, smooth and a slightly golden toasted colour
In the Sierra de Aracena in Huelva - goat's cheese which can be eaten either when fresh or mature, strong-flavoured and preserved in olive oil.
Cheese from Grazalema is only made in springtime and should be consumed after two months. This goat's cheese is semi-cured and has a yellowish colour.