Off the coast of Spain, in the Mediterranean, you will find Menorca, one of the Balearic Islands, and the home of Mahon cheese, named for the town of its origin. This beautiful Island has a long history of cheese making that dates all the way back to the 13th century. Today, dairy farming for the production of cheese remains key to the economy of the Island. In fact, Menorca is now a protected Unesco Biosphere zone with a mission to conserve natural beauty while supporting a sustainable economy on the island.
The Taste of Mahon
Enough about history, let’s talk about flavor. Mahon, a protected denomination of origin (D.O.) cheese is made from the milk of cows that are indigenous to Menorca. And whether fresh or aged, Mahon is buttery, sharp, slightly salty and has sweet and nutty aromatic notes. Mahon’s sweet and fruity but at times slightly salty taste is due in part to the sea salt content in the grasses the cows eat. Just picture those cows hanging out on the island of Menorca, enjoying the view and munching on a little grass salad seasoned with sea salt. Visually, Mahon has a unique personality as well. The rind is generally an orange color since the rind is rubbed with butter, or oil, and paprika as the cheese ages.
Age before Beauty
Mahon cheese is sold in both semi-cured (aged at least 45 days) and cured varieties (aged at least 5 months). We love both the younger and the more mature cheeses, but these days it seems like everyone is focused on youth. So for this blog we’re going to focus on the more mature Mahon Curado. As it ages, Mahon starts to develop small irregularly shaped holes and some granularity. These two characteristics help to give aged Mahon its personality and distinguish it from its less mature siblings.
Mahon cheese is one of the most versatile cheeses in Spain. In Spain, Mahon is often served as an appetizer, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a sprig of fresh Rosemary. Grate it over pasta, potatoes, rice or a vegetable like asparagus for an alternative to ordinary Parmesan. Served as part of a cheese selection, Mahon stands up to a big and spicy Spanish red wine.
The opportunities are endless. How do you like Mahon?