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Posts Tagged ‘covadonga’

Selecting cheeses and accompaniments for the perfect cheese plate is more of an art than a science.  There are a few rules of thumb, but with so many cheeses to choose from, the cheese plate is an expression of the person who puts the selection together. This post will give you some tips for building an extraordinary Spanish cheese plate that reflects the personality of you, the chef.  
 
 

Spanish Cheese Selection

Spanish Cheese Selection

Tip #1:Include a variety of flavors and textures.

Cheeses generally fit into a few main categories: aged, soft, firm, and blue. Or you can select cheeses by type of milk used to make them: cow, sheep, goat, or a blend. Regardless of the cheeses you select, it is always a good idea to include one more familiar cheese, like Manchego, but your choices are bounded only by your creativity and of course availability.

Spanish Cheeses by Category

  • Aged:  Montelarreina, Idiazabal, Rosemary Sheep’s Milk
  • Soft: Camerano Semi Cured Goat, Torta del Casar, Monte Enebro
  • Firm: Organic Raw Goat, 12 Month Manchego
  • Blue: Covadonga, Cabrales, Valdeon
 Spanish Cheeses by Milk Type
  • Cow: Mahon, Tetilla, La Peral
  • Sheep: Manchego, Idiazabal, Montelarreina, Rosemary Sheep’s Milk, Olive Manchego, Torta del Casar
  • Goat: Camerano, Garrotxa, Wine Goat, Organic Raw Goat, San Mateu Catalonian Goat
Tip #2: Offer a variety of breads. You can vary taste, textures, shape and size of breads just like you do with cheeses. Include a chewy baguette and fig bread, or picos and tortas de aceite for variety and flavor.
 
Piquillo Pepers

Piquillo Peppers

Tip #3: Offer jarred sauces or vegetables as an easy accompaniment. Quince paste, or membrillo is a perfect sweet accompaniment to a salty and firm cheese like Manchego or Montelarreina. Piquillo peppers have a sweet, rich flavor that compliments tangy goat cheeses or even blues like Covadonga.

Tip #4: Add a sweet and a salty food.  Salty jamon Serrano or jamon Iberico are perfect accompaniments to a combination of cheeses from Spain, as are Marcona almonds, salty Gordal olives and sweet caramelized olives.

What’s on your ideal Spanish cheese plate?

 

Interested in the Spanish foods you read about on this blog? Wholesale clients like restaurants and retail stores, please visit. www.Solexapartners.com. Consumers, please visit www.FoodSpain101.com.

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After Thanksgiving in the United States, we start seeing the sweet symbols of the holiday season: candy canes, ginger bread houses, and the infamous fruit cake. In Spain, the sweet of the season is Turron, a delicacy made from the almonds the region of Valencia is known for.  There are two traditional varieties, hard Alicante Turron and soft Jijona Turron, both named after the cities in which each originated. In Spain everyone has a favorite. Some like the crunchy Alicante Turron, which has the consistency of peanut brittle and is made by roasting the fresh almonds and slow cooking them with honey and egg white. Some like the smooth and chewy Jijona  Turron, which is made by grinding an almond and honey mix into a smooth nougat-like paste.  

Once Upon a Time in Alicante

One of the beautiful things about Spain is that most traditional foods have a long and interesting history; Turron is no exception. Many stories tell the history of this sweet, but the one we like the best is all about princesses, snow, and romance.  This legend dates back to the 11t h century, when the Moors ruled Spain and is set in beautiful Alicante on the Southeastern coast of Spain.  The reigning Moorish king at the time, Emir Ali, was a pretty cosmopolitan guy. During his world travels, he met and fell in love with a beautiful Scandinavian princess named Ilda, whom he married and took back to sunny and beautiful Alicante. But the princess longed for her native Scandinavian landscape, with its snow-capped mountains.  Clearly the princess had never spent a winter in Chicago, for surely she would have been more appreciative of the weather in Valencia.  But let’s get back to our story. The king only wanted to make his princess happy, so he had the genius idea of planting thousands of almond trees around his kingdom. The following spring, the almond trees burst into bloom and the entire landscape was showered with their white petals. For that moment, even if just for an instant, Ilda felt at ease as the falling petals reminded her of her snowy home.

Let it Snow

Seeing the joy in his wife’s eyes, the emir made it his mission to prolong the happiness the almond trees provided all year long. The emir looked throughout his kingdom, and the solution was found in a small bakery in Jijona, where a local baker created a sweet confection made with the fruits of the almond tree. By crafting a sweet confection that could be enjoyed during the whole year, even Ilda could enjoy the pleasures of the spring blooms all year long. Because Turron was meant to remind us of the pleasures of the first blooms in spring, over time it came to be enjoyed as a winter tradition, when we need to be reminded of spring the most.

A Treat Fit for a King

More than a simple dessert, historically Turron was sold as a delicacy in Valencia. Turron and fig bread were served together to important visitors to the city of Alicante. This winter, why not serve Turron and fig bread, as an accompaniment to your favorite cheese plate. The nutty crunch of Alicante Turron is a nice accent for a blue cheese like Covadonga, and the smooth and honeyed flavor of Jijona Turron goes well with a semi-soft cheese like Tetilla D.O. With the variety of cheeses that Spain offers, your options are limitless.

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Four months ago, I started working for Solex and received an extensive training portfolio of Spanish products. Some of them were well known and others more new for me, but all of them had a wonderful story behind them of a historical origin, exclusive breeds from Spain or funny stories about its applications in the variety of clients across the United States.

The family of products that caught my attention the most was the blue cheeses. The Covadonga, Cabrales, Valdeon and La Peral are cheeses that are made from the more artisanal and historical processes in the world of cheese. At the same time, this is a family whose success in the U.S. has grown tremendously. For instance, our Covadonga has grown year after year and this has led us to call it our “Best Rookie ever” . Other strong flavor cheeses, such as Valdeon and  Cabrales,  are present in most of the tasting menus of our customers.
Slowly, I continued learning … to become an addict.

Because of  it tastes: traveling through several states I have enjoyed many different applications created by our partners  & customers: a perfect point of Covadonga melted on grilled meats or barbecues (Texas), La Peral in fig & cherry mustard (Chicago) or Cantaloupe, Iberico Ham and Cabrales Salad (Ohio).


Because of its history: I had the opportunity to meet the producers in Spain, most of them in northern Spain along one of the most famous mountains in Spain, the Picos de Europa. The secret of his curing process is the several months that each piece cures in natural caves in the mountains of the area. Although, this is the reality of the process, the oldest story tells that a shepherd was milking in the valleys, and when seeing one of his latest conquests, left the milk in a nearby cave and ran after her. When the winter came and the shortage of milk followed, he remembered that he had left one vessel in the cave and went to that cave; he found the curds and the original cheese. It is probably  just a story, but in the area, the oldest people say that the shepherds’ name was Gervasio …

Because of its versatility: our blue cheeses have something in common with each other; their strong personality but show a variety of aromas and flavors. You can decide which one best fits in each situation. Let me tell you my use: I buy mostly Covadonga, I use it mainly in combination with meat, and because it is the softer, I use for tapas with friends or assortments with other cheeses. I use Cabrales combined with other more mature: Montelarreina, Idiazabal or Roncal, sometimes combined with a fruity EVO – Picual or Hojiblanca olive variety. And finally, the Valdeon or La Peral, for me the strongest the pick from the refrigerator when my level of addiction comes to a peak… I find very few French blue cheeses, Belgian or English … that offer me so many possibilities.

I hope that you also like them and I will love to hear your opinions…

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