Travel to Spain through 3 cheeses: Idiazabal, Valdeon and Mahon

Travel to Spain through 3 cheeses: Idiazabal, Valdeon and Mahon


Idiazábal is a classic, delicious, robust cheese recognized primarily for its rich, smoky flavor. Its origin is in nature, in the green landscapes of Basque Country. Idiazabal cheese is made with raw milk, exclusively from Latxa sheep's milk and / or Carranzana, pressed, hard paste and with minimum 45% fat on dry matter.  


The flavor of an Idiazabal cheese is intense, wide, “fills the mouth”, and at the same time it is balanced and characteristic. A clean and consistent flavor with a marked “matured sheep's milk” character and some natural smoky flavor. 


 These breed sheep are small but resistant animals, excellent producers of high quality milk . Milking sheep produces a limited amount of milk, about one hundred liters per season, mainly from February to June. They contribute to the permanence of hundreds of families in rural areas and the sustainability of the mountains and valleys.


 Since time immemorial, shepherds have elaborated Idiazabal with raw milk from Latxa and Carranzana sheep this appreciated mature pressed paste cheese. An ancient tradition that coexists with the most modern production techniques to obtain a cheese of extraordinary quality, with all the hygienic-sanitary guarantees. An activity that is developed mostly by hand by families that use only milk from their own herd, as well as by pioneering small and large industries. Made with love, according to the know-how inherited generation after generation and covered by the most modern production techniques. At the end of the Idiazábal aging process, a smoking process occurs using various local tree woods. The intensity of the smoked taste depends upon the intensity and length of the process, as well as the woods used. Typically, the cheese is smoked with cherry wood, hawthorn or beech wood.


Valdeón cheese is a spectacular blue cheese that is made in Posada de Valdeón, in the Valdeón Valley located in the heart of the Picos de Europa. It is created by a family business that started in the 70s and already has the third generation. Valdeón Cheese has a Protected Geographical Indication that guarantees the tradition and quality of this product.


 The smell of the Valdeón cheese is slightly acidic or lactic, with the specific smell of mold prevailing. The longer the cure, the lactic aromas disappear and the smell of mold intensifies and fruity aromas also appear. The flavor is salty, very intense and spicy. The more mature the more powerful the flavors.


 It is a blue pasta cheese, made with pasteurized cow's milk (min. 80%) and goat (min. 10%). The richness of the pastures of the Valdeón Valley provide a powerful, lactic and buttery flavor to the cheese that the Picos de Europa Cheese Factory maintains in its production. The ripening process is long until it reaches the semi-cured or cured point. The bark is rough and irregular and is covered with banana leaf (the banana is a very common tree and famous for the shade given by its large leaves). Its color includes shades of gray and bluish spots. The texture of the paste is soft and the numerous small cavities where the white and blue-green mold are concentrated on the ivory background stand out.


 You can try to make your own Valdeon Cheese sauce at home, perfect to serve with your meats, you will just need 40 or 50 gr of Valdeon Cheese, 200ml of liquid cream, 1 tablespoons of extra olive oil, 1 pinch of oregano or thyme ,1 pinch of nutmeg (optional) Yummy!

If you are not really into sauces, taste it with a glass of Adina grape wine or Pedro Ximenez.


Mahon cheese is produced in the island of Menorca. It is actually a protected designation of origin as it is closely related to  its exclusive geoclimatic factors such as temperature, humidity, light…) that in combination with the human elaboration creates the final character and flavor of this cheese.  


In the 10th century the Arabs already made mention of Mahon cheese. But it will not be until 1985 when this well-known cheese acquires a designation of origin. Its shape is square, and its flavor is unique. Unlike Majorcan cheese, this cheese is made with cow's milk instead of sheep's milk. Although Mahón cheese (it is called Mahón but in reality it is typical of all of Menorca) is still made in an artisanal and traditional way, most of its production is industrial. In the old method the milk is curdled with different herbs, wrapped in a very fine white cloth and molded by hand until it is compact.


  You can find the tasty Mahón cheese in different varieties and flavors. The tender is yellowish in color, its aroma is reminiscent of butter and its flavor is slightly acidic. It is the ideal accompaniment to a pa amb oli. The semi-cured is orange in color, although traditionally prepared it usually takes on a brown color. Its flavor is pronounced, its texture is creamy and it is the most famous. Mahón cured cheese has a hard and intense flavor. It is made preserved in olive oil which makes it absolutely exquisite. Its texture is firmer and harder, less elastic, and in advanced stages of healing, brittle and flaky when cut. Highly evolved, complex and intense flavor and aromas, with a long-lasting mouthfeel. 


 Try to do at home a special tosta with sobrasada, melted mahon cheese and a hint of honey. Delicious!

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