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Eat and Drink

Nibble some queso in New York City this fall

When it comes to artisinal cheeses, frommage and formaggio aren't the only imported varieties-- we're all about Spanish queso this season.

"About 75% of our customers request manchego on their cheese plates," Murray's cheesemonger Rachel Freier said. "But there's much more to Spanish cheese than just manchego!" While we'd never turn down this popular classic, a tasting of Spanish cheeses proved that indeed there is much more to cheeses from Spain than the average American knows. Check out our guide to putting together the perfect Spanish cheese plate. Andalé!

To learn more about Spanish wine and cheese, visit Murray's for a class; more info at murrayscheese.com.

Young Manchego

Easily the most famous Spanish cheese to dairy-loving
Photo Credit: Murray's Cheese

Easily the most famous Spanish cheese to dairy-loving New Yorkers, this cheese of La Mancha definitely hits a sweet spot. Manchego is a pasteurized sheep's cheese, with a buttery flavor in its young stages. It's delicious on its own, but also great for melting, and pairs well with pretty much any kind of wine. A staple book club cheese, you really can't go wrong with manchego.

Aged Manchego

Sharper and nuttier than its younger version, Aged
Photo Credit: Murray's Cheese

Sharper and nuttier than its younger version, Aged Manchego rests in the caves from six months to a year, adding sharper flavor and a hint of richness. Aged manchego can be used like pecorino, shaved over pasta and salads, and of course, also works on a cheese plate.

Garrotxa

Garrotxa is cheesemonger Rachel's go-to for manchego aficionados.
Photo Credit: Murray's Cheese

Garrotxa is cheesemonger Rachel's go-to for manchego aficionados. "It becomes a new favorite Spanish cheese to people. It's one of my favorites-- no offense to manchego," she says. This Catalunian semi-firm cheese is made from goat's milk, but its velvety, mild flavor is perfect for those who often shy from goat's milk. Garrotxa is a bit fruity, naturally nutty and not too strong or salty, acting as a perfectly versatile addition to salads, mac and cheese or as a snack on its own.

Queso Idiazabal

Idiazabal, a raw sheep's milk cheese from the
Photo Credit: Murray's Cheese

Idiazabal, a raw sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region packs a lot of flavor. This smoked cheese inherited its traditional smoky flavor from being stored near the fireplace in Spanish homes, where the smoke would dry it and add flavor. Today, producers smoke it purposefully with birch and oak, and darker rinds indicated a smokier flavor. The 2 to 3-month aged cheese has a toothsome texture, and tastes almost like bacon or smoked meat. This savory, gamey flavor works well in sandwiches or melted into fondue. Pair it with a spicy red wine!

Roncal

Also from The Basque region, where cows don't
Photo Credit: Murray's Cheese

Also from The Basque region, where cows don't have much room to graze, this sheep cheese is often compared to a stronger version of Manchego. VRoncal is flaky, sharper and gamier than its Spanish cousin, and can be shaved onto pasta or other dishes to add flavor.

Mahon Curado

Like a good wine, Mahon is great both
Photo Credit: Murray's Cheese

Like a good wine, Mahon is great both young one and aged (curado). After two to six months, this Mallorcan raw cow's milk cheese is drier and absorbs more of the paprika flavor rubbed on the rind, to both protect the wheel and give it an extra kick. This flaky cheese is salty thanks to the Mallorcan sea breeze on the blades of grass the cows ingest. "I call it a beautiful version of the muenster you grew up on," Rachel says. This orange-rimmed cheese is great to snack on, but can also be added to dishes for a hint of spice and saltiness.

Valdeon

What's cow, goat and blue all over? Valdeon!
Photo Credit: Murray's Cheese

What's cow, goat and blue all over? Valdeon!

This cow milk and goat milk bleu cheese is traditionally wrapped in sycamore leaves for a rustic, earthy flavor. "People are familiar with spicy and strong Spanish cheese, but this is not that-- it's not spicy at all!" Rachel clarifies. Valdeon has a nice butteriness from the cow's milk and a tang from the goat's milk, balancing the saltiness typical to bleu cheese. It's the perfect addition to a cheese plate, but its ability to easily crumble also makes it a great topping for a steak or a burger. As a dessert, enjoy Valdeon with a nutty sherry.

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