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Milk: Cow/Goat, Unpasteurized

Country: Spain, Picos de Europa

Texture: Soft to Semi Firm

Accompaniment: Sweet after dinner wines, port, sherry

There are three famous blue cheeses in the north-east of Spain that developed along very similar lines. Cabrales hails from the province of Asturias, Picon from Cantabria and Valdeon from Leon.

Cabrales, Picon and Valdeon are all mixes of cow, goat and sheep’s milk and all were wrapped in either oak or sycamore leaves. Another distinguishing feature of these three cheeses is that the blue mold in the cheese is almost purple.

The terrain here is mountainous, rugged, high and known as Picos de Europa. The mountains are home to mixed herds of sheep, goats and cows and have massive labyrinths of caves. The caves allow circulation of the salt-laden air from the Bay of Biskay and provide an optimum environment for aging cheeses.

The difference between the cheeses now is that Cabrales is no longer wrapped in Sycamore leaves, Valdeon and Picon still are. Cabrales and Valdeon are aged in drier caves (Cabrales 85% humidity, Valdeon 75%), Picon ages in 100% humidity. This makes Picon the creamier of the three cheeses.

Our Valdeon is a raw milk cheese made with a mix of cow and goat’s milk and has a very complex flavor pattern. This can partly be attributed to the sycamore leaves it is wrapped in, but will certainly have a lot to do with the fact that the cattle grazes at altitude and the effect of the caves the cheese ages in. Whatever the reason, you will notice that whenever you sample the cheese, it will be with you for quite a while causing different sensations in your mouth as time goes by.

Try this cheese with some dried meat, fruit spread, or fresh fruit

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