The Catalan Pyrenees mountains are a perfect place for raising livestock. Here, cows and goats are raised to produce cheeses that are considered a delicacy throughout Spain, and are only now slowly becoming more recognized in the United States and the U.K. The artisanship of Catalan cheese is beginning to slowly promote itself, and Catalunya has become the region with the most cheese shops in the country.
Alt Urgell i la Cerdanya: Alt Urgell cheese is made with pasteurized cow’s milk and fermented lactose products and has a creamy and soft, with a sweet ,smooth flavor. To make this cheese, cow’s are milked daily, and then the milk is homogenized and pasteurized, only later to be put into tanks. It is produced all year long and must be kept under refrigeration is pressed into a cylindrical shape and later cut into circles. From the Catalan Pyrenees region, this cheese has risen to the level of having its own D.O. (official designation), the first Catalan cheese to achieve this recognition.
Mató de Montserrat: Mató de Montserrat is a fresh cheese (formatge fresc) that is only a few days old. It’s made with cow or goat milk, and it’s also very popular to make this variety of cheese with a mixture of the two. It doesn’t contain any added salt, so it’s common to find it eaten as a dessert, topped with honey (Mel i Mató).
Tou del Tillers: In the province of Lleida (Lérida in Spanish), in the town of Sort, the cheese on everyone’s mind is Tou del Tillers. This cheese is made from raw cow’s milk, with just a touch of salt, and the end result is brie-like, covered in a layer of white with a creamy center.
Costa Negra: Costa Negra is a creamy cheese that comes from the Pyrenees and boasts a flavor that is a complex mix between sweet and tart. Made with raw cow’s milk, the outside rind is black and the inside elastic consistency.
Drap: Drap is a sweeter, milky cheese, slightly tart, made with raw cow’s milk from the Pyrenees. Drap comes in two varieties: fresh without rind and white with a yellow rind. This cheese smells like butter.
Tupi: Tupi is made with cuajada (a soft fresh cheese, often eaten throughout Spain as a dessert) and goat, sheep or cow’s milk Tupí is made with liqueur such as anise, so its flavor is strong and piquant. It’s most often sold in clay jars.
Serrat: Serrat is a yellow cheese made from cow’s milk, though it’s sometimes made with sheep’s milk. It is semi-curat (semi-aged) and has a slightly piquant flavor and a dense consistency.
Garrotxa: Garrotxa is a goat cheese also known as pell florida. Its circular shape comes from the clay molds it is made in. Garrotxa cheese is cured for two weeks, and the end result is a smooth product with a buttery texture, which is covered in a layer of ash to help preserve it.
Montsec: From the town of Montsec in the Catalan province of Lleida comes a cheese known as Formatge Suau de Clúa or Montsec. Made from raw goat’s milk and aged from 60 to 90 days, this cheese is covered in a layer of ashes.
Formatge d´Oli (Olive Oil Cheese): This flavorful goat (or cow’s milk) cheese is preserved in a jar filled with olive oil, aromatic herbs and spices. The flavor of Formatge d’Oli is a bit acidic and flavored by the preserving ingredients. It is an intense white in color and it has a buttery texture. Formatge d’Oli is made with both raw and pasteurized in two respective processes. If raw milk is use, the cheese must remain in the jar with the other ingredients for two months. If it is made with pasteurized milk, the preservation process lasts only one month. This type of cheese is made year-round but is at its best near the end of spring.
Formatge Blau (Blue Cheese): Catalan blue cheese is tender with blue marbling on the the inside. Its natural exterior is brown and the interior is filled with holes. The flavor is strong and the texture creamy. Formatge blau ages between 4 and 6 months and is made from raw cow’s milk. The best time to buy this type of cheese is from spring to summer.
Formatge Brossat: Formatge Brossat is a fresh cheese (formatge fresc) made from the leftover whey of cheeses like Mató. Brossat is white and has a smooth, creamy texture and a sweet flavor. This type of cheese can be eaten any time of year.
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