Sheeps Milk Cheese – a Taste of Spain

This matured Spanish sheep’s cheese is made from raw ewes milk in Spain’s Duero Valley near Salamanca by Hacienda Zorita. It has twice won gold medals at the World Cheese Awards. I was pleased to learn that as well making great cheese from the milk of the native Churra sheep and running an organic farm, Hacienda Zorita offers shelter to rare breeds and endangered species and is committed to Slow Food.

The cheese is aged for between 6 and 12 months and its taste is usually described as nutty. Here its paired with traditional Spanish pan de higo (fig cake). Ideal as tapas or pinchos perhaps?

Spanish sheeps cheese by Yorkshire food photographer Tony May.

Spanish sheeps cheese and fig paste. Food photography and styling by Tony May. Copyright 2019.

Not speaking much Spanish I was intrigued by the description “Queso de Dehesa Curado” . Although I found the simple translations  of “dehesa” as “meadow” or “pasture”, Wikipedia offers a fuller explanation. Dehesa is a marginal agricultural landscape of southern and central Spain and southern Portugal which consists of certain kinds of oak trees combined with grassland and herbaceous species.

Its used to graze cattle, goats and sheep and the oaks are managed to produce acorns which feed the black Iberian pigs used to produce jamon Iberico, or to produce cork in the case of cork oaks. It can also be a habitat for endangered species, which is good.  The land can also be used for hunting, which is something I’m not as keen on.

Spanish Ewes cheese by Yorkshire Food Photographer

The whole cheese bears bears the logo pressed into an attractive edible rind. Food photography Copyright Tony May 2019

The cheese is aged for between 6 and 12 months and its taste is usually described as nutty. Here its paired with traditional Spanish pan de higo (fig cake). Ideal as tapas or pinchos perhaps?

I first discovered hard mature sheeps and goats cheeses when travelling in Spain and it was a bit of a revelation. This one does taste mature and nutty but without any tendency towards being too ripe or strong. And the natural rind is perfectly edible too and is stamped with the Hacienda Zorita logo.