Cabrales is for sure world’s finest blue cheese, even maybe the Rolls Royce of the cheeses. Asturias is known for its cheeses, the green meadows and mountains provides enough food to keep cows, goats and sheeps for their milk. As such also in the municipality of Cabralas at the foot of Picos de Europa.
What makes Cabrales so different?
It is in the natural formed limestone caves of Cabrales, and some towns in Peñamerella Alta region, where the handmade cheese gets its flavor. The chilly and humid conditions of these caves are of a great importance, because it is there where they mature between 2 or 6 months, influenced by salty Atlantic wind. It is there where in a natural process a bluish-green mould grows into the cheese.
The best cheeses are still wrapped in maple leafs as they did in the past, but due to hygienic regulations many cheeses are wrapped in a foil. According to some the best cheeses are available in the late spring as they are the result of a mixture of cow, goat and sheep milk. This mixture has a great influence on the taste. According to the makers cow’s milk makes the cheese acidic, goat milk gives it a hearty taste and sheep milk gives it a distinctive aroma and a buttery texture. It is the availability of the 3 types of milk that decide the proportions of the milk used as other times of the year there is sometimes little or no goat or sheep milk.
A queso with a Spanish temperament.
The drum-shaped cheese with the sticky ochreous crust is a semi-hard crumbly but spreadable fatty (45% of the dry matter) blue cheese. It has a typical strong aroma, slightly salty taste and those with maple leafs have a woody flavor. I advise to buy those with maple leafs as they provide the characteristic taste of Cabrales. You might have guessed already, but the cheese Cabrales is a Protected Designation of Origin, that means only cheese of Cabrales may be called Cabrales. As well only milk from the region may be used. All cheeses have the same dark-green wrapping and hold the PDO stamp.
You can eat Cabrales at the end of the lunch as desert, or as a tapas while you enjoy some Asturian sidra. The cheese is used as well in sauces for meat dishes, or with fried potatoes as a Asturian version of the national patatas bravas tapas.
Useful information …
Consejo Regulador D.O.P. Cabrales … www.quesocabrales.org
Fundación Cabrales … www.fundacioncabrales.com … The foundation for the promotion and dissemination of Cabrales cheese. Includes a small museum in a cave and some Cabrales tasting.
GPS (Museum of Cabrales Cheese) … +43.299519 | -4.819399
Opinion … Yet I advice visitors who does not understand Spanish not to visit the exposition. The visit is with a Spanish speaking guide only. No problems with that, but it was impossible for me to understand the guide due to loud sounds of mooing cows, bleating sheeps and more. Too short and too uncomfortable if you ask me for the price you have to pay.