From the land of Don Quixote – La Mancha in Spain, comes a cheese that captures the essence of the Iberian Peninsula and delivers a piquant flavour that is unique to sheep’s milk cheese.
To be recognised as an authentic Manchego Cheese under PDO (Protected Destination of Origin) guidelines, the cheese must be made only from pasteurised or non-pasteurised Manchego sheep’s milk. It is then cured in traditional grass moulds that leave a distinctive basket-weave pattern on the inedible rind. A wheat-ear pattern is also pressed onto the top and bottom of the cheese.
Like many cheeses, Manchego develops a different flavour profile and texture as it ages. Young Manchego, or Semi Curado tends to be fruity and grassy, with a supple, moist texture. Semi aged or Curado Manchego has usually been aged for 6 months and has a distinct acidity and a rich, caramel flavour. And Viejo or aged Manchego is deliciously crumbly, almost butterscotch in colour and has a sweet, lingering taste.
Although traditionally Manchego was stored by wrapping it in a damp cloth, a far better way to protect its flavour is to keep it dry and cool. Wrap it in waxy paper, seal it in a plastic container and store it on the bottom shelf in your fridge.