I guess you can figure out my theme for the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge. That’s right, it’s cheese! I hope you enjoy these posts!
“I” is for IDIAZABAL
Did I fool you with this one? You were wondering, weren’t you? 🙂
In order to find the source of Idiazabal, you’d need to find the Latxa or Carranza sheep in the Basque regions of northern Spain. This cheese was named after the village where it originated.
In summer, the sheep migrate to higher pastures to graze on the blossoming, new grass. During this time, artisanal cheesemakers milk the sheep, make the cheese and leave it in the rafters to mature. At the end of summer when the cheesemakers return back to the lowlands with their sheep, the cheese has ripened and is ready for sale.
Idiazabal has a hard natural rind. The cheese is dry, but not crumbly, and feels “pleasantly oily” in the mouth. The characteristic smoky flavor is the result of the cheeses having been stored near the fireplaces. There were no chimneys in the simple mountain huts, so the cheeses absorbed the aromatic smoke. The taste of the cheese is reminiscent of burnt caramel and bacon (Come on! What could be better?!). It pairs well with red wine and cider.