A week ago, we received our first shipment of Manchego cheese from the Villadiego estate in Spain.
Villadiego is an artisan, farmhouse producer of Manchego cheese and this is the first time their cheeses have been shipped to the US. We are really excited about these Manchegos – they are exclusive to the shop and they taste amazing!
All of the cheeses we are importing from Villadiego are made with raw milk from a herd of 3,500 Manchegan sheep. The estate is one of only a handful of artisan farmhouse producers of raw milk Manchego still in existence. Villadiego has been producing cheese at least since 1840 and maybe even longer – the earliest documentation linked to cheese making on the estate dates from 1840. The estate is situated next to the Guadiana River in Spain and the pastures where the sheep graze are lush and rich in nutrients.
The new arrivals:
Manchego Semi-Curado – at 3 months old, this is the youngest Manchego made by the Villadiego estate. The color of the paste is light – the taste is buttery and delicate with hints of spiciness.
Manchego Añejo – aged for a minimum of 12 months, we will generally be importing this cheese at 14 months of age. The paste is much harder and much more caramel in color than the Semi-Curado. It is caramelized, meaty, gritty and creamy with a little bit of animal flavor.
Gemma, our wine buyer at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, recommends pairing Manchego with the following:
Lopez de Heredia (2000), Rioja Riserva: from an historic estate in Spain, this wine is made with natural yeast and is aged in old barrels. With wonderful complexity, depth and length, it tastes of dark fruit, herbs and earth.
Verdad Rosé (2009): certified biodynamic, this rosé is light, crisp, fragrant and redolent of juicy berries with some minerality.
In terms of condiments, one of the most classic pairings with Manchego is membrillo or quince paste. Lovely and fruity with a taste somewhere between pears and apples, this paste is an excellent complement to the nuttiness of Manchego.
We also like Marcona almonds – very different from California almonds, Marcona almonds are rounder and more golden in color. Snackable and addictive, they are fried in sunflower oil and salted. Perfect with Jamón Serrano or Jamón Ibérico and Manchego cheese!