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MANCHEGO – Cheese of the Month (April 2013)

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EmBrooks Mar 26, 2013 04:25 PM

There were some requests to post the April Cheese of the Month a couple days early....I hope I am not stepping on Taleggio's toes.

Overview: Sheep milk cheese from Spain. Can be raw milk or pasteurized.

Reasons chosen: Mentioned in the cheese nomination thread; I like it and have never explored the aged versions; it is widely available and (hopefully) approachable enough for those new to cheese while offering enough depth for those who are already familiar to learn something new.

Potential topics: Do you like it?; raw vs. pasteurized versions; comparison of various stages of aging; recipes; pairings….I am sure there are many others!

Traditional pairings: quince paste, marcona almonds (have y’all tried the rosemary ones from TJs – they are so good, although probably not “traditional”!), fig cake, chorizo, roasted red peppers

Complimentary Wines - from the book What to Drink with What You Eat: Rioja (esp. with aged Manchego), Sherry (esp. with young), Cava (with young)

Description from Culture Magazine:
http://culturecheesemag.com/cheese-li...

http://culturecheesemag.com/node/1181

Unless otherwise noted, all the above information is sourced from various internet sites (Culture Magazine, Murray’s Cheese, etc), I will defer to the experts if any of it is incorrect.

I picked up a 3 month Manchego for $15.99/lb and plan to serve as our appetizer with quince paste and marcona almonds when we get to the Keys! So far, all the aged versions I have found are raw milk, but I will keep hunting.

Happy Cheese Hunting!
Emily

Previous Cheese of the Month Threads:
Taleggio – March 2013: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892781

 
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  1. Ruth Lafler RE: EmBrooks Mar 26, 2013 05:06 PM

    Well done, EmBrooks! I, too, like Manchego but have never done a serious study of it.

    Anyone in the Bay Area want to do a Manchego tasting? We could each bring a different one to compare and contrast. I would be willing to host if people are interested. Email me (email is in my profile).

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler
      jpr54_1 RE: Ruth Lafler Mar 27, 2013 05:45 AM

      thanks for starting-EmBrooks
      I know nothing about the cheese. I need to start reading and tasting.

      1. re: jpr54_1
        jpr54_1 RE: jpr54_1 Mar 27, 2013 08:21 AM

        I just returned from Whole Foods with
        Manchego Aged Raw Milk 19.99
        Mitica Manchego 3 month 11.99
        Manchego 12 month 18.99
        piece of the cheeses were approx 0.010 lb.

        In what order should I taste the cheeses?

        1. re: jpr54_1
          e
          EmBrooks RE: jpr54_1 Mar 27, 2013 08:26 AM

          Wow, that's a great haul! I have no idea about tasting order....but I am sure one of the experts will weigh in!

          1. re: jpr54_1
            Ruth Lafler RE: jpr54_1 Mar 27, 2013 09:44 AM

            Generally you should taste cheese from mildest to strongest, and generally, the younger cheeses would be milder than aged and raw milk cheeses will be more complex than pasteurized. I'd personally taste this group:

            Mitica Manchego 3 month
            Manchego 12 month
            Manchego Aged Raw Milk

            Don't forget to let them come to room temperature first!

            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              lunchbox RE: Ruth Lafler Apr 9, 2013 08:47 PM

              Hi, Ruth & jpr54:
              I would need to double check which Raw manchego they purchase in Broward Cty, but in my neck of the woods, the Raw manchego is aged 6 months and would fit between the other two.
              In my experience, the raw manchego is not as radically different from the pasteurized varieties as say, a Romano

      2. h
        HillJ RE: EmBrooks Mar 26, 2013 05:10 PM

        Thank you for kicking April off early, Emily. Looking forward to learning a great deal from fellow Manchego loving hounds. Appreciate the inclusion of wine and food pairings in your OP!

        http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...
        photo images for reference

        1. i
          ItalianNana RE: EmBrooks Mar 27, 2013 11:13 AM

          Em,

          Fabulous job! I'm looking forward to my first Manchego.
          Just to clarify, one cheese per month, right?

          3 Replies
          1. re: ItalianNana
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            EmBrooks RE: ItalianNana Mar 27, 2013 11:22 AM

            I chose one for this month since it is a fairly broad category and widely available.

            I think there may be multiple choices in future months if the coordinator wants to explore a specific cheese that may be difficult to find or otherwise out of reach for many.

            1. re: EmBrooks
              i
              ItalianNana RE: EmBrooks Mar 27, 2013 01:47 PM

              It's a great choice, Em. I called a couple of places and it does indeed seem widely available. I love that you included a description of the various ages so I know what to expect or look for.

              1. re: ItalianNana
                e
                EmBrooks RE: ItalianNana Mar 27, 2013 02:21 PM

                I am glad you are excited to try it!

                Today I was able to find 6- and 12-month versions - so my cheese plate is complete. I am excited to start tasting!

          2. f
            FriedClamFanatic RE: EmBrooks Mar 27, 2013 02:34 PM

            My wife just brought some home a week ago and it was lovely. We used a tiny bit of Major Grey Chutney instead of the quince paste on those Canadian Stoned Wheat Thin crackers. Yummy

            1. DonShirer RE: EmBrooks Mar 27, 2013 07:24 PM

              Manchego is one of my favorite firm cheeses. If you want to contribute to anti-male-chauvinism, you could try Womanchego, made at Cato Corner Farms right here in CT. Here's the description from their website:

              Womanchego
              Inspired by the classic Spanish sheep milk cheese Manchego, our cows' milk Womanchego is aged 3 to 4 months, making it more similar to a young Manchego than the aged version most commonly found in cheese shops. The flavor is medium mild and a touch sweet with hints of fruit and nut. Moister than its Spanish cousin, our Womanchego is delicious on sandwiches, with wine, or melted. On limited occasions we will offer our Wise Womanchego, aged for at least 9 months.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DonShirer
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                FriedClamFanatic RE: DonShirer Mar 27, 2013 07:50 PM

                Another stupid cute marketing trick.Obviously the women don't speak Spanish or know the history/derivation. I suspect the quality lives up to that

              2. h
                Heatherb RE: EmBrooks Mar 27, 2013 07:40 PM

                I brought a wedge of manchego, a bag of raw almonds and a few blood oranges to a friend's house for a movie night, and EVERYBODY raved over my genius. It was kind of funny.

                If I'd've thought to pair it with a wine, they would have probably sacrificed small animals in my honor.

                Manchego is one of my favorite cheeses though.

                1. danna RE: EmBrooks Mar 28, 2013 05:53 AM

                  One of my favorites, but gosh it keeps getting more expensive. I enjoy the aged much more and it's ...what $25/lb or wrose now!

                  A few years ago I gave a 50th anniv. party for my parents. VERY conservative eaters for guests, but the little triangles of manchego w/ quince paste were gone before I could turn around. I had not made much because i didn't expect it to be a popular item. One of my Mom's friends told her "i have no idea what that is, but it's wonderful" You have to love a food so all-around delicious it pleases foodies and Olive Garden types alike!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: danna
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                    EmBrooks RE: danna Mar 28, 2013 06:04 AM

                    Hi Danna,
                    I found 12-month manchego at Whole Foods yesterday for $18.99/lb. Not cheap, but a little better than $25/lb.

                    1. re: danna
                      h
                      Heatherb RE: danna Mar 28, 2013 08:51 AM

                      I think it's that the flavors of manchego can be very complex, but they are mild and versatile at the same time. If I could only choose one cheese to keep on hand in my kitchen, it would probably be manchego.

                      1. re: danna
                        Ruth Lafler RE: danna Mar 28, 2013 11:30 AM

                        It's my 7-year-old niece's (current) favorite cheese.

                        And yes, like Ossau-Iraty, it's a real can't fail crowd pleaser. Interesting that they're both sheep's milk cheeses.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                          fldhkybnva RE: Ruth Lafler Aug 12, 2013 03:37 PM

                          Love love Ossau! I've never had Manchego, do they taste similar?

                        2. re: danna
                          lynnlato RE: danna Mar 28, 2013 04:19 PM

                          A while back I found a recipe here on CHOW for manchego & serrano ham on crostini w/ membrillo and a drizzle of minted olive oil - it was well-received by everyone at my party. Yumm, here is the link:

                          http://www.chow.com/recipes/10444-ser...

                        3. b
                          birch RE: EmBrooks Mar 28, 2013 06:11 AM

                          Pizza with figs, serrano ham, manchego, parmesan, fontina and buttered leeks. Inspired by Jospehine's in Grennsboro, NC. It is delicious.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: birch
                            h
                            HillJ RE: birch Mar 28, 2013 06:24 AM

                            A pizza after my own heart, wow.

                            1. re: birch
                              e
                              EmBrooks RE: birch Mar 28, 2013 06:37 AM

                              That sounds amazing. We do a lot of grilled pizza around here - this is on the list for fig season.

                              1. re: EmBrooks
                                b
                                birch RE: EmBrooks Mar 28, 2013 06:41 AM

                                Perhaps obvious, but this has good quality olive oil as a base, no tomato sauce. I believe they use mission figs.

                            2. a
                              angelsmom RE: EmBrooks Mar 28, 2013 04:01 PM

                              One of favorite recipes is marinated Manchego in olive oil and herbs....just love it.

                              1. r
                                ratgirlagogo RE: EmBrooks Mar 28, 2013 04:08 PM

                                We get ours from Sorriso's in Astoria (Queens NYC) and we just gobble it down straight. Sometimes with some crackers or olives. A huge, all-time favorite of Mr. Rat.

                                1. h
                                  HillJ RE: EmBrooks Mar 28, 2013 04:10 PM

                                  http://www.chow.com/recipes/14278-bla...

                                  This cheese puff recipe from the CHOW archive uses Manchego to rave reviews.

                                  1. h
                                    HillJ RE: EmBrooks Apr 1, 2013 11:55 AM

                                    I also picked up a 3 month Manchego from the specialty market for $11.99/lb just enough to grate and top on individual personal pizzas for six kids at Easter.

                                    1. Fowler RE: EmBrooks Apr 3, 2013 10:37 AM

                                      One of my favorite uses for Manchego that I often make for dinner parties...

                                      Obtain a good heritage pork tenderloin and stuff it with:

                                      Roasted red peppers
                                      Manchego cheese
                                      Roasted garlic
                                      Spanish (not Mexican!) chorizo
                                      Fresh herbs like thyme or basil

                                      Tie up the stuffed tenderloin and grill over hardwood coals.

                                      1. j
                                        jlhinwa RE: EmBrooks Apr 6, 2013 12:29 PM

                                        I just procured my first chunk of Manchego. After looking for it last night at the most likely local grocer to have it, I struck out. And then my brother reminded me of Trader Joe's, which is just a couple of miles away. Doh!! Why didn't I remember TJ's last month when looking for Taleggio?!?

                                        It was only $9.99/lb., pasteurized, aged six months.

                                        I first tried it with plain water crackers--to me, they are like a blank slate and don't compete with the favors of cheese. I liked the texture and the light saltiness of the cheese. Then I added some fig jam that I had on hand and oh my....how delicious. Even though fig jam is not on the typical recommended pairing lists, it was absolutely heavenly. I will be eating more today, I am certain!

                                        So glad to have tried a new cheese. I love it! Thanks EmBrooks!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jlhinwa
                                          e
                                          EmBrooks RE: jlhinwa Apr 7, 2013 05:58 AM

                                          This sounds wonderful. In my opinion, few cheeses are not made better with a little bit of fig jam!

                                        2. e
                                          EmBrooks RE: EmBrooks Apr 7, 2013 05:33 PM

                                          To kick off April I put together a Manchego tasting plate - including:

                                          3 month ($15.99 from EarthFare)
                                          6 month ($16.99 from Whole Foods)
                                          12 month ($18.99 from Whole Foods)
                                          Served with quince paste & chorizo as bites alongside. All cheeses were pasteurized.

                                          While I would buy any of these again, the far and away taste test winner was the 6-month. I thought it had far more flavor and depth than the three month. While I liked the taste, the 12-month made my mouth sting/tingle (pecorino does this to me as well, does anyone know why??).

                                          I am planning to use the rest of the 12-month to make the smoked chicken, corn & manchego quiche from this month's Fine Cooking....will report on that when I make it!

                                          I hope everyone is enjoying some Manchego this month - I look forward to hearing about everyone's experiences!

                                           
                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: EmBrooks
                                            h
                                            HillJ RE: EmBrooks Apr 7, 2013 05:46 PM

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/297369

                                            I actually recall this CH thread about mouth reactions to food; including cheese. My doc said it was an enzyme reaction sometimes from dry, aged cheese.

                                            1. re: EmBrooks
                                              Fowler RE: EmBrooks Apr 7, 2013 07:47 PM

                                              Sounds like a good sampling. So we all may compare and contrast what we have tasted, which producer/producers made the three specific versions you mention?

                                              1. re: Fowler
                                                e
                                                EmBrooks RE: Fowler Apr 8, 2013 05:35 AM

                                                Great question....and I don't know the answer because I threw away the labels. Next time I am back at either store, I will make a note of the producers and report back.

                                                1. re: Fowler
                                                  e
                                                  EmBrooks RE: Fowler Apr 9, 2013 08:38 AM

                                                  The 3-month is El Greco brand. Will report back on the other 2 when I get to Whole Foods.

                                              2. Fowler RE: EmBrooks Apr 8, 2013 08:00 AM

                                                One of my favorite Manchego appetizers:

                                                Remove the pits from some Medjool dates. Stuff the cavity with a piece of Manchego cheese. Wrap the stuffed dates with pancetta and bake until the pancetta is crisp.

                                                It has that interesting moderately sweet/salty combo. They work well for a party because just about everyone seems to love them and they can be prepared well in advance.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Fowler
                                                  jpr54_1 RE: Fowler Apr 8, 2013 08:22 AM

                                                  sounds delicious

                                                  what age cheese did u use?

                                                  1. re: jpr54_1
                                                    Fowler RE: jpr54_1 Apr 8, 2013 09:09 AM

                                                    I usually purchase the 6 month for this appetizer. In this specific application, I do not see the value (at least for me) in spending significantly more for the 12 month. I save the 12 for other things.

                                                2. LindaWhit RE: EmBrooks Apr 9, 2013 12:10 PM

                                                  Manchego is one of my favorite cheeses. Love the complementary salty mixed in with the sweetness of quince paste or fig jams.

                                                  I made Manchego Crisps based on this recipe several years ago for a dinner party - they were very well received. IIRC, they were laid across the top of a bowl of butternut squash and apple soup, which provided the sweet to the crisps' saltiness. (I cut back on the amount of chili powder, as I didn't want them overly spicy.)

                                                  http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/...

                                                  1. Jay F RE: EmBrooks Apr 10, 2013 09:52 AM

                                                    I went to WF today and tried a 6-month Manchego. I was underwhelmed, and didn't buy any. I'm going to try it again next time I go shopping, maybe the 12-month.

                                                    1. Melanie Wong RE: EmBrooks Apr 25, 2013 03:43 PM

                                                      Just ran across this photo I took 2 years ago at an event at San Francisco MOMA. Befitting the environs, this was one of the artfully arranged things I've been served on a paper plate. A colorful assemblage of pickles made by Hapa Ramen accompanied by pancetta dust, Manchego foam, and brightened with daikon sprouts.

                                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                                                      1. d
                                                        DeborahL RE: EmBrooks Apr 26, 2013 06:45 PM

                                                        Dave MP brought two aged Manchegos to one of our CHOW meetings today, both purchased at Whole Foods: 6-month Artequeso and 12-month El Trigal.

                                                        I was underwhelmed by both, but I also didn't really know what to expect from Manchego. One person at the meeting commented that it reminded them of Parmesan, which is true: it's kind of salty, and it's a hard, aged cheese. The 12-month also struck me as buttery.

                                                        After reading this thread I see that this cheese is not necessarily something to nibble on its own. The idea of pairing it with fig jam actually makes my mouth water a little, and the mild nature of these Manchegos would make them perfect pairables for stronger flavors mentioned throughout this thread.

                                                        So I'd say a great cheese to serve as a base for pairing with bolder flavors. And the rind on the El Trigal caught my eye just in terms of visual presentation. According to Murray's, the style of the rind is a tribute to the grass baskets formerly used to form the cheese:

                                                        http://www.murrayscheese.com/manchego...

                                                        This isn't a cheese I'd probably seek out again though. I enjoyed the Taleggio from last month way more.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: DeborahL
                                                          Melanie Wong RE: DeborahL Apr 30, 2013 05:22 PM

                                                          Thanks for noting the producers of the examples you tried.

                                                        2. Melanie Wong RE: EmBrooks Apr 28, 2013 11:56 PM

                                                          I recall tasting Manchego for the first time at a Rioja wine event in San Francisco about a dozen years ago as part of my intro to Spanish gastronomy. An aged type, somewhat brittle and piquant, served with membrillo (also my first encounter) on bread as a tapa and so complementary to the pimenton of chorizo. I'd run across it a couple times a year as Spanish food became more popular as a party and dinner theme out here. But with popularity and more ready availability, the examples of the cheese became blander and far less interesting. It's not one I've bought for myself in recent years.

                                                          For May's ChOTM, I've been keeping an eye out for a Manchego Artesano DOP, a designation for the manchego cheeses still made in the traditional style (see photo of seal of origin). I finally found one at the cheese counter at Star Market in Salinas. It's Don Lorenzo Manchego Artesano Curado, made with raw milk and aged 8 months, $18.99/lb.
                                                          http://www.spanish-cheese.com/w1s11/p...

                                                          http://www.laespanolameats.com/mm5/me...

                                                          The texture strikes that happy medium between firm waxy smoothness at the heart of the round giving way to more crystalline and brittle saltiness around the drier rind edge. Slightly gamey, mostly buttery in flavor with herbal notes of thyme and rosemary, and a piquancy that hints at spicy Spanish pimenton. Where this cheese shows its breed is the much longer finish than run-of-the-mill manchego. I liked this one, eating it just plain, and it's been some time since I could say that about Manchego.

                                                           
                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                            Ruth Lafler RE: Melanie Wong Apr 29, 2013 10:04 AM

                                                            I'll just note that my dog, Kelpie, also participated in the CoTM -- she enjoyed to wedge of Manchego my niece knocked on the floor very much!

                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                              Fowler RE: Melanie Wong Apr 29, 2013 10:50 AM

                                                              "But with popularity and more ready availability, the examples of the cheese became blander and far less interesting."

                                                              That is the exact same thing I was thinking when someone upthread said they were tasting it at a gathering and one of the people said that Manchego reminded them of Parmesan. The small production, higher grade, classic Manchego would not remind one of Parmesan.

                                                              1. re: Fowler
                                                                Ruth Lafler RE: Fowler Apr 29, 2013 11:05 AM

                                                                Yeah, I have to say I was underwhelmed by the two Manchegos I bought (a four-month that was totally without character and a 12-month that was only slightly better).

                                                                When I want a cheese in that style, I'm going back to Zamorano: http://www.artisanalcheese.com/Zamora...

                                                            2. Melanie Wong RE: EmBrooks Apr 30, 2013 05:26 PM

                                                              Wondering if anyone tried Manchego Tierna this month, aged < 15 days?
                                                              http://esgourmet.com/17-73-thickbox/q...

                                                              I saw some at Big John's cheese shop in Healdsburg but didn't buy it, as there were no staff available to let me sample it. Quite pale, ivory white, almost looked like ricotta salata.

                                                              1. DonShirer RE: EmBrooks May 6, 2013 07:36 PM

                                                                Happened to pass near a TJ's recently coming back from a meeting, and of course had to stock up. Saw some Spanish Manchego in their cooler and tried it. Okay, and not very expensive, but didn't have the bite of the kind I usually get at a cheese store.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: DonShirer
                                                                  LindaWhit RE: DonShirer May 7, 2013 05:37 AM

                                                                  They had that "aged" manchego out for sampling in my local TJ's this weekend. I tried it, and the woman offering the samples was doing a full-court press on selling it, but I agree - didn't have near the oomph that manchego should have. I passed.

                                                                2. DonShirer RE: EmBrooks Aug 9, 2013 04:28 PM

                                                                  If you like Manchego, you might also try Campo de Montalban, from LaMancha, Spain. It is quite similar but is made from a mixture of cow, goat and sheep milk instead of just sheep milk. It was also less inexpensive.

                                                                  1. fldhkybnva RE: EmBrooks Aug 12, 2013 03:41 PM

                                                                    Can anyone comment on the flavor profile of Manchego? I'd love to try it but have no idea what to expect.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                      LindaWhit RE: fldhkybnva Aug 12, 2013 04:26 PM

                                                                      Most cheesemongers will give you a taste, fieldhawk.

                                                                      And from the original post that started the thread, a description link:

                                                                      http://culturecheesemag.com/node/1181

                                                                    2. fldhkybnva RE: EmBrooks Aug 18, 2013 09:42 AM

                                                                      Well, I finally tried Manchego and really enjoyed it. I am planning to try a few more but my initial taste was El Trigal Manchego aged 8 months from Wegmans. I enjoyed the wonderful flavor that I love in sheep's milk cheeses, although it had more bite than I expected. I'm not sure if it's considered Manchego but I also tried the Cordobes at Whole Foods which was listed as a milder cousin of Manchego which I think I enjoyed a bit more.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                                        1sweetpea RE: fldhkybnva Aug 19, 2013 01:59 PM

                                                                        So much of cheese's flavor is tied to how it is handled as it ages. A cheesemonger that cares deeply about moisture, temperature and how cheeses are wrapped will also be able to advise whether or not a cheese is at its peak. Young manchegos I have tasted are a little softer and a lot more mild than the more aged ones. The best versions are crumbly, a little funky in taste and very rich. If you can get your hands on an artisanal manchego, I think the cheese's notes will be more pronounced than the industrially produced ones.

                                                                        1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                                          fldhkybnva RE: 1sweetpea Aug 19, 2013 02:04 PM

                                                                          I thought the El Trigal was pretty rich, it really reminded me of Parmesan in a way. I'll be on the hunt for less mass-produced though. You can never taste enough cheese in my book.

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