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Mar 26, 2013 04:25 PM

MANCHEGO – Cheese of the Month (April 2013)

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:

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!

Previous Cheese of the Month Threads:
Taleggio – March 2013:

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  1. 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

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

      1. re: jpr54_1

        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

          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

            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

              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. 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!
        photo images for reference

        1. Em,

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

          3 Replies
          1. re: ItalianNana

            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

              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

                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. 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. 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:

              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

                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