Idiazabal is a cheese with a story to tell. Unpasteurised sheep’s milk from the Basque country, this newcomer to the world of protected cheese was created in 1987 so is just a baby. Milk of the blonde and rather shaggy Latxa sheep is used generally but laws also allow for milk from the Carranzana sheep also . Naturally fermented using lamb rennet the interior is quite dense and close natured –no wee eyes in this cheese. The natural rennet allows for a more piquant taste with high acidity and low fat content. The cheese is names after the small village located in the Goierri Valley. Farming in this area is still very traditional with farmers often living on the land during the warmer summer months in “txabolas”, rural dwellings high in the mountains.
In a rather odd process the cheese is smoked. Cheese making traditions meant the rounds of cheese were stored in these small mountain huts or dwellings over the summer periods so naturally any fire started at all in the chimneyless huts caused smoke that would then permeate the cheese stored in the huts. As soon as the first snow of winter falls, the farmers retreat down the mountainside and sell their matured cheeses. Smoking is done only using traditional woods of the area –beech, birch cheery and white pine.
Rich and piquant we recommend Idiazabal with grilled meats and full bodied wines or sherry. Over the month we will have the rather unusual produced Idiazabal available to taste and on special in all Farro delis
Another rather unusual cheese this month that we rather enjoy as a strong contract to Idiazabal is the Drunken Goat –Murcia al Vino . Literally washed in red wine, this goat’s milk cheese is from the very dry Murcia region where the very well suited Murciano-Granadina goat is indigenous to the area. Grazing on some big bold flavours always helps to create some pretty bold cheese but the immersion for up to 75 days in locally produced red wine does the trick in making this a memorable cheese. A mild goat taste with fruit from that all that wine, it is a great table cheese well matched with bright green grapes and fruits will also be available for tasting and on special over the month of August.