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Like cheese from many other European countries, the 100 or so different varieties of cheese from Spain can be categorized by the regions where they are produced. They are further classified as having a light, medium or strong flavor. Some cheeses from Spain are recognized as having a Protected Denominations of Origin (DO) and each is unique in its own way.
Manchego - This cheese is named after the province made famous by Don Quixote, La Mancha. It is made from ewe's milk and has a sweet, mild flavor. It was originally made to provide durable food for shepherds.
Murcia Al Vino - This somewhat fatty cheese is made from goat's milk and has a creamy, elastic texture. Its flavor is enhanced by a rind that has been rubbed with light red wine.
Nata de Cantabria - This name means “creamy cheese” and it is a perfect description for this cheese. It is similar to cream cheese but has a delicious bitter point that is very distinctive.
Roncal - Made in one of the seven villages in the Valle de Roncal, this cheese is from the area that was the setting for Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. It is firm with a nutty flavor.
Tetilla - This yellow cheese is uniquely shaped like a spinning top. It has a clean taste and is creamy and smooth.
Zamorano - Named for the province of Zamora, Zamorano is a hard sheep's milk cheese with a sharp, buttery taste.
Afuega'l Pitu - Meaning “fire in the throat,” this cheese is so named because it sticks to the back of the throat a little. A well-aged sample has a very strong flavor that might not be for everyone.
Cabra al Romero - This is a newer cheese from the same company that makes Manchego. The outside is coated with rosemary to give it a mild herby flavor.
Idiazabel - This rustic ewe's milk cheese was originally produced high in the Pyrenees. It was smoked in the roofs of shepherd's huts and still carries that smoky flavor.
Arzula Illoa - This soft, creamy cow's milk cheese comes in a variety of strengths depending on how long it has been left to cure.
Queso de la Serana - Locally called Torta del Casar, this cheese is great for party platters. It is an organic cheese made from specially raised sheep. It is considered a luxury and is somewhat expensive.
San Simon - This smoked cheese is very popular in Spain and is formed in a pear-shaped mold. It is soft inside and has a mild flavor.
Bulgaria may be a small country but it is bursting at the seams with good things to eat. Bulgarians are known for cooking fresh, organic dishes using the best ingredients. Cheese is a great addition to almost any meal and Bulgaria is home to some of the best varieties available. Gourmet chefs all over the world love using the delicious cheeses that originate in Bulgaria.
Kashkaval is a popular Bulgarian cheese made from sheep's milk. It is a semi-hard yellow cheese that comes in several variations ranging from bland to spicy. It is used in all aspects of Bulgarian cuisine, including cooking because it melts nicely. It can have a pungent taste similar to bleu cheese, even though it's not a moldy cheese.
Brinza cheese, another favorite among Bulgarians, is also made from sheep's milk. It is a very versatile cheese with many uses. It has a salty, smooth taste. When young, it is creamy and spreadable. It is a perfect pairing for meat, cheese and cracker trays, and other hors d'oeuvres. As it ages, it becomes more firm and crumbly, which makes it great for salads.
Feta cheese comes in a few different varieties, the most well known being produced in Greece. Sirene cheese, from Bulgaria, is another form of Feta cheese that many consider to be superior to the Greek version. It is a white, salty, brined cheese that can be made from either sheep or cow's milk. It is used in many traditional Bulgarian dishes and originates in the southern Trakia region of the country.
There's a good reason why professional chefs and food lovers all over the world include these cheeses in their lineup. Next time you're in the mood for gourmet cooking, try one of these Bulgarian varieties of cheese to top off your meal. The superior quality and taste they provide is a perfect addition to any meal.