Friday, February 26, 2010

The "Queijo de Azeitão", gourmet cheese

One of the many delicacies you can taste in the Setubal region is the "Queijo de Azeitão", or Azeitão's cheese. It was named after the village where it was born and it is said that only experienced artisans have the know-how to produce this gourmet favorite.

Made for generations at the foot of the Arrabida Mountains, the Azeitão’s Cheese is produced from the raw sheep’s milk, the producers only add
thistle and salt. The cheese is coagulated with cardoon thistle instead of traditional animal rennet and it has a buttery texture.

The cure has the duration of 20 days at least. During this time every day cheeses are turned, cleaned and washed, every time its needed, to keep the crust clean and smooth. The pastures where the sheep of Azeitão graze are lush and covered in herbaceous scrub, giving the milk its characteristically rich and unique flavor.

The end product is a thick, smooth, and soft cheese with a strong, earthy aroma. When left at room temperature, the cheese becomes almost a melty yellow cream and it is eaten by using a spoon to take it out and spread it on bread or crackers.

It weights about 100 gr. or 200 gr. a piece (approximately 8 ounces). Molded in cloth, Queijo de Azeitão has a rustic appearance that adds to its romance and tradition. All the cheese have a sequential number and an origin certificate. This cheese and a bottle of Moscatel make an outstanding and distinct souvenir.

If you never tasted Portuguese cheese before, we guarantee that this is a good place to start.



4 comments:

  1. Hi Carla,

    Great blog and as I'm only an hour north of lisboa it will be an easy trek for me down to Setubal, the area looks stunning especially Troia!

    Good luck on your return to Portugal

    Flyfisher from expats forum

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  2. Thanks Flyfisher, I'm really looking forward! Yes, the area is stunning, you're gonna love it! :)

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  3. Also this cheese is curdled with the a plant called cardo, which works make it so special.

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