If you like Manchego, Idiazabal is your next must-try. One bite will transport you to the rustic countryside of Basque country, dotted with shepherds and their sheep.
This cheese is lightly smoked, originally not by design. In days gone by, Basque shepherds would make and age wheels of cheese in their shepherd's huts. Fires inside for cooking and warming created smoky rooms, which would flavor the wheels, stored in the rafters. Now Idiazabal is a smoked cheese by design. Its production is strictly regulated: in 1987 the cheese gained Denomination of Origin status, meaning it can only be made in the traditional ways in designated regions. Any cheese bearing the name "Idiazabal" is made with raw milk from Latxa or Carranzana sheep.
Idiazabal is matured for period of 3-4 months to bring out a hearty flavor. The cheese is produced in small drums. It has a pale yellow in color and it is quite firm.
The flavor is much like Manchego, but with a slight smokiness. The texture is firm and sliceable, dappled with tiny holes. Idiazabal has notes of olive oil, sweet caramel, and hints of lemony acidity.
Pair Idiazabal with fresh fruit, Spanish ham, crusty bread and some Marcona almonds.
Ingredients:unpasteurized sheep's milk, rennet, salt, enzymes.