|Simply the best,better than all the rest|
When you are in Portugal either as a resident or visitor one of your missions must be to try the utterly scrumptious Queijo de Azeitão,this is simply the best, better than all the rest, a concentrated round of sheep's milk cheese that is coagulated with cardoon thistle instead of traditional animal rennet.Azeitão is named after the village where it was created in the foothills of the Arribida mountain range just a 40 minute drive south of Lisbon. The pastures where the sheep of Azeitão graze are lush and covered in herbaceous scrub, giving the milk its characteristically rich flavor.It comes wrapped in vegetable parchment or cloth and weighs in with rounds of 100g to 250g sizes.It is cured for either 20 days if produced in the summer, or 40 days if in winter, and has a to die for buttery,semi soft texture with a good dash of piquancy,depending on the age.In my mind one of Portugal´s finest cheeses,this one is so good that unscrupulous producers try to get away with fakes.So be sure to check the label for DOP certification(DOP Azeitão (Estramadura) and be sure you are buying the real Mccoy from the concelho´s de Setubal,Sesimbra and Palmela. Azeitão has a rustic appearance that adds to its romance. Its texture ranges from soft and unctuous to firm and chewy; you can cut open the top and scoop its yellow cream onto slabs of nutty bread. Azeitão was awarded name-protection (Denominação de Origem Protegida certification, DOP), elevating its stature in both Portugal and abroad.
And most of all, avoid becoming a social outcast by remembering that Azeitão is eaten with a spoon,not cut, and try it with marmelada,a stiff quince paste.
The flavour is strong but tends to be the most palatable of Portugal´s “stinky cheeses".If you have never tasted Portuguese cheese before, this is a great starting place! Pair Azeitão with a Tempranillo or Albariño.