Idiazabal Cheese 1lbanco
This Basque cheese is a pressed cheese made from unpasteurized sheep's milk, usually from Latxa (pronounced Lacha) and Carranzana sheep in the Basque Country and Navarre, Spain. It has a somewhat smokey nutty flavor, but is usually un-smoked.
The cheese is handmade and covered in a hard, edible rind. It is aged for a few months and develops a nutty, buttery flavor, eaten fresh, often with quince jam. If aged longer, it becomes firm, dry and sharp and can be used for grating.
Serve at room temperature sliced thin and accompany with figs, quince or a sweet berry. Try a piece on a toasted cracker with sweet balsamic. A favorite wine to accompany this is the Basque dry white Txokoli (pronounced Chak-o-lee).
The Denomination of Origin for Idiazabal cheese was created in 1987 and defines the basic regulations for the product's manufacture. Typically, unpasteurized milk from Latxa breed of sheep is used, although in some cases the D.O. permits the use of milk from Carranzana breed, from the Encartaciones in Biscay. The D.O. also stipulates that the milk be curdled with the natural lamb rennet, and permits external smoking of the cheese. The cheeses produced in the following towns in accordance with all the D.O. regulations, are therefore also protected by the Idiazabal D.O. Urbia, Entzia, Gorbea, Ordu̱a, Urbasa and Aralar. Recently some Basque Country farmers have begun to use hybrid Assaf sheep, which some maintain does not meet the Denomination of Origin for the cheese.