Let Go of My Manchego

Manchego 1

September is the month of nostalgia. Look back, and the hotness is behind you. Sun. Sea. Soft cheeses. Tell me about the mozzarella you ate in the park, the fresh ricotta you gobbed on berries before you went off to build a fort in the sand.

For me, it was a summer of sheep’s milk cheese.

First, there was a trip to Puglia to learn about making Pecorino. Ivory. Salty. Sensuous. Then I flew home to find a whole wheel of Manchego had arrived on my doorstep. I loosened my belt, pulled my new cheese knife out of my boot, and started snacking.

For most of June and July, it was Manchego, membrillo, and me.

My Manchego fell out of the sky, thanks to a PR campaign celebrating American consumption of Spain’s most famous cheese — export to the U.S. has doubled in the last five years. If the press release is to be believed, then all of you are consuming 6 million pounds of Manchego per year.

Why didn’t you tell me?

Manchego 2

Let me count the ways I like to eat Manchego, then you can count yours…

Manchego + Red wine or Dark Beer: Manchego is the dairy equivalent of black leggings. It goes with everything — beer, wine, a glass of sherry. It’s one of the few cheeses that can stand up to a powerful red wine, thanks to its luxurious fattiness. I also love to pair it with a nut brown ale.

Manchego + Fruit and Nuts: Almonds and Manchego are one of my favorite pairings, probably because Manchego has a subtle nutty flavor. It’s a savory cheese, great with a sweet companion, like figs, cherry jam, or quince paste. Try a sliver of Manchego with a drizzle of honey and some cracked black pepper.

Beware, Not all Manchego is Created Equal: Artisan Manchego is overseen by a Regulating Council of DO Manchego (DO stands for Designation of Origin). DO Manchego has more depth of flavor than industrial varieties, which can taste like bland balsa wood. To find the best Manchego, look for a DO Manchego label and a serial number stamped on the rind.

Manchego 3

Manchego should taste subtle, savory, a little salty — like sea air, like summer itself.

Tell me, how do you like to eat yours?



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3 Responses to “Let Go of My Manchego”
  1. Monica says:

    With Membrillo and a cup of te manzana along with Marcona almonds, glass of sherry

  2. Juhl says:

    I love mine with pistachios thanks to the recommendation and research of a DB monger! There is a pistachio cream they sell that has the beautiful combo of salty nut and sweat cream that makes manchego flavors come out like brioche and vanilla like I have never had!

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