Spain is a nation of cheeses from the Manchego to the Mahon, and Iberian cheese is a must-try for any lover of the dairy delight. One that is a must-try is the fine cheese of Spain created in Catalonia in Barcelona. The region is booming with agriculture and boasts around 61,000 farms, rearing various livestock, especially cows, sheep, and goats, who produce luxury milk. Much of Catalonia’s cheese comes directly from dairy farms situated throughout the Catalan Pyrenees and small villages like Borreda, Moia, and La Garrotxa.
The creation of each variety of Catalan cheese will depend on the maker. Some are left to ripen for months, producing mould that gives them their unique taste. Others may only take a few weeks. Below we list some of our favourite flavours that you can experience when you find yourself in Catalonia.
This form of delicious Barcelona cheese is created in the small town of Borreda. Bauma Carrat is made from goat’s milk and one of the cheeses that don’t take as long to ripen. It is still left for around 15 to 21 days, providing a rich flavour, unlike other dairy products. Once ready, the cheese is covered in a black ash rind to give it a smokey taste that blends well with the smooth, soft, and creamy texture underneath, which is similar to yoghurt. The unique flavour is slightly goaty, which makes it different but not too strong that it’s overpowering. Serve this cheese with a green salad and pair it with a glass of fruity wines, for example, an Alella.
Queso de l’Alt Urgell y la Cerdanya
The provinces of Lleida and Girona, tucked into the foothills of the Catalonian Pyrenees, produce the spectacular l’Alt Urgell y la Cerdanya. Located in North-East Spain, the livestock has room to thrive as the areas are protected by the Sierra del Cai and linked by the Segre river basin providing an ample water supply. Cheesemakers use pasteurised, whole cow’s milk from lively Holstein Friesian cattle. Each cheese wheel is ripened for at least 45 days, adding mature flavours that are both sweet and buttery. Less soft than the Bauma Carrat, it still boasts a lovely creamy texture and a unique grassy and nutty aroma that pair perfectly with fruity white wines or a sparkling Cava.
Sarro de Cabra
The region is also well-known for its goat cheese, producing some of the finest in the world. The Sarro de Cabra is a traditional cheese of Spain found predominantly in Moia. Pasteurised goat’s milk is transformed into an abundance of different flavours over a period of 2 months. Unlike any other form of Catalan cheese, it’s wrapped in a napkin during production, providing it with a distinctive rounded shape. Once unwrapped, the cheese boasts a semi-soft and buttery texture. The variety of mild sweet aromas offers multiple flavours ranging from strong, intense, tangy, and citrusy, which pairs perfectly with a dry white wine.
Quesos de a Garrotxa
If you’re a fan of blue cheese, then you’ll fall in love with the Quesos da a Garrotxa. Also known as Glauc, it’s made in La Garrotxa in Girona by the Formatgeria Xauxa. This fairly new product has only been produced since the end of 2018 but has rapidly grown in popularity due to its soft creamy textures and unique spiciness. A new batch is created on a weekly basis from 300 to 500 litres of raw cows milk producing a cheese with a thin, natural rind that is slightly covered in small dots of mould. The white, creamy textures with streaks of blue mould provide an excellent flavour that’s more buttery than other blue cheeses. The sweet and fruity character evens the flavours out, taking away some of its intensity and making it the perfect pairing with a white wine created from Macabeu grapes.
Globally recognised awards
Catalan cheeses compete against 2,700 cheeses from over 30 countries in the World Cheese Awards. In 2010, the region took home three gold medals, five silver and one bronze. More recently, in 2018, the Formayge Madurat Formatges Mas El Garet came sixth place for the coveted best cheese in the world. The Glauc has also won its own award as the best Catalan cheese in the Lactium contest in 2021, where local farmers travel the region, tasting the different flavours of locally produced dairy products.