Andalusian cheese might resemble cheddar / A. M. S.

Cadiz cheese market brings together some of the best dairies of the region

'Acércate al Queso' in Rota brought together prizewinning cheeses

ALEKK M. SAANDERS

A cheese fair in the town of Rota, in Cadiz province, took place this weekend, organised by Quesandaluz and Cabrandalucia, with the collaboration of the Rota council, the University of Cordoba and the Valle del Guadalhorce Rural Development Group.

Getting 'closer to cheese' in Rota

Until the slogan 'Acércate al Queso' (Get Closer to Cheese), visitors were able to attend a guided cheese-tasting session to sample the different types of some awardwinning cheeses. Attendees were also given an opportunity to learn how to distinguish what type of milk cheeses are made from or whether they are made in a traditional or more innovative way. Additionally, a cheese-making workshop showed how cheese is made from goat's milk. This year there was a new activity - 'Monta tu propia tabla de quesos' - where visitors were able to 'Assemble your own cheese board'.

This third edition of the foodie fair was attended by 13 Andalusian cheese dairies from Cadiz, Cordoba, Jaén, Huelva, Seville and Malaga. Malaga province was represented by Lácteos Argudo and Quesos El Porticatero. However, most of the cheeses were from Cadiz dairies, including the famous El Bucarito, which offers several distinguished cheeses from the World Cheese Awards, and Quesería El Gazul which was awarded at the 34th Salón Gourmet in Madrid this autumn.

Award-winning cheese right on your doorstep

El Gazul cheeses are renowned for their special taste, quality and origin. Ten years ago, at the World Cheese Awards in Birmingham, one of Quesería El Gazul's gourmet cheeses was included in the world's fifty best cheeses, selected by two hundred international judges who sampled over 2,500 submission from 34 countries.

The creator of El Gazul cheese is Jorge Puerto. Many years ago, he launched his family business in his home village, Alcalá de los Gazules, that is situated quite close to Gibraltar. Originally he simply sold the milk from his tri-coloured goats, but in 2002 his family started making delicious cheese and yoghurt from the goat milk.

For Jorge Puerto cheese home starts in his organic farm. / sur

“Since 2008 we have been making an organic cheese from the milk of my special flock of Payoya goats. The line of organic cheeses is marketed under the 'Montes de Alcalá' brand. We do not use chemical products in our cheese, such as lysozyme, which prevents the cheese from swelling. Moreover, for the rind we don't use wax, but olive oil instead,” Jorge told SUR in English.

The cheese Montes de Alcalá Bio: Matured with Paprika, which won awards this October in Madrid, is certified CAAE, by the Andalusian Committee for Organic Agriculture. The cheese has a smoked flavour due to the paprika. Combining the cheese and paprika gives an intense and spicy flavour on the palate. The texture is harder than the other varieties.

The El Gazul cheeses are distributed throughout the country and abroad. Jorge Puerto maintains contacts with Gibraltar, Andorra, Germany and the USA although not yet Britain. Nevertheless, England sets an example for the Andalusian cheese maker.

“British cheeses have been revolutionised over the last 30 years, because there was a market, and there was a public that demanded quality,” Jorge said. Among English cheese Jorge prefers the Stilton Blue.