Azeitão Cheese (DOP)

It’s said that only experienced artisans have the know-how to produce this gourmet favorite. Azeitão is a concentrated round of sheep's milk cheese made with cardoon thistle rather than traditional animal rennet. Azeitão is named for the village where it was born in the foothills of Setúbal’s Arrabida mountain range (south of Lisbon). Being made for generations, this cheese is mainly produced in the regions of Palmela, Sesimbra and Azeitão also known for their delicate white wines.

The pastures where the sheep of Azeitão graze are lush and covered in herbaceous scrub, giving the milk its characteristically rich flavor and a strong, earthy aroma. Molded in cloth, Azeitão has a rustic appearance that adds to its romance. Its texture ranges from soft and unctuous to firm and chewy - cut open the top and scoop its yellow cream onto slabs of nutty bread. Azeitão was awarded DOP, elevating its stature in Portugal and abroad.

When ripe, Azeitao has a rich, creamy, slightly sour flavor with hints of flowers or sweet herbs. When left at room temperature, the cheese becomes almost melty. The older the cheese the harder and drier the paste will get and the intenser the flavor. The gourmet cheese is at its best when it is full, but still very rewarding when just over the top and flatter in form. If you have never tasted Portuguese cheese before, this is a great starting place!

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