Serra da Estrela Cheese (DOP)

This 12th century DOP cheese is famous throughout the world for its unique character and intense flavor. Made in the mountains of Serra da Estrela (also a national park), in the Beiras region, this traditional washed rind farmhouse cheese is described as the "king of Portuguese cheeses".

The Bordaleira ewes thrive on a diet of wild herbs, scrub, gorse blossoms and brambles, producing thick, luscious, aromatic milk. Serra da Estrela is handmade in small batches using wild thistle (Cynara cardunculus) to coagulate the milk. The curds are broken by hand instead of cut. It takes an average of three hours to make one cheese and only two or three are made per day. After the wheel is salted, it is then wrapped in cloth and aged in caves.

It is available in two stages of ripeness, that correspond to two kinds of texture:"Amanteigado" (like butter) - this is when Queijo Serra da Estrela is younger, the rind is sticky and pungent and the interior is so creamy that it is almost spoonable; "Curado" (cured) - as it ages, the rind becomes harder and smoother with the interior becoming denser and sliceable. Either way, this is an incredible Portuguese treasure. It has a perfumed intensity and a sweet grassy taste that is fruity and mildly bitter. All that's needed is some fresh crusty bread and a bottle of wine. Perfect!

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