Brindisa at the Abergavenny Food Festival
Brindisa Spanish Foods will have the only all-Spanish cheese stall at Abergavenny this September. Spain’s cheeses are still a largely undiscovered area of the country’s gastronomy, and Brindisa will showcase some surprising and inspiring varieties,including Cabrales, a very strong blue, which comes from a mountain range where a number of styles of blue cheese are made.
Spain’s cheeses are directly related to the geography, climate and topography of the country. The kind of animal that can live and produce milk in certain areas and these different environments has determined today’s cheese map. The appearance of the cheeses is also influenced by these environments. The forests of the North provide the wood for the original moulds that create a smooth rind; the dried grasses to determine the style of the weave pattern on traditional pressed cheese and the dark moist caves of the north have created the deep blue veins that run through local cheeses.
Brindisa Spanish Foods’ new range of northern cows’ milk cheeses remind us of the colder lush parts of the countryside and bring in contrasting flavours and textures. Dairy cattle and certain breeds of sheep are hardy and able to pasture and thrive in the cold northern mountain ranges. Indigenous sheep breeds also populate the harsh open central plateaux, while numerous breeds of goat bound around the warmer shrub and scrub land of the islands, the Mediterranean coast and southern areas of Spain.
Brindisa has always worked with a varied group of cheese makers from very small to quite large, and a wide selection of their cheeses will be showcased at Abergavenny this year. Some shepherd their own herds while others age cheeses made on neighbouring farms. Many buy in milk from a small number of trusted farmers, while others work within a cooperative system that sustains both farmer and maker. Larger dairies buy big volumes of milk from cooperatives or from across Spain to produce a competitively priced product. A few of the dairies Brindisa work with strive to keep breeds of native animals intact by producing cheese with their milk. They also work with cheese entrepreneurs who take traditional recipes and adapt them to suit the raw material in their area which may otherwise not be valued as highly.