Essex 1605 Manchego
We often categorize Manchego as a basic cheese. It’s found virtually everywhere, easy to sell, and just flavorful enough to be crowd pleasing. Because of this, it’s easy to forget Manchego’s rich history and its notability. It was first mentioned in 1605 by Cervantes’s novel about the rambunctious nobleman of La Mancha, Don Quixote. It actually dates further back to the Bronze Age, where its main purpose was to preserve leftover milk. Thanks to the Spanish Government’s name protection ‘Denominacion de Origen’, Manchego is made close to as it was centuries ago. In order for a Manchego to be Manchego, it has to be:
-Produced in the La Mancha region
-Made using whole milk of Manchega sheep
-Aged for a minimum of 60 days, and up to 2 years
-Made in a cylindrical mold of max height 12 cm and a max diameter of 22 cm.
There are few Manchego producers that go above and beyond the DO regulations, and the makers of our Essex 1605 Manchego is one of them. It is hand selected at Finca Sierra de la Solana by Essex St. Cheese, purveyors of many of our favorites such as the L’amuse Signature Gouda. What’s different about this raw milk Manchego is its naked rind. Instead of coating the outside with wax, it is left bare to keep it closer to tradition. The result is a sea-foam green dusting of mold that only extenuates the esparto basket weaving print; the tell-tale identifier of Manchego. They are also farmstead, meaning the milk comes from the same place the cheese is made. Finca Sierra de la Solana controls everything down to the feed of the Manchega ewes, thereby controlling the flavor profile of their cheese. They even play soft Mariachi music on the speakers of their nursery to keep the lambs happy. Does it affect the cheese at the end? You’ll have to order some to find out.