The ninth stop on the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek takes us to a small town in the province of Cadiz, Spain – only an hour drive from the very Southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. A region known for its many culinary traditions – cured hams, olive oil, cold soups and incredible sherry! Fresh and brined cheeses are the everyday fare in most regions this far south where cheese is not traditionally matured due to the warmer climates. However, there are a few exceptions, of which Payoyo Curado is one.
Payoyo Curado is a small wheel of cheese crafted by master cheesemaker Jorge Puerto at Quesería El Gazul. He uses organic milk from the celebrated and rare Payoya goat. Payoya are indigenous to this region and thrive in the rocky and shrubby landscape. At one point they were almost extinct but have since been tended to, bred, and documented much like the famous Iberico pig.
Whilst visiting a Manchego producer in Spain, I had the opportunity to check out a wonderful new cheese shop in Madrid. Always on the hunt for cheeses that I’ve never tasted, this shop was a treat, with selections mainly from the northern regions of Spain. I was offered a taste of Payoyo, the ‘rarest’ cheese in their selection from the far South. The texture was dense and the flavors were gentle, yet assertive, like no other goat cheese I had tasted before. It has taken a few months to arrange for us to offer Payoyo as part of our Cheese Trek, but we’re so excited to finally have these very unique wheels!
Enjoy it with a simple meal of our house made gazpacho and crusty bread. It also pairs beautifully with slices of Jamon Iberico and a drizzle of fine olive oil. It’s one of the few aged goat cheeses that I would pair with red wine; an easy drinking Rioja would be best. A glass of sherry would also be lovely if enjoying Payoyo after a meal.
The next stop on the Bi-Rite Cheese Trek takes us to a chalet on the border of Germany and Austria for a one of a kind alpine treat. As a reminder, this will be the tenth cheese on our Trek and the first opportunity to claim the Cheese Trek tote bag with a fully punched passport. If you don’t have your passport, ask a Bi-Rite monger for one and join our journey as we #cheeseyourownadventure.