As a country, many consider Spain a relatively lesser-known nation of cheese compared to its European brothers and sisters, and although it may not host as many dairy delights as its French neighbours, Spain does offer its very own unique variety of tasty cheeses.
Cheese trading in Spain dates all the way back to the start of our modern era, where the smoked cheeses of Northern Spain were sold in Rome. By the 13th century, Spanish cheese trading had even reached Britain, in particular the Mahón cheese from the Balearic Island of Menorca.
Perhaps the country’s most famous cheese is its queso Manchego, a cheese that can be dated all the way back to the Bronze Age. History has it that Manchego was created when the inhabitants of the La Mancha region mastered the art of making cheese using sheep’s milk. The cheese then became even more popular after it was mentioned in Miguel de Cervantes’ literary classic, Don Quixote de La Mancha.
A particularly important region for el queso is that of Catalonia, home to the city of Barcelona. You don’t have to go far to get good cheese in Barcelona, and aside from Mahón and Manchego, there are countless other classic Catalan cheeses in the Ciudad Condal.
Tupi is a local specialty made in the region’s Pyrenees Mountains and comes with a strong and fruity taste made from the clay pot where the cheese is fermented. Typically, Tupi is made with Cazalla (a liqueur of dry anise) and either cows, goats, or sheep’s milk. Another cheese made in the Pyrenees is Costa Negra, a type of soft cheese with a mix of sweet and sour notes.
Head south of the Pyrenees to another mountain range and you can find Mató cheese, or Mató de Montserrat, to give it its full name. Made in the villages near the Montserrat Mountain, Mató is a cream cheese served with honey in the form of a traditional dessert, Mel I Mató. It can even be traced all the way back to Catalan cookbooks from the 14th century!
Alt Urgell-Cerdanya is the first and so far the only cheese in the Catalan region with a protected designation of origin. Its soft and creamy texture and sweet taste make it extremely popular at artisan markets and paired with wine.
Another two of the four provinces in Catalonia also produce notable cheesy feats. Drap cheese is made in the province of Girona and has two forms: fresh – white, milky, and with no rind – and tender – with a thin yellow rind. The Lleida province is known for its Tou del Tillers, a traditional cheese made with raw milk that takes a creamy texture not too dissimilar to Brie.
Where to eat cheese in Barcelona
A family run business popular since 1932, Vila Viniteca offers a selection of 350 different handcrafted cheeses, the majority made locally in Viniteca’s own cold rooms and the rest supplied locally from other independent cheese factories in the country. All the cheeses are also available to try in their tasting area along with a refreshing glass of wine…
Carrer dels Agullers, 7.
Located in the city’s Eixample district, Colmado Múrria is a traditional delicatessen that offers visitors the very best of goods from the Catalan capital. It has more than 240 varieties of cheese, including a truffle gorgonzola for €380!
Carrer de Roger de Llúria, 85.
Celler Cal Marino
Once a former fizzy drinks factory, Celler Cal Marino is one of the best places in the city for wine and cheese connoisseurs, alike. As well as local Spanish and Catalan cheeses, they have a selection of cheese from Switzerland, France, and other places around the world.
Carrer de Margarit, 54.
Formatgeria La Seu
La Seu is our favourite place to eat cheese in Barcelona, not because of its amazing variety of dairy treats, but because of its incredible owner who makes her customers feel like they have found a second home in Katherine’s cheesy nest egg. Born in Scotland, Katherine keeps strict guidelines for the cheese that she sells, whittling them down through an extensive selection process.
She also offers a range of tasting experiences, from a small platter of three cheeses and a glass of wine, to private lunch and dinner sessions with a selection of her favourite cheeses from across the country! But before you go, don’t forget to try her sensational homemade ice cream made from La Seu’s very own cheese…
Carrer de la Dagueria, 16.
Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at AB Apartment Barcelona. AB Apartment Barcelona is an apartment rental agency offering over one thousand short and long term apartments across Barcelona.