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What would be better on these hot July days than some cold tapas, a hunk of Spanish cheese, and a lovely Rosé? We couldn’t have timed our “Taste of Spain” any better!

It’s Tapas Time!

There’s nothing more Spanish than tapas, and we’re here to help you get your small plates started. It’s easy to whip up five or six small plates if you have the right ingredients. Start with your tapas shopping list, all of which you can find at Tastings Gourmet Market. You can make endless small dishes with the ingredients below.
2-3 Spanish cheeses – Any of our featured cheeses this week or a Manchego, which we keep in stock
Bread – A baguette would be perfect.
Olive oil – To drizzle and dip
Serrano ham – Thinly slice and serve on a plate or make Ham Croquettes.
Castelvetrano olives – Serve these beauties in a bowl with a garnish of orange peel, or roast them for a new level of deliciousness.
Chorizo – Slice and serve with chunks of Spanish cheese. Or, dress up your dish by making Jamon, Queso y Chorizo con Pan, which is simply thin slices of Serrano ham, fried slices of chirizo, and pieces of Manchego cheese arranged on small slices of baguette.
Marcona almonds – A no-fail tapas by themselves. Spice them up with chopped rosemary.
Piquillo peppers – They have just enough sweetness to perk up any tapas.
Boquerones in vinegar – Arrange the sardines on a plate, top with heaps of parsley or make Matiz Banderillas.

Three Great Spanish Cheeses

Los Cameros Tastings Gourmet MarketLos Cameros

A Gold Medal winner at the World Cheese Awards in 2018, Los Cameros is made with a mix of cow’s (60% minimum), sheep’s (20% minimum), and goat’s milk (6% minimum) and rubbed and bathed three times in olive oil.  The milk is collected each day from farms no more than 75 miles away, which ensures freshness and that best local milk is used. The cheesemaker employs traditional methods for creating this artisan cheese, including allowing French affinage molds to grow on the surface. During the ripening process, the cheese is brushed and rubbed several times with olive oil.  Olive oil is a natural anti-mold barrier and the combination of the olive oil and the enzymes from the mold creates a delightful bouquet.

Origin: Spain (La Rioja region)
Milk: Pasteurized cow, goat, and sheep
Rennet type: Animal
Age: 6 months
Rind:  Natural; rubbed with olive oil
Look: Light yellow with small “eyes”
Feel: Firm
Smell: Peppery, vegetal
Taste: Starts off sweet and finishes tangy; balanced; pleasant acidity
Pairs well with: Cured meats, quince paste, fruit
Tastes good with: Rioja, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Spanish beers

Alisios Tastings Gourmet MarketAlisios

Named after the trade winds that blow through the Canary Islands, Alisios is made from the milk of Canary Island cows (70%) and goats (30%).  Its flavor will blow you over!  The cow’s milk lends it a creamy taste, and the goat’s milk adds zip and tang. But what is most unusual is the paprika taste, which is a result of the cheese being coated in sweet pimentón from which paprika is derived. You’ll love the pop you get from the paprika and the zing from the goat’s milk, tempered by pure creaminess from the cow’s milk.  It’s a real winner.  Really.  Alisios won a prized Super Gold at the 2016 World Cheese Awards.

Origin: Spain (Canary Islands region)
Milk: Pasteurized cow and goat
Rennet type: Animal
Age: 90 days
Rind:  Covered in sweet pimentón
Look: Red rind, white paste with few  “eyes”
Feel: Smooth, dense
Smell: Slightly spicy, milky
Taste: Creamy; sweetness from the paprika; goat’s milk adds a tangy taste; toasty
Pairs well with: A great snacking cheese: Try it with Marcona almonds, Serrano ham, honey, or pickles. Or add it to Caesar salad.
Tastes good with: Bourbon, Rosé, Tempranillo, Spanish beers

Murcia al Vino Tastings Gourmet MarketMurica al Vino

A gift to the eye as well as the tongue, Murcia al Vino adds pizazz to your cheese board: the creamy white interior contrasts beautifully with the gorgeous burgundy-colored rind. It achieved a Protected Designation of Origin in 2002, meaning it can be made only from milk of Murciano-Granadinas goats from registered herds that have been honed by genetic selection for generations.

Its floral bouquet and beautiful purple rind are derived from the local wine in which it is washed twice during the aging process. The wine, either Yecla or Jumilla, makes the perfect accompaniment to the cheese, but is often hard to find. Murcia al Vino is often referred to as “drunken goat cheese” in the U.S. Serve it as tapas with olive oil and paprika.

Origin: Spain (Murcia region)
Milk: Pasteurized goat
Rennet type: Animal
Age: 45 days
Rind: Washed. The rind is smooth, thin, and purplish, thanks to its red wine baths.
Look: Ivory white with a wine-red edible rind
Feel: Elastic, creamy texture, dense
Smell: Mild aroma, floral bouquet
Taste: Creamy flavor, slight saltiness, slightly acidic taste that is unique among Spanish cheeses
Pairs well with: Crunchy bread, Marcona almonds, dried fruit
Tastes good with: Rioja, Pinot Noir, Spanish beers

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