Manchego cheese.

After Kroger and Wal-Mart both failed me (neither one here carries limburger, which is the review I wanted to write today), I bought some Don Bernardo brand manchego instead. Manchego is a cheese made from sheep’s milk, Spanish in origin. I was determined to try something new for this post, and my options were limited in that regard. I’m going to have to go further afield soon to continue writing cheese reviews.

Manchego is a hard, slightly brittle cheese with an inedible rind. Its packaging said it had a “nutty” scent, and I guess you could put it that way. I’d call it a smell just a little bit like toejam (or dirt collected underneath your fingernails during a hard day’s work), though not as pungent or nasty. It has a musky scent, and the smell is simultaneously odd and addictive in some way, much like when you smell something you know shouldn’t smell good yet you smell it anyway out of some primal instinct. For some reason, you find yourself smelling it again even though it isn’t a strictly pleasant scent.

The package claimed it had a “rich, complex flavor,” which I can agree with generally. The flavor is odd, initially striking the tongue like a faintly moldy taste. The flavor continues to change as you eat more of it though, and the first unpleasant taste fades as you find other flavors to the cheese. The texture is that of a firm, buttery, slightly crumbly cheese. I found it interesting that the cheese grew milder the more of it I ate. Something about the flavor reminded me of feta cheese.

I admit that I am not eating the manchego in its cultural context of associated food and drink, so I am probably missing some of the experience. Overall, it is a palatable cheese that one grows accustomed to with increased consumption. I believe it would work best as a garnish or next to other strong flavors, perhaps topping a salad. To be clear, it is not as strong as many other cheeses I’ve tried, just that the flavor is a bit untraditional on my American palate.

(image courtesy of wikimedia commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flickr_-_cyclonebill_-_Manchego.jpg)