June 21, 2016 – Day 10 – Ilha Graciosa
This will be the 3rd Portuguese cheese in a row! I guess you could say that I am on a bit of a roll. The Portuguese Cheese of the day is Ilha Graciosa!
About the Cheese:
Made in Ilha Graciosa of the Azores island cluster, the cheesmaking process for Ilha Graciosa (cheese) has been handed down by the island’s settlers for many centuries. The cheese is said to resemble São Jorge, a ‘Gouda-esque’ cheese that is also produced nearby in Portugal. However, Ilha Graciosa is aged around 90 days as opposed to its 4-6 month aged senior. The volcanic minerals of the soil and damn island climate produce a rather unique grazing experience for the cows whose milk is used to produce Ilha Graciosa. Vibrantly-green pastures carpet the island and provide a buffet of vegetation for the ruminants to enjoy.
Tasting Notes and Pairings:
This is a firm cheese, lightly yellow in coloration. A “strong, clean spicy taste and aroma”¹ is to be expected in the flavor profile. This is attributed to the volcanic nutrients in the soil which resultantly end up in the eaten vegetation. Of course, Ilha Graciosa can be aged for longer than 90 days, in which case it becomes easy to grate or added to baked cheese dishes. If not grated, the cheese is a fantastic addition to any pre or post meal nibbling. It pairs amazingly with the local white wines of the area that also share a spicy mineral note. For those with a sweet tooth, sugarcane rum will be your best bet! Cheers!
Source 1 – World Cheese Book, Juliet Harbutt, New York, New York, 2009, 148.