Cheese from Zamora. Quesería La Antigua de Fuentesaúco

Lately I have become more familiar with the land of Castilla y León, which besides from having one of the purest Castilian accents, is also home to a plethora of autochthonous products and craftsmen, such as Crica organic milk, Cantagrullas dairy, Belondrade wines and the oh-so-tempting yet heart-tugging cochinillo or cordero lechal (suckling pig and lamb respectively). Even with what I have managed to consume in my three years in Spain, there is much left for discovery in this province filled to the brim with possibilities and agricultural heritage.

While attending Alimentaria I bumped into Quesería La Antigua in the Premium zone of the trade show, a brand that is starting to makes some huge international waves. The packaging was modern and simple while still being llamativo, striking and perfectly preserving the antiquity and story of their past. Thanks to the charming influence of Julio García, their export manager, I was able to get a more intimate look and taste of the range of products offered by La Antigua de Fuentesaúco. Stay tuned below for all the gooey details.

Fuentesaúco is nestled in the Western corner of Castile and Leon, sandwich between Zamora and Salamanca; amongst the wine fields of the DO Toro, the open plains echoing the sounds of shepherds and sheepdogs, pilgrims hiking through to Santiago de Compostela or day trippers to Portugal - just 40 kilometers from the border.

All t's crossed and i's glasses engraved with the QA of Quesería La Antigua

Cheese platter presentation by La Antigua at Alimentaria Premium. 

The climate in Zamora is quite extreme, their dairy comes from flocks of sheep that must be able to endure cold harsh winters and dry hot summers (reaching 37°C). The land is marked by a rugged rocky soil, littered with vineyards, speckled clumps of oak and pine trees and random vegetation from the presence of the Duero river, which runs diagonally across the province.  The Quesería La Antigua de Fuentesaúco runs their business with the same care they have for decades. The look is grown up, but the taste and commitment to their land and pride have stayed close to home.

CampoEstrella Curado 
An ivory colored semi-soft and pressed raw sheep's milk cheese. Natural rind brushed with olive oil during its 4 months of maturation. Grooves along the edible rind come from the marks of esparto grass. Pleasant aromas of toasted nuts. A bronze medal winner in the 2010 World Cheese Awards. 

Gran CampoEstrella Añejo (not pictured here - was eaten before the photo shoot)
Akin to the Curado in the sense that it is a raw sheep's milk cheese, pressed and aged in La Antigua's cellars. However, the añejo is matured for a minimum of 12 months, developing aromas of hay and herbs and a piquant aftertaste.  

Vellón de Fuentesaúco, Zamorano Domination of Origin 
This is a special edition because it is created, in an artisan manner, from the raw milk of ewes of the Castellana and Churra breeds; native to the Zamora province of Spain. It is aged over 12 months and the final product lends to an intense flavor profile and a prolonged palate experience; floral notes of honey, rose, violet or fruity (hazelnut, chestnut, orange). 

Caprichos de la Pastora - Limited Edition
For those unfamiliar with a torta, this particular version is along the same lines of La Serena or the Torta del Casar. Made only from unpasteurized milk (of which the ewes give off a lower quantity of milk), salt and rennet, the most interesting characteristic of this cheese is in its curdling process, or cuajo vegetal, using thistle pistils, which blossom in July and August. After harvesting, the nettles will be dried and will assist in coagulating the curd into a soft, pliable cheese for spreading. Quite complex on the palate, I would describe it as an acquired taste - however, those who brave the unknown and sample this torta (at room temperature please!) will be met with a myriad of buttery flavors. The packaging even calls out to the fact that depending on the time of year and the sheep's diet, the product will alter. Winning a Silver at the 2010 World Cheese Awards, Caprichos de la Pastora can now be found on the shelves of the United States. 

For those in Madrid or other Spanish provinces, look for La Antigua de Fuentesaúco in El Corte Ingles and HiperCor markets. 

Quesería La Antigua de Fuentesaúco 
Ctra. Salamanca (Km 32)
49400 Fuentesaúco, Zamora, Spain
+34 980 600 509
Company blog with news, events, videos and cheese pairings. 


Julio Garcia said...

lauren, thanks a lot for this wonderful article, it is incredible!!!! So much passion in your words! My boss is really happy with this, hehehehe!!!

Kaley said...

Well, I gotta go now! I love seeing Toro/Zamora products in blogs! (My fiance is from Zamora capital.)

Lauren Heineck said...

Thanks for the kind words, glad you both like it! @Julio keeping bosses happy is always important, but more so having passion! @Kaley You'll have to check out all the cheese options when you move back to Spain. P.S. congratulations!

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