With the arrival of autumn and the cooler days, plans involving gastronomic destinations are more and more desired. If these getaways include cheese, one of the best products to come from the portuguese kitchen, then even better.
We have prepared a guide to take you throught the best produced cheeses in Portugal, all with the Protected Destination of Origin (PDO), which will leave you full. We hope you're hungry because there is plenty of cheese to go round!
Azeitão Cheese PDO
With a creamy texture and a strong flavour, this cheese appeals to different palates. As its name suggests, it is produced in Azeitão from sheep's milk and it compliments your favorite bread or toast perfectly.
You can find it on sale in the largest supermarkets, but if you want to visit the "origin" of this delicacy, you can go to Azeitão just 30 minutes from Lisbon.
Don't worry if you're vegetarian, this cheese is made with thistle flower instead of animal rennet and you can eat it without any problem.
Serra da Estrela Cheese PDO
This cheese is famous for its aroma. With a very strong smell (not suitable for all tastes) and a buttery texture that makes it perfect for greasing, this sheep's cheese is known as the "King" of Portuguese cheeses .
It is so creamy that it is unthinkable to cut it with a knife. Instead, a circular shape is cut at the top of the cheese, like a palm size, take a spoon and immerse it in this wonderous almost melted cheese.
Serra da Estrela Curd PDO
If you're a fan of Italian ricotta, Serra da Estrela PDO Cheese may be the perfect choice for you. It is obtained by precipitation or coagulation by heat of the proteins contained in the whey resulting from the work of Serra da Estrela PDO cheese, and is ideal for greasing on bread due to its soft and delicate texture. This creamy white mass to slightly granulated, smooth and uniform is another typical product of the Serra da Estrela. It can be simply tasted, crushed in milk or coffee, mixed with honey, pumpkin jam with or without pieces of walnut, hazelnut or almond ... Any excuse is a good one to eat all you want!
Transmontano Goat's Cheese PDO
In the northwest of the country, you can try the Transmontano goat's cheese PDO, a very hard cured, salted cheese prepared with goat's milk. Despite its very yellow color, you will often find red transmontano cheeses, painted with chili to intensify their flavour.
Typical of the Trás-os-Montes region, this delicacy can also be tasted all over the country and there are many specialty shops (and even supermarkets) that sell it. Without bread, chips in a salad, as a starter ... This cheese is perfect in any way!
Évora Cheese PDO
This cheese of denomination of origin is a semi-hard and yellowish cheese elaborated with raw milk of sheep of the regional Merina Branca race. Less dense than the transmontano goat's cheese, and is typical of the capital of Alentejo.
If you're in Alentejo and are a fan of salty and slightly spicy cheeses, go into a tavern and order a good mature Évora cheese. However, if you prefer milder flavours, opt for the fresh or less ripe version and enjoy its delicate but intense flavour.
Nisa Cheese PDO
Also, in Alentejo another famous cheese can be found, Nisa Cheese. Prepared with Merina Branca raw sheep's milk, this cheese can also be enjoyed by vegetarians if prepared with vegetable rennet.
It is a semi-hard cheese with a characteristic yellow colour and is produced in local dairies that maintain traditional production methods.
It can be accompanied with toast, crackers or make a sandwich and let yourself be carried away by its irresistible citrus flavour.
Rabaçal Cheese PDO
Rabaçal cheese is another of the country's most famous cheeses, produced in a village near Coimbra, Rabaçal.
It is a white cheese to hard matured, white matte, hand produced from a mixture of sheep's milk and goat's milk, and an animal rennet . If you try it, you will notice a characteristic taste due to the herb "Santa Maria", a spontaneous thyme. It is abundant in this area to feed the sheep and goats that supply the milk for the production of this cheese.
Be sure to try it as a starter, dessert or light meal.
São Jorge Cheese PDO
São Jorge PDO cheese is obtained from raw cow's milk and cheese ripening, hard or semi-hard cheese, yellowish, which is obtained after a maturation period of about 60 days.
Its production began around 500 years ago on the island of São Jorge in Azores and, until today, has hardly changed. The quality of the island's vegetation makes the feeding of animals well-rounded, which is reflected in the quality of the milk and in the cheese with its spicy and addictive taste.
If you visit the Azores, this is the perfect souvenir.