Idiazabal is the only smoked cheese we carry. That's because, more often than I can count, smoked cheeses are treated like the flavored coffees of the cheese world. Sub-par cheese is smoked to suggest flavor where none existed before. Rarely do you get first rate, raw milk cheese like this. Idiazabal is smoked as a matter of tradition, not expediency. You can taste the difference. The smoking is subtle, sweet, and seems very natural. It is great paired with rich flavors like cured ham and peppery radishes. If you want to add a bit of smoky flavor to a dish — mac and cheese would be a good candidate — just grate a bit right in.
Idiazábal is a small village located in the Goierri valley in the heart of Basque Spain. The cheese was named for the town long ago, when shepherds would descend the mountains at first snow. They’d stop at the village and an annual market would spring up. They were the main attraction, offering the ewe's milk cheese they’d made and smoked over the summer. The market still exists today. So does the village. And, most importantly for us, so does the cheese.
The wheels we're currently cutting into were born last December. They're meaty and nutty with the distinct — yet not overpowering — scent of smoke. And these particular wheels are absolutely killer - they have big, brothy and savory notes.
Zingerman's Food Tours is visiting Spain in October 2014. Join us for a behind the scenes journey to traditional food makers like this.