Say Cheese for Tenerife

Fri, August 3rd, 2012 - By Andrea Montgomery

If you stopped people in the street in Britain and asked them, “What is Tenerife famous for?” What do you think they would say? Year-round sunshine? Teide volcano? The place where Bradley Wiggins trained? One thing’s for sure, they wouldn’t say cheese. And yet it is, at least, in cheese cognoscenti circles.

Queso Semicurado Arico, Tenerife

 

The Canary Islands have been producing excellent goats’ cheese for centuries and have been winning accolades for it on the world stage for decades. In 2008 Canaries cheeses picked up no less than five gold medals at the World Cheese Awards making them the Steve Redgrave of cheeses.

Made from goat’s, cow’s and sheep’s milk, sometimes only one of those and sometimes a blend, the rich pastures on which the herds graze give Canary cheeses their award winning flavour. Although every island produces its own cheeses, Fuerteventura is in fact the front runner in the islands with their Majorero and Maxorata brands sweeping awards. But Tenerife can hold its head high with Benijos Semicurado Ahumado – a corker of a cheese – walking away with the top slot at the 2011 Best Cheese in the Canaries Award at The World Cheese Awards at Birmingham’s NEC in November.

The Canaries produce a staggering 8 tons of goats’ cheese every year and unsurprisingly, given how good the stuff is, they also consume more of it than anywhere else in Spain (I think I may have been contributing to that statistic over the past decade).

Queso Fresco de Tenerife

 

On Tenerife, the penchant is for queso fresco, the soft, white, fresh cheese that can be eaten straight from the day it’s made which you often see on menus and filling the supermarket aisles. It’s available in natural or ahumado (smoked) form and with or without salt. Personally, I find it a bit bland and prefer my cheese to have more attitude.

Next stage up in the taste stakes is the semicurado which has been matured for more than 35 days and has a harder texture and stronger flavour. You’ll find these cheeses often sold with a coating of gofio or paprika to give them a distinctive taste. Plenty of bite and full flavour with an after taste that would have the corners of Wallace‘s grin meeting at the back of his head, this is my personal favourite.

Queso semicurado de Tenerife

 

Finally we come to the Lennox Lewis of the goats’ cheese world, the curados. These babies have been matured for more than 105 days and can take the fur off your tongue soon as look at you. Pungent and packed with cheesy flavour they can tread a fine line between delicious and dangerous. They can be natural, smoked or coated in paprika or gofio.

Queso Semicurado, Benijos, Tenerife

 

Top dog, or in this case goat, in the Tenerife cheese world is indisputably Benijos from La Orotava whose cheeses get top marks in every category. Very handy for someone who just happens to live in Puerto de la Cruz, five minutes drive away. But you don’t have to go to La Orotava to find excellent Canarian goats cheeses. There are Tenerife queserías (cheese producers) all over the island in Arico, Santa Ursula, Tacoronte, Guia de Isora, El Sauzal, Santa Cruz, La Laguna and Güímar. Or just check out your local supermarket and take home some of Tenerife’s famous cheese.

“Whoever would have thought it, Gromit?”

Posted : Friday, August 3rd, 2012 at 1:48 pm
Category : about tenerife
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2 Responses to “Say Cheese for Tenerife”

  1. Davina Howard says:

    It’s a bit annoying when you are reading your article on cheeses and mention the queserias everywhere and you choose a few places, but when you click on one, there is NO INFORMATION on the cheese factory!
    Where is the one in ARICO (I think it is closed or maybe there is another one?) and Guia de Isora?

    • Hi Davina, I have given the link to the queserias page which gives addresses and telephone numbers and after that I’m afraid you just have to go exploring to check them out directly. Many of these are very small, cottage industries and don’t sell direct to the public unless you happen to turn up on their doorstep so they’re not geared up for commercial marketing.
      Yes, I think the one in Arico is closed now. We have a suspicion it may have moved its operations to Benijos. The one in Guia is on the TF38 just outside Guia.

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