Country of origin: Spain
Type: semi-hard, artisan, blue-veined
Fat content: 45%
Rind: mold ripened
Flavour: acidic, salty, sharp
Synonyms: Cabrales DOP
Alternative spellings: Cabraliego, Queso de Cabrales, Quesu Cabrales
Cabrales, also known as Quesu Cabrales, Queso de Cabrales or Cabraliego, is a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin, DOP in Italian) awarded, Spanish semi-hard, fatty blue cheese, prepared within the administrative region of Cabrales Council and some towns in the Upper Peñamerella region. Both these areas are located at the foot of the Picos de Europa Mountains in Asturias.
The cheese can be made from unpasteurized cow’s milk or blended with goat and/or sheep milk. It is aged between two and four months in naturally formed limestone caves. Chilly and humid conditions in the caves facilitate the growth of bluish-green penicillium mould on this highly prized cheese. Unlike other blue cheeses injected with Penicillium, Cabrales cures from the outside of the cheese to the inward.
A finished Cabrales can be characterized by its strong, penetrating aroma and sharp, acidic, slightly salty taste. It pairs well with red wine, fresh figs, salami, sweet sherry and dry sausages. The cheese is treasured as a base for sauces, for melting over grilled or roasted meats and goes well along with baguette slices, crackers, or fruit.
Earlier, a traditional Cabrales was sold wrapped in moist leaves of Acer pseudoplatanus. But today regulation requires the cheese be sold in a dark-green-coloured aluminium foil with the stamp of the PDO Queso de Cabrales.