Cheese – Isla Cheese from The Azores
Portugal is home to some incredible cheese, and since we moved here we have enjoyed tucking into all sorts – from strong, gloopy queijo de Azeitão (which deserves a future blog post all of its own,) to the pure white queijo fresca, often presented to you with the couvert at the start of a meal.
We do, however, come from the UK, and found ourselves missing good, strong cheddar. An investigation on the web forums revealed we weren’t the only people in this position.
Imported cheddar is available in Portugal, at least down here in the Algarve, but we were eager to find a local alternative.
Some “in the know” people on the forum pointed us in the direction of “Isla” cheese, made in the Azores – the Portuguese islands a thousand or so miles away from us in the Atlantic.
This cheese, available in big wedges in all of the supermarkets, was exactly what we were looking for. Available in several variations from young to nine-month matured, this now happily takes the place of cheddar on our cheese board.
Queijo São Jorge is the first Isla cheese we tried and is now our benchmark, and the younger cheese, is perfect for cheesy toppings and grated on baked potatoes. The mature version is another matter altogether – stinky and strong and at home on a cheese board, it would be criminal not to accompany it with a very robust red wine!
There are loads of other Isla cheeses available, including this Sau Miguel (pictured,) which we found in Lidl, of all places, at a very keen price. This 9 month matured Isla cheese is perfect – creamy but with plenty of bite and the cheese I am likely to keep buying from now until Christmas, when the Christmas cheese-board cries out for the strongest São Jorge I can lay my hands on.
Anyone living in Portugal paying import prices for Cathedral City cheddar should investigate these wonderful cheeses!