Produced in Asturias in Northern Spain, Gamonedo is a raw, cow’s milk cheese with a certain amount of natural blue veining. Originally, Gamonedo was produced as a “transhumance” cheese, made seasonally during the annual migration of animals to and from the higher mountain pasture. During this period it was composed of a blend of cow, sheep and goat milk. Today, Gamonedo is made year round by a dwindling number of artisanal producers in southern Asturias, most of whom are no longer nomadic. The majority of Gamonedo producers are elderly and their knowledge and traditions are in danger of disappearing. The wheel pictured here is made by Rosa Sanchez at Queseria Vega de Ario located in Benia de Onis, For production of Gamonedo, the curds are gently pressed to retain as much moisture as possible. After unmolding, the wheels are lightly salted on the outside. Three days later, they are placed in a small “cabaña” where they’re lightly smoked and allowed to gently dry for one month. At this point, the cheeses are transferred to a maturing cave with walls covered in natural penicillium mold for further aging of between one and two months before release. Although Gamonedo is a blue cheese, unlike most blues the wheels are not pierced to accelerate the penetration of blue veins. Rather, the delicate patches of interior blue mold are allowed to develop naturally, giving the cheese a gentle flavor where the blue is in sync with the flavors of the milk and smoke, neither one overwhelming the other. The exterior of the cheese has a natural, slightly undulating rind that is a beige color, pockmarked with white mold. The interior of the cheese is dark ivory with intermittent patches of delicate blue veining, occurring most often near the rind of the cheese. Aromas are of apples and cellar. The flavors of this unique cheese begin gently and build steadily, accumulating hints of blue, butter, raw cow’s milk, earth and grass in a full, long finish. The texture is firm and slightly dry, with a granular, delicately chalky mouth-feel and naturally permeating blue mold.