Take one glimpse of this traditional cheese from Spain’s northwest Galicia region, and you won’t forget it—especially when you learn the meaning of its name. Spanish for “nipple,” tetilla is a nod to the wheel’s unique shape.
The cheese’s name has been protected by a PDO since 1996, a regulation that’s enshrined the use of fresh whole milk from Friesian, Brown Swiss and Galician Blonde cows. The cheesemaking process begins soon after milking: milk is coagulated using traditional animal rennet or a mix of native starter cultures, curds are cut into a pea size, “washed,” (with the removal of whey and addition of hot water), and molded into the specific size and shape before being brined.
A relatively young cheese, Tetilla wheels are ripened for a minimum of seven days and cleaned repeatedly so that the surface stays smooth and tawny.
Young and buttery, without excessive acidity or bitterness, the cow’s milk round yields faint hints of vanilla and walnut. Paste is compact and ivory-colored, while the rind is thin and smooth.
Most often consumed as a dessert or snacking cheese, traditional accompaniments for Queso Tetilla include nuts, honey, or quince jam. For a terroir-based pairing, sip a crisp Galician Albariño.