There are not nearly as many cow milk cheeses in Spain than there are sheep or goat milk types. This is mainly due to the warm dry climate that dominates most of the peninsula. Of the cow cheeses that are produced, most of them are made in the northern part of the country, from Galicia all the way over to Catalunya, with a few others scattered around other greener parts of the country, including the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean.
The province of Asturias boasts the broadest variety of types, not only cow milk cheeses but a few goat, sheep, and a number of mixed milk cheeses. One of the more unusual cheeses from the region is the Beyos. The cheese has a dense clay texture that becomes chalkier with age. When you first take a bite of the Beyos it may remind you of a goat cheese â€“ that clay chalky texture most often found in those cheeses. I have tasted a goat version of Beyos as well as a mixed cow/goat version, but I much prefer the better-known 100% cow Beyos.
The dry paste may be a little surprising at first; it is so unusual, yet it melts into a buttery finish, mouth-wateringly delicious. During the most recent Master Intensive Series we tasted the Beyos in the cheese and wine session. It was included as one of the cow cheeses that is pressed but not cooked, a little bit like cheddar. One of the wines that we tasted with the cheeses was a Prieto Picudo from Castilla-LeÃ³n in northwest central Spain. It is a RosÃ© (Rosado) that has a raspberry flavor, similar to what you find in Grenache (Garnacha).
This was one of the best matches we had in the session; the assessments were unanimous. One person was reminded of a raspberry tart.
One word of caution about the Beyos, for all of you that like to eat the rinds of their cheeses: this rind can develop a little mold growth that, though it is beneficial to the flavor and the texture of the cheese within, is not particularly tasty itself. Enjoy the buttery inside, and try it with the relatively inexpensive Prieto Picudo.