Stella Royale Debut

10936 Stella Royale Debut

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Stella Royale – a pressed sheep milk cheese from Castilla y León in northwestern Spain. This magnificent cheese is the newest entry into our 16-cheese retail program. It will be available to our online and wholesale customers as well.

It has been almost a year since we first tasted this cheese and we immediately considered as a serious candidate for the 16-cheese program. We recognized qualities in this cheese that we rarely find in other pressed sheep milk cheeses. It seemed to have the sturdiness we wanted so we tested its shelf life to make sure. A cut piece held up well past ninety days and it still smelled and tasted magnificent.

The fact that the cheese is crafted from unpasteurized milk gives advantages: in our experience the shelf life is greater, the texture does not become rubbery, the aroma and flavor hold up, and the nutritive values are not diminished. Laboratory testing concluded that it is a wholesome and safe cheese, not that we had any doubts.

These types of traditional sheep milk cheeses are produced throughout mainland Spain, and others like it are produced just across the border in southwest France, as well as in other parts of Europe and the Middle East. Some of those cheeses have the A.O.C. or D.O., or the D.O.P. designations. Those designations help protect the cheese producers, and they serve to assure quality to the consumer. However, just because a cheese has this status does not mean that it is a superior cheese. Some of the standards are less stringent than others. Some of the regulations stipulate little more than place of origin. Just because a cheese does not have one of those designations does not mean that it is an inferior cheese whatsoever.

So here we were presented with a cheese from a region with an ancient history of cheese making, yet it did not have one of those designations; the cheese did not even have a name! The closest thing that it had to a name was the name of the dairy, which also appears on several other cheeses the dairy produces. Making sure that we got the cheese that we wanted required repeated testing. I must say: this was not an unpleasant task. Once we decided which cheese we wanted, we had to give it a name.

The area where the cheese is made is on an ancient road that missionaries once used to traverse the Iberian Peninsula. As the legend holds, a star (stella) appeared above this road at the spot where this cheese is now crafted. In the fifteenth century Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon (royale) were married nearby and Valladolid (the capital of Castilla y León) remained the capital of all of Spain until 1561. Hence the name “Stella Royale” seemed fitting.

There are many sheep milk cheeses produced throughout Spain; the Stella Royale is a star.

Max McCalman

Spread the curd!
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