Archive for April 5th, 2020

April 5, 2020

Manchego Cheeses that is Huete!

And here I am in sublime monumental territory of my beloved Spain, Castilla La Mancha region and especially the province of Cuenca, and more precisely the quant town of Huete. Again, I have written before on the area and town but feel not enough on the most famous food from there, the manchego cheeses!!!

First a bit on what Manchego cheeses are all about! And we love them at home!

The Manchego cheese is one of the most famous in Spain and in all of Europe. These cheeses are known worldwide and historically have won numerous gastronomic awards for their quality and inimitable flavor. Manchego cheese is made from the milk of La Mancha sheep and has a minimum cure of 30 days and a maximum maturity of 2 years. These cheeses, if you have not yet tried them, are usually characterized by having a hard crust and free of plastics, a firm and compact paste and with a color that varies from white to ivory yellow.

The Manchego cheeses have a very pleasant, slightly acidic, tasty and strong flavor that evolves to spicy in the most mature cheeses. Its characteristic and intense smell varies according to the cure, as does its flavor. However, it should be noted that they do not only stand out for their flavor. They also have important benefits for our health.

The Regulatory Council of this Protected Designation of Origin. The requirements that all Manchego cheeses must have to be recognized as such are:

The cheese making, maturing and production process must be carried out in the area protected by the Denomination of Origin and which includes the provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Toledo and Cuenca. The milk must come exclusively from La Mancha sheep and be free of drugs and impurities. Minimum maturity of 30 days for cheeses of 1.5 Kg or less and 60 days for heavier weights. Cylindrical shape, with flat faces and marked with a line drawing that divides it into four parts. The side is also marked with a zigzag pattern reminiscent of traditional esparto molds or ties. Hard crust, firm and compact paste, intense odor and slightly acidic flavor, strong and tasty.

For their corresponding badges endorsed by the regulatory council: A Manchego Cheese Denomination of Origin label must appear. The term Denomination of Origin Manchego Cheese must appear on the commercial label of the cheese. If it has been made with raw milk, the word “artisan” will also appear. Numbered and serialized case in plaque: On the opposite side to that of the commercial label, it will appear embedded in the bark with the terms “D.O.P. Queso Manchego and a series of five digits and two or three letters. Against numbered label: we will find it attached to the commercial label, with the Denomination of Origin logo. In the case of small-sized cheeses or wedges, this back label will be marked in its upper right corner by a blue or green band, respectively. European logo. Badge with which the European Union distinguishes quality figures. This is the one corresponding to the Denominations of Origin. They are raw milk note that if the cheese has been created from raw milk on the label, the term “artisan” will appear. If done with pasteurised milk the qualification of “artisan” will not appear on the label, since it will be considered to be an industrial cheese.

Depending on their curing time, Manchego cheeses can be semi-cured, cured, old or aged. The maturation of the cheese is the time that the elaborated product is resting at the appropriate temperature and condition for the necessary physical changes to be made so that we can consume it. To be La Mancha, as said above it indicate you must have at least a 30-day rest time. Fresh or tender cheeses usually spend a maximum of 15 days drying. From here we can already talk about Manchego cheeses that have a maturing process and, as we indicated before, depending on the time we will classify them as semi-cured, cured or old cheese.

Semi cured Manchego Cheeses are the least mature, they only need a maturation of three and five months, depending on their size. Cured Manchego cheeses are those that have matured for half a year. Old or Old Cheeses when the curing is over this period, it is already considered an old cheese. The old ones mature between 7 months and a year. If a cheese matures for a period of more than a year, it is already considered an aged cheese, also known as reserve cheeses, and which stand out for its firm and dry texture and its more intense and spicy flavor.

Now let me tell you a bit about our incursion into the motherland of Manchego Cheeses, the La Mancha and especially in the Alcarria area of Huete!  While visiting the area by car , which is a must we had visited a couple of Manchego cheese outfits recommended by local friends. So now you the best !

The Lacto Ganadera OPTA produces very good manchego cheese from the sheep young goat, we had the El Ermita brand from the supermarket before and we went to Opta on site, very good black label=etiqueta negra.These are the Manchego cheeses of world fame .They make them all, and sell them at the store in the factory.



Lacto Ganadera Río Mayor is a company that specializes in cheese making. It was created in 1965 and is located in Huete, located in the province of Cuenca. They are manufacturers and suppliers of high quality cheeses. A wide range of products, such as Manchego cheese, black label, red label and blue label. They have sheep cheeses cured in butter, rosemary, oil, etc. As well as mix cheeses and goat cheeses.


We went out outside city center into the Rio Mayor, these are the Manchego cheeses of  Oveja or sheep!! They make them all, and sell them at the store in the factory.  Here they also gave us a tour of fabrication halls, awesome!. Just magical. They are at Ctra Carrascosa Km 101 Huete. They have another factory at Carretera Caracenilla, between Huete and Cuenca, closer to Huete.


We shop always for the etiqueta negra or black label, queso mezcla tierno or young mix cheese with goat and milk as well as sheep blend, and the Romero or Rosemary. Just great still enjoying it!!

Now you know the basic information to come down and get the best of the Spanish cheeses for me of course. They are absolutely awesome and I get them even from Paris! When not in Spain. Hope you have enjoy the tour.

The webpages are for Rio Mayor Caracenilla : Quesos la Ermita Caracenilla Rio Mayor

And OPTA at closer to HueteQuesos de Huete

And this OPTA have a Facebook page here as sometimes their main webpage does not work: Facebook page of OPTA manchego cheeses

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


April 5, 2020

The Church Monasterio de Santa Maria de la Merced at Huete!

And moving on in my beloved Spain, this time back to the emblematic Castilla La Mancha and the little pretty town of Huete. Again, have written before on the town and its monuments but feel left this out and needs attention. This is the multiuse Church Monastery of Saint Mary of Mercy or Santa Maria de la Merced in the Province of Cuenca!


The Church Monasterio de Santa Maria de la Merced , or Mercy monastery is a Church from 1648-1684 and a cloister from 1645-56. The story goes fray Marcos de Salmerón, born in Buendía in 1588 but resident since childhood in Huete, where he studied and professed in the Order of Mercy in 1603, becoming master general of the order in 1642. Deceased in Madrid, his corpse was transferred to the Monastery of Huete and was buried in the chapel of San José, which he himself had built. The monastery is located at number 1 of Calle de San Esteban around Plaza de la Merced.


The whole of the Monastery of Saint Mary of Mercy constitutes a large construction structured on a roughly rectangular floor plan, the church occupying the northern half of said floor plan. Baroque in style, its facade is divided into three orders, two of them with balconies and one with bars. Inside it has two courtyards, the largest with the same style as the facades and the smallest, from the 17C with a closed cloister alternating between brick and stone. From the Monastery complex stands out its great chapter hall in which, being one of the best the Order had, several general chapters of the Mercedarian Order were held. The church has a Latin cross plan, with a transept topped by a large dome, side chapels and a high choir at the foot.


The main nave, the arms of the transept and the chancel are covered with a barrel vault. Along these vaults there are lunettes pointed at their intersection with the arches of the lateral hollows. The chapels are covered with a groin vault. The nave is topped by a dome supported on pendentives. At the bottom of the presbytery there is a dressing room that, originally, was located higher than the level of the presbytery, to emphasize the situation of the image located there, leaving below a small crypt that served for years as a cemetery for the monks of the monastery.  On the first two arches of the nave, at the foot, is the choir, which is supported on low arches. From the right lateral arm of the transept there is access to a chapel that, in principle, was the sacristy. This was then moved, in what was the connecting hall, with a staircase, on the way to the monastery. Above the right side chapels there are rooms for the sick, which have a south orientation and open a window over the interior of the temple.


Here is preserved the image of the Virgin or Virgen de la Merced of which festival is done in the month of September also known as the festival of Huete or of Merced that was before an important cattle fair. Founded by the end of the 13C,and currently the oldest part kept are the the central facade from 1639. the facade was renovated in the neo classic style in 1867 and the south corner next to the city hall entrance  renovated end of the 19C.  The cloister is one of the best baroque patios in the province of Cuenca done as said between  1645 and 1647, done with different materials. The Church was done from 1668 and in 1754 the sacristy was built that currently has a retable altar coming from the abbey of Caracena del Valle done in the second half of the 16C. In the last part of the 18C the Monastery was enlarged; the facades and wrought iron windows were done .Today, there are inside the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Florencio de la Fuente ( a contemporary arts museum). Also, the city hall, and several administrative services such as the Tourist office upon entering, and the library.


The city hall of Huete showing it is the city hall: City of Huete city hall

The tourist office of Huete in Spanish on the Monastery of the MercyTourist office of Huete on the Monastery

The library of Huete on the city of Huete webpage: City of Huete on the Library

The museum of contemporary Arts Florencio de la FuenteTourist office of Huete on the museum

There you go a huge monument of great architectural and historical value right in a off the beaten path town of the Province of Cuenca, Huete. See it, very nice indeed, many memorable moments for my family there.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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