Torta del Casar - Gastro Obscura
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Meats & Animal Products

Torta del Casar

In Spain's Extremadura region, local sheep and a touch of thistle make for an ultra-creamy, slightly bitter cheese.

Don’t be fooled by the firm crust of torta del Casar: A quick pierce of the rind and the luxuriously creamy treat that awaits inside will temptingly ooze out from the crack. Pop the top off and behold a bowl of cheese so smooth, it’s almost liquid.

Hailing from the city of Casar de Cáceres in Extremadura region of Spain, torta del Casar is made of raw sheep’s milk, salt, and vegetable rennet. The latter is derived from the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), a thistle that imparts an earthy, slightly bitter flavor. The torta part of the cheese’s name is a reference to its shape, which early producers thought resembled a small round cake (a torta). While diners shouldn’t expect anything sweet, the cheese is indeed a rare treat. A blend of buttery, bitter, and salty, it relies on dairy from local Merino or Entrefina sheep, which produce low quantities of fatty, protein-rich milk.

After the cheese ages for about two months in round molds, diners can simply cut off the crust and dig in. The best approach? Either dip crusty bread or chorizo directly into the cheese or grab a knife and slather with abandon.

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