One of the relics of milk from Asturias is found in the councils of Ponga and Amieva. A small and rough cheese, whose texture and inimitable color hides a jewel difficult to fake.
Despite not having a designation of origin, the cheese of the Beyos is at the height of any other that has been officially named. Your denomination does not need labels. The solera of an unparalleled landscape and a whole mountain culture give semantic richness to its name and gastronomic value to the pasta of which it is made. At all times it moves away from the industrial standards as few cheeses in Asturias. Its strictly artisan spirit and the dedication of a few families in its preparation make it a rare souvenir and object of worship. This flirty work of art does not usually exceed 15 centimeters in diameter, its weight ranges between a quarter and a half kilo. We dare to overturn the popular saying a bit and assure: "if the good is small ... then twice as good." And it is good at all times. With its floury texture lends itself to all occasions: from an appetizer, in salads, in a kitchen for cachopos or sauces and for dessert with a bit of quince jam.
It has had its own party in his honor since 1984. Every year since then, on the first Sunday in December, it is celebrated the Beyos cheese contest. The celebration has autochthonous signs of identity embodied in the form of folklore and more parallel gastronomy with products from the garden, honey, liqueurs and amagüestu de castañes in the nearby stalls. The music sounds, the young men and women dance and among the controlled noise of an authentic village, San Juan de Beleño, we approach the points of sale. They are few and small in harmony with the cheese. The product appears somewhat disparate, but only just. There is no total accuracy in dimensions or tonalities although it shines with its own light homemade essence and the total absence of uniforming labels.
Tenaciously, it resists cataloging. It is somewhat acidic in this sense, also in taste. The milking of the morning is joined to that of the afternoon and both coagulate during the night, slowly, in the heat of the fire. The process provides a bitter touch that is already guessed with the smell.
A tip: to choose a good copy is better opt for the freshest ones. With an excessive curing they hardly gain in flavor, they lose the bitter touch that characterizes them and the pasta no longer has a tendency to crumble or to present that buttery result.
We taste a bite and the cheese tends to recreate in the mouth. It seems that it is going to embarrass, but it does not, and at the right moment it melts wet and leaves a trail of unmistakable flavor. It is that wake of authenticity that is guessed previously while we go into the councils of Amieva and Ponga. A land of unrepeatable forests, mountains decorated with exuberant nature and whitewater everywhere. The cheese takes the name of one of the gorges, the one of the Beyos, that leaves no one indifferent and that is "beyo" like few others. Steep mountain mottled with tiny rural centers without noise in its architecture or in its almost medieval urbanism. Small herds of cow and rat cow live with sheep and goats. The narrow corridor that makes us ascend gradually seems to mimic the tasty rise of the cheese that we are going to look for.
Today they are made more than 40 varieties of cheese, some of the best known and most popular we will let you know, if you want to discover something more about the cheeses of Asturias: https://asturias.com/los-10-mejores-quesos-de-asturias
Text: © Ramón Molleda for asturias.com