Villaluenga del Rosario and its exquisite Payoyo cheese
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Villaluenga del Rosario and its exquisite Payoyo cheese

Payoyo cheese is famous for its delicate manufacturing process in the Grazalema Mountains, and in particular in the locality of Villaluenga del Rosario, this cheese that can be found in any gourmet store including Harrods in London and a series of gourmet shops in the USA.

History of the Payoyo cheese

Although today it is considered one of the gastronomic gems from the Grazalema Mountains and Andalusia, until 1996 the production of the flocks of sheep and goats was exploited by a French company, to detriment of the area’s cultural heritage. This situation changed when a group of young entrepreneurs decided to open a cheesemongers making the most of the singularities of the cattle.

The name of this delicatessen comes from the popular name given to the people from Villaluenga. Although the name was a way to claim the cultural importance of this product, the decision was not well received among the villagers.

The cheesemongers went all in for fresh, semi cured and curedgoat’s cheese, an innovative step in cheese production in an area where traditionally only sheep and mixed of sheep and goats cheese were commercialised. The success was immediate, so much so that at present there are more than a dozen cheesemongers dedicated exclusively to Payoyo cheese.

The varieties of milk used to make this cheese are: Payoya(or Montejaqueña) goat’s milk and Merina sheep, this last one is originally from the Extremadura region and contributes to the characteristic flavour of the Payoyo cheese.

Villaluenga, home to the Payoyo cheese

The locality of Villaluenga is situated at the core of the Grazalema Mountains. It is 858 metres above the sea level, and it’s the smallest and most elevated village of the province of Cádiz.

This village in the mountains has always lived from natural products. In the past, their wealth came from the textile industry due to the amount of sheep in the area. The industry flourished to a level that was able to dress the troops of Phillip IV King of Spain. Another sector exploited by the villagers was the extraction of bark of cork oaks leaving a picturesque landscape of naked trunk trees.

Though these days it is difficult to make a reference to Villaluenga that does not include the Payoyo cheese, this is a new industry in the municipality. These new business extend daily to other villages in the Grazalema Mountains, which is contributing to preserve the Payoya-Montejaqueña goat which was until very recently on the verge of becomingan endangered species.

Villaluenga’s Artisan Cheese Fair

Villaluenga’s Artisan Cheese Fair has become a referent in gastronomic fairs. Every year more and more foodies travel to taste the traditional Payoyo cheese, in recent years reaching over 20,000 visitors.

In this gastronomic fair with cheese at its centre, we would be able to find all the varieties sold in the area. Over 30 businesses from the sector participate in the fair every year.

The showcase organises workshops to make cheese for adults and children, highlighting the importance of knowing the precedence of the products we consume. In the fair you will also have a access to cheese tastings which will allow you to know first-hand the extraordinary quality of the products and the best way to present the delights from the Cádiz Mountains.

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