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Dairy farming for cheese production follows only tourism as the leading industry of Menorca, the northernmost of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the picturesque Mediterranean Sea. One taste of Mahón, a smooth, supple, hard cheese named for the capital (and port city) of Menorca, will prove to any skeptic why cheese production here has become world renowned.
A unique cheese with a sweet and fruity aroma and a rich, bold flavor, Mahón is not for those who prefer bland cheeses. Made from cow's milk, it has a yellowish rind and a spicy and somewhat salty cheese flavor.
Although Menorca is a small rocky island, it produces enough cheese to rank Mahón in second place among Spanish cheeses, behind Manchego. Locals have been producing this exotic cheese for more than seven hundred years, and it has become a true island tradition handed down for generations. More than six hundred farms populate the small island, producing the milk and the cheese, while benefiting from a mild climate, high humidity and heavy rainfall. Professional cheese curers also inhabit the island. They purchase the farm-made cheeses on a weekly basis and dry them naturally. Such a tried-and-true ritual may seem quaint in today's highly mechanized world, but there is little doubt that the long-established and painstaking production process benefits modern-day cheese lovers.
More than seventy years ago, the island's cheese production got a major boost when the industry was officially established and new milking cows were imported. Feeding and health care for the animals were improved and, as a result, milk production flourished. Today, Menorca's cow herds are renowned for superior milk production. That, in turn, has led to more fame for the island's cheese. Mahón received Denomination of Origin classification and protection in 1985. This month you join a bevy of discriminating cheese aficionados around the world who enjoy this excellent cheese every day.
A unique cheese with a sweet and fruity aroma and a rich, bold flavor, Mahón is not for those who prefer bland cheeses. Made from cow's milk, it has a yellowish rind and a spicy and somewhat salty cheese flavor. As with most farmhouse cheeses, Mahón gains flavor as it ages and is sold at various stages of maturity. The cheese is ripened for a minimum of two months in underground caves. This ripening process helps make Mahón a must for any true cheese connoisseur. The cheese comes in several varieties, all of which are prepared for long-term storage and transportation. Typically it is shipped in large, six pound squares in keeping with Mahón's long history of being shipped by sea from its namesake port to eager Spanish and European consumers. As a highly versatile cheese, grate over pasta, rice, or vegetables, or serve as appetizer with olive oil.
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