A cheese lover’s guide to Barcelona

As a country, many consider Spain a relatively lesser-known nation of cheese compared to its European brothers and sisters, and although it may not host as many dairy delights as its French neighbours, Spain does offer its very own unique variety of tasty cheeses.

Cheese trading in Spain dates all the way back to the start of our modern era, where the smoked cheeses of Northern Spain were sold in Rome. By the 13th century, Spanish cheese trading had even reached Britain, in particular the Mahón cheese from the Balearic Island of Menorca.

Perhaps the country’s most famous cheese is its queso Manchego, a cheese that can be dated all the way back to the Bronze Age. History has it that Manchego was created when the inhabitants of the La Mancha region mastered the art of making cheese using sheep’s milk. The cheese then became even more popular after it was mentioned in Miguel de Cervantes’ literary classic, Don Quixote de La Mancha.

manchego cheese

A particularly important region for el queso is that of Catalonia, home to the city of Barcelona. You don’t have to go far to get good cheese in Barcelona, and aside from Mahón and Manchego, there are countless other classic Catalan cheeses in the Ciudad Condal.

Tupi is a local specialty made in the region’s Pyrenees Mountains and comes with a strong and fruity taste made from the clay pot where the cheese is fermented. Typically, Tupi is made with Cazalla (a liqueur of dry anise) and either cows, goats, or sheep’s milk. Another cheese made in the Pyrenees is Costa Negra, a type of soft cheese with a mix of sweet and sour notes.

Head south of the Pyrenees to another mountain range and you can find Mató cheese, or Mató de Montserrat, to give it its full name. Made in the villages near the Montserrat Mountain, Mató is a cream cheese served with honey in the form of a traditional dessert, Mel I Mató. It can even be traced all the way back to Catalan cookbooks from the 14th century!

mel i mato

Alt Urgell-Cerdanya is the first and so far the only cheese in the Catalan region with a protected designation of origin. Its soft and creamy texture and sweet taste make it extremely popular at artisan markets and paired with wine.

Another two of the four provinces in Catalonia also produce notable cheesy feats. Drap cheese is made in the province of Girona and has two forms: fresh – white, milky, and with no rind – and tender – with a thin yellow rind. The Lleida province is known for its Tou del Tillers, a traditional cheese made with raw milk that takes a creamy texture not too dissimilar to Brie.

drap cheese

Where to eat cheese in Barcelona

Vila Viniteca

A family run business popular since 1932, Vila Viniteca offers a selection of 350 different handcrafted cheeses, the majority made locally in Viniteca’s own cold rooms and the rest supplied locally from other independent cheese factories in the country. All the cheeses are also available to try in their tasting area along with a refreshing glass of wine…

Carrer dels Agullers, 7.

Vila Viniteca

Colmado Múrria

Located in the city’s Eixample district, Colmado Múrria is a traditional delicatessen that offers visitors the very best of goods from the Catalan capital. It has more than 240 varieties of cheese, including a truffle gorgonzola for €380!

Carrer de Roger de Llúria, 85.

Colmado Múrria

Celler Cal Marino

Once a former fizzy drinks factory, Celler Cal Marino is one of the best places in the city for wine and cheese connoisseurs, alike. As well as local Spanish and Catalan cheeses, they have a selection of cheese from Switzerland, France, and other places around the world.

Carrer de Margarit, 54.

Celler Cal Marino

Formatgeria La Seu

La Seu is our favourite place to eat cheese in Barcelona, not because of its amazing variety of dairy treats, but because of its incredible owner who makes her customers feel like they have found a second home in Katherine’s cheesy nest egg. Born in Scotland, Katherine keeps strict guidelines for the cheese that she sells, whittling them down through an extensive selection process.

She also offers a range of tasting experiences, from a small platter of three cheeses and a glass of wine, to private lunch and dinner sessions with a selection of her favourite cheeses from across the country! But before you go, don’t forget to try her sensational homemade ice cream made from La Seu’s very own cheese…

Carrer de la Dagueria, 16.

Formatgeria La Seu

Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at AB Apartment Barcelona. AB Apartment Barcelona is an apartment rental agency offering over one thousand short and long term apartments across Barcelona.

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Comments (12)

  1. Darius says:

    Spanish cheese is under-rated. Manchego is my favourite.

    When I have friends round for dinner I offer Manchego as part of my tapas like starter. Then we finish off with Manchego as part of the cheese board.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Hi Darius! We think Manchego is definitely our favourite as well. Your dinner parties sound great, think you could send us an invite next time?!

  2. Caroline Bartlett says:

    Art, beach, football, Gaudi, la Ramblas, Sagrada Familia, tapas and wine – I thought Barcelona had it all. Now you tell me that it’s got cheese as well. How many more reasons do we need to love Barcelona?

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Hi Caroline, there’s more where that came from… We don’t think we’ll ever get bored of our city!

  3. Jeff G says:

    There’s enough fascinating content here for a whole book on Spanish cheeses. These pictures would get it off to a great start.

    Throw in some pictures of goats in the Pyrenees, teaditional cheesemakers and some of the great characters who sell these cheeses in markets and shops.

    I think you could have a lavish coffee-table book, a long lasting souvenir of visitors’ time in Spain.

    Suddenly real paper books are back in fashion. Also people seem to have woken up just in time and want to know more about where their food comes from.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Hi Jeff, thanks for your comment. We’re so happy that real books are back! We never really liked our kindles anyway… but we think you’re on to something here! Watch this space…

  4. Gary Childerly says:

    I don’t really get why Spain doesn’t quite have the variety of cheeses as it’s neighbours. When I’ve been up on the north coast around the Picos d’Europa there’s certainly been enough rain to produce plenty of rich pastureland. Even if Spain doesn’t produce a wide range of cheeses the ones that they do are very good indeed. Maybe Spain hasn’t quite got the dairy culture of other countries. Hopefully all these cheeses signal the beginning of a Cheese Revolution in Spain.

  5. Leo says:

    They say cheese makes you dream and I’m dreaming of a cheese trail. You get wine routes & choccie tours – so why not a cheese trail? Is there one in Barca?

  6. Nick Dougill says:

    It’s amazing how you find these Brits scattered all over the world making a sense of what are often local trades. Interesting that Katherine and her Formatgeria La Seu
    is doing so well.

    A few years ago I was around the Toulouse area and found a bottle of wine with a Scottish flag on it, curious I tracked the vineyard. I had a tour and a tasting with a guy who had been in born in Scotland, so it was strange to hear a Scottish accent amongst the vines.

    • Sandra Roig says:

      Wow Nick what a great story! We like to think that cheese unites many countries… who doesn’t love it!

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