Iberia: a big, warm peninsula (if you count Portugal and Spain as one) dividing the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
Wisconsin: a big, cold peninsula (if you count Michigan) dividing Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.
What do these two land masses have in common? Well, very little. But they are both home to some great cheese. So Roth Kase, the award-winning cheesemaker from Monroe, Wis., is determined to draw a dairy link between the two with the Gran Queso.
"Muy bueno" I say to Roth. And also, "Muchas gracias."
Like a good Manchego, the Gran Queso has a yellow-ivory paste. It's a semi-hard, cow's milk cheese, aged six months before being released. It is slightly sweet, with an extra sharp tang. The inedible rind sports a red basket-weave pattern.
PAIRINGS: Try it with a sweet wine, like Port or Madeira. If that's not your style, put it up against a robust Spanish red like an old-style Rioja (plenty of tannins). Gran Queso also melts and blends quite well, so put it on top of pasta, or in a quesadilla.