Rey Silo Afuega'l Pitu (Red Pimento)
Produced in the western Asturias region of Spain, Rey Silo Afuega'l Pitu is a traditional cheese with one of the oldest production histories in Europe. Named after the King of Asturias who presided over the court in the later part of the 8th century, first mentions of Rey Silo occur in letters to the Emperor Charlemagne from the same era. Today, production of this DOP name protected, raw, cow’s milk cheese takes place at Quesería Artesanal de Pravia under the lead of cheesemaker Ernesto Madera López. Milk for production is sourced from nearby dairy farms aroudn the village of Oviñana. Here, in a region known for its dairy cattle, the cows graze high quality mountain pastures and the milk is sent directly for cheesemaking. Upon arrival at Quesería Artesanal de Pravia, the fresh milk, which has not been chilled, is transferred into small vats and coagulated before being hand-ladled into cheese molds. After the curd has drained, the newly formed wheels are unmolded and individually salted by hand, with crystal salt sourced from the French Carmague. Cheeses are then allowed to dry and the batches of Rey Silo are moved to underground cellars for further aging. The cellars’ proximity to the Nalón River means the cellars are naturally at the ideal temperature and humidity for maturing cheese, resulting in the “terrior” of the region clearly showing through in the finished Rey Silo. Rey Silo is produced in two styles, a red version and a white version (see separate entry).
The texture of the two versions are similar in that they are both semi- firm, dense and slightly chalky. However, the red cheese is made using a high quality red pepper from Spain’s Extrmadura region, which gives the cheese a spicy finish. The red Rey Silo was typically consumed in the mining region of central Asturias as it was thought the addition of spice encouraged miners to drink more water and keep hydrated as well as giving them energy.
Flavors are quite intense yet well balanced with notes of cream, salt, hazlenuts, spice and butter. For cheeses produced during the summer months, you can also detect floral and grassy aromas.