Telemea is a traditional Romanian brined cheese made from cow’s milk and/or sheep’s milk.
Originally brought to the Eastern European country by the Vlach peoples, the Latin descendants of modern-day Romanians, Telemea has grown to become the country’s most popular cheese. Similar cheeses are also found throughout the Balkans and north of the Danube, but the original Telemea is now protected as a traditional Romanian product with a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status in Europe. Several varieties of the product are protected from different regions, including Arges, Brasov, Carei, Harghita, Huedin, Oas, Sibiu and Vâlcea.
In production of Telemea, rennet is used to curdle milk and the curd is removed and pressed overnight in cheesecloth before being cut into squares. The squares are then left to mature in a brine solution. Before it’s a few weeks old, the cheese can be sold fresh, known simply as cas. But to become Telemea, it must mature in brine for up to six more months, stored in wooden barrels called putini. Sometimes it’s spiced with cumin seeds before sale.
With a wet crumbly consistency reminiscent of feta, Telemea is creamy, salty and tangy. A perfect table cheese, it’s often used in salads.
Pair cow’s milk Telemea with a Romanian Feteasca Regala wine. The sheep’s milk version would go well with a Romanian Sole Chardonnay.