I advance that I am passionate about cheese, in particular of the more mature and stronger flavor. Speaking of strong cheeses, undoubtedly Bejes cheese in variety Picon cheese is a good example and we must recognize that it is not suitable for all audiences. On my last trip to Cantabria I had the opportunity to learn how it is made using traditional cheese in Bejes village in the Valley of Liébana. There in one of the highlands of the interior valley that leads among other places to the Fuente Dé cable, artisan cheesemakers are still two that largely made the traditional way with the healing process in caves. The existence of these caves has been on record since 1737 when it was found the tables in the caves were supposed to cure the cheese.
Bejes Picon blue cheese
Bejes Picon Cheese Curing
Luis Alberto Alles currently produces the cheese variety Bejes Picon under the appellation of origin Bejes Tresviso, a blue cheese with very intense flavor made from raw milk from cows, goats and sheep. With 10 gallons of milk it prepares a kilo of cheese which after 20 days of drying is moved inside of a cave where it remains at least two months healing. After this time, it is ready for the market. When visiting Bejes where Louis has assembled a Cheese Interpretation Center, visit with him Sotorraña cave which is currently used for cheese ripening. This cave was opened in 1943, a time in which all the villagers produced cheese.
Bejes Picon dish
But cheese production was not the main economic activity of the population of Bejes in earlier times. Between 1856 and 1927 as the then 400 villagers were mainly engaged in mining work. In fact, on this ground in 1856 that opened the road to climb Bejes. The cave was accessed initially by walking and crawling but now it comes through a forest track opened in 2002 to reach by car and you can get walking to where they mature cheeses. To get to it you have to open a metal door and pass some formations of stalactites and stalagmites. In the background you will see the cheese on wooden boards. The cave has a constant temperature of 9 degrees and a humidity of about 90 percent.
Bejes Picon Products
Bejes Picon photos: Marti Vicente, Noema Perez, PRC_Colindres, Ruth Piron Lopez.