I found this Portuguese cheese, called Sao Jorges, at the Gouda for You cheese store in Barrie, Ontario. This cheese is produced on the Island of the same name.
I assumed that an island off of the coast of Portugal would be … well … close to Portugal. I was surprised to discover that Sao Jorges is located out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the central island among a group of islands forming the archipelago of the Azores. It is a small island with a population of 10,500 people.
According to Wikipedia:
The local São Jorge cheese has been the most important part of the local economy (of Sao Jorges), resulting in the establishment of an order, the Confraria do Queijo de São Jorge, to promote the consumption and sale of this popular cheese.
When you consider the logistics, I am simply amazed how a cheese produced on a small island in the Atlantic Ocean can end up in my kitchen in Canada. Sometimes you just gotta love a global economy.
I would agree with it’s reputation as having a strong smell and tasting “barnyardy”. I liked the “barnyardy” flavor but it was not a hit with my wife and kids. Then again, they don’t like the stronger cheeses that I often enjoy. I found reference to it tasting like a cheddar and I don’t agree with that. I would consider it a very distant cousin to a cheddar. It does have a nice mildy spicy finish that lingers.
Did I like the cheese?
The short answer is yes. However I’ve been trying a lot of different cheeses and it’s getting harder to rank them. I haven’t met a cheese that I didn’t like. This one will rank somewhere in the middle of the pack. It was not a favorite but it’s not at the bottom of the list either.
It may be the cheese most able to illustrate a “barnyard” taste, so for me, it has merit on that basis.