Amarelo da Beira Baixa has been one of the more elusive cheeses on the “100 Great Cheeses” list. Unfortunately, Portuguese cheeses are hard to come by here in the DC area, and we didn’t spot this one on our cheese tour of NYC this past summer either. It was listed on Artisanal’s website, but hadn’t been in stock on previous searches. When I checked two months ago it appeared available to order, so I did — only to get a phone call that it was on back order. I declined the option to replace it with another cheese and waited … and waited … and waited. Finally I got the call that it had arrived and would be shipping out. And I have to say it was worth the wait.

Amarelo is a D.O.P. cheese from central Portugal. A raw sheep/goat milk blend, it has a firm, spongy paste that softens to a spreadable consistency as it warms to room temperature. It has the sour, yeasty taste of a washed rind but still preserves that fresh goats-milk flavor at the same time. It is lighter than I expected, as the goats’ milk cuts some of the traditional oiliness of sheeps-milk cheese, but still delightfully creamy and full-flavored. Artisanal suggests pairing Amarelo with Pinot Noir, which sounds heavenly. I can only hope Amarelo will still be in stock when I can drink wine again!

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