The spy Aline Griffith promoted Finca Pascualete, an Extremadura cheese factory whose cheeses are sold alongside the organic products of Prince Charles of England
“My grandmother was a fascinating woman”, recalls her grandson Juan Figueroa Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, devoted to the care and pampering of the sheep in the family pasture
A cheese made from pasteurized sheep’s milk, white rind, tender and edible that contains a delicate paste, creamy but compact, sprinkled with bits of black truffle brought from Italy. It is the recipe for one of the miniature cakes made by the aristocratic Romanones family in its Finca Pascualete in Cáceres that fascinates Queen Letizia and is sold in the most select gourmet stores in the world along with organic products from the Prince Charles of England.
Letizia shares pleasure with her father-in-law Juan Carlos I, Another admirer of these Trujillo cheeses whose production was enthusiastically promoted by Aline Griffith, the CIA spy who arrived in Spain during the World War II, got married with Luis de Figueroa and Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno, Count of Romanones, and became the best ambassador of Extremadura.
The best in society
By Finca Pascualete, next to Trujillo (Cáreces), the best of the society of the moment passed by the hand of the Countess of Romanones, who put this corner of conquerors on the international map. Politicians, ambassadors, Hollywood stars and Spain, Aristocrats and intellectuals always left the palace with the gift of one of the tasty cheeses that at that time the family bought from the shepherds in the area.
Deborah Kerr, Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, the Duchess of Alba, Lola Flores and even FrancoThey, among others, enjoyed the hospitality of Aline who from one day to the next decided in 2010, seven years before she died in Madrid, to create her own brand of cheeses. “My grandmother was a fascinating woman & rdquor ;, Now he remembers his grandson Juan Figueroa Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, devoted to the care and care of the 4,000 hectare farm where thousands of sheep are carefully raised in the open air that provide the exquisite milk with which marry cheeses are made of between only 130 and 180 grams of Pascualete.
Along with Queen Letizia’s favorite, truffle, the Romanones make the miniretort of cured fatty sheep cheese, Star product of the house, which has been recognized as the best cheese in Spain and one of the best in the world in several editions of the World Cheese Awards, the oscar of the cheeses and the minicumber. The Trujilllo Summit is a semi-cured fatty sheep cheese made from pasteurized milk, according to the recipe inherited from the shepherds of the area.
“We have 1,600 head of merino sheep for the sale of meat and wool and 3,500 laconas for the production of milk & rdquor ;, explains Juan Figueroa while touring the farm that belongs to his family, by way of the counts of Torre Arias, from 1232 and which was rediscovered in 1947 by the American Griffith. “He visited those lands with a historian and fell in love with the place that no one in the family had visited in the previous 150 years & rdquor ;, his grandson recalls. “Not even my grandfather knew this pasture & rdquor ;, he adds as he proudly observes the palace, the scene of so many high society parties that he now rents to groups of foreigners, especially Americans, at a price of between 3,000 and 5,000 euros per night.
“Maintaining this farm is not cheap & rdquor ;, he continues,“ so between my father and I we convinced my grandmother that we had to make a profit from it by marketing the best we have always had in this area: sheep and their milk & rdquor ;, continues. Later they convinced him that renting the mansion was another business to ensure the survival of this pasture. and the cheese project that discarded the traditional cakes between 700 and 1,200 grams to focus on a miniature format that they sell as “a jewel & rdquor; and it is offered in the best restaurants in the world. “They have told me that Queen Letizia likes a lot the one with that truffle point & rdquor;, he reveals. Another of the confessed followers of the Pascualete cheeses is the former president of the United States, George W. Bush.
A careful diet
Feeding the animals is a priority for Figueroa and the more than 30 people, most of them young from the region, who work on the farm and in the Trujillo cheese factory. To the grass that they eat in the open air, the Romanones add vitamin and protein supplements at night in a dozen ingredients that mix with straw and alfalfa to ensure that the milk fat and protein is balanced to make a perfect cake.
The sheep are milked at seven in the morning, before going out to the field, they return in the afternoon to the second milking shift and then take that important supplement for the vegetable rennet of the cheese.
Throughout the pasture, Figueroa has placed huge tanks of water for them to drink in months of drought in this harsh land of tough animals whose cakes have managed to amaze even to Laurent y Hervé Mons, two of the best cheese refiners in the world. “All my life I wanted to make a cheese like this & rdquor ;, Hervé recognized Figueroa with a mini-cake in his hand.
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