I first tried manchego when I was in high school. My friend Carmen and her Spaniard family served me this cheese with dinner and I’ve been hooked on it ever since. Carmen is actually from the Canary Islands, (located off the coast of north-western Africa) but don’t tell her I told you that. She’s a Spaniard through and through – claro que si.
I think the nutty, rich flavor of manchego is a nice contrast to the peppery sharpness of watercress. Blood oranges are great this time of year so they get to come along for the ride, though they do add such a sweet tang and juiciness. Serve this with a light drizzle of almond oil (I really like the one made by Tourangelle) or olive oil and a small sprinkling of lemon juice. I topped it with roughly chopped almonds that I quickly toasted in the oven for 10 minutes at 350F.
I usually order my Spanish cheeses and dry-cured sausages like chorizo and salichichón, as well as goodies like turrón and membrillo from La Espanola Meats, a retail store located in Harbor City, California. If you’re ever in the area on a Saturday, you can stop by and enjoy some really fabulous paella that they make right on the premises.