The Casin cheese
The Casin cheese
Casin cheese is made from non pasteurized full cream milk, which is high in butterfat content, and which comes whenever possible from the local autochthonous breed of cattle: Asturian Mountain or Casina breed.
After the milk is curdled, the curds and the whey divide with the aid of a colander and a dripping tray. The curds are later wrapped in special cloth so that whey continues draining off for an average of three days.
When this process is over, the cheese is squeezed in a press several times until the cheese maker decides it is ready. At this moment, it is given the final shape by hand: a 15 to 20 centimetres long and 4 to 7 centimetres tall circle which weights between 250 and 600 grams.
As soon as the cheese is given the last touch, it is printed with a hand-made wooden seal that may include the craftsman´s name, a password, the name of the village, decorative elements,… The cheese that Marigel Álvarez makes has the Council of Caso coat of arms surrounded by the words “Quesu Casín” and the initials “M.A.”
Casin cheese is considered to be one of the oldest Spanish cheeses, or even one of the oldest in the world, because the written documents that first mention it date back to the 14th century. The making process is so special, consisting in pressing the same curd many times preferably within the timespan of a week, that some experts link it directly to the Neolithic Age and the first Iberian Peninsula settlers.
Its age-old origins and thorough manufacturing process turn Casin cheese into a high quality dairy product of a stunning nature that leaves a long lasting impression on those who taste it.
When you talk about Casin cheese you can´t help thinking of Marigel Álvarez. She was born in Oviedo and raised in Germany, a fact which made her foster from a very young age an entrepreneurial personality that determined her in the late eighties to bet for a product that, at that time, was in clear decline. Besides learning how to make Casin cheese, she had to manage to get the right milk, to open marketing channels and, above all, to turn this spicy and sharp flavoured product into a cheese valued and respected by the most demanding palates in these present times. There have been countless fairs in which she has participated, both inside and outside Asturias, eager to make Casin cheese known and valued beyond Asturias.
Marigel´s commitment to Casin cheese and the entrepreneurial effort that has pushed her forward have made her worthy of major awards including:
First Prize in the Certamen de la Huerta del Valle del Nalón in the category of Quesu Casín in several editions.
In 2004, she was awarded the Xana de Plata award by the Association of Entrepreneur Women of Asturias.
In 2005, the Hermandad de la Probe group from La Foz de Morcín named her Quesera Mayor of Asturias.
In 2006, she was given the prize Premio a la Quesería Destacada in La Feria de La Ascension, Oviedo.
In 2007, she was awarded a Mención Especial at the Feria Internacional Semana Verde de Galicia.
In 2010, her cheese was recognized as The Best Cheese in Asturias by the Asociación de Cata de Quesos “El Pláganu”.
In 2012, the Government of the Principality of Asturias awarded her the Silver Medal of Asturias, in recognition of her career as Casin cheese artisanal manufacturer and farmer, which has contributed fundamentally to the fact that this cheese variety has obtained the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and later, the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
In 2013, she received the award for Best Cheese and Career at the 25th Fair of Artisanal Cheeses from Asturias, in La Foz de Morcín.
In 2015, she received the award for Best Casín Cheese in the first contest of Cheese Casín D.O.P. in Campo de Caso, Asturias.
In 2016, she received the award for Best Casín Cheese in the second contest of Cheese Casín D.O.P. in Campo de Caso, Asturias.
Marigel feels very proud specially of making Casin cheese known, not only in Spain but also beyond our borders: Japan, the United States and Mexico are some of the countries to where her product has been exported.
Reciegos Rural Hotel ***
Reciegos Rural Hotel ***
Caso mountains provide a framework for Reciegos Agroturismo Hotel. On its back, the ridge that separates Caso from the northern council, Ponga; opposite, the Nalón Valley landscape, and especially in the south, the most stunning view, Montallende, whose trees change the colour of their leaves every season, enlivening the surroundings with a succession of colours.
Limestone and wood are the hallmarks of this hotel, which slightly reminds us of alpine buildings. Four of the rooms open onto an open corridor while the remaining four, let in the landscape, literally, through their large windows facing respectively east and west.
Jam made from local fruits, Asturian sausages and cold meat, sponge cake and homemade bread accompanied by a fragrant coffee, are the house brand. Guests can enjoy a hearty and nutritious breakfast, suitable for the busy day that lies ahead: hiking around Caso, walking through their villages or, why not, visiting other areas of the Principality of Asturias.
And in the evening, while dinner preparations are completed, the guests can enjoy the tranquility of the terrace: a bottle of cider, a tray of Casin cheese and above all, the nice chat the atmosphere motivates.
Two or three hours later …. shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh …….. You can only hear the water.
Reciegos is sleeping.
The Casina cow
The Casina cow
Also known by: Asturiana de la Montaña, Casina, Asturiana Oriental.
Asturiana de la Montaña or Casina is a local Asturian bovine cattle breed and as such, it presents a morphology perfectly adapted to the environment. The following points can be considered as the standard breed characteristics: Medium head with straight profile and big occipital protuberance. Small ears with much hair and slightly prominent eyes with a calm look. Horns born in the elongation of the nape of the neck,
shorter and wider in the bulls, horizontal in the base and directed ahead and up with their ends directed to the back and outside. Medium neck, thin except in the male, muscled and with a big and discontinuous dewlap, which continues in little and lean withers, welljoined to the slightly muscular back but well-directed, with a slightly saddled back which ends in the hindquarters, narrow in its back diameters and slightly bent,
with the birth of the tail often lifted up.
Descending chest, deep and spacious breast, and well-proportioned abdomen. Short or medium extremities, beefy on the top with very thin skeletal ratios and small, round and hard hoof. Mammary glands with good development and great quality, well-implanted teats and thin and soft skin.
Brown coat, more or less discolored to cream tones, with a white band round the snout and eyes and degraded to creamy colours on the inner part of the extremities, mammary gland, inner part of the thigh and perineal areas. Intensification of the colour with black hairs in the edge of the ears and less intense on the edge of the dewlap. The ends, snout, budding horns, eye circles, tail end, and scrotum circle in males, are black as well as the eyelids and eyelashes. The mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, tongue, anus, and vulva are black or slate black.
The Asturiana de la Montaña breed has been part of the landscape and ecosystem of Caso for a very long time, carrying out an important role in the conservation of the natural environment and landscape and as a consequence, in the fixation of the population in these areas.
For centuries, breeders of Casina in the council of Caso and bordering valleys such as Ponga, selected this breed for higher milk yields aimed at cheese production. Asturiana de la Montaña is also known for its enormous foraging capacity and good maternal ability, and above all, for its great docility. Its noble look has constituted a great support to farmers throughout the centuries. We just have to remember the moving story of Leopoldo Alas, “Adiós, Cordera ,” as an expression of the link between this animal and the peasant family.
Casina breed cattle spend spring and summer in the mayadas of the surrounding councils up in the mountains. There they take advantage of the best grazing nature can offer, which is essential to produce very rich in fat and protein milk, perfect for making Casin cheese. Right in the beginning of autumn, mostly in October, these cows are taken down to the villages and after the farmers have participated in the traditional cattle fairs, cows are kept stabled to protect them against the harshness of winter.
Source for “Asturian Mountain”