In Catalonia, a popular sweet treat to have after lunch or dinner is fresh Catalan cheese and honey. Light, creamy and delicious, it’s definitely a must-try whilst you’re in Girona, Spain.
Opting for a cheese course instead of dessert isn’t that unusual. But in Catalonia, there is a must-try fresh cheese dish served as a dessert. And it’s delicious! On a visit to Girona, I found numerous restaurants serving it. However, you should be able to find it at most Catalan restaurants in the region.
Fresh Catalan cheese
In Catalonia, honey is a popular accompaniment to the fresh cheese and you’ll see restaurant menus with ‘mel i mató’ on offer for dessert. ‘Mel’ is honey and ‘mató’ is a type of fresh cheese made in Catalonia. Similar in texture to ricotta, mató is usually made either with cow’s milk or goat’s milk. Like Ricotta, it can also be made with sheep’s milk. There is also a similar fresh cheese in Catalonia called recuit, which has a smoother texture than mató. However, unlike ricotta, both mató and recuit aren’t made with any salt.
I tried mató for the first time at La Riba in Girona. There, they served the cheese with some honeyed nuts and two types of fruit reserves. The cheese itself was fabulously light and creamy with just a slight tang. And when eaten with the honeyed nuts and fruit preserves, it’s an absolutely delightful pudding. Both added sweetness but the honeyed nuts provided another texture layer whilst the fruit preserves provided a little tartness to the dish. The different elements meant each mouthful could be a little different too.
Seriously, if you get the chance to try it, do!
Easy to do yourself too…
As a dessert, couldn’t be simpler to make yourself! You can find mató for sale in supermarkets and cheese shops in Catalonia. All that’s left to do is pick up some honey, preserves (or jams) and some nuts. Or whatever your preferred accompaniment might be and it’s ready to eat.
If that feels far too easy, Sh Barcelona has a recipe for making your own mató. I haven’t tried it yet but if you do, let us know how it goes!
And if you are heading to Girona or elsewhere in Catalonia, do also try xuixos, another Catalan treat.