The Cultural Center ‘Os Serranos’ hosts the Serra da Estrela Cheese Festival every year. This year’s edition, the 33rd, lasted practically the whole March and toured several cities that hosted the exhibits and tastings of the Serra da Estrela cheeses that came from the best producers in the mountain region but also wine, hams, jams, honey and other mountain products (“produtos serranos”).
Nothing was left to chance and music, animation and folklore were also part of what is already a tradition in the United States.
Thus, the Serra da Estrela Cheese Festival took place this year in Elisabeth, at the Portuguese Instructive Social Club; in Danbury, at the Portuguese Cultural Center; in Yonkers, at the Portuguese American Community Center; in Newark, at the Portuguese Sport Club; in Philadelphia, at the Philadelphia Portuguese Club; and, lastly, in an first-time initiative, in Farmingville, at the Rio Douro Bistro bar & restaurant.
Alexandrino Costa, president of the Cultural Center ‘Os Serranos’ and native of Gouveia, a town in the foothills of Serra da Estrela, said that “after last year’s tragedies, I was expecting a not such a good year for the Serra da Estrela Cheeses, but they have a lot of quality; it was me who chose them in Portugal and it is with sadness that I already had to refuse bringing some cheeses to the USA, as people are starting to deviate from traditional manufacturing processes”, he said, pointing out some bad practices which are emerging in the production of this emblematic POD (Protected Designation of Origin) product.
For the ‘Os Serranos’ president, “it will take some time to restore the quality we had before, although we can still find good cheeses in artisan cheese dairies. Nowadays there are more and more people producing cheese, I would venture to say that this year, I found the best cheeses in Celorico da Beira, which was not affected by the fires”, said Alexandrino Costa, referring to the project that the municipality developed in which “the protocol established with the city council says it is in charge of purchasing the cheeses and the curd cheeses that shepherds cannot sell. This way, they have managed to guarantee a price for the whole year, have established several partnerships in Oporto and Lisbon and are certifying quality cheese in the area of Celorico da Beira”, said the president of the Cultural Center.
Carlos Santos, vice president of the ‘Os Serranos’ Cultural Center, also said that “in addition to the cheese we brought other products from Serra da Estrela to help artisans in the region. Besides a container of cheese from Serra da Estrela, the best cheese of the year they say, came another container with other Serra da Estrela products”, said the vice president.
The Serra da Estrela Cheese Festival is no longer a reference only to the Portuguese community, it is increasingly popular and there are more and more people of all nationalities who take the opportunity to taste and to get to know the Portuguese regional products.
Thus, we must congratulate the direction of ‘Os Serranos’: Luís Pires, Luís Gaspar, Carlos Andrade, Joaquim Panarra, Carlos Silva, José Mário Gomes, Alexandrino Costa, Carlos Santos, Gabriel Rodrigues, António Santos, Luís Martins, Guilherme Pinto and Luís Coragem.
In addition to the finished Festival, the Cultural Center ‘Os Serranos’ is also carrying out a fundraising campaign for the shepherds affected by last year’s fires that will culminate on April 21st with a large solidarity event at the Portuguese Sport Club in Newark.
In May, a delegation from the Queijo da Serra Brotherhood will personally distribute several heads of cattle by shepherds in Portugal.
The “Os Serranos” Cultural Center is a cultural and recreational association that aims to promote and disseminate Serra da Estrela’s culture, potential and traditions in the USA. It was recognized an honorary member of the merit order by the President of the Republic on June 10th, 2015.
The headquarters and museum of the ‘Os Serranos’ Cultural Center was inaugurated last year and is located at 126 Gotthardt St.Newark, NJ 07105.