Tradition and circumstance means you fork down the cash to buy the whole cheese barrel in the afternoon before your guests arrive. Let it sit at room temperature, cut the top of the rind so you have a natural bowl. A good serra cheese is creamy. You dip from the bowl. Traditionally, this cheese was made by the wife of the Shepherder in small mountain cottages. Today, the product's demand outmatches its supply. Sheep produce little milk, and so the majority of these Bordaleira sheep produce strictly for the cheese industry.
When we arrive in Sandomil, the rain relents to a drizzle and the settlement reveals itself to be entirely bent on a culture of cheese. Every storefront carries some variation of serra cheese, as well as their own household experiments in goat cheeses and Portuguese presunto cured hams.
At a random store (which also sells leather goods and stuffed rabbits), we score an eighth from the more aged, and piquant version of Serra cheese. More portable for the road to Evora.
Jane slices the aged serra as we roll down the mountain. It has a subtle bite, and goes well with the stiff Portuguese bread we bought at the border.