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Types Of Cheese From Italy

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July 5, 2017 / Italian / By
ETG - Food For Thought

 

It is no secret most people love cheese since almost every country has its own flagship cheeses that you want to try. However, whenever talking about cheese there are two countries that stand out: France and Italy. We already talked about French cheeses so it is time to talk about Italian cheeses since their popularity is so much lower than what it should be.

You serve French cheese culminating or preceding the meal but Italian cheese is more often a part of lunch, breakfast or dinner. The culture is different and the cheese is different. Parmigiano-Reggiano is exquisite on fresh pasta. Pecorino Toscano is great in a salad and mozzarella seems to have been made especially for pizza.

Let’s take a look at the most interesting Italian cheese now and learn more about it, together with how we can incorporate it into our meals.

Gorgonzola – Lombardy

Gorgonzola is made in 2 styles:

  • Sweet – mellow, soft
  • Aged – naturale, aged for more than one year and with a more intense taste

The city of Gorgonzola welcomed trekking cattle herds for hundreds of years and eventually, this eponymous cheese appeared. In the beginning it naturally blued because of penicillium present in caves. Nowadays, gorgonzola wheels are injected with instigator mold. The young gorgonzola will have a texture like Brie and will be creamy. When the cheese ages it will become crumbly and hard but will remain peppery and garlicy.

Serve gorgonzola with Barolo or Amarone wines. Alternatively, use it in salads or in desserts in a combination with figs or pears.

Pecorino Toscano – Tuscany

This sheep milk cheese can be aged anywhere from just a few months to years. Pecorino Toscano is oily because of the butterfat present in sheep’s milk but it is not too much. This cheese is luxurious and aromatic, having notes of toasted walnuts and olive. It is DOP protected.

Serve Pecorino Toscano during the spring with some melted Pecorino over fresh fava beans with a bit of olive oil. Also, it is great with prosciutto and a salad for launch. If you want wine, Brunello or Chianti work best.

Taleggio – Lombardy

Lombardy is a paradise for cow milk cheese, with Taleggio being renowned for its strong smell and nutty taste. The cheese ages for around 6 weeks and should be used at room temperature. Locally, the cheese is served over fresh polenta or right on crusty bread. Combine it with fruity white wine or a strong red like Barolo.

Fontina d’Aosta

The cheese is aged for a minimum of three months and originates from Mantova, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna and Modena. It is brazen, fruity and perfumy, marking Italian’s version of gruyere. Fontina d’Aosta is made from one milking of the Valle d’Aosta Valdostana cows. A wheel will be supple and firm, weighing around 20 pounds. With such “pedigree” it should be no surprise it is DOC protected. You traditionally serve it with fruit and charcuterie.

Parmigiano-Reggiano

The flagship cheese comes from Emilia-Romagna and ages for two years, growing to a very important and flavorful Italian cheese, one of those renowned all around the world. Parmigiano-Reggiano can only be made between the months of April and November so cows do not graze on hay that is dry. The result is a mixture of flavors including salty, black walnutty, lavishly piquant and spicy. What is interesting is that you use Parmigiano-Reggiano in practically everything like eggs, meat dishes, veggies, risotto, pasta, soups and salads. If you want to pair it with wine, do use a strong Italian red like Chanti, Barbaresco, Barolo, Barbera or Brunello.

Mozzarella di Bufala  - West And South Of Naples

The milk used for the cheese is from water buffalo and aging is as little as possible, usually in just one day. Mozzarella di Bufala has true sweetness and flavor. It is buttery, unique, milky, tender, sweet and moist, with a texture you will always recognize as it is spun cheese. You want to serve the cheese with a fully tasty tomato, EVOO, salt, some black pepper and basil leaves. Alternatively, eat it with crusty bread or anchovies.

Provolone – Basilicata

While Provolone did originate in Basilicata, it is now made all around Italy. Aging varies according to taste. When it ages more it will have a more intense flavor. You actually make it out of mozzarella added to oil and brine, then wrapped and hanged to dry. Provolone ends up piquant hard log, salty, flavorful, slightly oily and really simple. The cheese is great for sandwiches, meatballs or roast pork.

Asiago – Po Valley To Asiago Plateau

The cow milk based cheese is aged for up to one year and will go down with ease. It is supple, lactic and mild. Younger Asiago is always soft and springy while aged Asiago will be similar in hardness to Parmesan. Flavors will be stronger when aged but will never be biting or sharp. Serve the cheese with good bread, salami and amber ale. Aged Asiago will be better for gratings, salads and pastas while Fresco Asiago is better for fresh salads and sandwiches.

Robiola Piemonte – Piedmont

Robiola Piemonte will be made out of sheep, goat and cow’s milk as a combination and does age for one week. It is rindless, tangy and moist, similar to ice cream in texture. We are not talking about just one cheese here. It is more like a family, the answer to the popular triple-crème. You often add cream. Flavors are normally sweet, soft and creamy. Do serve Robiola Piemonte with Prosecco since it is special.

What is your favorite Italian Cheese?

All of the above are interesting and flavorful. You surely know some and we hope you learned about new ones. Experiment and you will love cheese even more.

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