The many flavours of cheese & the best of Italy
There are cheeses for all tastes, whether you like it sweet and delicate, savory and intense, smoked or spicy, fresh or seasoned you will find the right one for you. With few ingredients (milk, rennet, salt, and time) over the years, the master dairymen created culinary masterpieces, perfect for all palates. What’s more, even those who are lactose intolerant can eat cheeses: some of them are naturally lactose-free, such as our beloved Piedmontese Gorgonzola, thanks to the production process and aging.
One of the secrets to making excellent cheeses is using super fresh high-quality milk. Moreover, with different types of milk, you can play with strong and genuine flavors, creating incredible products. Let me take you on a small journey to discover the types of milk most used in dairy production in Italy: I will reveal some of the most special cheeses ever.
Cow’s milk cheese
Let’s start with the milk of the Red Cows of Emilia-Romagna. Here in central Italy, in the provinces of Modena, Bologna, and Reggio Emilia, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, a hard-aged cheese, is prepared with whole cow’s milk: this cheese is famous all over the world for its goodness and versatility. Maturing can last from 12 months to more than 40 months, giving the Parmigiano Reggiano some peculiar characteristics: the sweet and slightly herbaceous base naturally acquires more flavor and spiciness with aging. It’s perfect to be enjoyed alone or grated on a good pasta.
Maccagno is prepared with the milk of Piedmontese Brown Cows around Biella, in Basso Piemonte: this soft cheese, sweet in taste with pleasant notes of butter, takes its name from a mountain pasture in Valsesia. Maccagno is the main ingredient of a typical dish of those areas: the polenta concia, which is a polenta enriched with butter and cheeses, luscious and tasty.
Sheep’s milk cheese
With sheep’s milk, richer and tastier than cow’s milk, we travel to Tuscany. Here in the hills, a good plate of pici (typical handmade pasta) is paired with excellent Pecorino Toscano DOP. Since Roman times this cheese, once called “cacio”, was known and appreciated for its delicate flavor. It can be fresh or seasoned: the first is characterized by a soft texture with a sweet taste and milky aroma, the second, on the other hand, with a firmer consistency, is famous all over the world for its strong but soft flavor with hints of dried fruit and of hay.
From Langhe sheep’s milk, with up to 40% cow’s milk, the delicious Murazzano DOP, produced in Alta Langa in Piedmont in the Cuneo area, is made. Soft and short-aged, it is a delicate cheese, for true connoisseurs: only ten thousand cheese wheels are produced every year. It takes its name from the town of Murazzano, home to a famous market where the cheeses prepared by shepherds were once sold.
Goat’s milk sheep
Goat’s milk, with a strong flavor and generally more digestible than cow’s milk, is the main ingredient of Anzaschina goat tometta. Prepared exclusively with goat’s milk in a small pasture in the Anzasca Valley, in Alto Piemonte, this tometta is characterized by a strong flavor, moderate marbling and a creamy consistency.
For those looking for even more intense and peculiar flavors, the Piedmontese goat tometta with pomace is perfect. Compact and semi-soft cheese, it is aged with Barbera pomace which gives it an intense flavor with an aromatic touch typical of the wine.
After all these suggestions… How do you choose the perfect cheese for you? On Piedmont Delights website, in the cheese section, you will find a very useful filter that allows you to select the type of milk and in the description of each product, you can find new ideas to best pair the cheese you have chosen.
– Until next time, With love!