feature-header-Recovered6After the Roman Empire, a lot of the techniques of Italian Cheese making were largely abandoned,  they only survived in remote areas such  in the mountains or monasteries. Individual Italian states had developed their own their traditions which resulted in cheeses special to each Italian region. There are many different versions of Italian Cheeses. Parmigiano Reggiano, Mozzarella and Provolone are just a few of the amazing types produced in regions ranging from Lombary in the north, through Tuscany down to Siciliy in the south. Here is a guide for you, in order to know just a little bit more about which is which, and how to pair them!

Gorgonzola

20120531-207751-cheese-03Origin: Lombardy

Aged: Made in two different styles. The softer, more mellow sweet version, and aged, which is much more intense and aged.

Notes: For centuries, cattle herds trekked to and from seasonal pastures, stopping to rest in the little town of Gorgonzola. Out of the abundance of milk came the eponymous cheese. Originally, the cheese blued naturally from the penicillium lurking in damp caves. These days, the wheels are pierced and injected with a hit of the instigator mold. Young gorgonzola is creamy and Brie-like in texture; as the cheese ages, it becomes harder and crumbly. All gorgonzola is wonderfully garlicy and peppery.

Serve: With a red Italian wine. A great salad cheese, pasta, or a fine dessert with pears or figs.

PECORINO TOSCANO

20120531-207751-cheese-02Region of Origin: Tuscany

Type of milk: Sheep

Aged:  a few months to over a year

Notes: Because sheep’s milk contains a very high percentage of butterfat, Pecorino Toscano is a little bit oily. There is depth and opulence in that butterfat. Aromatic, luxurious, with notes of olive and toasted walnuts.

Serve: The Tuscans welcome spring with melted Pecorino and drizzled olive oil over a bowl of fresh fava beans. Serve alongside a salad and good prosciutto for lunch. Or pair with olives and a glass of Chianti or Brunello.

TALEGGIO

20120531-207751-cheese-09Region of Origin: Lombardy

Type of milk: Cow

Aged: About 6 weeks

Notes: I’m crazy about this cheese. Taleggio’s bark is bigger than its bite. Smells like a raging stinker, but the funkiness is balanced, complex, a bit nutty, and a lot wonderful. Tart, salty, and beefy. Let it get to room temp—how all cheeses should be served—and watch it ooze in gooey glory. Since the 9th century, squares of Taleggio have been left in brine; the result is a sticky, pretty orange rind, which should be eaten along with the pudding-soft paste.

Serve: Melt atop fresh polenta; or smear on good, crusty bread. Great with a fruity white wine like Soave, or a big red like Barbaresco or Barolo.

FONTINA D’AOSTA

20120531-207751-cheese-04Region of Origin: Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna in Emilia-Romagna; and Mantova in Lomardy.

Type of milk: Cow

Aged: 3 months or longer

Notes: Perfumy, fruity, and brazen—this is the Italian answer to gruyere. Fontina d’Aosta is made from the raw, fresh milk from a single milking of Valdostana cows inthe Valle d’Aosta, in the Italian Alps. These 20-ish-pound wheels are firm and supple. Real, DOC-protected fontina’s flavors are a grand symphony of fruits and nuts and herbs.

Serve: Perfect with a spread of charcuterie and fruit. The star of fonduta, a butter and egg-laden fondue and a classic Piedmontese dish that’s often laced with white truffles. At home in any panini or grilled cheese sandwich, and welcome on a cheese board.

MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA

fresh-mozzarellaRegion of Origin: The area south and west of Naples

Type of milk: Water buffalo

Aged: As little as possible. Best the same day it’s made, or a day or two after.

Notes: Water buffalo give this singular cheese an exceptional depth of flavor and sweetness. Moist, sweet, tender, meltingly soft, buttery, milky, and totally unique. The pull-apart texture echoes how it’s made: mozzarella is a spun cheese, or pasta filata, usually by hand.

Serve: With a juicy tomato, basil leaves, a glug of good EVOO, flaky salt, and a grind of black pepper. Or with anchovies and crusty bread. Superlative in its deliciousness, it doesn’t need much fuss.

PROVOLONE

provoloneRegion of Origin: Basilicata, in Southern Italy, but now provolone is made and enjoyed throughout the country, in different shapes and styles.

Type of milk: Cow

Aged: Varies greatly from a few months to over a year. More age means sharper, more intense flavor.

Notes: How to make provolone: rub down mozzarella in brine and oil, wrap it in rope, and hang it to dry, harden, and transform. The result will be a simple, flavorful, salty, slightly oily, pleasantly piquant hard log or balloon or gourd shaped cheese.

Serve: A great Italian cheese for sandwich with broccoli rabe, or roast pork, or meatballs. Melt in omelets. Or serve with a cold beer and a bowl of olives.

ASIAGO

20120531-207751-cheese-20Region of Origin: From the Po Valley to the Alpine pastures between the Asiago Plateau and the Trentino’s highlands.

Type of milk: Cow

Aged: From a few weeks to nearly a year.

Notes: This is an Italian cheese that goes down easy: mild, lactic, supple. Young asiago is springy and soft; with age the texture changes to hard-as-Parmesan. The flavors intensify in the aged varieties, but never become sharp or biting.

Serve: A perfect cheese, especially with salami, good on bread, and with a beer. Fresco is best for sandwiches and salads; aged asiago is great grated and strewn on pastas, salads, and gratins.

 

To purchase some of these amazing cheeses, head over to Italia Regina for all your needs