ITALIAN CHEESES THE WORLD CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT
Italian cuisine is one of the most popular. It is healthy, tasty and offers great variety. So, it comes as no surprise to learn that, according to Statista, 46 million Americans eat out in an Italian restaurant each month. We have hundreds of regular customers, some of whom visit several times a week; some have been doing so since we opened, in 2002.
The foundation of any good Italian dish is good-quality fresh ingredients. Over the centuries, Italian farmers learned how to get the most out of what they produced and preserve it in a way that made it taste even better. Their passion for food has left us with a wonderful legacy. For example, today, you can buy a stunning array of Italian cheeses. Many of them produced in the same way they have been for centuries.
We are going to start with one of Italy´s lesser known cheeses, Fontina. This wonderful, creamy cheese is becoming increasingly popular. More and more people are enjoying eating it simply with bread and a glass of wine. It is very versatile, its texture when melted makes it perfect for communal dining experiences like fondue or raclette.
This creamy, buttery cheese comes only from the Aosta Valley. It is made using only the extremely rich, unpasteurized milk that is produced by the cows that craze there. Each creamery produces a slightly different tasting cheese. The production process is pretty much the same, but the way the cheeses are aged varies. This produces subtle and delicious differences in taste between creameries. You can learn more about this beautiful Italian cheese, here.
Perhaps the king of Italian cheeses is Parmigiano-Reggiano. This cheese is exclusively produced in specific areas of Italy, including Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Bologna. Hence, the interesting name.
This cheese has a strange slightly gritty texture that is, in part, as a result of the two-year aging process. The flavor is unique too. People love the slightly savory, nutty taste of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Its wonderful flavor plays with the taste buds and stands out from the other ingredients in a dish. This is why this cheese is mostly used to enhance food rather than being eaten on its own.
Parmigiano-Reggiano adds something special to virtually any pasta dish and is essential for risotto and many traditional soups. It is also very nice when eaten simply with cured meats and a glass of wine.
No article about Italian cheeses would be complete without mentioning mozzarella. The very mild, creamy taste and oddly rubbery texture makes it a slightly strange but ideal accompaniment to a range of foods. It is always satisfying to eat a plate of mozzarella, thickly sliced beef tomatoes and basil drizzled with copious amounts of herby olive oil. But, it is the fact that this is the cheese of choice for pizza makers the world over that means we cannot live without it. Mozzarella is what gives pizza it unctuous and luxurious mouthfeel and appearance.
Another unusual cheese that the world loves is ricotta. This whey cheese is used in many different ways, but it is a popular component of Italian desserts. It has a very mild flavor and creamy texture which makes it the perfect ingredient for cheesecake.
Ricotta is surprisingly versatile. Something that the world is waking up to, hence the fact that it is becoming more widely used. For example, it makes a great substitute for mayonnaise. A fact that enables people with egg intolerances to continue to enjoy many of their favorite dishes.
The last cheese we are going to mention is one that is not exactly a global bestseller, at least not yet. But, it is very big in America and is a particular favorite with deli customers.
This hard cheese is made from ewe´s milk. The younger versions can be used in a similar way to Parmigiano-Reggiano although the flavor is nowhere near as strong.
However, it is the aged varieties that seem to have caught the attention of the world. Once the cheese is around 6-months old it starts to really take on the flavor of the additional ingredients that the creameries use. There are hundreds of variations to try, including the very traditional version that is coated with peppercorns, hence the name. Each variety has a unique flavor which makes it an especially good addition to a cheeseboard and ideal for wine-tastings.
As you can see from our menu page we love Italian cheese. It is a key ingredient that we use to enhance many of our dishes.
Please tell us what you thought of this article. If you have a favorite Italian cheese that is not on the above list, we would like you to tell us about it. We are always looking for ways to further enhance our menu. It always feels good to talk about Italian food with people who share our passion for this fantastic cuisine.
Line Arias is a writer at Nonnabox.com. When she is not experimenting with food, she is either planning her next trip or writing Poetry.