Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Italian cheeses

I have been tasting my way through the Wine Spectator 100 Great Cheeses list. My latest tastes from this wonderful list were trugole, an Asiago-like cheese from the Italian Alps, and mountain gorgonzola, the assertive counterpart to gorgonzola dolce. I served these two cheeses along side tomini with truffle and pecorino ginepro as part of an Italian cheese plate at a recent dinner party.

The cheeses were accompanied with a selection of antipasti from Mario Batali's Molto Gusto, crusty bread, and Nicole's Divine Crackers love in the afternoon.

Have you had Nicole's crackers before? These crackers are a delicious temptation of sun kissed italian raisins and sweet fennel, sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper and a touch of onion and garlic. And they are made from 100% organic grains!

Here are my tasting notes on each of the cheeses, starting from soft and ending with the blue.

Tomini with truffle
A small fresh cow's milk cheese from Piemonte bathed in sunflower seed oil and topped with slices of Summer truffle. The truffle is prounced, the cheese is creamy but wonderfully light, and the oil made the cheese almost airy.

I served the Tomini in its oil, but think it would be easier to serve the cheese drained, reserving the oil for a salad dressing. I was a bit apprehensive about the truffle tomini because of my previous disappointment with the sottocenere al tartufo- I felt that the semi soft texture of the sottocenere masked the truffle. However the tomini with truffle surpassed all of my expectations and was a true crowd pleaser!

Pecorino ginepro
A firm sheep's milk cheese from Emilia-Romagna, a province in Northern Italy. This is a salty, nutty pecorino with slightly herbaceous flavors married with a slightly sweet finish. The rind is rubbed with balsamic vinegar, contributing to the dark brown rind, and the ivory white cheese is soaked in juniper berries.

I was afraid the cheese would be vinegary but the juniper berries lingered on the palate.  The unexpected flavors of this cheese make it a worthy addition to an Italian cheese plate.

Trugole Aged
Trugole is a semi-soft cows milk cheese that hails from the Asiago region of the Italian Alps in a pasture called Trugole. The milk comes from cows that only eat the forage from this rich pasture. I found the buttery trugole to be floral and fruity, but the sweetness was well-balanced by a slight sharpness and tanginess.

Gorgonzola picante
This is a semi-soft cow's milk blue cheese from Gorgonzola, on the outskirts of Milan. It is spicy and earthy but moist and buttery on the palate. Not as creamy as gorgonzola dolce, the assertive mountain gorgonzola shows a slightly sweet undertone. Unlike dolce, it crumbles nicely and can definitely hold its own on a cheese plate.

I usually prefer other blues to gorgonzola but the mountain gorgonzola was certainly a treat.


  1. AnonymousJune 16, 2010

    I *must* copy some recipes out of your Mario Batali book before you leave. While you are fixing my itunes. :)

  2. Absolutely! This needs to happen ASAP.


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