Cheese is a fundamental element of European nutrition. During millennia of activity, breeders have selected the best races of cows, sheep and goats, adapting them to the environment in which they were raised. Italy in particular, from Sicily to Piedmont, from Puglia to Veneto, has very different environments and climates. For this reason, shepherds and cheese producers have developed a very wide variety of excellent milk products. Butter, cow milk cheese and goat milk cheese are the result of this ancient art and are perfect for a delicious cheese platter.
The Alps offer enchanting sceneries, unique scents and magnificent blooms, so cheeses such as Castelmagno are a delight for the palate and bring with them wisdom and hard work to offer these qualities to the best chefs. Butter and cheeses such as Tuma, often composed of mixed milk, are rather pleasant surprises that pair well with Italian wine and precious truffles of this region, maintaining a tradition that attracts tourists from all over the world.
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This ancient food comes from the processing of milk. For many centuries it has been a precious and refined ingredient in Italian kitchens. Its production has allowed the fat component of milk to be stored in cool places and used for cooking. Today it is still a traditional ingredient present in refined recipes, although many people have reduced its use in the kitchen because it is rich in cholesterol. This phenomenon has led dairies to look for particularly refined types of butter, particular in taste and high quality. This butter is now used in the kitchen to produce the best dishes. Herbal butter or flavored butters with black truffle butter, sweet butter and butter with special salts are the evolution of traditional productions. A curious detail: artisanal butter is still used today in molds that depict flowers and other images, but above all its color changes according to the herbs with which the cattle are fed. Finally, some dairies have resumed using the old preservation methods as in the case of underwater butter. Delights for gourmets.
If you visit Italy, cheese will be one of your traveling companions: from the Alps to the Apennines to the plains and islands, there is no region that does not produce cheese. Cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk and buffalo’s milk have given rise to many local products. Some are famous all over the world as Parmigiano Reggiano and Gorgonzola. They are often imitated in foreign countries by fake products with a poor quality. Others have excellent quality but are less famouscheeses: you will only know them by coming to Italy. To help those who approach for the first time to taste them, Italian cheeses can be divided (in an unofficial way) into different categories.
Spun paste cheeses, more or less fresh like Mozzarella (which is preserved in whey), Caciotta, Provola, Provolone. The processing is obtained by spinning the dough (must be eaten in 2 or 3 days), or seasoned like Caciocavallo.
More or less buttery cheeses, such as the Alpine and Apennine Tome in which stands out the taste of the grasses of which the cattle feeds, among them stand out Fontina and the Castelmagno cheese.
Cheeses immersed in brine, with medium-ageing and usually obtained from sheep’s or cow’s milk, including Parmigiano Reggiano (to which we dedicate a separate section), Grana Padano and Pecorino.
Fresh cheeses like Crescenza, Burrata (partially with spun dough), Ricotta (that must be eaten on site within 1 or 2 days).
Other cheeses may have special processes, such as blue cheeses in which molds give a particular taste and those enriched with salt, herbs (flowers, thyme, etc.) or spices such as pepper and chilli. Taste it to believe it.
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