Getting Cheesy!

Sardinian Chef and founder of Solo Restaurant, Corrado Pani, hosted an Aperitivo on the behalf of Agriform (this is a traditional Italian drinking thing, which can be done before or after meals with alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks) with  the aim of  educating us on the agricultural advances and developments of recent years and to highlight the values transmitted by quality labeling. Chef Corrado and his team also revisited some classic recipes using the different cheeses to show us how cheese can be incorporated in various dishes.

The conference also introduced five Italian PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheeses to the market: Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano, Piave, Asiago, and Pecorino Toscano. PDO products represent excellence in European food production and are both the result of a unique combination of human and environmental factors characteristic of a certain geographical area. Read on to know about these and other Italian cheeses.

Asiago Fresco

Asiago Fresco is a fresh table cheese originating from the Alpine plateau of the same name. A semi-hard cheese of semicooked curd with a white, slightly yellowish colour, marked and irregular eyes and a thin, flexible rind. Rich in live lactic cultures, Asiago Fresco has a delicate, soft and pleasant flavour with an agreeable milky aroma.
Grana Padano 
A product of the Padana Plain, Grana Padano is a fine and widely appreciated cheese, a symbol of Italian gastronomic excellence throughout the world. Obtained from semi-skimmed cows’ milk, this semi-fat cheese has a hard, finely granular texture, a white or pale yellow colour and is enclosed in a hard, smooth and thick dark yellow rind. It has a fragrant aroma and a characteristic, persistent flavour. It is aged for an average of 16 months.

Montasio is a table cheese typical of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region and the north-east of the Veneto region. This semi-hard cheese is characterised by a compact texture with a white or pale yellow colour and regular eyes. The initially smooth, flexible and compact light brown rind progressively dries as ageing proceeds, with the cheese becoming granular and friable as it ripens.

Parmigiano Reggiano
Parmigiano Reggiano is a fine cheese known and appreciated throughout the world. It is produced in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and parts of those of Mantua and Bologna. Produced with raw cows’ milk, it is a semi-fat cheese with a hard, finely granular texture, white or pale yellow in colour with a natural pale yellow rind. It is characterised by a fragrant and delicate but full and never piquant flavour. 
Pecorino Toscano
Pecorino Toscano is a soft or semi-hard cheese, produced exclusively with whole sheep’s milk. The freshest version has a rind with a colour ranging from yellow to pale yellow and a white, slightly yellowish cheese with a soft consistency to the touch. The flavour is fragrant, characteristic, defined as “sweet”. The ripened product has a rind with a colour ranging from yellow to intense yellow, but which according to the treatments to which it is subjected (tomato, ashes, oil) may be black or reddish. The cheese is instead pale yellow with a fragrant, intense but never piquant flavour.
Piave is the most famous of the cheeses from the Belluno area. Created by the local master cheesemakers, it is still today produced in the traditional manner. Its sweet, penetrating flavour intensifies as it matures. It is available in Fresco, Mezzano, Vecchio, Vecchio Selezione Oro and Vecchio Riserva forms. The rind is soft and light in colour in the Fresco form, becomes thicker and harder as the cheese ages and is hard with a colour tending to ochre in the Vecchio Selezione Oro and Vecchio Riserva forms. The cheese is compact and without eyes, is very light in colour in the Fresco form and acquires an increasingly intense pale yellow colour as it ages and becomes more friable, a characteristic typical of grating cheeses.

Want to know more about cheese? Watch the video below for a crash course on Italian cheese.

During the event I had the pleasure of caching up with the Chef of the hour, Chef Corrado and discussed Italy, its cheeses, and my basic Italian speaking skills apart from the unique dishes that he had created for the afternoon.

Scroll below to see some of the chefs creations for the day.

So I can now say I know a tad bit more about one of my favourite food and how to pair it... Say Cheese!




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