Piedmont is home to many luscious and decadent cheeses, making it almost a disservice to make a quick guide of it. Piedmont, is the food capital of Italy, in my opinion. It is home to the Slow Food Movement (although whose current operations I question), the annual cheese festival in Bra, the most prestigious truffles from Alba (Sorry, Tuscany. Not sorry, France.) Barolo wine for pete’s sake, the wonderful Nebbiolo grape, and fine heritage breeds of cattle to make typical plates like Vitello Tonnato (sliced veal with a tuna mayo cream). Piedmont seems to get a lot of countryside tourism, but the capital Turin seems to get very little exposure compared to other major Northern Italian cities like Milan or Venice. Turin has lots of craft cocktail bars, abundant aperitivo buffet lounges and groundbreaking restaurants. When I get to thinking about Piedmont, it is the next best place to Tuscany where I am foolishly loyal to.
I’ll skip to the point. Here are some truly fantastic cheeses of Piedmont you must try in Italy. Not in Italy? If you are in Seattle for example, you can find a plethora of specialty cheeses from Italy at stores like DeLaurenti’s or Big John’s Pacific Food in SODO
La Tur- Ho-l-y mo-l-y. Take a warm spoon and scoop out some gooey tangy softly dense palate coating mild blazing bright cheese. Made from a mix of sheep, cow and goat, this little mound of culture is heated at very low temperatures to preserve enzymes otherwise massacred during the pasteurization process. This is a win for you raw cheese enthusiasts out there. By first glace, this cheese seems like a quaint pastry ice cream sandwich with lots of wrinkles from a cupcake mold. Inside, is a luscious young cheese aged for about ten days with a creamy, runny tart center and then expanding with complexity, density and pungency as you near the rind. A perfect pair with a low tannin Piedmont red wine like Barbera, Dolcetto or a Nebbiolo. Remember- what grows together pairs together.
Caprino di Rimella- Apart of the large family of goat milk cheese (similar to chevre) typical to the Northern parts of Italy, this goat cheese is not exactly a super gourmet unique local gastronomic product as it is produced throughout Northern Italy. However, what gives this cheese rights is that it is a sort of “everyday” cheese for the locals. Caprino is to Piedmont as Pecorino is to Tuscany. There are slight variations between provinces. In the Rimella province, this Caprino is made with raw goat milk and is curdled with cow or lamb’s rennet. It usually is aged for just a few days and is dry salted for immediate consumption.
Paglierina- This name is typically used to express a vast family of cheeses in Piedmont that are fresh and soft-ripened. To make this cheese, it needs to coagulate at a pretty low temperature (95-100*F) and then when in curdled lumps, it is then strained in cheese presses and sort of stewed in a humid room for 7 hours. Salted either dry or in brine, it is left to mature for 10-12 days. After which, this soft ripened cheese is ready to be eaten with a full bodied white wine from the Langhe. With the the low temperature curdling and humid style of maturation, this cheese has a unique acidity and mild profile for such a young style.
AND…..Well, wordpress and the internet decided to be a huge jerk and delete the rest of this guide I had worked hours on- SO! Since time is money- enjoy these tidbits instead:
Robiola- The soft, cream cheese “stracchino” style is perfect for stuffing in pitted fruit, salads and risotto. See what I did with it here: Stuffed Apricots and Radicchio salad.
Sola or (Soela)- The name is curiously interesting since the square shape means “sole” like as in shoe sole. It’s funny how Italians are with food things and shoes: Fare la scarpetta (translation: “to do the little shoe” swiping plates clean with that little bit of bread), pasta scarpinocc and now sole cheese. I mean, cheese can reek like smelly feet?
The irony in the Sola continues…when something (or someone) lets you down you can say “Che Sola!” (like che fregatura) That is exactly how what I muttered when I realized the idiot WP program erased my work.
In your sola,
Hey! So thanks for joining again our 2nd Italian Food, Wine & Travel event on Piedmont, but it doesn’t stop here. Follow along with some other great blogs featuring all elements of life in Piedmont and what it has to offer.
Food Wine Click – A Walk from Neive to Barbaresco and Back
Flavourful Tuscany – Moscato and their appellations
Girls Gotta Drink – The Ultimate Guide to Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing
Make sure to join our bloggers conversations on Twitter throughout the day at #ItalianFWT . We also post on #ItalianFWT throughout the month so feel free to join us all the time and share your Italian experiences!Make sure to check back on January 3rd for our 3rd Italian Food, Wine & Travel event. Next month’s feature will be Emilia Romagna!