5 Gourmet Italian Cheeses to Enrich Your Taste Buds

5 Gourmet Italian Cheeses to Enrich Your Taste Buds

Italian cheese is unbeatable. France may be the king of cheeses, but Italy is the Queen. French cheese is a great add-on to many popular appetizers or a breakfast favorite, but no dinner is complete without Italian cheese.

Italy is popular for soft and hard cheeses, including Parmesan, Mozzarella, Gouda, and more. No matter which cheese you choose, you will get that burst of rich flavor you’ve been looking for. However, every cheese has a distinct flavor.

A first-time experience with Italian cheese can be difficult without a helpful guide. Since there are so many different tastes and textures to try, you might be confused initially. Join us as we take you through the popular Italy market and the many Italian cheeses you can try today.

1. Parmigiano Reggiano : The King of Cheeses

Made from the simple trio – raw cow’s milk, salt, and calf rennet – Parmigiano Reggiano is a diverse choice that can be used in nearly everything. The cheese smells and tastes distinctly of fruits, nuts, and butter and is a popular ingredient due to its rich flavor.

The Wow Factor
Parmigiano Reggiano is made from the same ingredients used in its invention nearly nine centuries ago. It looks the same, tastes the same, and has the same texture. The reason this cheese is so popular is the strict standards makers must follow.

Parmigiano Reggiano also differs in taste depending on where it is sourced. However, due to the restrictions and quality control in the way it is made, every single wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano is perfected. It is also popularly sourced from one region, giving it the specific taste it is known for.

If you buy this cheese, you know exactly what you are getting. It is a light-yellow cheese, crumbly in structure, with tiny granules and a sharp, nutty aftertaste. Not to be confused with Parmesan, the cheese is often tasted with a mere drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Goes Best With
The most authentic Parmigiano Reggiano goes best with the following;

  • Add it to a plate and drizzle some truffle oil on top.
  • Crisp some greens on a frying pan on medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil and serve with some shaved Parmigiano Reggiano on top.
  • Turn it into a healthy breakfast with some gooey, soft-boiled eggs split on top of freshly baked Italian bread and shaved Parmigiano.
  • Prepare a tasty charcuterie board with an assortment of meats, cheeses, and olives, with the Parmigiano Reggiano at the top.
  • Take your champagne tasting to the next level by adding some Parmigiano Reggiano to juicy dates and arranging them on a platter.

Add an assortment of some of the most authentic Italian ingredients to your grocery list to pair with your Parmigiano Reggiano. Here are some items to try today.

2. Gorgonzola : The Blues on a Platter

Popularly known as blue cheese, Gorgonzola is a gourmet option. This is perhaps why not a lot of people know how to use and taste this beautiful Italian cheese. However, you might not find a better ingredient in the Italy market.

Gorgonzola is created from pasteurized cow’s milk and contains the blue veins that earn it its name. This cheese also has a crumbly texture, much like Parmigiano Reggiano, but it tastes less nutty and more earthy.

Yes, it may sound ridiculous at first, but a bite of Gorgonzola will transport you  to the countryside for a picnic underneath the blue skies. Gorgonzola can also be tasted in its creamier form as the cheese is aged, and aging techniques can change its texture.

The Wow Factor 
Most blue-cheese lovers prefer Gorgonzola as it has much of the same flavor profile. The cheese is aged, much like cured Italian meats, providing differing textures. Depending on what you like, you can buy the creamier version or the crumbly form.

The cheese has a butter, sweet, and earthy flavor. Moreover, it allows room for experimentation, so you can get the sharpest taste or a milder one if you are a beginner.

Goes Best With
Gorgonzola cheese goes best with richer dishes such as a medium-rare steak or a glass of wine. Moreover, the cheese is often paired with Italian grains such as Risotto. However, if you want to keep it simple, we suggest you try it with the typical Italian pasta dish. Simply sprinkle some Gorgonzola on top and enjoy.

To enjoy the cheese to the fullest, you need the best quality pasta made from authentic Italian ingredients. Here’s a list of the best Italian pasta to try with Gorgonzola cheese today.

3. Goat’s Cheese : A Creamy Touch

Goat’s cheese is basically Brie taken to another level. This cheese is further split into wide varieties, all of which have entirely different tastes and textures. It is also one of the oldest kinds of cheeses on earth.

Goat’s cheese doesn’t incorporate rennet in the making. In fact, it is made from curdled goat’s milk. Most of the flavor of the cheese depends on the months in which it was procured. The flavors are much richer when goats graze on fresh grass and various herbs in the spring.

This kind of cheese also has an earthy and tangy flavor due to the acids used to produce the curdled byproduct. It is usually added to salads to refine the taste or to sourdough bread which complements the tart flavor.

The Wow Factor
Goat cheese is preferred because it is spreadable. It is loved by many people for its versatility, low lactose content, and tangy aftertaste. The cheese doesn’t overpower your senses. In fact, it is a good pairing if you want to bring out the flavors of everything on your plate.

It is a wonder that a cheese made from curdled goat’s milk could taste of herbs, nuts, and the earth. However, perhaps that is exactly why these flavors come through. The better the animal’s diet, the richer the taste of the cheese. It is no wonder this cheese is preferred.

Goes Best With
Since Goat’s cheese is tangy, it goes best with sweet and salty pairings. You can start by pairing nuts with the cheese. They can be easily added to a charcuterie board, platter, or healthy sandwich.

If you are looking for a breakfast option, consider sourdough bread with some goat’s cheese spread topped off with seasonal fruits. You can’t go wrong with some peaches, apricots, or berries. Moreover, jams and other preserves are also a delicious pairing.

4. Pecorino : A Filling Snack

The Italy market is a chef’s paradise. With the wide variety of flavors available, it can often be hard to choose. Pecorino is another delicious cheese that should be tasted at least once in a lifetime. You can taste it on its own with a glass of wine or pair it with anything you like.

Unlike Goat’s Cheese, this one is made from sheep’s milk. Pecorino is made throughout Italy, but the best one to try is the one sourced from Tuscany. The cheese is harder and sharper when it comes to texture and taste.

The Wow Factor
People love Pecorino since it can easily be added to the charcuterie board. The rich flavor tastes delicious with fruits, crackers, and preserves. If you are in the mood for something, particularly gourmet, invest in good quality Prosciutto Di Parma and fresh bread, and add Pecorino to create a tasty sandwich.

The aged Pecorino also tastes much richer, although it is not as spreadable. You might have to grate it on top of your dishes. However, most people like tasting aged Pecorino on its own, with some honey drizzled on top.

If you are looking for a cheese that leaves a taste lingering on your tongue for a long time after, this is the one for you!

Goes Best With
Pecorino is a great snack for when you are feeling hungry in between meals. You can consume it with crackers or a preserve. The rich taste enhances the flavor of any bread, cracker, or fruit you will taste. In addition, you can also add it to cured meat and combine it with tangy cherry tomatoes.

5. Provolone : The Smoky Option

Provolone is a cheese made from cow’s milk. It is semi-hard with a smoother texture made all the better by the smoky flavor. It incorporates calf’s rennet and needs to be aged at least two months to get that distinct taste it is known for.

Provolone is made in a similar way to Mozzarella. The curds are kneaded and stretched while the cheese is still hot. This is followed by a brine bath, after which it is covered in wax or plastic, hung to dry, and aged.

This cheese gets richer the more it ages. Some creators also make it in fancier shapes, such as those of different animals. For Provolone lovers, the best way to consume it has to be ontop of a charcuterie board.

The Wow Factor
Provolone is a fancier cheese that is nutty and salty at the same time. It will also not overwhelm any other additions to your charcuterie board. If you want to consume a cheese that won’t drown out the taste of your gourmet meats, this is the one to choose.

Goes Best With
Provolone cheese goes best with olives , red peppers, artichokes, or anything that has a distinct, spicy, or overpowering taste. Since Provolone is milder and saltier, it is often used to cut the tang and lead to a richer and more wholesome flavor profile.

This is not to say you can’t add Provolone to fruits. Figs or pears are great pairings with Provolone. Simply sprinkle some of the shredded cheese on top, and enjoy!

If you are still confused about the kinds of cheeses you should begin with; perhaps this sampler platter can help you make a better decision!

ItalianItalian cheeseParmigiano reggiano

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