Italian Cheeses

5 Italian cheeses and what to do with them

Whenever we refer to Italian cuisine or go to an Italian grocery, there is always a plentiful amount of cheese; this can be very overwhelming for choice. Just to begin with there are roughly about 600 known varieties in Italy. Within the European Commission, some of these cheeses have a protected status known as DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin).

Don’t worry, we are here to help you on how to do these cheeses justice, and most importantly, what wines to pair them with.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Also known as Parmesan, originating from the Emilia-Romagna region in the Northern Italy, Parmesan is one of the most famous cheeses of Italy. Best enjoyed paired with rice and pasta dishes such as risotto, spaghetti and cacio e pepe.

Cacio e pepe is a hero of the Parmesan world; a simple dish consisting of pasta, parmesan, pecorino and seasoning with black pepper and salt. So famous, this dish can be seen in a recent episode of MasterChef this year.

Parmigiano Reggiano is best paired with white wine i.e. Pinot Grigio.

Mozzarella

Mozzarella is another classic cheese produced from buffalo milk that originates from Campania, Southern Italy.

It is mostly known for pizza toppings, but can also be used for many vegetarian dishes, such as ovomozzo (sous-vide egg in mozzarella) or carozza which is a simple Italian fried cheese sandwich paired with ham and basil leaves. It is a popular street food in Campania.

This cheese can be eaten alone, but it best paired with a great white wine such as Fiano di Avellino or Greco di Tufo; a good way to pass the time during quarantine.

Ricotta

Dried, fresh, or salted, Ricotta is known for its soft, crumbly taste.

Dishes featuring this cheese include sformato (spinach and ricotta flan), crespelle alla Fiorentina, rigatoni imbottiti (mortadella and cheese stuffed rigatoni) and ravioli.

Gorgonzola

Named after a town in Lombardy, Northwest Italy, Gorgonzola is a veiny, sharp blue cheese.

In Italy, it is well known to be made in caves where moisture resides. What used to take over year to make the best gorgonzola now only know takes two to three months thanks to modern Penicilium Gorgonzola.

It’s flavour can be brought out when dined with fruits and veg such as fig, prunes and pancetta, butternut squash, pear, carpaccio or a gorgonzola stuffed avocado with walnuts.

This cheese is best paired with savoury red wines such as Lagrein Kretzer, Chiaretto del Garda or white wines such as Pinot Bianco, Gavi, Riesling or Orvieto Classico.

Mascarpone

Another cheese masterpiece coming from Lombardy is the world-famous Mascarpone. This cheese is renowned for its sweet taste, used mainly for dessert recipes including tiramisu and cheesecake ie. redcurrant ripple baked cheesecake or Christmas trifle terrine cake (a cake with many layers such as chestnut cream, chocolate mousse and sum-soaked raisins). Concurrently, Mascarpone can also be utilized for savoury dishes such as quiches or pies.

We hope you have a learned something from this article and hopefully enjoy your cheese a little differently during these times. Most of all; stay safe, healthy and always wash your hands.