Best Italian cheeses: the ultimate guide
Stracchino di Crescenza
Get ready to embark on a tasty adventure as we explore 11 of Italy’s most delectable and diverse cheeses. From the creamiest to the tangiest, and yes, even the stinkiest – we’ve got them all. So grab a glass of wine, and join us on this flavourful journey through the Italian peninsula. Let’s dive into the world of cheese, Italian style!
You know, there’s something I simply can’t imagine my life without, and that’s cheese! I’m head over heels for all types of cheese, from the super stinky ones that make your eyes water, to the smooth, mellow, spreadable varieties. As someone who grew up with Italian cheeses, they hold a special place in my heart. Now, we might not have quite as many varieties as the French, but trust me, we still know how to make some truly amazing cheeses!
So, I’ve put together a list of my top 11 Italian cheeses that I just can’t get enough of. I’d love for you to join me on a delicious, cheesy adventure as we explore the Italian peninsula through its mouth-watering cheeses. Are you ready to dive in?
Mozzarella di Bufala Campana
Mozzarella di Bufala:
Oh, you’ll love this one! It’s a soft, fresh cheese made from water buffalo milk. The texture is incredibly creamy and delicate, and the flavour has a mild, slightly tangy kick to it. This cheese is perfect for a classic Caprese salad or a mouthwatering pizza Margherita.
Recommended wine: Barbera di Monferrato
Picture a pear-shaped, smoked sibling of mozzarella. That’s Scamorza Affumicata for you! It’s a semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk, with a slightly elastic texture and a distinctive smoky flavour. This cheese is incredible when grilled or melted on top of your favourite dishes, like pizza or a hearty baked pasta. The smoky aroma and taste add an extra layer of complexity that will take your culinary creations to the next level.
Recommended wine: Fiano di Avellino
This cheese is a true multitasker! It’s a semi-soft, stretched-curd cheese made from cow’s milk, and it’s super versatile. Its mild, slightly tangy flavour makes it perfect for melting on pizza or over pasta dishes. Try it in a traditional Italian dish like eggplant parmigiana, and you’ll see what I mean.
Recommended wine: Greco di Tufo
If you’re a fan of nutty flavours, you’ll adore Pecorino Toscano. This hard, aged cheese is made from sheep’s milk and has a crumbly texture. It’s great for grating over pasta or salads, but it’s also perfect for a cheese board with some fruit and nuts.
Recommended wine: Chianti Classico
“Don’t let the farmer know how good cheese is with pears”
– Italian Proverb –
This one comes straight from the beautiful island of Sardinia! Like its cousin Pecorino Toscano, it’s a hard, aged cheese made from sheep’s milk. The flavour is stronger and slightly spicier, making it a perfect addition to any cheese platter or grated over your favourite pasta dishes.
Recommended wine: Vermentino di Sardegna Doc
Are you into bold, complex flavours? Gorgonzola is a soft, blue-veined cheese made from cow’s milk with a creamy texture and a pungent, slightly sweet taste. It’s fantastic when paired with honey or figs, and it’s a must-try ingredient in dishes like risotto or even a luxurious burger topping.
Recommended wine: Merlot del Triveneto
This cheese is like the king of Italian cheeses! It’s a hard, granular cheese made from cow’s milk with a strong, nutty flavour. Use it grated over pasta or risotto, or enjoy it in chunks with some aged balsamic vinegar. Trust me, you won’t be able to get enough of this one!
Recommended wine: Franciacorta D.O.C.G.
Let me introduce you to a cheese with a unique, fruity flavour. Taleggio is a semi-soft, washed-rind cheese made from cow’s milk that has a creamy texture and a mild taste with a slightly tangy finish. Pair it with some crusty bread and a glass of wine, and you’re in for a real treat.
Recommended wine: Lambrusco secco
Provolone del Monaco:
Hailing from the Campania region, this semi-hard cheese has a firm texture and a full, slightly sharp flavour. Provolone del Monaco is delicious when melted in a panini or enjoyed with some olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Give it a try, and it just might become one of your favourites!
Recommended wine: Lettere della Penisola Sorrentina D.O.P.
Stracchino di Crescenza:
If you’re looking for a versatile, soft cheese, Stracchino di Crescenza is the one for you. Made from cow’s milk, it has a smooth, creamy texture and a mild, slightly sour flavour. You can use it as a spread on a crusty baguette, or even get creative with it in dessert recipes like cheesecake or cannoli. The possibilities are endless!
Recommended wine: Moscato d’Asti
I saved a real showstopper for last! Burrata is a fresh cheese made from cow’s or buffalo’s milk. It features a mozzarella shell filled with a luscious, creamy mixture of curds and cream. The buttery flavour is simply divine, and it pairs beautifully with fresh tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s a must-try for any cheese lover, and it’s guaranteed to impress your friends at your next dinner party.
Recommended wine: Greco di Tufo
And there you have it, folks! We’ve ventured across the Italian peninsula, discovering its most delectable and drool-worthy cheeses. Who knew a trip through the world of cheese could be so thrilling, enlightening, and, at times, delightfully stinky?
But now, as our cheesy journey comes to an end, remember: cheese isn’t just a food – it’s a way of life. It’s about indulging in the creamiest, tangiest, and nuttiest flavours, sharing a hearty laugh with friends over a charcuterie board, or simply sneaking a midnight snack of your favourite Italian cheese straight from the fridge (we’ve all been there).
So, the next time you find yourself craving something cheesy, why not embark on your own Italian cheese adventure? Explore the countless varieties and flavours waiting for you. Just be sure to pack a sense of humour, an open mind, and a spare pair of socks – because, let’s face it, some of these cheeses have an aroma that can knock your socks off!
Happy cheese hunting, and may the “whey” be with you!
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