We've selected some of the most appreciated Italian PDO cheeses from various regions and internationally awarded, and we suggest some flavours to pair with those.
The best Italian cheeses are fine cheeses with their own characteristics, derived from their region of production, methods and time of maturation.
They are the ideal element to enrich a cheese board, to make a recipe more special and the key to a moment of truly gourmet tasting. Accompanying with a superior wine is a natural choice, as well as matching with fruit jams for contrast and unique flavours experiences!
As each cheese has its particularities, the choice of its pairing is a task of responsibility. In meia.dúzia® we are risk takers and try to create richer and original flavours experiences with our flavours, see below our suggestions for 4 of the best Italian cheeses:
Pecorino Cheese – PDO
Pecorino is an Italian sheep cheese (in Italian "pecora") produced in several areas of the country, especially the artisanal from Tuscany, Sardinia and Siciliy. With several varieties that please any type of taste, it can be fresh, semi-cured, cured, smooth, spicy and seasoned.
The Sicilian Pecorino PDO, produced in Sicily is traditionally accompanied with bread and olives, as well as honey and jams. The wine suggested to harmonize is the Marsala from the same region or the Etna Rosso for the most cured. The Pecorino Romano PDO, an ancient cheese and as its name indicates, much consumed by the Romans, is currently produced mainly in Sardinia. A strong-tasting cheese is preferably served grated to season pasta, such as carbonara.
MBut not only, can be served as an appetizer with raw or cooked fava beans. The ideal wine to harmonize are the more full-bodied red wines. The Pecorino Sardo PDO also originates from Sardinia, can be smooth with soft and delicate consistency or matured and with salty and spicy taste. From Tuscany comes the Pecorino Tuscan PDO that can be fresh or cured. The fresh pecorino is very soft and with mild taste. When it is cured, the taste becomes stronger but never spicy. The traditional way is to savor it with a slice of Tuscan toasted bread and olive oil. The ideal wine for the tasting of the Tuscan pecorino depends on the type and the maturation, the fresh ones ask for local white wines like the Bianco di Pitigliano and the mature ones request full body Tuscan wines like Morellino di Scansano, Chianti Classico or Brunello di Montalcino.
For this cheese, which can present such different flavours and textures, the ideal is to pair with Raspberry and Redcurrant Extra Jam with Verbena, acidic and fresh for a contrast of flavours.
Grana Padano Cheese – PDO
Grana Padano is a typical Italian cheese from the Padana Plain, considered hard and semi-fat, very similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano. Its main characteristic is the fact that it is granulated and easily broken, having a name that refers to it, because "Grana" refers to this granulated texture that the cheese has, and "Padano" refers to the river valley, local of cheese production. To be considered Grana Padano, it is necessary to have at least 12 months of maturation. By having the PDO seal, it can only be produced and bears this name if it is made in any of the 35 regions that have the permission.
Essential in any healthy and balanced diet, it accompanies all of its dishes, enhancing the flavour of the ingredients without disguising them with the spicier and saltier taste. Ideal in gratin and sauces or to taste on a cheese board.
To harmonize with this cheese we recommend the ‘Bravo de Esmolfe’ Apple Extra Jam with Cinnamon, with a sweet, warm and traditional flavour. The virtues of an excellent Grana Padano are highlighted with potent reds like a Cabernet Sauvignon Chilean Reserve, an Amarone della Valpolicella or a full-bodied Bordeaux.
Gorgonzola Cheese – PDO
Gorgonzola is a variety of blue cheese made from cow's milk from the locality of Gorgonzola on the outskirts of Milan, Italy. An emblematic and unique cheese due to its green veins, its popularity has not stopped increasing during the XX century, having become an indispensable cheese of the Italian kitchen.
To preserve its authenticity, it is produced exclusively in its original lands, Lombardy and Piedmont. Confection based on the milk of the Italian herds of these two regions, it has a pleasant flavour and an intense aroma.
The Gorgonzola, acquires its typical color and develops its green veins during the fermentation process. It can be eaten in pieces, spreaded in bread with ‘Rocha’ Pear Extra Jam with ‘Douro’ Muscatel or as an ingredient or condiment of delicious hot dishes such as pastas and risottos.
For wines, the classic combination is a light red like a noble Valpolicella, a Amarone or also a Barbera or Bardolino. One can also venture a Passito di Pantelleria, the liqueur wine from Sicily or a Portuguese Moscatel.
Originating in the Lombardy region, Mascarpone is a sweet cheese made from a subtle blend of cream and milk. It is considered a fresh cheese, without maturation and for immediate consumption. The creamy and homogeneous texture makes the mascarpone, technically, not considered a cheese by some specialists.
It is made in a similar way to a yogurt and is high in fat. The cheese, which comes from southern Italy, is used to prepare sauces and desserts such as the famous tiramisu. In addition to tiramisu, mascarpone can be added to sweet and savory dishes, providing a rich and creamy element.
For a salty touch, add the mascarpone to the pasta, alone or together with a sauce, to give a rich and creamy texture. You can replace the cream in some pasta dishes. You can also add it to baked pasta recipes such as lasagne, pasta with cheese or baked rigatoni, to make the dish rich and creamy.
A simple way to enjoy mascarpone as a dessert is to sprinkle cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles or cover with ‘São Tomé’ Dark Chocolate Spread with Strawberry and Chilli on top of a large dose of it.