Christmas Italian cheese box
Made in the Cuneo province, deliciously soft and melting with tender natural bloomy rinds, made with cow, goat and sheep’s milk mixed together. The creamy soft pate tastes sweet and nutty almost like fresh cobnuts and is best eaten fresh. With a little maturing – how some prefer it – the taste will become more earthy, medicinal and rich.
Produced in the Italian Alps since the 12th century, this is a classic farmhouse-made cheese, full-flavoured, from unpasteurised milk. Its texture is semi-hard in the Gruyere-style – good for fondues and cooking, but equally at home as part of a cheeseboard selection. Flavours are nutty and woody, with an almost mushroomy quality with a little age.
Taleggio della val Brembana
A Taleggio from the hills surrounding Bergamo. The texture is creamy, with a rich, melting quality that is not too salty, but has a lovely sappy floral flavour. In aged versions the rind develops a slight grit and the pate becomes almost runny, with a satisfying fresh-baked-bread depth – marrying well with firm, juicy cherries from Vignola near Modena, which have a tart, slightly sharp taste.
Made traditionally with two layers of curd, using both the morning and evening milk, which is ladled in layers into the cheese mould. The cheeses are brined in a salt and water solution (encouraging sweetness in the interior pate) and left for a week or two before being pierced at the top, sides and bottom to allow the penicillium glaucum mould to evenly distribute into well-spread blue/green marbling. The texture, which is ever-so-slightly chewy, gives way on the palate to a buttery, creamy balance, with the moulds adding just the right amount of minerally spice. Fantastic on its own, with pears and walnuts, but lovely also in cooking – from risotto to pizza to polenta.