Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pecorino Toscano

I’ve spent the last couple of days at an organic estate in Tuscany which produces almost all its own food - olive oil, flour, bread, cheese, vegetables and, of course, wine. The cheese, a sheeps' cheese called Pecorino is the most common type produced in Tuscany and comes from milk produced from the sheep who graze the estate.

They have two main types - pecorino fresco, the young cheese which is served with antipasti such as bruschetti and salumi (cold meats) and a more mature one which is aged for 6-9 months and grated like parmesan (which is not made in Tuscany). Both are unpasteurized - the cheeses are subjected to heat treatment but it doesn’t go above 60°C. It’s milder than a parmesan which makes it a good companion for the local Chianti (and for other red wines - a useful attribute). The Tuscans also eat it with honey for breakfast or at the end of a meal.

The whey that is drained off the cheese is made into ricotta. Traditionally that would be eaten very fresh - it only has a shelf-life of 3 days but the LoFranco family who own the estate have found a way to preserve it in various spreads and spoonable desserts like a strawberry and ricotta mousse and ‘briachella’ a tiramisu-like mixture of ricotta, cantucci (traditional hard dipping biscuits) and their own vin santo (the famous Tuscan sweet wine).

Unfortunately I couldn’t see it any of the cheeses being made in the Caseificio (dairy) because the ewes are lambing at this time of year but they normally make them from December to July. You can buy the cheeses - and other products - direct by ordering a catalogue from the website.


H said...

Sounds delightful! One day I will get there! For now I will live vicariously through your travels...
Thank you!

Fiona Beckett said...

You definitely should! (Nice blog, btw!)