Saturday, June 12, 2010
Caciocavallo: an Italian cheese discovery
One of the unexpected bonuses of attending the chefs' conference Identita earlier this week was the artisanal food stalls which had some really great cheeses and salumi.
There was some pretty impressive aged Grana Padano, the less feted cousin of Parmigiano Reggiano (aka Parmesan) but the one that really stood out for me was this gourd-shaped Caciocavallo from Puglia (I think) though I've discovered from Juliet Harbutt's World Cheese Book, which I'll be reviewing shortly, that this type of pasta filata (stretched curd) cheese is made all over southern Italy. Some like Caciocavallo Silano have their own PDO - actually that may be the only one - and like other cheeses there are younger and older versions.
This was 24 months old and wonderfully rich, nutty and crumbly, the sort of cheese you could nibble at the end of a meal with a good red wine.
The Grana Padano crew were also showing off different aged cheeses with accompanying wines, a session I unfortunately missed. They paired the 12 month old with a 2007 Valpolicella Ripasso, the 18 month old with a 2006 Chianti Classico Riserva and a Salice Salentino Riserva and the 27 month with a 2005 Amarone, which I can imagine would have worked well. (This type of hard, grainy cheese is one of the few that reliably goes with red wine, particularly aged Italian reds)
BTW if you're interested in Caciocavallo there's a very interesting article on how it differs from Provolone on about.com here.